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Cloud Computing Security Threats & Concerns

The past decade has seen an explosion in the popularity of cloud-computing and cloud-based storage solutions with consumers and businesses. However, while

The past decade has seen an explosion in the popularity of cloud-computing and cloud-based storage solutions with consumers and businesses. However, while moving to the cloud offers a number of benefits to businesses, many have concerns regarding security.

While this is no reason to avoid using cloud-based solutions, it is important to be aware of them especially when choosing a supplier. Below are some of the most prominent security threats and concerns facing businesses moving to the cloud.

1. Data Ownership & Control

The move to cloud will inevitably lead to some loss of control of your organization’s data as it is stored on the cloud provider’s servers. Issues such as the geographic location of your data, specific backup processes and the steps taken to ensure your data is private and secure are no longer in your control.

Moving to the cloud also means that the service provider could have some degree of access to your data. In addition to privacy concerns relating to sensitive data, this may also impact your compliance controls and requirements.

2. Data Loss

Regardless of where and how your data is stored, the permanent loss of data is likely a major concern. Data loss can have a huge impact financially, operationally and even legally as data loss may result in the failure to meet compliance policies or data protection requirements.

In addition to the threat of malicious attacks; natural disaster, technical failure and accidental erasure of data can all affect cloud-based services in the same manner as an internal infrastructure.

Preventing against data loss is not solely the responsibility of the cloud provider. If the relevant encryption key is lost by your organisation the data is rendered useless.

3. Data Breaches

Data breach threats exists regardless of whether data is stored internally or on cloud. Some cloud services may be more vulnerable to potential attacks and the hijacking of data due to new methods of attack such as “Man-in-the-Cloud”. This takes advantage of synchronization services to access and extract data, compromise files or attack end-users.

While a cloud provider will implement security measures to reduce the risk of data breaches, it is important to keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for the security of your organization’s data and a breach can have serious legal and financial consequences.

4. Malicious Attacks & Abuse

Hackers or even authorized users may potentially attack and abuse cloud storage for illegal activities. This can include the storing and spread of copyrighted materials, pirated software, malware or viruses. This can occur when individuals directly attack the service or take over the cloud service’s resources.

Cloud resources can also be attacked directly through attacks such as malware injection which have become a major threat in recent years. This involves hackers gaining access to the cloud and then running scripts containing hidden malicious code.

5. Insider Threat

While attacks and misuse of data by your own employees may seem low-risk, the insider threat is very real. This can lead to the misuse of important data such as customer or financial information. For organizations who handle sensitive information such as finance or the healthcare industry this can be a major concern.

Assigning incorrect access levels or neglecting to remove user access for ex-employees can also lead to users having access to information they should not have. Apart from users with malicious intent, the threat of accidental deletion or release of data also exists if they are not adequately trained in the use of the software.

6. Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized access could be due to human error. For example, a system administrator forgetting to remove user access or an employee setting an easy to guess password or using the same login credentials across several services.

Other potential risks include lax authentication or poor certificate management on the part of the cloud service provider. This can leave the service exposed to the usual risks of password guessing and theft which could expose your organization’s data.

7. Regulatory Compliance

Using a cloud service may impact on privacy or data protection laws and the specific regulations, such as HIPAA, the Sarbanes-Oxley or the EU Data Protection Directive, your business must comply with.

Regulations may state how data is processed and for how long it must be retained. The cloud service must also be capable of providing you with all the necessary data, such as audit trails and logs, in the event of an audit or investigation.

Storing data on a cloud service may mean your organization must comply with other regulations as your data may be physically stored in another country or even several different ones.

The forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is law from May 2018 will further enforce Data Protection legislation and have widespread consequences for businesses found to be in breach of Data Protection.

8. Denial of Service Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have become more frequent, more sophisticated and larger in recent years. Operating on a cloud-based service can increase your risk of being affected. As you share resources with all other users on the cloud, an attack on another tenant can result in your service being affected.

With the amount of bandwidth consumed by large DDoS attacks, only very large cloud providers will be capable of withstanding at attack. If you use a smaller provider, your service is likely to slow to a crawl or your data may become totally inaccessible.

Moving to The Cloud

Don’t let these concerns put you off making the switch, moving your data to the cloud offers a number of benefits to both large and small organizations. The risks can be avoided by choosing the right provider. Check out our post on the type of questions you should be asking here.

If you are considering moving your data to the cloud, download our free 14 day trial of our cloud storage solution SISCIN by clicking here. Or for more information on cloud storage and how it can help your business, get in touch with the team now by clicking here.