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Top 5 Security Risks of Cloud Computing

Posted on June 21st, 2021

Many businesses are shifting workloads to the cloud in an effort to increase efficiency and streamline workloads. In fact, according to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, roughly 90% of enterprises anticipate cloud usage will expand even further as a result of COVID-19. While cloud computing can offer organizations a competitive advantage, it is important not to rush into cloud adoptions without understanding the risks involved as well. A lack of understanding of cloud vulnerabilities can be an organization’s downfall when moving operations to these dynamic environments.

Whether your organization is jumping into the move already, or if you’re still on the fence about whether the shift is worth the risk, there are several key security considerations to keep top of mind. Let’s explore 5 common security risks of cloud computing and review the security measures your organization can implement to keep your cloud services protected.

How secure is the cloud?

In many ways, the security threats facing today’s traditional data center environments overlap with those of a cloud computing environment. On both sides, cybercriminals aim to take advantage of vulnerabilities found in software. That said, cloud computing introduces another element in that the responsibility of addressing and mitigating those risks is split between the cloud service provider (CSP) and the organization. Understanding the ins and outs of these relationships is critical to ensuring cloud security as operations move to cloud computing models.

What are the security risks of cloud computing?

There are several security risks to consider when making the switch to cloud computing. Here are 5 of the top security risks your organization should be aware of:

1. Limited visibility into network operations

When moving workloads and assets to the cloud, organizations forfeit a certain level of visibility into network operations. This is because the responsibility of managing some of the systems and policies shifts to the cloud service provider. Depending on the type of service model being used, the shift of responsibility may vary in scope. As a result, organizations must be able to monitor their network infrastructure without the use of network-based monitoring and logging.

2. Malware

By moving large amounts of sensitive data to an internet-connected cloud environment, organizations are opening themselves up to additional cyber threats. Malware attacks are a common threat to cloud security, with studies showing that nearly 90% of organizations of organizations are more likely to experience data breaches as cloud usage increases. As cybercriminals continue to become increasingly savvy with their attack delivery methods, organizations must be aware of the evolving threat landscape.

3. Compliance

Data privacy is becoming a growing concern, and as a result, compliance regulations and industry standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS are becoming more stringent. One of the keys to ensuring ongoing compliance is by overseeing who can access data and what exactly they can do with that access. Cloud systems typically allow for large-scale user access, so if the proper security measures (ie. access controls) aren’t in place, it can be difficult to monitor access across the network.

4. Loss of data

Data leakage is a growing concern for organizations, with over 60% citing it as their biggest cloud security concern. As previously mentioned, cloud computing requires organizations to give up some of their control to the CSP. This can mean that the security of some of your organization’s critical data may fall into the hands of someone outside of your IT department. If the cloud service provider experiences a breach or attack, your organization will not only lose its data and intellectual property but will also be held responsible for any resulting damages.

5. Inadequate due diligence

The move to the cloud should not be taken lightly. Similar to a third-party vendor, when working with a cloud service provider, it’s important to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure that your organization has a complete understanding of the scope of work needed to successfully and efficiently move to the cloud. In many cases, organizations are unaware of how much work is involved in a transition and the cloud service provider’s security measures are often overlooked.

How to bolster security in cloud computing

To take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, organizations will need to make deliberate efforts to maintain security in cloud environments. Let’s take a look at some of the leading ways that organizations can improve security in cloud computing:

Risk assessments

Conducting cybersecurity risk assessments is one way to analyze your organization’s cybersecurity posture and the efficacy of the security controls that are currently deployed. The goal of an assessment is to identify any potential vulnerabilities or gaps in security so that your IT team can make informed decisions about how to improve security going forward.

User access controls

Implementing user access controls is another critical component of ensuring successful cloud security, due to its typical ease of access compared to on-premises environments. Organizations should consider methods like zero-trust security, which operates under the idea that no one should be implicitly trusted with open network access. Instead, users are only given access to the critical functions needed for each role.

Automation

The threat landscape is constantly growing and cyber attackers are becoming more sophisticated each day. As a result, many IT departments are bogged down with a large number of security alerts coming in at a rapid pace. By automating key initiatives such as cybersecurity monitoring, threat intelligence collection, and vendor risk assessments, teams can spend their time on more high-priority tasks as opposed to manually reviewing all potential threats the network is faced with.

Continuous monitoring

Arguably the most important component of a successful cybersecurity risk management program is continuous monitoring. As organizations increasingly move to cloud computing models, continuous monitoring will become even more of a necessity for ensuring proper cyber hygiene on an ongoing basis. The digital landscape is shifting at a rapid pace, and if organizations are relying on point-in-time assessments to determine their security posture, more often than not it will be too late to act should a problem arise.

How SecurityScorecard helps you manage cloud computing risks

With so many moving parts to consider, cloud security can be a daunting task to manage. SecurityScorecard provides organizations with the ability to continuously oversee the security of their cloud solutions. Security Ratings offer an easy-to-read A-F rating of your network environment and cloud services that analyzes against 10 groups of risk factors including IP reputation, leaked information, and web application and network security. This allows your organization to confidently manage its cloud security efforts and make data-driven decisions about how security controls can be improved.

As organizations continue to embrace the cloud, proactive cybersecurity measures will be critical to ensuring a successful and efficient move to dynamic cloud environments. With SecurityScorecard, organizations have the power to oversee their cybersecurity posture and ensure their cloud security infrastructure is secure.

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