Historically, to run any service, application or store data, you must own a PC or server with the required computing power and software architecture. With the rapid development of cloud computing, this is no longer the case as a lightweight browser can be used to execute CPU intensive tasks or store large data without physical infrastructure.
Cloud computing involves the use of computing resources such as servers, databases, networks, and software in the cloud (internet). It allows businesses to use resources that will ordinarily be expensive or out of budget if developed in-house.
With cloud computing, scaling and innovation is cheaper. However, the cloud also has security challenges. Some of these cybersecurity threats are similar to those found in traditional computing while others are peculiar to it. It is these security threats and risks that are preventing some organizations from fully embracing the cloud.
In this article, we will explore the risks and security issues with cloud computing for business.
1. Lack of Employee Awareness
While cybersecurity threats to the cloud are often about outside attackers. One aspect that is often overlooked is the degree of employees awareness and education about the cloud system and its security.
Your employees need to be well-trained about cybersecurity so as to minimize the human error aspect of system compromise. Attackers have long used phishing techniques for tricking employees into compromising their personal and organization system and cloud system is no different. When your employees know the nature of the threats and what to expect, they will be in a better position to fend off such attacks.
2. Targeted Malware Infections
Cloud services presents a novel cybersecurity threat. Attackers can take over a system resource by uploading malicious files on shared servers which may be accidentally executed by unsuspecting victims. Once a system is infected, cybercriminals can continue to access for a long time without leaving a trace of their activities.
Hackers often upload malware which when downloaded can compromise a system. Employees can also be using the cloud to transfer business data so as to gain total control over them.
3. Regulatory Violations
Due to privacy concerns, many industries are under government regulatory policy such as HIPAA which aim to protect sensitive data. The regulations mandate that a business knows where their data resides and restrict access to it. Businesses may not transfer customers’ data outside stipulated areas due to data privacy laws. Storing data on the cloud poses a risk of non-compliance due to the flexibility or ambiguity of storage location. A violation of such law may result in penalties and fines.
4. Lack of Control
The use of cloud services implies that you will give control to third parties over your data. They will be responsible for managing your data and ensuring that it is available. While it is convenient to not worry about how your data is being stored or managed, there are also the risks of being a spectator in the case of an emergency. If the provider is attacked or suffers an outage, you can’t do anything about it as you have to wait for them to fix it. This can be detrimental to time-critical business. Also, you may not implement better protection for your data due to limitations imposed by your cloud service provider.
5. Insecure Mobile Devices
Employees are often encouraged to use their personal devices for work related activities both onsite and offsite which may include business cloud data and applications. Such devices may expose your business to security risks without you knowing. Cyber attackers who want to infiltrate a business may first compromise an employee’s system with the aim of gaining access to the target business’ cloud data.
6. No Auto-Backups
Some cloud computing services do not provide automatic backups. Since the cloud is often used for backup some users can be lured into the false thinking that their data is being backed up. This isn’t the case for some providers. If you lose your data to hackers or system glitches, you cannot get another copy unless you specifically set up a data backup yourself. In the event of a data loss, there is no safety net for retrieving such data.
7. Use of Insecure Applications
No matter how secure your cloud provider system is, it can be compromised when accessed with insecure external applications and APIs. The applications that help employees to easily manage large data on the cloud may contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers to steal your data. Enforce policies that prevent employees from using random applications or submitting APIs to unvetted third party tools.
Cloud computing has huge potentials for a business, nevertheless, you can minimize the security risks by educating your employees, deploying auto backups, enforcing security rules and extending cyber security to employees devices.
Cloud computing is the future of computing, start it with a strong cybersecurity policy. We can help to get you started today.