What are the most common cloud security vulnerabilities & how to mitigate them?

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Cloud security has gained popularity over the last decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven everyone closer to the internet. The world witnessed a major shift of focus of small businesses, corporations, students and consumers to the internet. The rapid digitisation came along with increased security breaches and hacktivism. Cloud computing played a major role in equipping internet users with a better security posture and storage.

Cloud security is critical to organisations because it improves productivity, scales up resources, effective data management and saves cost. Although there are plenty of reasons as to why organisations are embracing and prioritising cloud security, the persistent existence of a question causes hesitation among organisations to shift from traditional, on-premise data centre management by the IT department to cloud storage.

The question is: How secure is cloud security? 

Organisations are leveraging cloud security to ramp up their digital transformation and boost growth. But cloud storages are constantly susceptible to security breaches. The Ermetic-IDC report revealed that nearly 100% of companies experienced a cloud data breach in the past 18 months. And, according to the Trend Micro Cyber Risk Index report, 73% of Indian organisations expect to experience a breach of customer records in 2022.

With the rapid advancement in technology, hackers are also honing their skills, methods and techniques to intrude into an organisation?s important and confidential data, steal it and misuse it.

Hence, it is very important to have robust security measures in place. There are high chances of cloud breaches happening when organisations are using the lowest advanced programming tools, improper management of RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), misconfigurations and shadow IT use.

Here are some of the top cloud vulnerabilities: 

Account Hijacking 

Account hijacking remains a serious security threat in the cloud services. Proofpoint, a cybersecurity and compliance company, found out in its latest ?The Cost of Cloud Compromise and Shadow IT report? that the average yearly financial loss due to compromised cloud accounts per year for the organizations is nearly $6.2 million.

In this type of threat, cybercriminals attack the accounts and steal the account credentials from the users.

Hijackers often impersonate a trusted entity to trick the user into exposing and sharing confidential data, personal information and identity.

Some of the common account hijacking ways are phishing, keyloggers, buffer overflow attacks, XSS attacks and brute force attacks.

Data Breaches/Loss

Data is undeniably one of the most valuable assets of an organisation. Data stored in the cloud is vulnerable to security attacks. The common causes of data loss are data alteration, data deletion and loss of access.

Data alteration is when data is altered in a way it cannot be restored in its original state.

Data deletion occurs when the attackers delete sensitive data from the cloud service and hampers business operations.

Loss of access happens when attackers encrypt data to execute malicious activities or hold the information for ransom.

Insecure APIs

APIs enhances efficiency by making the process to share information between two or more parties/applications easier. Hence, APIs can also be a source of cloud security risks.

Cyber attackers can access enterprise data and launch cyberattacks by exploiting insecure APIs

Insider Threats 

Organisations are just as vulnerable to insider threats as they are to external threats.

Malicious insiders can be employees, former employees or business associates that cause intentional or unintentional security breaches. Compromised, negligent employees or contractors may take advantage of their data access, inflict harm to the organisation & disrupt operations.

System Vulnerabilities

The integration of third-party applications and software can create disruptions in the system and expose it to cloud security threats.

System vulnerabilities are also caused if security tools are poorly configurated into the system.

How to mitigate the cloud vulnerabilities? 

There are several actions that organisations can consider to create a safe and sound cybersecurity strategy to prevent cloud breaches and reap the many benefits of the cloud.

  1. Create strong passwords and keep changing them regularly.
  2. Implement security awareness programs for employees, customers and other stakeholders.
  3. Seek consultation from threat experts.
  4. Conduct frequent data backups to avoid data loss or theft.
  5. Consider using data loss prevention tools to detect movement of sensitive data
  6. Encrypt data to prevent ransomware attacks.
  7. Conduct routine security audits.
  8. Plan a comprehensive cybersecurity breach response plan.
  9. Conduct API penetration testing.
  10.  Regulate user access to data
  11.  Limit access to data
  12.  Timely revoking of access to data
  13.  Conduct system vulnerability assessment.

Key Takeaways

A cloud security breach can occur anytime, disrupting operations, damaging reputation and triggering major financial and legal issues. Organisations must have additional protection layers to secure the data in the cloud. Strong cloud security can make any organisations data surefire.

Therefore, organisations must be aware of cloud vulnerabilities and consider them to avoid breaches. Efficient handling of the mentioned cloud vulnerabilities will enable organisations to fully take advantage of the cloud environment.