20 cloud security risks + cloud cybersecurity best practices for 2022 | Norton
December 6, 2021
When it comes to the storage of your most sensitive data, the days of using clunky file cabinets are over. The cloud has proven itself as a Cyber Safe location for housing private information such as employment files, health documentation, and family photos and videos. However, for those who rely heavily on cloud storage, there are cloud security risks businesses and individuals should be aware of.
You may need a helping hand as you get a handle on your cloud network security. That’s why we’re offering a comprehensive guide to the different cloud security risks that threaten personal and corporate networks today. We also take it a step further by offering answers to some frequently asked questions, such as, “How secure is the cloud?,” “What are the security risks of cloud computing?,” and “What are the specifics of security protection in the cloud?”
How secure is the cloud?
Giving a cloud service provider (CSP) like Google Cloud or Oracle Cloud the responsibility of storing and protecting your confidential data can make some people uneasy. After all, you might have no idea how well CSPs are protecting the servers used to house your precious photos, videos, and files.
However, the truth is that giving up that bit of control can better protect your personal or professional information. CSPs have access to more robust cloud cybersecurity technologies that may be inaccessible to regular people and businesses. This technology can better safeguard your information from malware and cyberattacks, such as phishing scams and credential stuffing efforts.
15 cloud security risks for businesses + individuals
What are the security risks of cloud computing? Though seen as a more secure method of storing sensitive information from the business and individual perspective, cloud-based systems do have some security risks people should take note of. Here are a few cloud security risks to consider.
1. Data breaches
Hackers are often after one thing: data. So why wouldn’t they target the one place they could potentially steal tons of it?
The overwhelming amount of data CSPs store for people and businesses makes them a prime target for falling victim to a data breach. Often performed by experienced cybercriminals in search of private information, this cloud security risk could put medical documents, financial records, and customer information in jeopardy.
2. Data loss
Cloud-based systems can also fall victim to data loss—just like home and office networks. This can happen as a result of a data breach, natural disaster, or a system-wide malfunction. Truly protecting your data means reviewing the CSP’s backup strategy to ensure it has steps in place to guarantee the Cyber Safety of your digital assets. It also means taking the initiative to back up your data yourself, making the complete destruction of your data near impossible.
3. Insufficient access management
Access management means having a sense of control over who has access to your cloud account files and from where. From ensuring only safe devices are able to connect to your network to creating employee guidelines prohibiting the use of public Wi-Fi, limiting who has access and where is important for cloud cybersecurity.
Ineffective security resources and protocols could potentially lead to the hijacking of a cloud network. Cybercriminals use phishing scams and botnets to infiltrate and infect cloud-based systems, taking complete control once successful. Hackers use this access to steal your credentials and information, or in the case of a business, highly sensitive customer or corporate files.
5. Malware infections
Today’s hackers have many means to infiltrate cloud-based systems. One of them is malware that tricks the cloud service into thinking the malicious actor is a part of the system. Once the malware works in tandem with the cloud
service, it is able to siphon, destroy, and withhold information as it pleases.
6. Insider threats
Unlike insufficient access management, insider threats refers to those who already have access to your cloud network. These people ignore cloud cybersecurity rules you’ve put in place to protect your privacy and data. There could be websites you don’t want your guests visiting or files that employees shouldn't share outside of the company network. Regardless of the specifics, protecting your cloud network starts with knowing how people within your immediate circle utilize it.
7. Shared technology weaknesses
Using CSPs like Google Cloud presents cloud security risks for people at home and business professionals at an organization. The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology computers use to connect to the cloud allows them to share cloud security vulnerabilities hackers can take advantage of. Once a cybercriminal successfully infects and gains access to one computer on your network, it is likely they will be able to hack others if they are using the same cloud-based system.
Professional organizations, in particular, need to comply with regulation standards when it comes to the safe storage and protection of customer data. Whether it’s the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or another type of regulatory body, a state of noncompliance could put a company in very hot legal water with their government.
9. Data and privacy contract breaches
In addition to complying with government regulations, businesses also have to abide by the data and privacy contracts they make with their customers. These outline how the company protects, stores, and shares information with third parties. Any violations to these contracts could result in legal action, affecting customer loyalty and the brand’s reputation.
10. Lack of research
Before deciding to move your personal or professional data to the cloud, it’s important to do your research. You need to understand the ins and outs of the CSP you've chosen to help mitigate the chances of you becoming a victim of today’s cloud security risks. You should know who has access to your information, who’s in charge of data security, and current cloud network security protocols in place.
11. Reduced customer loyalty
If you own or work for a business holding sensitive customer data, know that almost nothing will diminish customer loyalty faster than having their exposed in a data breach. Without a guarantee of a Cyber Safe environment to browse or make purchases on a website, customers won’t be able to trust that they won’t fall victim to crimes such as credit card fraud or identity theft.
12. Revenue loss
As mentioned in the last cloud security risk, data breaches can lessen the trust customers have with businesses. This can then have a negative impact on revenue and sales. Those who can’t trust that their information will remain safe more than likely won’t purchase what they’re looking for from you.
13. Insecure APIs
Application programming interfaces (APIs) grant users the ability to customize their cloud security experience. In addition to being able to choose the security features that are most important to their network, APIs also authenticate and provide access to encryption capabilities. Because of the unique changes that users can make to a system, hackers can take advantage of new cloud computing security issues that may present themselves.
14. Denial-of-Service attacks
Denial of service (DoS) attacks tie up a website’s resources so that users who want/need access cannot do so. It works by disrupting the services of a cloud environment by overwhelming the computer processing unit (CPU), random-access memory (RAM), network bandwidth, and disk space. This can bring computer operations to a halt and negatively affect the reputation of a business if you have one.
15. Misconfigured cloud storage
Having the proper cloud network security configuration in place on your system is essential for ensuring the safety of your data. Businesses in particular have been greatly impacted by not taking the time to make proper configurations,especially considering their lack of adequate controls and oversight leading to almost 31% of misconfiguration cases reported within the last year.
5 cloud security protection tips
Understanding cloud network security takes more than just knowing about the dangers that are out there. You need to also know how to protect yourself. Here are some cloud security best practices you can use to better secure your data.
1. Use a cloud service that encrypts
One of the best weapons in your cyberthief defense arsenal is using a cloud service that encrypts your files both in the cloud and on your computer. Encryption ensures service providers and their service administrators, as well as third parties, do not have access to your private information.
2. Read user agreements
Never sign up for cloud service without reading the user agreement completely. It includes vital information that details how the service protects your data and whether you give permission for them to use or sell your information in any way by signing up. Never sign up for anything without a complete understanding of what every clause in the agreement means. Anytime your service provider updates its privacy policies, it will notify you via email, text, or an alert when you log in. Always read these notifications to ensure changes do not negatively affect your data.
3. Enable two-factor authentication
When provided with the option, always use two-factor authentication to avoid cloud security issues. This means anyone who signs into your account will need information in addition to your password. Common methods of authentication include incorporating biometric logins, answering secret questions, providing personal PINs, or typing in a code that the cloud provider emails or texts to you. You may also opt to download an authenticator
app. Not all accounts will automatically ask you to set up a secondary identifier, so be sure to check your settings to see if the option is available.
4. Don’t share personal information
Some of your personal information may seem unimportant, but if it falls into the wrong hands, it could leave your identity unprotected. Never publicly provide your birth date or mother's maiden name, for instance, which are often asked as questions to verify your identity. You should also avoid providing people you don't know or trust with information such as the name of the street you grew up on or the name of your first pet.
Regardless of how well you know someone, never give them the last four digits of your Social Security number. Some providers allow you to choose your own questions to answer for verification. If you have the option, use questions and answers that you can remember but that most people wouldn't easily be able to learn about you, such as an embarrassing childhood nickname or where you went on your first date.
5. Don’t store sensitive data
Avoid storing sensitive information on the cloud to prevent blackmail or embarrassment if it falls into the wrong hands. In addition to the obvious, such as your Social Security number, copies of your IDs, or important financial statements—even old ones—consider what other information someone could get their hands on. Never keep racy pictures or intimate interactions with partners in the cloud, and if you are sensitive about items such as diet progress pictures, avoid posting those as well.
Despite cloud commuting allowing us the convenience of accessing our data at our fingertips from almost anywhere in the world, there are still cloud security risks to keep in mind that could threaten our Cyber Safety. Take note of these cloud security issues and best practices to live your life to its fullest cybersecure potential.
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