Although cloud computing has been extremely beneficial for tasks such as remote working and data storage, its security and privacy have become a daunting task and organizations and their customers have to suffer a massive loss when a data breach occursAlthough cloud computing has been extremely beneficial for tasks such as remote working and data storage, its security and privacy have become a daunting task and organizations and their customers have to suffer a massive loss when a data breach occurs.
According to the 2018 Cloud Security Report published by Cybersecurity Insiders, three cloud security challenges include threats data privacy (61%), protection against data loss and leakage (67%), and breaches of data confidentiality (53%).
One of the notorious examples is Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal related to the recent United States election campaign. In fact, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, worked for the Donald Trump election campaign and gathered private data from up to 87 million Facebook users’ profiles.
In fact, without proper security and access restrictions, cloud computing actually makes it quite easy for hackers and cybercriminals to get their hands on your data.
The following sections will gain an insight into the cloud computing threats and some countermeasure needs to secure your cloud infrastructure.
What Are the Most Common Threats to Cloud Computing?
According to the 2018 Cloud Security Report, the biggest threats to cloud security include the insecure APIs/interfaces (50%), unauthorized access (55%), and the biggest of all is the misconfiguration of cloud platforms (62%). Moreover, eighty-four percent of respondent revealed that their traditional security tools have either limited functionality or they don’t work at all in cloud environments.
When the proper security measures are not put in place, cloud computing can easily lead to data breaches, hacked interfaces, compromised credentials, and hijacked accounts, distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), and more.
Apply Encryption on Cloud Data
Encryption is one of the most effective ways to secure data in cloud environments. Encryption helps in ensuring Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of data, also known as CIA triad. In fact, encryption works by converting plaintext into a ciphertext, making impossible for unauthorized identities to decipher and read it unless they know the encryption keys.
Cloud encryption services range from having an encrypted connection to limited encryption, depending on the level of sensitivity of data.
The Symmetric Encryption and Asymmetric Encryption are two popular encryption schemes. Symmetric encryption uses only a private key for both encryption and decryption while Asymmetric encryption uses a pair of Public and Private keys for encryption and decryption purposes.
As per 2018 Cloud Security Report, cybersecurity practitioners state that encryption (59%) is one of the primary methods (after access controls) to protect data in the cloud.
Use Authentication Systems
Authentication is the access control system used for approving or disapproving a person or entity’s access to a system or network.
There are many different types of authentication systems, however, the most common types of authentications are using login credentials (username and password), multi-factor authentication, and two-factor authentication.
These methods ensure that the person trying to gain access to a network are, in fact, who they say they are and are eligible to be using the service.
According to the 2018 Cloud Security Report, cybersecurity analysts believe that access controls (65%) are the key methods to safeguard data in the cloud environment.
Use IPS and IDS Mechanisms
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) are two extremely effective methods for keeping cloud computing safe and secure.
Essentially, both methods use the same type of technology, however, they are each used to fulfill different functions and protect against cyber-attacks at different points on a network.
Intrusion detection process attempts to monitor events occurring in the corporate network and analyze them for the signs of a potential incident, violations, or imminent threats to the company’s security policy.
On the other hand, intrusion prevention is an in-line security technology that sits directly behind a network’s firewalls and works somewhat like a security guard: It won’t actually stop an intruder from gaining access, but if they do gain access, IPS technology will stop them and ensure that they don’t cause any more damage.
According to the 2018 Cloud Security Report, the IDS and IPS security technologies (50%) the most effective to protect data in the cloud.
Use Backup Techniques
Cloud backup, or online backup, is an effective strategy that helps to back up sensitive data to ensure the availability of its duplicate copy in the event of a disaster.
In some cases, you may be able to set up your backups directly via your cloud computing services. However, you may have to do this manually if the service is not available. In this case, you can choose to use your own personal server, an external or portable hard drive, or even another cloud computing service.
Regardless, having your data backed up ensures that even if you were to undergo a data loss, you would still be able to retrieve your information.
Though cloud computing has made life easier and offers various incredible services, ensuring the security of cloud infrastructure and cloud data is a daunting task. Misconfiguration of cloud platforms, insecure APIs, and unauthorized access are the most common threats to cloud computing. However, you can enhance the security posture of your cloud computing organization by applying encryption to cloud data, use the authentication system, employ IPS and IDS, and utilize backup techniques.
In addition, the 2018 Cloud Security Report discovers that Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) (52%) is the most effective security technology to protect and secure workload in the cloud.
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