How to Overcome the Top Security Concerns of Cloud Computing for a Hassle-free Functioning?

Aug 10, 2017 posted by Vidyasagar Avvaru under Cloud Computing, SMAC

According to a research by Forbes, over 70% of global businesses are moving to cloud computing despite the rise in cyber-security threats. In 2017, we have already witnessed the biggest cyber-security threat—’Wannacry’ ransomware. Ransomware has resulted in a loss of $4 million, so why consider cloud security as an afterthought?

To secure cloud data, organizations must understand the common challenges and how to handle them.

#1 Control over Data: Businesses are storing confidential data on cloud servers such as Google Drive, Dropbox etc. However, they do not have complete authority over this data. Another risk with such third-party data sharing services is that privacy controls are beyond the organizational access. Cloud servers create an auto-backup of the stored data and organizations are at risk of sharing data with unauthorized users.

You can gain control over the data stored in the cloud server with the help of data encryption. Encrypting data before moving it to the cloud server and retaining control over encryption keys keeps your data safe. 

#2 Insecure APIs: Cloud APIs enable developers to manage their applications remotely. If the APIs are secure, they will help in protecting cloud services right from authentication, access control, encryption to activity monitoring.

Relying on third-party cloud APIs exposes businesses to security threats. In order to secure cloud APIs and cloud applications, organizations must do code reviews and rigorous testing.  

#3 Cyber-crimes: Data stored in a cloud server is an attractive target for hackers. Hackers’ access data such as trade secrets, IPR, health related data etc. to hamper the organization’s infrastructure.

Statutory laws and data protection regulations are a good measure of protecting sensitive data of your organization. In Europe, all businesses must abide by the laws stated under the General Data Protection Regulation from 2018 onwards, failing which you will have to pay a penalty amounting to $4 million.

#4 Insider Threat: The technology framework for an identity access management system manages electronic identities. This framework can initiate, capture, store, and control user entities and related access permissions automatically. Poor identity access management occurs when an IT professional does not change permissions in case of change in role/job function or if an employee leaves the company, leading to insider threats. An insider threat can destroy the entire cloud infrastructure and delete organization’s data completely. According to Gartner, employees gain unauthorized access to over 70% of the organizational data. Examples include copying sensitive data related to a customer on a public server.

Organizations can handle insider threats by implementing a network analyzer to filter attachments, keywords, etc. They can use client/server-based content filtering to block sensitive data from going out of the office premises. Enterprises can avoid P2P file sharing by using a P2P firewall to secure your confidential information.

#5 Hijacking Accounts: Phishing accounts are common type of cyber-crime. Over the cloud, phishing is easier as hackers can access the data stored on the cloud server and modify it easily. It is important to not share account credentials with users and cloud service providers and use multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive data. 

Monitoring transactions taking place between service provider and users can help organizations prevent themselves from cyber-crime.

#6 Weak Authentications: Enterprises have to be careful in granting access to the data stored over the cloud. For instance, cyber-crime affecting the enterprise Anthem Inc. resulted in the loss of 80 million medical data. To avoid such data theft, organizations must implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication process such as OTP and phone-based authentication to prevent hackers from stealing confidential information over the cloud. 

#7 Standardized Operations: While choosing a cloud vendor, you must ensure that the industry standards and the best practices are followed. Common accreditations include ISO 9001, PCI, DCS, and HIPAA.

Cloud computing involves shared responsibilities, thus both the customer and the service provider needs to abide by the security laws to safeguard the business application and the complete IT infrastructure.

#8 DDoS Attacks can damage a company’s reputation. So if you are running critical operations over the cloud, you are at a risk of slow systems and slow processing power, leading to higher costs. Hence, enterprises must have a planned strategy to mitigate such attacks.

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