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Top Cloud Security Challenges and How to Overcome Them

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Read more about author Gilad David Maayan.

Cloud security is composed of a set of policies, controls, processes, and technologies that work together to protect cloud-based infrastructure, systems, and data. These security measures are configured to protect data, support regulatory compliance, protect customer privacy, and set authentication rules for individual users. Cloud security is a critical consideration as organizations migrate workloads to the cloud.

Cloud security can be configured to the exact needs of the business, from authenticating access to filtering traffic. However, cloud security is still a complex matter for most enterprises. A cloud computing model delegates some of the responsibility of protecting sensitive data to third-party vendors, but not all of it. The shared responsibility model states that it is the cloud customer’s responsibility to secure data. This is why you need to add your own layer of cloud security. Read on to learn what security challenges you should expect while migrating to the cloud, and how to overcome them.

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Challenge 1: Data Breaches

In on-premise environments, IT security professionals have control over the physical hardware and network infrastructure. In cloud-based environments, part of those controls is transferred to a third-party partner, which makes the environment prone to attacks. Hackers can exploit vulnerable cloud environments to steal confidential data from organizations.

Solution: Invest in data encryption, tokenization, and threat prevention tools to protect your data. Solutions like intrusion detection and threat intelligence can quickly identify and mitigate a threat.

Challenge 2: Data Loss

Many organizations have no idea what happens to their data when it is stored in the cloud. When multiple end-users work in the cloud at the same time, it’s easy to lose data. Thus, the major benefits of collaboration and sharing become a pain point for cloud administrators. Things like accidental file deletion, password sharing, use of personal devices without any passwords are the main causes of cloud data loss.

Solution: Companies need to invest in a cloud data loss prevention solution to ensure that hackers do not steal and take advantage of sensitive information. You can use DLP solutions and disaster recovery tools, as well as dedicated systems to prevent malicious attacks. In addition, protect your network layer, including the application layer.

Challenge 3: Insider Threats

Insider threats are employees that threaten the security of organization, accidentally or intentionally. Common security failures driven by employees are: 

  • Poor security awareness: using and sharing identical passwords for large number of accounts and using applications without passwords. 
  • Phishing: a malicious email that tricks users into believing that the message is something they want or need. Phishing schemes are behind most data breaches, because the victim and the system admins often remain unaware of the attack.
  • Social engineering: threat actors make contact with an employee, and then trick them into divulging sensitive information and trade secrets. This is done usually either by impersonating an official entity, or through blackmail.

Solution: Combine identity management and automated user access with ongoing education of users, to encourage safe and smart data access practices within the organization.

Challenge 4: DDoS Attacks

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are designed to flood web servers with too much traffic, so the server won’t be able to respond to legitimate requests. 

Cloud computing is based on shared distributed computing resources and uses different types of virtualization technologies, which makes the DDoS security framework a lot more complex and harder to control. A successful DDoS attack can render a website useless for hours or days. This can result in a revenue loss, a decrease in customer trust, and damage to brand authority. 

Solution: Invest in DDoS protection services that provide real-time protection for sophisticated DDoS threats at every network layer including Layers 3, 4 and 7.

Challenge 5: API Security

API security is becoming one of the biggest concerns for cloud computing environments. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a set of protocols and definitions that connect different cloud-based applications with each other. Since APIs require credential authentication and direct access to each app they communicate with, they become a potential security threat to cloud environments. As the variety of APIs grow, so do the potential vulnerabilities for a security breach. 

Solution: Implement SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to establish secure communication based on elements like incoming device identification, IP address, and geography.

Challenge 6: Disaster Recovery

Disasters like power outages or natural disasters can prevent access to an organization’s infrastructure. This situation can last anytime from a minute to several hours. During that time a company has no control over the most critical data. Employees will not have access to systems and tools during the outage. In addition, there will be no transmission of data until access is restored.

Solution: Plan business continuity and disaster recovery strategy dedicated specifically to cloud workloads and applications. Review your cloud provider data security options and request ongoing audit reports. Take advantage of disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) services offered by all major cloud providers.

Conclusion

More and more organizations realize the benefits of cloud migration. Cloud environments allow organizations to reduce technology costs, operate at scale, and use agile systems that provide them a competitive edge. Despite the advantages, organizations must protect their cloud systems, data and applications from data leakage, deletion, and corruption.

Organizations are naturally cautious about migrating business-critical systems to the cloud. They need to know that all essential security provisions are in place. Cloud security offers all the benefits of traditional IT security and allows businesses to leverage the advantages of cloud computing while remaining secure. In addition, cloud security ensures that organizations meet data privacy and compliance requirements.

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