Top 7 cloud security threats

Here is a list of the most common security issues the cloud environment faces

cloud security threats

Top 7 cloud security threats. Source:

With the rise in popularity of cloud-based applications and data storage, customers and organisations care about cloud data safety alike. Cloud security refers to all the technologies, policies, controls, and services that protect the data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud from threats.

Cloud data breaches occur all the time with nearly 80% of 300 companies surveyed by Ermetic having experienced at least one cloud data breach in the 18 months preceding the survey. Nearly half of them (43%) reported 10 or more breaches detected within the same period. The breaches happen because of numerous threats endangering cloud storage.

You may wonder what those threats are exactly.

Data theft happens when an unauthorised individual intentionally gains access to sensitive personal information and data stored on the cloud. It may affect separate accounts as well as the whole network. Phishing and ransomware are common tools in the data thieves’ arsenal. Not only hackers are to blame for the data theft though. In 2020, 35% of global healthcare organisations suffered cloud data theft performed by malicious insiders.

Security misconfiguration means a failure to implement all the security controls for the production environment or implementing the security controls with errors. It’s estimated that 8 in 10 companies across the US have experienced a data breach made possible by cloud misconfigurations. The most common individual endpoint misconfigurations are errors related to accounts, password storage, and password management. When it comes to a misconfigured cloud application, it doesn’t take much technical knowledge to extract data or compromise cloud assets. Default configurations are often very basic, so if the company that uses a cloud service doesn’t change that, administrators’ dashboards may be left unprotected. Constant auditing and monitoring are needed too, as users accessing the cloud can make changes affecting security. Other misconfigurations include wrong internet settings, unpatched systems, disabled logging or security controls, as well as misconfigured apps and components.

Permission errors occur when users and applications accumulate access permissions exceeding their legitimate needs. Traditionally, when a new resource or service is added to the cloud, all permissions are granted by default. Those permissions should be regularly checked and updated if necessary as they give attackers more chances to penetrate a safe cloud environment.

Lack of adequate visibility presupposes the disability to have a detailed view of all activities in your cloud. In 2018, 95% of respondents to The State of Cloud Monitoring survey experienced either application or network performance problems because of cloud visibility issues, and 87% expressed concerns that a lack of visibility into cloud environments is obscuring security threats to their organisation. Fewer than 20% of participants said their company was able to properly monitor public cloud environments at the time. Insufficient visibility was also a common negative factor in both application and network outages. Lack of a detailed view often results in use of unsanctioned apps by employees who also have access to sensitive data. This enables external attackers to target the service with malware. Adequate visibility, on the other hand, enables proper control over application performance, timely threat prevention, balancing workload between monitoring tools, and monitoring encrypted sessions.

Insufficient identity and access management. This problem is persistent not only for cloud environments but also for any data storage. Often server rooms and separate machines are inadequately protected and controlled. In addition, employees may neglect storing their credentials properly, share login details with unauthorised personnel, use one shared password for all accounts, or choose weak passwords. Some organisations fail to use multi-factor authentication and automated rotation of cryptographic keys, passwords and certificates. Companies may also ignore using strict identity and access controls for cloud users and identities. For instance, they don’t limit the use of privileged and powerful root accounts.

Insecure interfaces and APIs. Some APIs bring vulnerabilities to the cloud environment along with attractive additional features. APIs and user interfaces are often the most exposed parts of the system. They are made public so that business partners and external developers can access software platforms. However, don’t forget that the security and availability of general cloud services depends on the security of those basic APIs. API keys are used by Web and cloud services to identify y applications using the services. If service providers and third-part their customers don’t protect those keys diligently enough, attackers may get access to the cloud. Some developers create APIs without any authentication. As a result, these interfaces are open to all internet users, and anyone can access enterprise systems and data if they wish. Besides, open source software incorporated into the code leaves many apps susceptible to supply chain attacks.

Metastructure and applistructure failures. Cloud metastructure differs from the traditional computing model as it includes the management plane components, which are network-enabled and remotely accessible. The management plane is the interface used to configure much of the cloud. Applistructure includes applications deployed in the cloud and the underlying application services used to build them. Both structures are subject to failures. Those may stem from weak implementations of APIs and other management interfaces by the cloud provider. When metastructure and applistructure components fail at cloud provider levels, service consumers may face disruptions in service availability, confidentiality and integrity.


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