Avoiding Security Risks With a Cloud-Based Business

The cloud has been invaluable to many companies as they migrate their data to various off-site storage services. One of the best things about running a cloud-based business is the accessibility it provides. Companies can access or manage data from anywhere there’s an internet connection, which puts crucial information within instant reach. Though the benefits of cloud migration are numerous, it’s becoming apparent that some businesses are making the switch uninformed. Here, we’ll look at some of the biggest security risks that come with cloud migration.

Data Breaches

These breaches have become quite commonplace over the last few years. The consequences of a data breach can be vast, from fees and fines to a decline in customer trust and company reputation. The severity of the damage from a data breach depends on the sensitivity of the exposed information, but businesses can mitigate the risk by improving their security and authentication protocols.

Though it’s true that business cloud providers such as BCD use in-house security measures, it’s the client who’s ultimately responsible for stored data protection. Encryption and multi-factor authentication are suggested for optimal cloud security.

Data Losses

Cloud data losses occur for several reasons, such as those listed below.

  • Users may lose their encryption keys, rendering encrypted data unusable and unrecoverable.
  • Hackers may delete cloud data by attacking a company or the cloud storage provider.
  • Data is sometimes erased in the absence of a backup.

There are other reasons for cloud data loss, but the main idea is that data losses can be a major downfall for businesses of all sizes. Data loss is highly preventable, but it still occurs due to human error or negligence.

In the EU, new rules treat data corruption and destruction as data breaches that require disclosure. Even if a company’s data is lost rather than stolen, a European Union company would still be responsible for any damage caused. 

Cloud storage is efficient, but it must also be sensible. Companies migrate to the cloud to enjoy greater access to their data, but it pays not to put too much reliance on such services. Today’s companies see the greatest success with a combination of cloud and on-site storage methods.

Hacked Credentials and Broken Authentication

One of the most egregious security lapses is the implementation of weak authentication methods or the poor management of certificates and keys. Companies may find it difficult to assign the right permissions to users, or they may forget to remove user access once an employee has left the company. Both scenarios, as well as others, contribute to poor security and data loss.

The best way to prevent the compromise of authentication methods or credentials is with multi-factor authentication systems. With smartcards, one-time-use passwords, and device-based authentication, companies can significantly reduce the theft and use of login credentials.

Complex Architecture

The likelihood of cloud data losses increases in proportion to the complexity of the underlying architecture. Data-intensive applications are typically dependent on multiple environments. However, when architecture is designed in ways that it consumes and interacts with data in a single stream, migrations are much more successful.

No Consumer Control

End users don’t have full autonomy when running apps in the cloud, and most processing and end logic are done on separate servers. Attacks on these servers may compromise users’ data, affecting your company’s security and its reputation. However, we take great strides to keep your company’s data secure.

DOS or Denial of Service

DOS or denial of service attacks have long been a problem on the internet, and it’s no different in the cloud. A DOS attack for a business cloud customer may be costly in terms of downtime. However, it’s much more likely that such attacks would impair rather than shut a service down, which means customers would be forced to wait and they’d still have to pay for that time.

Compromised Interfaces and APIs

Another security risk for businesses using cloud services is how access to those services is managed. At BCD, our focus is on providing seamless services to multiple users while limiting the potential for damage. In many cases, an API or application programming interface is implemented for user permission management and authentication purposes.

The biggest issue with a public API is that it’s nearly impossible to protect against accidental and malicious attempts to disrupt policies and services. Developers typically add complexity and extra services to an API, which increases exposure and creates a wider margin for error.

Encryption and authentication are two factors that keep cloud systems safe and regulated. However, an API’s configuration may not be up to par, and it may contain flaws that affect its integrity. The most prevalent issues are:

  • Anonymous access (access with no authentication)
  • Insufficient access monitoring (can also arise because of negligence)
  • Reusable passwords and tokens (which are at the core of many brute force attacks)
  • Clear text authentication (where a user sees input on a screen)

One of the most well-known examples of an insecure API in use is that of the Cambridge Analytica uproar. Facebook’s API had unfettered access to users’ data and the company used that access for its benefit. We promise to do our best to secure APIs and your sensitive data.

Service or Account Hijacking

Anything from a malicious attack to user error may lead to account hijacking. Once they’re in the system, a hacker can easily alter data, eavesdrop, or redirect web traffic to other sites. Any of these tactics may be quite damaging. Furthermore, if a malicious user gains access to a business’ cloud account, they can use it to launch additional attacks against the host company or outside users.

Parasites and APTs

An advanced persistent threat or APT gets into a cloud system, creating a foothold that allows the exfiltration of sensitive data and important information over time; this happens without the provider’s knowledge. Though we have security measures to prevent APTs from getting into our infrastructure, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to implement protocols for the deterrence and detection of APTs. These parasites are just another way for malevolent users to get into cloud accounts and the data they contain, and the biggest risk is in the level of data each user stores on the cloud.

Abuse of Services

Many of the pitfalls associated with cloud services are the shared responsibility of the end user and the provider; however, abuse of services is something every provider has to guard against. Cloud services are often used by criminals to launch DDoS (distributed denial of services) attacks, break encryptions, or host malware. 

Protecting against these users requires continual vigilance and the provider’s ability to recognize behavioral and traffic patterns. We’re always here to talk about the safeguards we use to prevent the abuse of our services, and we know that such actions could lead to data loss and service interruptions.

Actions by Employees

Insider threats aren’t always malicious in nature. Though disgruntled employees and hackers are at the top of the list, it’s equally likely that a contractor, partner, or system admin may make a mistake that compromises cloud data and brings vulnerabilities to light. The easiest way to prevent such on-the-job errors is to provide employees with effective training and to manage permissions while keeping watch for suspicious activities. Keeping keys and encryption processes out of the cloud and in the hands of only the people who need access is another good way to reduce the risk of malicious and accidental activity.

No Due Diligence

One of the most substantial risks companies face when migrating to the cloud is inertia. Making the switch without understanding the environment and its risks is dangerous. Merging data between companies or migrating to cloud services requires strong encryption and authentication processes. Depending on the provider for the company’s security needs only puts its data at severe risk.

It’s crucial for clients to understand their risks and the type of security they’ll need, but it’s just as important to know about the provider’s rights and responsibilities. This is particularly vital when it’s time to recover from a data loss or breach. The cloud is an extremely effective way to manage corporate data, but it’s your responsibility as a client to understand the risk assumed when migrating a website or customers’ data to the cloud.

In Conclusion

The cloud is efficient for the same reasons it’s vulnerable. It can store enormous amounts of data in a central location, provide backups, and offer additional access methods. Hackers and ill actors look for ways into systems, and when information is centralized or there are several backups, it makes infiltration that much simpler.

That’s why it’s so essential for companies to have in-house security measures such as multi-factor authentication and multiple backup methods and locations. These security measures make it harder for hackers to get into a company’s systems. A cloud migration does much to lower overhead and increase efficiency, but an in-depth understanding of the cloud service’s risks and capabilities will help clients get the most from a provider.

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