and How To Mitigate Them Successfully
The evolution of cloud technology has caused cyber threats to evolve in a parallel manner. Cybersecurity risks have skyrocketed as more and more companies opt for migrating their servers and infrastructures to the cloud. This trend has resulted in immense amounts of sensitive data being interconnected, available, and – unfortunately – quite vulnerable to numerous threats.
Despite the undeniable gravity of these risks, it took some time for businesses to stop taking this issue lightly and start investing in improving the security layers for their cloud-based data, processes and architectures.
As is the case with any type of new and disruptive technology, the en-masse transition to the cloud has introduced numerous new security challenges that haven’t been so widely spread in the (not so recent) past. The spectrum of cloud computing services is extremely wide. And although these platforms are exceedingly useful and powerful, they can also be very vulnerable in terms of security gaps and management flaws.
These high levels of data availability are causing many hackers to try and breach these cloud-based systems and platforms and exploit whatever they can for their benefit. That said, let’s go over some of the most common risks and challenges of cloud computing and see how we can mitigate them.
Suboptimal data visibility and control
One of the main downsides of cloud-based architectures and environments, especially for those who have so far only been utilizing physical on-premise infrastructures, is the lack of insight into:
- where their data is stored
- how their data stored
- who has access to it
This type of transparency is compensated by a set of tangible benefits like ease of use and very low maintenance and management costs, high accessibility, etc – resulting in low levels of control and visibility. In some cases, cloud service providers outsource the hosting of your data and applications to other cloud companies, which often results in complex chains of command and a lack of transparency and control for the end-user.
This may decrease your input and ability to determine clear rules on how your data is managed and by whom, potentially leading to more complex problems in the long run, especially in terms of non-compliance issues with necessary regulations.
When choosing your cloud provider, be sure to opt for the one that is open and transparent about where and how your data is stored and managed. Ask about the distribution of rights over data between you and the cloud service, and don’t forget to inquire about who is to be held responsible in a data loss scenario.
Insufficient levels of data compliance
Laws and regulations for data privacy are becoming stricter by the day, which is another example of the cloud security landscape becoming more complex due to the evolution of cloud services. GDPR, for example, requires service providers to inform their users and customers about how they store, process, and use consumer data.
This can lead to potential issues as certain cloud providers may not provide adequate levels of data compliance for your industry and your line of business. More similar issues may arise if the provider is not willing to disclose the exact way they are following data security standards relevant to your business. If they are not providing you with an option to inquire about or audit their compliance policies, you can end up facing costly fines and penalties.
Your business must develop optimal data management strategies so your and your client’s data is always on the safe side. These tasks should be approached as granularly and tactfully as possible, which is where investing in email archiving solutions, strong data governance strategies, as well as email retention policies, may come in handy. Properly managing sensitive data privacy and security – especially in terms of company secrets and consumer data – is the fulcrum of a strong data governance plan. Be sure to come up with strong policies and implement them consistently across all your teams, infrastructures and communication channels.
Data deletion, data loss and poor backup strategies
According to Gartner, 40% of surveyed cloud service users say they perceive the ineffective deletion of data as a cybersecurity threat. The problem with the ineffective deletion of data by the cloud providers is that, when you delete your data from the cloud, you don’t really know whether or not it has been completely removed without any traces of it left behind.
For example, certain cloud providers tend to copy your files to multiple data centers for backup and uninterrupted uptime purposes. This means that your “deleted” document is merely marked as deleted but doesn’t actually get removed from the servers right away.
When communicating data loss, deletion and backup policies with your chosen provider, be sure to inquire about what exactly happens to your data when you decide to terminate the cloud service. Ask about how they handle backups and where the backed-up data is stored – whether it is located on personal servers or they are using third-party servers, if there is a possibility to request complete data deletion, etc.
The risk of multi-tenant cloud environments
When you use a public cloud that is shared by multiple tenants, you and your data may end up getting jeopardized in terms of data breaches or downtime, even if your company is not the target of the attack. There’s a possibility of malicious co-tenants themselves attacking your data. Potential flaws in the CSP’s data separation methods can lead to this type of scenario.
Another potential risk comes from inadvertent insider threats in the form of security gaps created by your own negligent employees, like the use of weak passwords, password sharing, the use of insecure devices, and so on.
Always check what type of data security measures the provider is utilizing. These can involve:
- access controls
- DDoS attack protection
Always check for disaster recovery and business continuity clauses in the SLA (service level agreement).
The cloud computing landscape is evolving fast. The benefits are numerous and multifaceted, but it does come with certain security risks and challenges. When using any type of cloud-based service, be sure to have a thorough and well-thought-out strategy that takes into consideration all the potential challenges and their solutions.
It is highly recommended that you take data privacy very seriously and not hesitate to invest in top-tier cloud security solutions.
Damian Alderson is a business consultant and a freelance blogger from New York. He writes about the latest tech solutions and marketing insights. Follow him on Twitter for more articles.