5 Cloud Risks Every Business Faces

In simple terms, cloud computing allows businesses to store and transfer data over the internet. Among its many business benefits, the cloud delivers solutions at a lower cost, enables organisations to achieve faster time to market and increases employee productivity. By using the cloud, employees are able to share content more easily and access corporate files from anywhere at any time. World’s leading research and advisory company, Gartner, forecasted that the worldwide public cloud services market would grow to $304.9 billion in 2021. In the past year, COVID-19 has only strengthened the cloud’s value proposition as we have come to depend on remote working, with flexible, portable business solutions being paramount to the way we work.

However, the one thing that stands in the way of organisation-led cloud adoption is data security. With passwords to a company’s critical infrastructure in the wrong hands, the business impact could be catastrophic. That said, while IT departments are reticent, employees are bringing their own cloud services to work. There are, of course, many benefits of the Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) movement, but it also brings the problem of shadow IT. Employers are left not knowing which applications are being used, what information is being exposed, where it’s going, and with whom it’s being shared. Meanwhile, employees are often unaware of the risks of storing data in unsecured apps.

It’s vital that organisations find a balance between the benefits of the cloud and the security threats as well as the challenges it brings. As such, cloud security, a series of policies, applications, controls, and technologies are fundamental.

Cloud Risks That We Face

Any organisation that uses cloud technologies without being fully informed of the security requirements risks financial, legal and technical implications. To stop this from happening and to operate securely in the cloud, organisations first need to understand the key risks that they are facing:

1. Data Breaches

With so much data stored in the cloud, cloud providers are an attractive target. Additionally, a vast amount of the information stored is sensitive; such as private data, personally identifiable data and financial data. It stands to reason that data breaches are one of the key risks of cloud computing. Exposed data can lead to huge downfalls for businesses, their customers, and the industries in which they operate.

2. Data Loss

Data loss is another prevalent cloud security risk. Permanent data loss due to vendor error is rare these days, but malicious hackers still aim to harm businesses by removing vital information. And that’s not the only way that data can be lost in the cloud. One of the most common types of data loss is human error- the accidental deletion of data.

3. Malware Infections

Malware is another direct security concern of cloud-based services. When malware takes hold, it can hijack systems and accounts, delete, or encrypt data, and steal sensitive information. Malware is one of the most commonly used vectors by cybercriminals to breach into systems, often as part of a phishing attack. The cloud can also be used as a carrier for converting extraction of data. Recent examples include encoding sensitive data into video files and exfiltrating sensitive data via private Twitter accounts.

4. Weak Identity Management and Authentication

If an organisation has poor password management, weak passwords, and simple authentication measures in place, it leaves itself open to substantial risk. Employees will often use the same passwords for many applications. Meanwhile, identity management can be a complicated undertaking as businesses decide which permissions to assign to which roles. Moreover, firms can forget to remove user access as roles change or employees leave the organisation.

5. Interfaces and APIs Hacked

Every application and cloud service uses interfaces and APIs to communicate and interact with other core business services. However, the more APIs a business uses, the more exposed it becomes to attacks. Hackers look for vulnerabilities in the management of APIs, using them to infiltrate systems. Hackers can then use assets gained to further penetrate the organisation. The security and availability of cloud services depend directly on the protection of these APIs.

How to Mitigate the Risks

The major cloud security risks can’t be ignored if an organisation is to operate safely and securely. Having the right data protection approach is vital to address regulatory compliance, privacy, and reduce the risk of data loss and data breaches. To mitigate the risks, there are several cloud security solutions that can be implemented. These include Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions that look beyond the perimeter, preventing insider data loss, delivering increased visibility, and ensuring strong compliance. Meanwhile, by centralising cloud authentication and identity with a single sign-on and multi-factor authentication, passwords can be strengthened, and employees can gain fast access to all of their cloud applications.

Ultimately, if your business uses cloud services, the associated risks will always be there. The first step is to gain visibility of those risks. That’s why InfoTrust has teamed up with cloud security partner, Netskope to help businesses gain an accurate picture of the cloud security challenges within their environment. Together we show business 7 key security challenges that are associated with the cloud and how you can protect your organisation against these. Contact InfoTrust today to find out more and set up a cloud risk workshop.

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