cloud computing

3 security risks of cloud computing you need to be aware of

Foreword

Cloud computing is now an extremely popular part of organisations’ technology infrastructure. But whilst it is flexible, scalable, resilient, and reliable, its complexity means that security considerations must be reviewed before committing to a solution. Before developing and migrating your environment to the cloud, you should understand the risks involved, how they impact your data and how to manage them effectively.

Effective security controls ensure that your organisation’s data and sensitive information is protected. This helps to reduce the risk of exposing your data to malicious attackers who can breach, damage and destroy your information. Exposure is often unintentional and unknown but can cause serious difficulties for your organisation if it occurs.

Misconfigurations in the cloud environment are one of the biggest causes of weakness in security. As new cloud computing services are introduced into your IT infrastructure, more misconfigurations are likely to occur due to lack of expertise. Having visibility of your cloud security approach will help your organisation prioritise which risks cause the most harm and how to share responsibility between your team and cloud service provider.

Which cloud service provider should you choose?

There are many cloud service providers to choose from. Most cloud platforms offer similar services but there are differences that may make them more, or less suitable for your business. 

1. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most popular cloud solutions due to its power and flexibility. AWS has Identity Access Management (IAM) functionalities with user permissions that enable you to manage permissions given to each platform user. 

2. Microsoft Azure

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform solution. Organisations that use Microsoft infrastructure and services already will get on well with Azure. It seamlessly integrates with the likes of Microsoft 365 and Active Directory to deliver a fully joined up solution.

3. Google Cloud

Google Cloud integrates seamlessly with other Google services and ensures organisations have access to sufficient security capabilities. Google Cloud focuses on ensuring your organisation’s performance is consistent and you can manage your services including Cloud Storage and Big Query.

4. IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud offers both virtual and hardware cloud services designed to give you complete control of your IT infrastructure. IBM Cloud combines Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions. The platform can be integrated and managed from one environment using a mobile application, web portal or Application Programming Interface (API).

5. Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud offers two key service solutions: cloud infrastructure and data processing. Cloud infrastructure includes databases, data management and applications. Data processing involves big data insights and analytics. Your organisation is more suitable for Oracle if you’re a larger enterprise as opposed to a small business.

3 main security risks involved in cloud computing:

1. Lack of cloud expertise

A report conducted by Oracle found that over 75% of IT professionals consider the cloud more secure than their own on-premise environment. The same Oracle report found that 92% of these professionals feel like they don’t know enough about cloud computing to use its benefits appropriately.

Cloud platforms require a certain level of expertise and knowledge to be able to make the most of the services available. In-house teams that lack this awareness often outsource expertise to a third-party provider who can provide full visibility of the cloud environment to ensure it can be sufficiently secured.

2. Cloud misconfigurations

Cloud configuration can be quite complex, frequently requiring a wide and in-depth knowledge of key areas, such as security principles and cloud platform specific setup requirements.  Consequently, knowledge gaps can often lead to misconfiguration and lack of proper measures being implemented to fully protect an organisations data.  It’s important to realise that in most cases, whilst the cloud service provider will fully manage their underlying platform, setup and configuration at the organisation level is your responsibility.  Some common typical examples of misconfiguration are:

    • Accounts with more privilege than necessary.  Users should only be granted access to the accounts and files that ensure they can fulfil their roles effectively.
    • Weak passwords. Weak passwords can be easily compromised, so to help ensure that malicious attackers can’t gain access to accounts via the end-user, you should implement a policy that mandates strong, complex passwords.
    • Lack of a backup and data recovery solution.  Many people assume that data in the cloud is automatically fully backed up, but whilst service providers backup their entire platforms for quick restore if necessary, this often does not include the ability to granularly restore data for individual organisations, or users.
    • Failure to implement Multifactor authentication.  This is critical to prevent account take-over attacks.

3. Non-compliance with data regulations

Your organisation must comply with data regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. If your organisation processes sensitive data and information, it’s important to understand which data regulations are relevant to the locations in which you process data. Processing data internationally can bring with it additional compliance challenges.

You should understand where your data is stored in the cloud and who has access to it. You should review your cloud service providers shared responsibility model to ensure that your data is protected in line with the regulations you’re subject to.

How can security risks impact your organisation?

A breach of your cloud environment can lead to a loss of data. Sensitive data and information stored in the cloud can have a significant impact on your organisations and individuals if compromised. Cloud service providers have functionalities that can help prevent the loss of data caused by connectivity issues, power outages and corruption of data. In order to reap the benefits of these services, they must be configured correctly. This is where third-party expertise must come into play to ensure misconfigurations don’t occur, and a sufficient disaster recovery plan is in place.

Apogee Solutions can help you put the right security in place to protect your cloud environment. Our cloud IT services ensure your organisation can maintain data security, control your information, scale your services, and maintain business continuity at all times. We can help you determine which cloud platform is the most suitable for your organisation and equip you with the advice, support and solutions needed to transition to the cloud effectively.

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