Originally published by New Context.
Many companies migrate to the cloud to enjoy better access and scalability, and enterprises are quick to take advantage of the benefits. Of course, with this rapid cloud migration comes an increase in risk.
Many common cloud security risks are entirely avoidable, though enterprise leaders may miss opportunities. Proactivity is a vital component. Avoiding insecure APIs, data breaches, access management issues, cloud misconfigurations, and supply chain risks is all possible with dynamic, integrated security tools.
5 Preventable Cloud Security Risks
As increasing numbers of enterprises choose to undergo digital transformation, the additional migration opens more opportunities for bad actors to attack. Cybercriminals will go where the activity is, and they know that most work is moving to the cloud. Unfortunately, enterprises shifting to the cloud for the first time may have a limited understanding of how to protect their infrastructure. This gives rise to five common cloud security risks.
1. Poor Access Control
Access control is a means of determining what resources an authenticated user has access to. This type of control dates back to the start of computers in the workplace, but it may be more difficult to carry over to the cloud. Individuals will use a wide range of devices and access points to reach company resources, making them challenging to track. In some cases, they may use insecure connections, which allows bad actors to steal their credentials.
2. Insecure APIs
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are important for enterprises. They allow the components of a system to communicate with each other. However, they also pose a security risk. As modern APIs are accessible through web page applications running on browsers and mobile apps, they’re open for exploitation in the same way as web applications. However, if APIs provide access to important company data or controls then there will be additional risk.
3. Cloud Misconfiguration
Cloud misconfigurations are responsible for a 424% increase in data breaches. Typically, misconfiguration occurs one of three ways:
- The enterprise allows cloud security settings to default, which bad actors can get around;
- They may also inappropriately assign access levels to individuals, resulting in the accidental exposure of sensitive data;
- Finally, they may forget to create sensitive data barriers and unintentionally disclose confidential information.
4. Supply Chain Risks
Everything as a Service (EaaS) creates a new vulnerability in the cloud. Typically, enterprises must deploy these services within their cloud environments but must take additional steps to know whether their vendors have the same high standards of security as them. A single oversight is enough to put all enterprise assets at risk.
5. Data Breaches
Data breaches from the cloud expose companies to lawsuits, damaged reputations, fines, and penalties. The average total cost to an enterprise for a data breach is about $3.86 million. A bad enough one has the potential to destroy a business. Protecting data must be among the highest priorities for businesses, but it’s challenging as bad actors consider company data extremely valuable and will never stop pursuing means to access it.
Countermeasures to Keep Clouds Secure
The largest risks to cloud security are entirely preventable, as long as a company leverages the right tools and resources. Making security a primary objective in any migration is the key. This strategy should include the following options for combatting risk.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra layer of access control by requiring those attempting to retrieve sensitive data to verify their identity in two different ways. This method helps to combat a common issue of individuals saving passwords to their devices, and it limits the ability of bad actors to socially engineer credentials.
Centralized Visibility Management
Cloud programs often have information silos that can limit system visibility, which creates problems in improper system usage. Using a centralized program that allows administrators to view access and monitor the system for abnormal behaviors limits the risk of breaches.
Automation and Logging
Automated programs can check the cloud regularly for configuration issues. Administrators receive alerts upon detection and can respond quickly. Immutable program logs make changes traceable to an individual, so remedial intervention is possible.
While it’s not always possible to thoroughly vet every single vendor who accesses the cloud, it is possible to set basic encryption standards. Companies must choose strong encryption, like AES 256. A good starting point for establishing these standards is the Commerce Department’s Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules.
Integrating all security tools into one system ensures visibility, simplified reporting, and can automate incident response. The process is prepared for potential incoming threats. As security issues often arise from human errors, orchestration acts as a solution by using technology to mitigate.
Securing Your Cloud with DevSecOps
Many of today’s cloud security risks are preventable by integrating tools with a DevSecOps approach. Such a strategy mirrors the flexibility and scalability of a cloud environment. Automation and orchestration can help protect organizations from both current and emerging security risks in the cloud.