Cloud computing has been touted as the future of computing, but it comes with its own unique set of risks that business owners and consumers alike should be aware of.While the cloud has security measures in place to protect users’ data, these are still vulnerable to attacks by both criminals and other users. Here are some of the biggest security risks of cloud computing that you need to know about before storing your sensitive data there.
1) Data security is compromised
Given cloud computing, both companies and individuals have increased access to a plethora of information stored in a central location.
In addition, services such as Drobox allow users to store company documents, and even sensitive customer data, on remote servers outside their own offices.
There are many benefits to cloud computing: access to better network security options and lower costs among them. But it comes with some serious risks attached, including some that can be potentially damaging for small businesses or individual users alike.
2) Vulnerabilities in vendor software
When using cloud computing, your IT team is relying on vendor software. With traditional IT infrastructure, you control everything, but in a cloud environment, it’s possible that a vendor could have a security hole or vulnerability in their software.
And since you don’t know what software is being used or if it’s secure, there are risks involved with using cloud computing that aren’t present in traditional IT infrastructure.
This is especially true if you choose to use multiple vendors rather than just one.
Consider that when one piece of software has a bug or some sort of issue, it could impact other pieces of software and create problems for your entire organization—something to keep in mind when building an enterprise-level cloud solution.
3) Attacks from malicious insiders
Cloud computing services are often built on multi-tenant architectures that allow a service provider to serve thousands of customers from a single physical infrastructure.
While it is more efficient and cost effective, cloud computing vendors have little control over their users’ sensitive data. As such, one user’s actions could result in data leaks for all other users.
In August 2012, Microsoft had to shut down its Azure storage service after hackers gained access to several customers’ accounts, including some US government agencies.
Cloud security expert Bruce Schneier has referred to cloud computing as submarine warfare due to attackers’ ability to go undetected for long periods without being detected by the vendor or anyone else—and possibly never be caught at all.
4) Human error – accidental data breaches
Even if you have the best, most up-to-date protection software on your computer, it won’t matter if a human error causes an accidental data breach.
Most users are unaware that all their files can be accessed by any person who uses their computer – and often they don’t even know how to lock sensitive documents behind passwords.
All files uploaded to cloud storage should be encrypted so that only authorized users can access them; passwords should also be changed frequently (ideally every time there is a change in personnel).
In addition, make sure your staff understands how to spot suspicious activity: For example, logging into accounts from outside your office (particularly at odd hours) or someone moving or deleting files without authorization should immediately raise flags.
5) Threats to your personal data when travelling overseas
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that when travelling overseas, there are people who want to steal your stuff.
While traditional petty crime might be something you can deal with in a place like San Francisco (or any city), there are many places where it just doesn’t work.
Your smartphone has a lot of info that would be valuable to thieves and even some important data stored on apps is worth something to someone.
When I travel, I always try and keep my valuables secure in my carry-on bag (and sometimes even opt for an anti-theft backpack) but no matter what, if you have something expensive make sure you take your valuables with you whenever possible.
6) Leaving yourself open to DDoS attacks
One common threat to data security is denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. A DDoS attack can render a business’s website inoperable, making it impossible for users to do business online.
Protecting against such attacks requires safeguards on several fronts: First, make sure that your hosting provider’s network has adequate resources and safeguards to protect you from large scale attacks.
Second, use a service such as Cloudflare or Akamai to protect your site from high volume traffic by masking your IP address and filtering junk requests before they get to your server.
And third, invest in an intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention system (IPS), which can detect unusual activity that could signal a DDoS attack or other type of malicious behavior.
7) Software vulnerabilities you can’t see from outside your cloud environment
With cloud computing, you can’t easily access your hardware from an outside network. This could potentially leave your data unprotected from malicious software that targets unknown vulnerabilities in certain pieces of hardware.
If a piece of malicious software were to use one of these exploits to gain entry into your cloud servers, it could have full access to all data within those servers.
The only way to prevent such a security breach is with regular updates that keep your data on top of newly discovered vulnerabilities. However, it’s not always clear when those updates are available because no single entity controls what updates must be installed or when they need to be installed by.
Additionally, some versions may be vulnerable even if they’re running on recent versions of software; specifically, different versions have been found vulnerable at different times.
8) Cloud technology needs constant vigilance
Most cloud providers do everything they can to secure customer data, but customer behavior and/or failures on their part are what cause security issues.
In most cases, data stored in the cloud is safer than if it were on your own server or device, especially when it comes to network security and physical security.
But that doesn’t mean all clouds are created equal. Here are some common problems with cloud computing security:
- Issues regarding storage: There are several ways information can get out of a cloud environment and onto someone else’s hands: via unauthorized access (hacking) or unintentional actions such as sending files through email, losing a computer/tablet/phone etc.
- Data loss risk due to natural calamities: It has been seen many times that due to natural calamities like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods etc., data gets lost from different organizations which use cloud computing system.
- Hackers gaining access to database: It is very much possible for hackers gaining access to different database of different organization by targeting database management system software and then misusing them in order to steal information from organization’s database.
- Executing malicious scripts against hosts outside customers’ networks
- Repository not secure enough for storing corporate-critical applications
- Risk of exposure through public web sites hosted by vendors.