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Top 7 Cloud Computing Security Threats


Migrating applications and workloads to cloud computing services is one of the biggest trends in the tech world today. With a highly flexible and available computing environment, the cloud offers a wide range of possibilities to enterprises. However, it can also expose your organization to myriad cyber threats that you may not be aware about.

By reading this article, you will gain valuable knowledge that will help you decide if you should choose to migrate to the cloud and what type of security challenges you might need to overcome during this process.

Cloud Adoption Cyber Attack Statistics

Nowadays, approximately 90% of all enterprises use some kind of clouding services. With so many businesses using the same type of computing environment, the cloud is a major target for threat actors, which makes cloud security all the more important.

On top of that, 89% of all companies use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Cisco estimate that cloud data centers will process over 94% of all workloads in 2021 and the biggest vendor will probably be Amazon Web Services (AWS), who already leads the pack with over 32% market share.

In today's world, cyber attacks and data breaches become frequent and threatening each passing day. These attacks are capable of causing significant damage reputation and financial status of all types of modern businesses. In a report published by IBM, the company estimates that in 2018, the average data breach caused a financial hit of $3.86 million and that number has grown even bigger in 2019 to $3.92 million.

Data breaches and cyber attacks have become such a global epidemic that in the 2019 report published by the World Economic Forum, it has listed them as the four and fifth more serious global risks today. The situation with cyber crime is only estimated to become worse: in the 2019 Official Annual Cybercrime Report, Cybersecurity Ventures claim that ransomware damages will be higher than $11.5 in 2019 and the total sum cybercrime damages will be $6 trillion by 2021.

With such a massive global presence and so many cyber risks, protecting your company's assets via the cloud seems like a good way to go. However, as with everything else, the cloud does not offer a perfect cybersecurity solution. Therefore, it is important to know the risks your data and applications might be exposed to when you use cloud services.

7 Top cloud Computing Security Threats

To help you understand why the cloud isn't safe from cyber attacks, I have compiled a list of the current top 7 security threats to cloud computing.

#1. Data breaches

What makes data breaches so so devastating for enterprises is not only the financial loss but most importantly the reputation loss. A data breach occurs when an unauthorized party manages to access valuable and sensitive data that should not be exposed to outsiders.

Typically, this data contains company secrets or details about customers such as personal information, usernames, passwords and even credit card information. Data breaches can happen to anyone, even the biggest companies with the best security teams on the planet. In 2019, these players were among the victims of very high profile data breaches.

#2. Insufficient identity, credential and access management

The lack of an effective identity, credential and access management strategy can allow malicious actors to take advantage of week authorization and authentication measures. Unauthorized users who access the insufficiently protected system can read, delete and modify data and cause significant damage to the company or end-users.

#3. System vulnerabilities

This is a term to describe all kinds of bugs in the program that make the system vulnerable to attacks. Malicious actors can exploit these vulnerabilities to infiltrate the system and steal data, disrupt the operation or even take control of the system. The cloud computing platforms allow different parties to access shared resources, creating new and powerful attack vendors for bad actors.

#4. Advanced persistent threats (APTs)

An advanced persistent threat is an attack used by cyber criminals to infiltrate the network and remain undetected for long periods of time. This technique is mostly used by threat actors who target specific entreprises, as the goal is to leave as little trace as possible and use the achieved access to view and steal valuable data.

What makes APT attacks so dangerous to enterprises is how hard they to detect, giving the infiltrators the potential to nest in the network and steal company secrets for a significant period without raising alerts.

#5. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

In this attack, threat actors send huge amounts of traffic to overload and deplete the system, server or network of its bandwidth and computing resources, rendering it unusable and unresponsive to consumers. Cloud services are accessed via the internet, which makes them especially vulnerable to this type of attack.

#6. Insider threats

Insider threats, also known as malicious insiders, are employees who target the company they directly or indirectly work for. There are  a variety of reasons for insiders to launch these attacks. For example, in corporate espionage, an employee could be sent by a rival to work for the company and gain access to valuable information that can be used by their original employer to gain some kind of advantage or disrupt the competition.

#7. Account hijacking

Account hijacking allows attackers to gain access to an inside user credentials. Once a threat actor accesses an account, it opens many possibilities for a cyber attack, including tracking activities, transactions, manipulating the system or data, disrupting the operations and damaging the reputation of the company. Nowadays, most information is stored in the cloud, so if attackers hijack an account, they can access all kinds of secret materials and critical systems.

Wrap Up

With a wide range of benefits for enterprises of all kinds, it is not surprising that almost every company on the planet uses some kind of cloud service. These services are typically provided by big companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, who need to allocate many resources to ensure their clouding services are secure. However, it is important to note that, like all things connected to the internet, these cloud giants can also be the victims of cyber attacks. On top of this, given that a huge portion of the security events are caused by some kind of human error or insider threat, no matter how secure the cloud is, you should always be on alert and ready to act.


About the Author

Gilad Maayan 

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry. 

Published Friday, September 13, 2019 8:03 AM by David Marshall
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