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7 Cloud Data Security Challenges and How to Overcome Them

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By the end of 2020, the global cloud computing market is expected to exceed $330 billion. 

So, what is it that is causing more and more people to resort to cloud computing?

The most important factor that is making people to switch on cloud computing is the convenience to access data from anywhere. Cloud computing is transforming the ways organizations have interacted with the data traditionally. It is inevitably allowing them to be more accessible and scale their productivity.

With that being said, the biggest downside of cloud-based technology, like almost every other technology, is security and data privacy concerns.

Cloud computing technology is still evolving, and so are the threats. Here, in this blog, we have examined seven of the biggest cloud data security challenges and explored their antidotes. 

1. Data Breach

Data breach refers to the act of accessing confidential data in an unauthorized manner. It may include personal information, trade secrets, intellectual property, or any other classified information.

According to a report by IBM, data breaches cost business $3.85 million globally. Like with traditional means of data storage, the biggest threat to cloud computing is also data breaches. 

In an on-premise environment, the network infrastructure controls remain in the hands of security professionals. In contrast, some of those controls are transferred to a third party in the cloud-based environment— making the settings vulnerable to the data breach.

Solution:

  • Encrypt the data and formalize the access process
  • Employ intrusion detection tools 
  • Validate the running software and the software patches
  • Regularly monitor the network activities

2. Unsecured APIs

Application Programming Interface (API) enables the interaction between cloud-based applications. It serves as a backbone to the cloud-based environment and holds it together. 

However, APIs demand credential authentication and direct access as a prerequisite to interacting. It makes the system weak and puts the security of the cloud storage at stake. 

Solution:

  • Incorporate SSL encryption to enable income device identification, IP address and location
  • Employ Web Application Firewall to keep a check on HTTP traffic

3. Data Loss

It’s not just the intrusion and unauthorized access of data that cloud-computing administrators should stay wary of. Loss of data has to be taken care of as well in cloud-based computing. 

Be it accidental deletion or malicious attacks; data loss is possible if strong measures are not taken. Sometimes, natural calamities such as earthquakes or accidents such as fires can destroy data. The other times, the users fail to password-protect their accounts, and it lands them into trouble. 

Solution

  • Ensure a disaster recovery plan that is tailored to the cloud applications and workload
  • Make sure to protect every network lay, together with the application layer
  • Introduce Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to keep the data from getting lost
  • Users should be encouraged to create strong passwords

4. Insider Threats

Sometimes, the employees of the organization are involved in committing the contraventions. At times, it is done with sinister intentions, but it can also be caused accidentally. 

There are scenarios when users decide to keep the same password for multiple applications. In other cases, users omit from keeping a password in the first place. This poor security awareness and carelessness provide the intruders an opportunity to connect the dots and capitalize on the patterns.

Moreover, phishing is another technique that hackers employ. In essence, they disguise as credible institutions, contact the users through emails and text messages, and extract valuable information from them. 

Solution

  • Involve Identity and Access Management (IAM). It puts data access control on the employees  
  • Automate configuration management to make sure cloud service is configured correctly
  • Establish loyalty in the employees and communicate the consequences of a data breach at the time of recruitment.

5. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

According to a report by Cloud Protection Services and Priorities, 53 percent of IT professionals seek to reinforce protection against APTs.

According to a report by Cloud Protection Services and Priorities, 53 percent of IT professionals seek to reinforce protection against APTs.

Advanced Persistent Threats are prolonged attacks targeted at the cloud environment from multiple vectors and entry points. They are done to gain access to private documents, intellectual property, or other sensitive data. 

While most of the time, ordinary cybercriminals are behind it, sometimes these acts are carried out by state-backed cyber-attackers to extract valuable information of an organization. 

The perpetrators usually start by conducting phishing on the computer of the user and then take advantage of software vulnerability to gain complete access to the system. The attackers also pick their targets through social media platforms. 

Solution

  • Apply a multi-layer security practice
  • Ensure the blocking of entry points
  • Use a firewall and a malware scanning tool such as Avast Internet Security 2019
  • Impart tips and training at the user’s end

6. DDos Attack

In this type of attack, the attacker floods the online service with extraordinary traffic and makes the service inaccessible to the user. DDoS attacks result in delays at the users’ end and result in huge financial losses for cloud computing services. 

Initially, the attacker builds botnets, a pool of infected computers, by gaining control through emails and social media services. Subsequently, these botnets are utilized to attack the target.

Since cloud computing makes use of several virtualization technologies and is based on shared distributed computing resources, it makes DDoS attacks hard to control. 

Solution

  • Make a comprehensive DDoS prevention plan
  • Fortify the network infrastructure by threat management systems
  • Make sure that early detection is carried out
  • Invest in DDoS services that provide real-time protection

7. Noncompliance with the Industry Standards

The security threats can be best kept at bay if the cloud computing services act according to the compliance standards set by the industry and regulatory bodies. These may include, although not limited to, PCI DSS, HIPAA, DGPR, and FISMA. 

These standards provide guidelines to keep cloud data safe from external and internal malicious activities. Besides, failing to comply with them not only results in violations and lawsuits, but it affects the credibility of the cloud computing service as well.  

Solution

  • Make sure that the company follows the guidelines and the standards of the relevant regulatory authorities 

Closing Remarks

No matter how sophisticated cloud technology gets, it cannot convincingly ensure a 100 percent security against threats. So, in case of an unfortunate event, it is essential to evaluate and record a rundown of the system. It will help in protecting the system from similar attacks in the future. 

From the consumer’s perspective, a thorough risk assessment should be carried out to analyze how secure it would be to shift to a cloud computing system.

If you have any further queries regarding cloud computing and security, tell us in the comments section. We will be happy to address them.

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