Approaches to Secure Data in the Cloud

Cloud adoption is growing exponentially due to its apparent business benefits. These include improved efficiency, scalability, faster deployments, and reduced costs. However, the growth of cyber threats is in direct ratio with the rapid expansion of cloud adoption. Data breaches, targeted cyberattacks, and human errors pose a major security threat to any organization. Enterprises must combat the surging cybersecurity challenges by creating a robust security strategy and implementing best practices that ensure a secure cloud environment.

In this blog, we’ll have a closer look at potential cloud security risks and the top five best approaches to mitigate them. 

Major Cloud Security Risks that Jeopardize any Business

Due to a broad spectrum of potential security risks, 94% of organizations are moderately to extremely concerned about cloud security. An inefficient Identity and Access Management system (IAM) is one of the main bottlenecks of cloud security. If the IAM system is weak, bad actors may pose as legitimate users and gain access to confidential data, which results in a data breach–one of the major cloud security threats.

However, data breaches may also occur due to human errors, lacking security practices, and targeted attacks, which are also known as malware infections. Malware is a script or code embedded into the cloud and masked as a valid instance. Once malware operates in the cloud, bad actors can compromise sensitive data.

Cybercriminals may also use alternative attacks such as Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS), which generates a flood of excessive traffic, resulting in a cloud system crash. Other cloud security threats include unprotected application programming interfaces (APIs), which enable interaction with the cloud storage system, allow customizing cloud services, and are an integral part of user authentication. Vulnerable API endpoints may expose sensitive data to malicious attacks. In addition, human errors and security compliance violations may result in cloud data breaches.

All of the described threats must be mitigated in order to avoid substantial financial losses and long-term business disruptions.

Approaches to Keeping your Cloud Environment Secure

Deployment of an Efficient Access Control Management System

Unauthorized access is listed among the most significant cloud security vulnerabilities, as it is the major cause of data breaches and compliance issues. Deployment of an effective Identity and Access Management system is one of the essential steps to robust cloud security. An IAM system initiates, monitors, and controls user identities and access permissions in the cloud environment. By utilizing IAM systems, enterprises can mitigate insider security threats, track and block security anomalies and ensure that cloud resources are accessed according to specific policies and regulations. Best practices that can improve cloud identity and access management include enforcing a password expiration policy, educating employees on password strength and common fraud patterns, and implementing advanced security features like multi-factor authentication.

Ensuring Robust Endpoint Security Against Malware Attacks

Unprotected endpoints, such as laptops, mobile devices, or servers that have access to cloud applications, are vulnerable to targeted malware attacks. The most common types of cloud malware are SQL injections, ransomware attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS), session hijacks, and DDoS. These cyberattacks are targeted to compromise different endpoints and networks with the aim to steal, block, damage, or delete cloud data. 

The best approach to safeguarding the cloud environment from malware is to create a centralized endpoint management system that allows troubleshooting endpoint devices. Moreover, businesses must implement advanced antimalware and intrusion detection software along with integrated firewalls that block hostile network cyberattacks. As malware injections are often executed through phishing and social engineering, it’s essential to establish secure email gateways. Lastly, it’s crucial to encrypt the cloud storage data and utilize data backup solutions to restore SQL databases and individual files if they were damaged by malware. By implementing these steps, business owners can create an advanced multi-layered security system that effectively protects cloud data.

Implementing Advanced AI Tools for Threat Detection

The adoption of AI-based solutions can significantly enhance any cybersecurity system. According to the recent Oracle & KPMG report, 87% of business owners view AI as a must-have for security controls. AI technologies can process massive volumes of data to create patterns on network traffic and different user activities. Cyberattacks cause deviations from these patterns, which are instantly detected by AI-based security tools. After detecting an anomaly, AI may either alert a security specialist or shut down a specific user or a system part. Moreover, apart from real-time proactive anomaly detection, AI solutions can leverage predictive analytics to prevent potential security threats and indicate the major vulnerabilities within the security system. Lastly, various repetitive tasks and first-level security analysis can be delegated to AI, which spares time for security specialists and allows them to focus on more complex and critical issues. 

Performing Penetration Testing to Ensure Robust Cloud Security

Penetration testing is a complex security assessment that includes a series of advanced simulated cyberattacks aimed at providing a better insight into the security systems. Performing pentesting of the cloud environment on a regular basis allows identifying the security gaps and vulnerabilities that require improvement, as well as system misconfigurations that must be remediated. The best approach is to start with a basic vulnerability assessment, which scans the cloud environment for security issues. Then, you may opt for a “red teaming” assessment, a series of advanced targeted pen tests that allow finding complex security pitfalls within your cloud environment.

Conducting Security Training Sessions

The human factor may pose significant security risks for an organization due to insider incidents that occur from personal negligence and lack of security awareness. The organization’s employees are the first line of defense, as the majority of cyberattacks are carried out by phishing and social engineering. It’s essential to conduct security training sessions for your employees and make them aware of how to identify malware, phishing e-mails, and not fall for other social engineering techniques. By conducting security training sessions, organizations can eliminate insider threats and substantially reduce the chances of data leaks. 

Conclusion

As cyber threats grow in volume and complexity, the need to establish a robust cloud security system is imperative for any organization. Although the shared responsibility model shifts a certain extent of security functions to the cloud service provider, it is still primarily the organization’s responsibility to secure their cloud environment. By implementing innovative approaches and best security practices, like establishing an effective IAM system, utilizing advanced security tools, and educating employees, entrepreneurs can ensure business continuity, avoid substantial financial losses and foster business growth.

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Jan Keil

Jan Keil

Jan Keil is VP of Marketing at Infopulse and has extensive expertise in cloud, security and IT compliance, ICOs, and blockchain-related projects. With almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Jan is also passionate about cloud-based solutions, digital transformation technologies, data governance, and protection. Among the topics Jan Keil has already covered are digital twins, blockchain technology application in different industries, bitcoin evolution and ICOs, IoT, cloud security, etc.

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