Cloud Security Issues and How to Overcome Them

Top 7 Cloud Security Issues and How to Overcome Them by Gilad David Maayan

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Cloud computing transforms the way companies store and shares data, workloads, and applications. However, cloud environments also introduce a lot of new security threats and challenges, which often turn into easy marks for cybercriminals. This article reviews seven common security issues in cloud computing, including tips on how to overcome them.

What Is Cloud Security?

The goal of cloud security is to protect cloud-based infrastructure, data, and systems, from cyber attacks. Cloud security applies multiple levels of controls that mitigate DDoS attacks, support regulatory compliance, and protect customer data and privacy. Companies can create robust security environments by managing cloud security in one place.

The Difference Between On-Premises and Cloud Cyber Security

Cloud security and on-premises security differ in connectivity, required resources, and responsibilities, as explained in the table below.

Connectivity
On-Premises Security—based on individually managed security toolsCloud Security—based on API-driven security tools
Responsibilities
On-Premises Security—the organization is responsible for the securityCloud Security—both customers and cloud service providers are responsible for the security
Resources
On-Premises Security—the network perimeter is composed of static resourcesCloud Security—the network perimeter is distributed due to the usage of dynamic resources

7 Cloud Security Issues in Cloud Computing and How to Overcome Them

The following list reviews some of the most common risks cloud-based environments are facing, including tips on how to overcome them.

  1. Data ownership and accountability 

Cloud servers are usually located at multiple geographical locations. Each server stores the data of multiple users, in one place. The cloud provider has to restrict access to your data and maintain confidentiality by separating your data from that of others. The provider also needs to ensure that data marked for deletion is removed as soon as possible.

Cloud providers need to be clear about how they secure your data. This includes encryption types, authentication protocols, and monitoring and reporting policies. In addition, providers have to specify where your data is stored and whether the compliance laws of that location are different. You should keep tabs on any policy changes to ensure your data is secured.

  1. User privacy and secondary usage of data

You don’t always have full control over data stored in the cloud. As a result, your private data may be exposed and you won’t be able to prevent secondary usage of data. You also have to use many third-party integrations for cloud storage. These integrations are easy targets for hackers because they enable data sharing.

Verify the sharing settings of your cloud configuration and any third-party integrations you use. Conduct periodic checks of privacy policies to make sure that all services and products comply. In addition, make sure to include the required regulations in your Service-Level Agreement (SLA), since they may differ between cloud providers.

You can also use a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solution for securing cloud configurations. CSPM tools and processes enable you to proactively detect and prevent cloud security risks by focusing on compliance monitoring and security assessments across the entire cloud infrastructure. 

3. DDoS attacks

The goal of Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks is to make a web server unavailable by overwhelming them with fake traffic. DDoS attacks can render a website useless for hours or days. This can result in a decrease in customer trust, revenue loss, and damage to brand authority. 

Controlling DDoS attacks in cloud environments is a complex task because cloud computing is based on shared distributed resources and uses different virtualization technologies. 

You should invest in DDoS protection solutions that can protect against sophisticated DDoS threats at every network layer.

4. Regulatory compliance

Cloud providers need to protect your data across different locations and take appropriate actions when needed. However, you are responsible for verifying that your data is compliant to local regulations, properly backed-up, encrypted, and restricted. You need to migrate your data to another provider if you see that your current provider is not complian.

5. Infrastructure security

You often cannot monitor proprietary cloud systems or processes. As a result, you cannot ensure that any cloud-based software or hardware is properly configured and updated. In addition, you sometimes cannot define who has administrative access to your set-up.

Tiering your cloud architecture and isolating infrastructure components with network Access Control Lists (ACLs) can reduce authorization risks. You can also configure administrative privileges only to specific people to limit access to the network. You should perform a periodic risk assessment to verify that your security measures are working as expected.

6. Disaster recovery

Disasters like power outages or natural disasters can prevent access to infrastructure. Outages can take a minute, an hour, several hours or even days. During that time you have no control over your most critical data. As a result, employees will not have access to systems and tools. In addition, there will be no data transmission until access is restored.

7. Data loss

Many companies do not have enough visibility into what happens to their data in the cloud. Companies can easily lose data when multiple users work in the cloud at the same time. This is when the benefits of data sharing and collaboration become a security vulnerability. Risks such as password sharing, personal devices without any passwords, accidental file deletion are the main reason for data loss in the cloud.

Organizations need to invest in a cloud data loss prevention solution to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information. You can use data loss prevention and disaster recovery tools, as well as dedicated systems to prevent malicious attacks. 

You should plan dedicated disaster recovery and business continuity strategies for cloud workloads. You also need to review your cloud provider data security options and request ongoing audit reports.

Conclusion

Robust cloud security is essential for companies that move their devices, data centers, and business processes to the cloud. Ensuring data security in the cloud is achieved through comprehensive security policies, backup and disaster recovery plans, and cloud security solutions. You should create your own security strategies and policies, and introduce only the practices and solutions that serve your network best.

About the Author:

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.