Data security challenges in cloud computing seem to be a conversation that never ends, partly because security threats are always evolving, and we have to make it a priority to keep up with the new challenges.
Cloud computing has become the wave of the future, allowing users to store information entirely online, making it easier to access when and where it’s needed.
But… storing information online comes with its own set of risks.
As a result, the area of data security has become a huge talking point, and something that anyone using cloud computing needs to think about carefully.
That’s why in this article we’ll be talking about some of the biggest challenges facing those using cloud computing.
And we’ll also be looking at some of the solutions that can help counter those challenges.
We’ll specifically look at the most common data security challenges in cloud computing, such as:
- Lack of data visibility and control
- Cloud misconfiguration and how it can leave data open and unprotected
- Unauthorized access to cloud data
- Cyberattacks and data breaches
- Denial of service attacks
- Hijacking of accounts
- Insecure interfaces and APIs
- Malicious insiders
- Data loss in cloud computing
- Oversight and negligence in cloud data management
As we talk about each of these areas, we’ll discuss how you can make sure you protect your data, and what to do if they do if you are a victim of these threats.
Lack of Data Visibility & Control
The first thing we need to look at is just what data visibility means. In short, data visibility is about just how a business or entity is able to gather, view, and review information.
Organizations need to be able to see as much data as possible, and as easily as possible, in order to make appropriate decisions.
If they don’t it can make the entire process more difficult than it needs to be, or even lead that organization to make the wrong decision.
The monitoring and control of data are one of the biggest data security challenges in cloud computing. Without data visibility, there is a huge disconnect across the different databases within a company.
To counter this, it’s important to provide real-time data reporting, where the company can access information in real-time.
Knowi is a tool used by many companies that allows them to not only see their data in one place and allows better visibility and control for data managers across multiple databases.
To find out even more you can start your free trial with Knowi today.
Cloud Misconfiguration Leaves Data Wide Open & Unprotected
Many companies believe that storing your data in cloud systems is enough, but not taking the time to configure that account could leave you susceptible to unscrupulous users.
Cloud misconfiguration comes in different shapes and sizes, such as:
- granting public access where it shouldn’t be
- improperly creating network functions
- storing passwords or keys in open areas
- offering public access to unencrypted data
- and more…
All of this can happen due to a lack of awareness, oversight, lack of controls, or negligence on behalf of someone on the inside of the company.
When it does happen, it can be disastrous for the company or organization. It can lead to data breaches that might expose the organization to attacks, which can harm its ability to operate or even release private customer information to the public.
The good news is there are things you can do to avoid this!
Cloud misconfiguration is one of the more common data security challenges, and it’s one that can easily be avoided.
Make sure that you’re keeping track of who is accessing your cloud database.
Then, make sure encryption is enabled and permissions are set appropriately. You don’t want to have too many people accessing things they shouldn’t be able to.
Having somebody frequently searching for misconfigurations in the cloud system every now and then can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
You’ll want to investigate organizational policies and procedures that help avoid misconfiguration in the first place, and then make sure that those policies are being followed consistently.
Even one small mistake could cause a data security issue in your cloud system.
Unauthorized Access to Cloud Data
You must limit the number of people who can get access to your information. The more people who have access, the higher the likelihood that your information could be leaked or may not be kept as secure as you want it to be.
Your data should always be protected, which means you want to have encryption and passwords in place to keep unwanted people from accessing the data.
Unauthorized access is a security breach or data breach, whether the person who accesses it does anything with the information they find or not.
And that could undermine the integrity of your company and the trust your customers have in your abilities.
Preventing these unauthorized breaches is crucial, and luckily there are plenty of ways to make sure it doesn’t happen… or at least to lessen the chances of it happening.
First, make sure you have a strong password policy, and even a two-factor or multifactor authentication. This ensures no one is going to get into your information by mistake (someone accidentally clicking on the wrong file).
Look into physical security practices, as well, so users and team members know not to simply walk away from their desks, leaving important and confidential information easily accessible.
Also, monitor user activity so you know who is accessing information, when they are accessing it, and from where, so you can always recognize unauthorized or suspicious activity.
Finally, protect your system from viruses and malware that can allow nefarious users to access your information through direct attacks.
Cyberattacks & Data Breaches
You may not even remember the cyberattack at Yahoo, which happened in 2013. Even worse, the company didn’t even announce that a breach had occurred until 2016, three years after the event occurred.
A single Yahoo employee allowed the data breach to happen by clicking on a spear-phishing email that ultimately led to over three billion accounts being accessed by unauthorized agents.
In fact, there were four people who were ultimately indicted for the attack.
This data breach undermined the confidence that users had in the company, because it released personal and proprietary information about the company and customers.
Cyberattacks and data breaches are one of the most common data security challenges in cloud computing; and they can happen to any company, no matter how large the company is.
The most common ways that this occurs is through:
- weak passwords
- stolen passwords
- vulnerable applications
- social engineering
- providing easy access to multiple users
- insider threats
- brute force attacks
- improper configurations and user errors
It’s no wonder these attacks have become very common!
But just what can you do to protect your company and prevent those breaches from happening in the first place?
Start by keeping out as many people as possible. Giving access to too many people means there are a lot of loose ends and a lot of potential access points for a hacker.
In addition to that, you want to look at your general security processes, like firewalls, VPNs, updates, and of course, the way that you train your employees.
Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks
A denial-of-service attack is one that keeps users from being able to access a service, and it can be done to keep your customers off your website, or to keep your team members from accessing your system to get work done.
DoS attacks flood a website with so much traffic that it interrupts services, and it could come from anywhere in the world.
Flooding services, which send an overabundance of traffic to the server, can cause the system to slow down.
This results in difficulty for users trying to access the service, which can cause serious trouble for the organization.
Crashing services are the second method of DoS attacks.
They involve exploiting the vulnerabilities within the organization to crash the website and make sure it is unable to fulfill its service.
In both methods, the goal is to render the service useless to customers.
Unfortunately, they tend to succeed, which is why it’s important to prevent them from the start.
Some of the best ways to prevent these types of attacks from happening are:
- to have even more bandwidth, which offers availability even during high spikes of activity
- redundancy in infrastructure to make it harder for a user with malicious intent from interfering with the website
- configuring the network hardware, specifically to prevent these activities
- using hardware and software systems for protection
Hijacking of Accounts
When someone can access your information and your account by hacking into it, they will have complete access to everything that you have access to.
That means they can view, edit, send, share, or do whatever they like with that information.
It can happen by someone getting ahold of your password or by a brute force attack, or any other reason.
When it occurs, it means that person is in control of your account.
Sometimes they might allow you to also have access, making changes or wreaking havoc in the background.
… But other times, they might completely lock you out of the account before making their changes or doing whatever it is they want with your account.
This could mean huge changes being made that are unauthorized and even harmful to your company or customers. It could even mean large amounts of money being transferred to the hacker.
To prevent this, it’s essential that your company uses a high-quality cloud service provider, implementing a process of secure access, and encrypting the data.
By doing all three of these things from the start, you can drastically mitigate the amount of damage a hacker can cause, because it makes it difficult for a nefarious person to get into your account in the first place.
There can be serious security concerns with APIs in the overall cloud computing process.
That’s why it’s crucial to have overall security and protection all the way around.
If you don’t, you leave yourself open to unauthorized people getting access to your data and information. And once a hacker has that information they need, they can do whatever they want with it.
The easier you make it for someone to get access to your information, the more likely that someone is going to do it. And that means your information or your customers’ information can be leaked onto the web.
Protecting the entire system, and especially your interfaces and API, must be a priority in your company from the get-go.
You want to make sure that your API is designed in a way that is cohesive and useful for your team.
It needs to have overall authentication and access control so only the right people are getting access.
Disgruntled employees can be a whole lot more trouble than you might think.
In fact, they can cause more than just a strain on your business. They can cost a company lost revenue when they are not happy with the workplace, coworkers, or the management.
These individuals can choose to sell out their company in a data breach or could otherwise scam the organization they work for.
A malicious insider is someone who works within your organization, used to work there, or works in some way adjacent to your organization; but instead of being loyal and supportive of the company, they are looking to undermine the company.
Since they already have access to the company’s private information and know how the company operates, they can potentially be more harmful than any other type of hacker.
Identifying these potentially malicious insiders before they become a problem is essential in protecting your data.
You should generally be looking for people who have:
- an official record of security violations, harassment, or hacking
- a history of non-compliance with policies in the company
- falsified information to get themselves hired
- unprofessional behavior
- abusive behavior in the workplace
- personality conflicts
- even misuse of privileges within the company
These individuals may have poor performance, a suspicious level of interest in projects that don’t concern them and may violate policies or use their leave time frequently.
Performing company-wide risk assessments regularly, as well as documenting controls and who has access to information is essential to avoid these characters.
Setting up a system of security software and applications, as well as physical security that prevents suspicious activity is essential to protecting physical and digital information.
You should ensure that remote access is strictly controlled, and passwords are held to high standards by the policy.
Lastly, make sure that you have adequate surveillance, destroy old information or systems appropriately, and use dual authentication, wherever possible.
Data Loss in Cloud Computing
Losing information could happen by accidental deletion or by malicious intent.
Either way, it results in a disastrous disruption of your business activities.
As many as 70% of small businesses go out of business as a result of large data losses.
So, how does it happen?
Most commonly, it is a human error. Someone accidentally deletes a file or string of files while working.
It could also be caused by:
- viruses or malware
- damage to a hard drive
- power outages that cause a disruption in backup creation
- theft of physical computers and information that has yet to be backed up
- liquid damage to hardware
- natural disasters
- software corruption
- improper hardware formatting
- And, of course, hackers or insiders that purposely remove information.
Taking care of these problems as quickly as possible means having systems in place to protect your information.
Having a backup of your information in place always is the first and most important step.
In addition to that, make sure you have set in place anti-virus software, control of employee access, and overall maintenance for your computer system are important parts.
Oversight & Negligence in Cloud Data Management
Protecting your company and the information you use depends on you being proactive about it and paying careful attention to every step of the process.
Protecting data means avoiding things like general oversight or negligence on behalf of any of your team members, because simple negligence or not recognizing a problem could mean a huge loss of data and a large-scale security breach.
Avoiding negligence and oversight requires cybersecurity automation, which will automate certain security processes within your organization.
It can be programmed to detect and even fix cyber threats, without requiring any human assistance. But of course, it’s not going to catch absolutely every problem.
Cybersecurity automation is an excellent resource, because it might catch things that the average person would miss, and it can act quickly and thoroughly.
Oversight and negligence are one of the more common data security challenges in cloud computing, and they could be solved with a combination of both the human eye and software implementation.
Configuring your overall systems and processes in the proper way is the only way to ensure your data is always protected.
Data security challenges often stem from overall negligence. Nonetheless, data security is not an easy task, and it requires diligent focus from the management of the company.
With the proper attention, a company can protect itself from all of the cloud data security challenges mentioned above, from DoS attacks and hackers to malicious insiders and negligence.