The Most Pressing Threats To Cloud Computing And How To Thwart Them

There are pressing threats to cloud computing that are important to note and pay attention to. Here's what they are and how to thwart them.

Matt James
March 21, 2019
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If your business isn’t using the cloud, it’s safe to say you are behind the times. The cloud is a critical tool for coordinating and collaborating, and it has long been much easier and safer for businesses to use the cloud to store data, complete processes and more. It’s no wonder that an estimated 83 percent of workloads will be cloud-based by next year. However, while you likely already enjoy some degree of cloud computing, it’s also likely that you don’t think much about protecting your cloud. After all, that’s what cloud providers are for — right? Unfortunately, too many businesses believe that one of the main advantages of using the cloud is avoiding the substantial cost of securing servers. In truth, a recent study indicates that businesses utilizing the cloud are three-times more likely to suffer a breach because they don’t enact strong enough security. Many of the threats common to non-cloud users still plague those who rely heavily on the cloud. Read on to learn about pressing security threats you need to defend against today.

Human Error

Human error is, has always been and will continue to be the biggest threat to any kind of security, period. To err is human, and since the majority of your workforce consists of living, breathing people, you should expect some security mistakes when it comes to your cloud. The problem arises when your cloud security strategy is unforgiving of those mistakes, which means those mistakes result in gaping vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of. To reduce the threat of human error, you need to prioritize security training for all of your staff. You should also set up access restrictions, so lower-level (and less-trustworthy) employees don’t have access to settings that can produce vulnerabilities.

Data Loss

There are a variety of ways you can lose data from the cloud. The scariest to a business is a data breach, in which hackers work to crack open the cloud and steal data for personal gain. However, it is also possible to lose data through some kind of accident or catastrophe at the cloud hosting facility, whereby servers are damaged and data is simply destroyed. There is little you can do to protect the physical servers that host your cloud aside from choosing a cloud provider you can trust. However, you can protect your data by making backups stored using another cloud service or else contained in external hard drives stored on-site. Then, you can protect your business from a data breach by implementing hybrid cloud security, which will guard against various forms of data theft.

Weak APIs

An API is an application programming interface, or how your employees or customers might interact with your company’s digital offerings. To make it simple, APIs can be websites, apps and other digital tools that receive and send responses from users. When an API is weak or insecure, it allows malicious users to step into the deeper internal processes behind the interface, giving nearly anyone control over how the interface functions. You should test your APIs often — with the help of a tech professional — and create patches to shore up API security.

Malware

Malware isn’t a new threat to businesses, but it is a relatively new threat to the cloud. Malicious applications like Spectre and Meltdown target cloud operations, helping hackers view cloud-based data. Fortunately, this malware is spread using well-known techniques, like phishing, and simple security strategies are often enough to keep malware at bay. You might consider segmenting your network to reduce the likelihood of malware reaching the cloud, but your main tactic should be employee education.

Cloud Exploits

The nature of the cloud is one of sharing; unless you purchase enough cloud space that you coopt an entire server (or an entire server facility) for yourself — which is unlikely due to its high expense — you will be using the same computing resources as other, unknown users. These users could easily lack the cloud security savvy that you have cultivated, meaning they could introduce vulnerabilities and new attack surfaces for hackers that could affect your business’s cloud. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing you can do to guard against these exploits save develop faith that your cloud provider is properly protecting your cloud from others’.

Conclusion

It’s a bad idea to avoid the cloud merely due to these threats; online threats will always exist for businesses, and the cloud offers more benefits than it does downsides. Still, that doesn’t mean you should use the cloud blindly. Protect your business with the right security and strategies, and you can easily avoid these threats and more.