Cloud adoption continues to see significant growth. In fact, according to Gartner, worldwide public cloud end user spending is projected to grow 18% in 2021 totaling $304.9 billion.
However, despite the consistent move to the cloud, some businesses are still not sold, with 66% of IT professionals citing security as their greatest concern in adopting an enterprise cloud computing strategy.
The Top Security Issues in Cloud Computing
While there are no doubt benefits to the cloud, this blog will highlight some key cloud computing security issues and challenges that businesses should consider.
Misconfiguration of cloud infrastructure is a leading contributor to data breaches. If an organization’s cloud environment is not configured properly, critical business data and applications may become susceptible to an attack.
Because cloud infrastructure is designed to be easily accessible and promote data sharing, it can be difficult for organizations to ensure their data is only being accessed by authorized users. This issue can be exacerbated due to a lack of visibility or control of infrastructure within their cloud hosting environment.
In short, misconfiguration poses serious cloud security issues to businesses and the fallout can detrimentally impact day-to-day operations. To prevent misconfigurations, those responsible for overseeing their organization’s cloud solution should be familiar with the security controls provided by their cloud service provider.
Cybercriminals and threat actors are constantly practicing and perfecting their hacking capabilities, and cloud environments are quickly becoming one of their primary targets.
According to the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report, the volume of attacks on cloud services more than doubled in 2019 and accounted for 20% of investigated incidents. The report goes on to show that although corporate and internal networks remain the most targeted domains – representing 54% of incidents – cloud environments are now the third most targeted environment for cyberattacks.
It’s important for organizations to understand their cyber risk so they can make the necessary adjustments to proactively protect their business from cyberattacks. This can be accomplished by performing various threat assessments which will identify gaps in the organization’s current defense posture and uncover weaknesses across a broad swath of its security technologies. From there, the organization can undergo remediation tactics to strengthen the efficacy of its cybersecurity solution.
Cyberattacks don’t just occur from external threats – insider threats are a major concern for businesses, too. In fact, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 30% of data breaches involved internal actors.
While this is an issue for on-premises environments, it certainly creates cloud computing risk issues and security challenges as well. Because of the nature of the cloud and the fact that the infrastructure is accessible from the public internet, it can be even more difficult to detect suspicious activity related to malicious insiders. And, by the time any threats are uncovered, a data breach may already be underway.
Organizations must have the proper security controls in place to identify malicious insider activity and mitigate risks before there are any significant impacts to business operations.
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Lack of Visibility
A report by Forcepoint states that only 7% of companies that offers cybersecurity consulting services have extremely good visibility as to how employees use critical business data across company-owned and employee-owned devices, company-approved services (e.g., Microsoft Exchange), and employee services, while 58% say they have only moderate or slight visibility.
In a cloud environment, this lack of visibility can lead to cloud computing security issues that put organizations at risk, including malicious insider threats and cyberattacks that we discussed above. Partnering with a managed cloud service provider can alleviate these issues assuming that the provider has stringent and effective security controls in place that also satisfy a business’s compliance requirements.
It is imperative organizations have comprehensive visibility into their cloud environment on a continuous basis. Managed cloud service providers can supply business leaders with real-time reports of network and user activity – among several other categories – to ensure quick detection and response in the event of a threat.
One of the major benefits of cloud computing is the ease of sharing data and the ability to seamlessly collaborate among colleagues and even external individuals. However, because data sharing in the cloud is typically done by direct email invitations or distributing a public link to a specified group of users, this can cause potential security issues and challenges in cloud computing.
By sharing public links – or changing the settings of a cloud-based file to “public” – anyone with knowledge of the link can access the information stored within them. Additionally, hackers leverage tools to actively search the internet for instances of unsecured cloud deployments just like these.
If these resources contain proprietary company data or sensitive information and wind up in the wrong hands, there is an immediate threat of a potentially serious data breach, which can impact an organization.
Migrating to the cloud possesses its own set of challenges, and some organizations believe once they have transitioned all of their critical assets to a cloud environment, the hard work is done. In reality, cloud migration is just one step in a cloud adoption journey, and to get the best results, ongoing monitoring and management of cloud infrastructure is a necessity.
Proper planning, assessment, migration, deployment, and management of a business’s cloud solution is a time-consuming task that requires a very specific set of skills. It is not often that organizations – especially SMBs – commit the time, money, or resources solely to their cloud infrastructure. If any of the steps during the cloud adoption process were missed or not adequately configured, it could lead to security issues and challenges in cloud computing for the organization.
It is best practice for businesses to work with a partner that has all of the cloud capabilities needed to complement in-house expertise for a comprehensive and secure cloud solution. Most providers offer flexible resources that range from fully outsourced, contracted subject matter experts and part-time technicians.
Data privacy has always been a concern for business leaders, but it is becoming even more important as the cybersecurity landscape continues to grow in complexity and severity. There are numerous data protection regulations in place today, including the EU’s GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and many more, which were created to protect customer data.
However, a survey by Commvault showed only 12% of global IT organizations understand how GDPR will affect their cloud services. This result leads us to believe businesses may be more vulnerable if they are not compliant in the cloud under GDPR regulations.
Failure for businesses to abide by these compliance measures can lead to serious penalties, including significant fines, or even worse, a data breach. A managed cloud provider can share the compliance burden. Companies should choose a partner who is familiar with data protection and compliance standards to ensure ongoing security for the organization and its customers.
Want to learn more about the cloud for your business? Check out these resources:
- Managed Cloud Services
- The Cloud: Redundant, Resilient, Secure
- How to Overcome the Most Common Cloud Migration Challenges
- Top 11 Benefits of Cloud Managed Services
How to Mitigate Cloud Security Concerns and Issues
Although the cloud is full of benefits, there are cloud computing challenges and related security issues, and through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault according to Gartner. To help mitigate risks, it is best to work with a managed cloud service provider that you trust and have full confidence in protecting your data. The trust you build with your partner will go a long way to help expand and secure your business in the cloud.
When searching for a provider, you should investigate what cybersecurity framework they use or recommend. It’s an easy question to ask, but it’s surprising how many managed security service companies won’t have an answer for you.
It is also important to understand what steps the provider takes to ensure your company’s assets are adequately secured. What checks and audits are in place to make sure that cloud environments are configured correctly? Does the provider have a separate team review the work of the group responsible for configuring cloud infrastructure? If not, there’s a good chance they’re going to miss something, leading to potential misconfiguration issues.