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31 Mar 2021

Top cloud security concerns and how to address them

The cloud continues to be a prevalent digital transformation strategy for many businesses, and by 2023, the market is expected to reach $623.3b. And yet, there is still not enough being done to keep data within the cloud safe and secure.

Concerns about cloud security are often misdirected towards cloud providers, when in fact the challenges lies with users, policies and configuration.

Find out more on some of the key issues surrounding cloud storage security, and recommendations to keep your data protected..

What are today’s top cloud storage security issues?

Misconfiguration

One of the most basic issues comes from human error, which can include the misconfiguration of the service in the first place. Today’s cloud storage security landscape is blighted by widespread errors - on average, 230 million occur daily.

Errors can be caused in multiple ways, but more often than not they come about due to a miscalculation or negligence. Implementing a cloud storage solution is all well and good, but the wrong click on a specific option or lack of planning around security runs the risk of allowing data loss or breaches of security.

Whilst it’s true that migrating the cloud is undoubtedly the correct way to address data security problems, it’s still important for businesses to take ownership of their security and data. By addressing any gaps and tying up loose ends, breaches can be avoided.

Unauthorised Access

It goes without saying that data stored in the cloud should be highly available, but only to those persons with a legitimate need to access that data.

Most cloud providers do offer identity and access controls, and we highly recommend that you use these controls. If you’re unsure, speak to your partner on how you can get this activated.

They’ll be able to work with you to configure security groups to ensure your data doesn’t get compromised and/or leaked outside your controlled environment. It’s also worth keeping in mind that any employees with access privileges should be using multi-factor authentication in order to provide further security.

Insecure Interfaces/API's

Not just human access to the data, but also access to your cloud stored data accessed by applications, web forms, and databases needs to be secured. Any application or API will also need to be looked at on a regular basis to ensure that they align with the business needs for security and reliability.

API vulnerabilities can give cyber criminals a very easy way to stealing user or employee credentials. It’s a growing risk and Gartner has estimated that, by 2022, this threat vector will be frequently used by attackers in order to access business critical data.

Insecure API’s can create a gateway for attackers to exploit cloud services and the data within the environment. But how are attackers exploiting them?

1) Inadequate authentication
It’s very often that developers create API’s without including any sufficient authentication controls. This is what leads to API’s being left exposed to the internet and giving attackers an entry point to access data and systems.

2) Poor access management
Many developers assume that attackers won’t take notice of backend API calls and therefore refrain from inputting authorisation controls, resulting in compromised backend data.

Account Hijacking

During an account hijacking incident, an attacker will steal credentials in order to seize control of the account and carry out malicious activities. The impact can be devastating to businesses, with the potential data to be leaked or manipulated, or unauthorised activities causing business-wide disruption.

When looking for a cloud service provider, all businesses should carry out research around provider data loss and downtime incidents, and if any previous vulnerabilities have been exposed.

Lack of Visibility

Cloud visibility gives your business a comprehensive view of all the activities happening in your cloud. But lack of that visibility can lead to issues in tracking application performance, and delayed detection and response to security vulnerabilities.

Gaining visibility into your cloud network will help:

  • Improve network and application performance monitoring
  • Identify performance degradation
  • Ensure your SLA’s are met
  • Identify security gaps or vulnerabilities
  • Enable traffic monitoring

External Sharing of Data

Although the cloud has made file sharing much more flexible for businesses, if shared carelessly it can cause havoc within a business.

Many employees are making use of link-based sharing as it’s quick, but this makes it challenging to control access to the shared resource. The shared link can then be forwarded on, stolen or even guessed by a cyber criminal.

 

Why are these issues so important?

Data protection

Your data is at the core of your business, so it is paramount to ensure that this data is protected – as well as protecting the data that your customers have entrusted to you.

Cyber-attacks are carried out by professionals, they know how to exploit weak and insecure environments.

Without adequate planning and protection it is very possible that access to your own data could be lost permanently, sold to competitors, or simply denied to you and held for ransom.

Data compliance

Protecting sensitive data brings us onto data compliance. All businesses should be ensuring that any sensitive data is organised, managed and stored securely in a manner that meets legal and government regulations.

 

What steps can a business take to address these issues?

The significant thing to remember is that data stored in the cloud should be treated no differently than data stored on any other kind of medium. With that said, here’s a few steps your business can take to address cloud storage security issues.

Security assessment

Security assessments come in many forms, but it is something that should be a part of a company’s agenda. They’re valuable and they’ll measure your security set up against compliance requirements and industry frameworks.

Benefits:

1. Know what security risks are in your environment
2. Mitigate risks before they’re a problem
3. Avoid security breaches
4. Meet compliance requirements

Penetration testing

Carrying out pen testing within your environment will get you one step closer to avoiding breaches. Pen tests are simulated cyber-attacks, regular testing of your defences will help to identify holes and leaks before they are exploited. This will ensure that you are aware of the areas of weaknesses, and allow you to fix them before an actual breach occurs.

Implement security policies

Your security policy should have a broad coverage over all aspects of your IT infrastructure, be well defined, and be reviewed regularly. Designing such a policy requires consideration of all aspects of the business and how it interacts with data, how employees and customers access it, whether it is encrypted, and what can be done with the it once access is given.

A governance policy will specifically define what can be done with data once accessed. Should it be allowed to traverse outside the organisation? Should it be possible to edit the data? What alerts would be triggered and to who if certain policies are breached?

Set up alerts and notifications

Whether you’ve migrated to the cloud, or you’re planning a digital transformation project to migrate, it’s worth speaking to your team about setting up basic alerts to notify you when problems occur. By setting up alerts, your IT team will be aware of any issues and they can be rectified before they become a security problem.

Take Microsoft Azure for example, Azure Monitor has capabilities which can notify you by email or messaging when problems arise.

 

How can OryxAlign cloud services help tackle these issues?

We have been supporting a multitude of clients through their cloud journeys for a number of years, whilst staying up to date with relevant key trends in the cloud security landscape.

Our approach

When entering a partnership with OryxAlign, our cloud services team will consult with all of your business departments to analyse, design, and test the best cloud security solutions to meet your requirements.

Our team are able offer a tailor-made solution for you, whether you choose to simply have your security tested and want some recommendations, or opt for us to consult with you and design a complete security and governance package.

Concerned about your cloud security? Simply get in touch with us today, or reach us at hello@oryxalign.com. Alternatively, give us a call on +44 (0)207 605 7890.

The Cloud and Infrastructure Team

By The Cloud and Infrastructure Team

The OryxAlign Cloud and Infrastructure Team is responsible for designing, deploying, managing and optimising cloud transformation projects.

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