The popularity of cloud computing has seen a meteoric rise in recent years, thanks to big players like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, who all provide cloud computing platforms.
The technology, which began as a backup storage option, has now become an all-inclusive computing platform that has fundamentally altered the way organisations use, store, and share information.
As cybersecurity professionals are aware, however, anything that becomes popular in the digital world will inevitably become a target of malevolent cyber actors—and cloud computing platforms are no different.
In recent years, the number of attacks on these platforms has increased rapidly. Incidentally, cloud cyber attacks accounted for 20% of all cyber attacks in 2020, making cloud computing platforms the third most-targeted cyber environment.
All of this begs the question: Are cloud computing cyber attacks the latest cloud computing cybersecurity issue?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Fortunately, as cybersecurity professionals, we know that any cyber threat, including threats to the cloud infrastructure, can be mitigated with adequate security controls and practices.
In this post, let’s explore what causes breaches in cloud cybersecurity and how organisations can prevent these from occurring in 2021 and beyond.
The causes of cloud computing cyber attacks
According to McAfee, data in the cloud may just be more vulnerable than data on on-site servers. These vulnerabilities are compounded by lapses across both Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and end-users.
CSPs provide different tiers of service depending on how much control an organisation needs over their cloud deployment. These offerings include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Organisations have to configure these deployments according to their requirements to ensure more robust cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, most companies do not have an adequate cloud security posture to ensure the safety of these services, leading to vulnerabilities in deployment. According to IBM, misconfigured servers are responsible for 86% of compromised records.
Knowledge of the specific deployment you’re using will help you configure it according to your security needs with the security tools provided by CSPs.
Compromised user accounts
Weak password protocols are a leading cause of compromised user accounts. Many users who work with cloud services do not have strong password protection, as they either use weak passwords, reuse older passwords or don’t change their passwords regularly.
As cybersecurity professionals, we encourage users to change their passwords regularly, at least once every 60–90 days.
CSPs provide application programming interfaces that allow users to interact and work with their cloud computing service. These APIs include extensive documentation to allow users to understand and use them effectively.
This documentation, however, can be obtained by hackers too and can be used to exploit the APIs to gain access and exfiltrate sensitive data stored in the cloud.
Also, any vulnerabilities in the integration and configuration of these APIs will leave a backdoor open for cybercriminals to exploit.
Eliminating security oversights in the implementation and configuration of APIs can be done by sticking to the documentation. Organisations also need to strictly monitor the functioning of the APIs to identify any vulnerabilities.
Malicious insider activity
Even if organisations implement the most secure cyber ecosystem, a malicious user can negate these security protocols and leak critical information.
The activities of malicious insiders are often hard to detect as they might already have access to critical information. In fact, over the last few years, the number of security breaches as a result of insider threats has seen a sharp upturn.
To negate insider threats, organisations can implement stringent access controls to limit the amount of information accessed by individuals inside your organisation.
Prevent cloud cyber attacks by implementing powerful cloud security measures
Every day, a greater number of organisations adopt cloud services to facilitate their move to a remote work environment and increase collaboration between global team members.
As adoption increases, so do the vulnerabilities. By understanding cloud security basics and some of the most common vulnerabilities that occur therein, we can limit our risk of becoming a target of cloud cyber attacks.