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Cloud Computing and Security Challenges
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Cloud Computing and Security Challenges

Secure access to applications from anywhere and on any device has become imperative for all businesses that aspire to expand. Cloud technology has made this possible with companies reaping significant benefits in terms of flexibility, stability, and scalability. However, there are certain challenges to cloud computing, that could offset the potential advantages and may lead to loss of business and/or reputation.

For enterprises to successfully reap the potential advantages of cloud technology, one of the important focus areas is to ensure a secure environment to manage sensitive information. Being aware of the challenges that could derail cloud adoption is key to finding solutions that work. It also helps in making informed decisions while choosing the right tools and vendors for mitigating these challenges related to security in cloud computing.

Data Breach:

An important benefit of cloud computing is the ease of sharing data between all stakeholders – internal teams, clients, and external vendors. Earlier, before the advent of the cloud, the IT teams had complete control over network systems and infrastructure. However, since the cloud involves storing information at a remote location (your own location in the case of private cloud or cloud provider’s location in the case of public cloud) and sharing access with many people with varied permissions, it may lead to certain issues that affect security in cloud computing.

Since the controls are mostly handled by a vendor, it is, therefore, very important to choose the right service provider with a strong track record to prevent data theft and other serious challenges. Loss of data or data breach may lead to a negative impact on the reputation of the organization and customer trust, loss of Intellectual Property (IP) rights, legal liabilities as well as the impact on the brand market value of the organization.

Misconfiguration:

Preventing a data breach is a high priority for security in cloud computing. Misconfiguration of cloud infrastructure is one of the leading causes of a data breach. If the cloud environment of an organization is not configured according to the standards, sensitive business data and applications may be exposed to an attack. Since the benefit of cloud infrastructure is the ease of accessibility and hassle-free data sharing, it becomes difficult for an organization to ensure that the data is accessible only to authorized users. This issue becomes more serious when there is a lack of control or visibility of an organization’s cloud hosting infrastructure.

Misconfiguration leads to serious security issues in cloud computing impacting day-to-day business operations. Some issues can be disastrous like the instance of a misconfiguration in an AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud storage bucket in 2017, when the data of more than 120 million American households, belonging to Experian, a credit bureau, was exposed.

DDoS and Denial-of-Service Attacks:

With more businesses and operations making a transition to the cloud, the intensity of malicious attacks on cloud providers is also increasing with Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks becoming more frequent than ever before.

A DDoS attack can overwhelm website servers, becoming unresponsive to genuine user requests. Providing DDoS protection with Cloud is no longer just a good option, but also a necessity. 

Loss of Data:

The transfer of critical business information to the cloud also raises concerns about the security of data within it. Loss of cloud data through human error, overwriting, or malicious actions are damaging for an organization, ultimately affecting security in cloud computing platforms.

A DDoS attack if successful makes the website unresponsive and this might result in loss of revenue, customer trust, and brand reputation. Protecting every network layer and a strong disaster recovery process can help to mitigate such scenarios.

Lack of Control and Less Visibility:

Users working with cloud-based technologies can operationalize the server functions without managing them directly, a major advantage of using the cloud. However, a sense of reduced control while managing infrastructure is regularly felt by the teams. There are many tools in the market that will help a team in providing necessary inputs about infrastructure.

Lack of Experienced Workforce:

Migrating to a cloud platform has its own set of challenges and it is important to remember that transition of all critical assets into a cloud environment is not enough to leverage the advantages offered by Cloud. Cloud migration is only one step in this journey and to derive the best results, management of cloud infrastructure and ongoing monitoring is a necessity.

Every step of this process right from planning to migration to deployment is a process that requires specific skill sets. Not every organization invests the time and resources exclusively for its cloud infrastructure and security in cloud computing. Maintaining a qualified workforce to manage cloud infrastructure and security solutions is a challenge for organizations.

Non-Compliance with Regulatory requirements:

An organization should follow certain statutory & industry-specific regulations; some industries such as healthcare, banking, and insurance have a stringent need for compliance. It is imperative to select the right cloud service provider considering their track record in complying with regulatory requirements.

Third-party checks can be done to verify the security measures taken by cloud service providers. In a highly competitive and regulated industry, any non-compliance with regulatory requirements can lead to penal costs, fines, and loss of reputation causing a severe blow to the organization’s image.

Response to Notifications and Alerts:

Alerting the application teams immediately after the identification of a threat should be part of a comprehensive data security and access management mechanism. The threat has to be identified and mitigated quickly through prompt notifications and is thus very important to minimize threats to security in cloud computing.

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Threat of Cyberattacks:

The threat posed by cybercriminals and the network of threat actors is only growing every year with hackers improving their capabilities. Cloud environments are one of the most vulnerable targets. The volume of attacks on cloud services had doubled in the year 2019 and 20% of investigated incidents were related to cloud attacks, according to the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report. Organizations should regularly and comprehensively evaluate their cyber risk strategy so that they can make the necessary plans to proactively safeguard their business and operations from evolving cyber threats and large-scale cyber attacks.

Insider Threats:

According to a 2021 report by Cybersecurity Insiders, 57% of organizations have reported a higher incidence of insider threats. Therefore, cyberattacks not only originate from an external actor but also due to insider threats posing significant challenges and risks to security in cloud computing. Due to the inherent nature of the cloud and also since cloud infrastructure is accessible from the public internet, it is challenging to detect any suspicious activity from malicious insiders immediately. By the time these threats are identified, there might be a data breach already underway.

Insecure APIs and Interfaces:

Cloud infrastructure consists of software user interfaces (UIs) and APIs for customers to interact with and manage cloud platforms. Ineffectively designed APIs could lead to a data breach or misuse.

Technology Vulnerabilities:

Although there are many benefits associated with cloud platforms, there are many challenges that arise from time to time. According to Gartner, more than 95 percent of cloud security is attributed to customer fault. It is important to use the services of a trusted cloud service provider with a robust cybersecurity framework to not only mitigate the risks related to security in cloud computing but also to expand your business in the cloud successfully. The benefits of using cloud platforms can be leveraged with the latest cloud security technology and cutting-edge solutions.

The issues and challenges related to Cloud computing are not insurmountable. Businesses and enterprises can successfully leverage the advantages of cloud technology with the ideal cloud service provider (CSP), trusted technology, the right partner, and forethought.

To begin your cloud journey or to choose the right cyber security strategy, talk to our cloud architects by shooting a mail to [email protected].