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Cloud computing has become a popular solution for businesses of all sizes, providing access to cost-effective, scalable, and flexible computing resources. However, with this convenience comes the need for cyber security. In this article, we’ll explore what cloud security is, why it’s important, the top challenges, and best practices to ensure the safety of your cloud-based data, applications, and infrastructure.
What is Cloud Security?
Cloud security, also known as cloud computing security, refers to the practice of protecting cloud-based assets from cyber-attacks and cyber threats. Additionally, it encompasses a wide range of technologies, processes, and policies that ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, applications, and infrastructure that reside within a third-party service provider’s infrastructure. In simple terms, cloud security is about securing assets that are stored and processed in the cloud.
Why is Cloud Security Important?
As more and more businesses migrate their critical applications and data to the cloud, cloud security has become a crucial concern. While most major cloud service providers (CSP) offer standard cybersecurity tools with monitoring and alerting functions, in-house IT security staff may find these tools do not provide enough coverage. This creates cybersecurity gaps and increases the risk of data theft and loss.
Because no organization or CSP can eliminate all security threats and vulnerabilities, business leaders must balance the benefits of adopting cloud services with the level of data security risk their organizations are willing to take. Cloud security mechanisms and policies need to be in place to prevent breaches and data loss, avoid noncompliance and fines, and maintain business continuity (BC). According to Gartner through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. This highlights the importance of organizations taking responsibility for their cloud security and implementing proper security measures.
Top 9 Cloud Security Challenges
There are many challenges that organizations face in securing their cloud assets. Here are some of the top threats you should be aware of:
Insider threats refer to the risk posed to an organization’s data and systems by individuals within the company. Insider threats can be intentional or unintentional and can cause significant harm to the organization. According to a study, insider threats are the leading cause of data breaches, accounting for 60% of incidents. These threats can result in lost revenue, legal liabilities, and reputational damage for the organization and can be mitigated through proper employee training, access controls, and monitoring of employee activity.
Data loss can occur due to accidental deletion, system failure, or cyber-attacks. The loss of data can result in significant financial and reputational damage to the organization. For example, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 in the USA was $5.09 million. To prevent data loss, organizations can implement data backup and recovery solutions as well as cybersecurity measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.
A data breach occurs when sensitive information is accessed by unauthorized parties. Data breaches can be caused by cybercriminals, insiders, or third-party service providers. According to statistics, data breaches exposed at least 42 million records between March 2021 and February 2022. These can then result in identity theft, financial loss, and reputational damage for the organization.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) refers to the policies and technologies used to control access to an organization’s data and systems. IAM is critical to cloud security as it ensures that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive data and applications. Additionally, IAM policies can be granular, meaning that access is granted on a need-to-know basis. Solutions can also include multi-factor authentication and password policies to ensure that user credentials are secure.
Encryption keys must be properly managed to ensure the security of encrypted data. Their management includes key generation, distribution, storage, and revocation. If encryption keys are compromised, the data becomes vulnerable to unauthorized access. Key management can be automated using key management solutions that provide centralized management and control of encryption keys.
Malware refers to any malicious software that can be used to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and applications and can also be used to disrupt operations or damage systems. Malware can be spread through phishing attacks, infected software downloads, or by exploiting vulnerabilities in systems. To prevent malware attacks, organizations can implement antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.
Phishing attacks are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data. They typically involve the use of fraudulent emails, websites, or messages to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information. According to a report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, there were 1,270,883 phishing attacks reported in Q3 2022 alone. To mitigate phishing attacks, organizations can implement employee training programs and cybersecurity solutions such as spam filters.
Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized software or services within an organization which can create security vulnerabilities and can result in data loss. Gartner said that by 2023, 33% of successful attacks on an organization’s security have been through shadow IT resources.
What are Cloud Security Best Practices?
- Understand the shared responsibility model, including those of your CSPs and your security team. While the first is responsible for securing the infrastructure of the cloud service, the latter is in charge of securing their own data and applications. Understanding this model is important to ensure that security responsibilities are clear and all parties are taking the necessary measures to protect the organization’s assets.
- Choose your CSPs wisely. Know what security controls they offer, and review contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs) diligently. Additionally, it’s important to evaluate their security posture and the security controls they offer. This can include checking their compliance certifications, security features, and the quality of their security infrastructure.
- Adopt a strong, granular IAM policy to control who has access to what. Employ the principle of least privilege (POLP) and require strong passwords and 2FA or MFA to ensure that only authorized users have access.
- Encrypt data at rest (when it’s stored), at use, and in motion (when it is transferred). Encryption is an essential security practice to protect data in the cloud and ensure compliance with various data protection regulations.
- Maintain cloud visibility through continuous monitoring. Continuous monitoring of cloud resources is important to identify potential security issues as soon as possible. This can include monitoring network traffic, user activity, and system logs.
- Understand cloud compliance requirements and regulations. Different industries and regions may have specific compliance requirements that organizations must adhere to.
- Establish and enforce cloud security policies. They should cover topics such as data classification, access controls, encryption, and incident response and should be consistent throughout the entire organization.
- Conduct security awareness trainings for employees, partners, and anyone accessing organizational cloud resources. These practices can help ensure that all users understand their role in protecting the organization’s cloud resources. Training should include areas like password security, phishing awareness, and incident response procedures.
- Segment clouds and workloads. Segmentation of cloud resources can help contain security incidents and prevent them from spreading throughout the organization. This can be done by separating resources by function or application, or by using network segmentation to separate different types of traffic.
Accedia as a Cyber Security Provider
Accedia prioritizes compliance with industry standards to provide top-notch cloud security services. The company is compliant with the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard and the Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange (TISAX). In 2022, Accedia achieved the highest level of Security Competency by Microsoft and started exploring further its cyber security capabilities and services. Moreover, the company aims to continuously maintain and advance the skills of all security consultants within the organization and provide better services to partners by offering certifications, participation in cyber security hackathons, and more.
Cloud security is a critical concern for businesses of all sizes. It encompasses a wide range of technologies, processes, and policies that ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, applications, and infrastructure that reside within a third-party service provider’s infrastructure. While there are many challenges associated with cloud security, there are also a lot of practices that organizations can follow to ensure the security of their cloud-based assets. Organizations need to conduct a risk assessment, use strong authentication and encryption, follow the principle of least privilege, and implement monitoring and logging. By doing so and keeping up with the latest trends and technologies in cloud security, companies can ensure the safety of their data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud.
If you would like to know more about Accedia’s cybersecurity practices, make sure to let us know!