Best ways to prevent 7 major threats in cloud computing

Hosting your business apps and assets in the cloud offers several advantages in terms of management, access, and scalability. But the cloud environment can also pause security risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. In this post, we will explore some of the ways to prevent seven major threats in cloud computing.

1. Data breach

A data breach is an incident or attack of cybersecurity where sensitive or confidential information is either viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized individual. The most significant impact of a data breach is the damage to the reputation and brand value of a company, causing mistrust from customers and partners. It can result in financial losses and legal and contractual liabilities due to regulatory implications.

Key recommendations to prevent data breach

  • Authenticate all people that access the network. Empower them with proper defense practices as a precaution to avoid any risks.
  • Frame all access permissions so that users only have access to applications and data that specific access permission has been granted to them.
  • Authenticate all software patches and software configuration changes made to avoid configuration errors.
  • Formalize an internal process of requesting permission to access data and applications or put your data into the cloud.
  • Deploy intruder detection technology to monitor all network activity and log all unusual activities.
  • Log all user activity and program activities and analyze them for unexpected behavior. Insiders cause close to 70 percent of security breaches.
  • Encrypt all valuable data that need extra protection.
  • Check the network regularly for vulnerabilities in any software that is exposed to the Internet or any external user.
  • Secure a data backup plan that enables the business to implement consistent data protection policies across multiple cloud services.

2. Cloud misconfigurations

Cloud misconfiguration is a cloud security risk that is often overlooked and increasingly prominent. It is preventable. Cloud misconfiguration refers to the improper set-up or configuration of a cloud product and is the result of human error.

Examples of misconfiguration include excessive permissions, unsecured data storage elements or containers, standard security controls left disabled, unchanged default credentials and configuration settings, patched systems and left-disabled logging or monitoring, and unrestricted access to ports and services.

Key recommendations to prevent cloud misconfigurations

  • Employee training is one way to avoid misconfigurations.
  • Check all permissions and credentials before using them, instead of relying on the default settings.
  • Monitor the cloud systems for misconfigurations continuously. Users may change settings and at any time, expose data accidentally.
  • Use a third-party security tool that can continuously look at configurations.
  • Implement measures such as logging, encryption, and segmentation of the network.

3. Lack of cloud security architecture and strategy

Proper security architecture and strategy are required to move, deploy, and operate in the cloud securely. As companies migrate their IT infrastructure to the public cloud, one of the biggest challenges is to implement the proper security to guard against cyber attacks. It can be a mistake to assume that you can “lift and shift” your current internal IT stack as well as security controls to the cloud.

Key recommendations

  • Make sure the security architecture aligns with your business goals and goals.
  • Develop and implement a framework for security architecture.
  • Ensure that the model of threat is kept up to date.
  • Bring continuous visibility to the actual security posture.

4. Insufficient identity, credential, access and key management

Security incidents and breaches may occur due to inadequate credential protection, lack of regular automated rotation of cryptographic keys and passwords, lack of scalable identity and credential management systems, failure to use multifactor authentication, and failure to use strong passwords.

As a result, data can be read, modified, and deleted by malicious actors masquerading as legitimate users. Hackers can also issue control plane and management functions, snoop in-transit data and release malware that appears to come from a lawful source.

Key recommendations to prevent this

  • Secure accounts that include two-factor authentication and limit the use of root accounts.
  • Practice strict identity and access controls for cloud users and identities.
  • Separate and segment accounts, virtual private clouds (VPCs), and identity groups based on business needs and the least privilege principle.
  • Rotate keys, remove unused credentials and privileges, and use central and programmatic key management.

5. Account hijacking

Account hijacking involves full compromise and control of an account, business logic, function, data, and applications. The account hijacking failure can be severe. It may lead to significant operational and business disruptions, including the complete elimination of assets, data, and capabilities. It can trigger data leaks that cause reputational damage, degradation of brand value, exposure to legal liability, and disclosure of sensitive personal and business information.

Key recommendations to prevent this

  • Check with your service provider to ensure that they have performed background checks on employees in their data centers who have physical access to the servers.
  • Have a secure authentication method for users of the cloud app.
  • Ensure that your data is backed up in case your information is lost in the cloud.
  • Restrict the IP addresses that allow access to cloud applications. Some cloud apps provide tools to specify permissible IP ranges, forcing users to access the form only through corporate networks or VPNs.
  • Require multi-factor authentication. Several tools require users to enter static passwords as well as dynamic one-time passwords that can be delivered via SMS, hardware tokens, biometrics, or other schemes.
  • Encrypt sensitive data before going to the cloud.

6. Insider threats

An insider threat is either an employee, former employee, contractor, business associate, or other people in an organization who has access to critical data and IT systems and could, therefore, harm the business. It can be managed through policies, procedures, and technologies that help prevent misuse of privileges or reduce the damage it can cause.

Key recommendations to prevent insider threats

  • Take steps to minimize insider negligence to mitigate the consequences of insider threats.
  • Train your security teams to properly install, configure, and monitor your computer systems, networks, mobile devices, and backup devices.
  • Provide training for your regular employees to inform them how to handle security risks, such as phishing and protecting corporate data they carry on laptops and mobile devices outside the company.
  • Require strong passwords and frequent updates of passwords.
  • Inform employees of the effects of engaging in malicious activity.
  • Routinely audit servers in the cloud and on-site, and then correct any changes from the organization-wide secure baseline.
  • Ensure that privileged access security systems and central servers are limited to a minimum number of employees and that these individuals include only those with the training to handle the administration of mission-critical computer servers.
  • Monitor access to all computer servers at any level of privilege.

7. Insecure APIs

APIs represent a mushrooming security risk because they expose hackers to multiple avenues to attempt to access data from a company. Companies need to treat APIs with the same level of protection they provide for their business-critical web applications to close the door on security risks and protect their customers.

Key recommendations to prevent insecure APIs

  • Always Use HTTPS
  • Use Password Hash
  • Avoid reuse of API keys.
  • Passwords, usernames, session tokens, and API keys should not appear in the URL
  • Consider OAuth. Basic auth is more than enough for most APIs. If implemented correctly, it is secure.
  • Consider adding a timestamp in the request.
  • Practice good API hygiene that includes the diligent oversight of items such as inventory, testing, auditing, and abnormal activity protections.
  • Consider using standard and open API frameworks.