Although we often hear about data breaches and about how cloud data can be a security risk, this has not stopped companies from embracing the technology. In fact, even though one-third of the companies expect to have some kind of data breach within their cloud systems, 80% of IT professionals and executives feel their data is safer in the cloud.
Currently, 91% of all organizations have at least one service in the cloud. But that number will most likely increase as more companies join the world of cloud computing and move more services to the cloud. While 60% of leaders believe that cloud data is safer than on-site data, there are still risks to the system that need to be tracked and managed.
The risks of the cloud
While companies use cloud systems more often, many businesses are still concerned about various security risks. The protection of cloud data is more advanced than when the technology first arrived, but there are still risks that everyone should know about.
Just like traditional networks at companies, cloud servers are at risk for data breaches. In fact, they may even be a bigger target as they hold huge amounts of information. Financial data, health information, business secrets, and other important information are all at risk. No only would this breach of data hurt the company, they could also face fines and lawsuits.
''58% of data managers can not guarantee that employees from cloud providers are not accessing data in the cloud.''
Most, if not all, systems have some kind of password to access data in the cloud. Companies run into trouble when they have a password system that is too weak, when they do not keep track of who has access to the cloud, or embed credentials in code that is easy to access.
"Only one-third of data managers say their cloud service provider encrypts their data."
Cloud services usually offer APIs and interfaces that allow companies to interact with various cloud services. The security of the data in the cloud relies partly on the security level of the API. If the API does not have effective encryption and authentication methods then the cloud is at risk.
When systems have bugs, like all systems do at some point, people looking to access the system can take advantage of this bug to get access to other parts of the system, including cloud data.
Cloud data is not safe from phishing and other types of scams and fraud. Compromised cloud accounts can allow access to other parts of the system and allow an outsider person to change data, extract data, and launch other attacks.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) inundate a system with attacks until they find a way in and set up shop. From there they can steal massive amounts of data. They usually move within a system in a way that makes them look like normal traffic, so they are difficult to detect.
While DoS attacks have been around for a long time, they are making a resurgence due to cloud systems. These attacks can leave companies unable to access their data and wasting huge amounts of computing power. They can basically slow everything to a halt.
Creating a Solution-Focused System
In order to use cloud systems effectively and safely, businesses need to have various strategies in place to predict future problems and have a system in place to resolve issues quickly.
Start with a plan
In order to protect data, you need to have a detailed map of your system. You need to know where your data is kept and what each cloud provider does to help provide security. You also need to know what aspects of the system you can control and assess for any weaknesses.
Categorize the data
Using a cloud system has its risks. But many companies do not keep accurate records of what kinds of data they store in the cloud. You should categorize data based on priority and importance. Make sure you know what is in the cloud and what should not be stored in the cloud in case of a security breach.
When you have an accurate picture of where your data is, who has access to the data, and what the weaknesses in your security system are, you need to start putting solutions in place. Many of the safest systems use multi-factor authentication, rotating network keys, patches for bugs, and other simple fixes to improve network security.
In order to keep up with more advanced threats, invest in more advanced security systems. These systems are not cheap, though. If you’re working in IT and data security, you need to find allies on the management team in order to get the funds necessary to keep company data safe.
Monitor, monitor, monitor
After a system to manage security is in place, you cannot just sit back and think you are safe. Have teams of people monitoring sessions and traffic. These reports can help you analyze how security is working, what needs to be fixed, and plan for future threats.
Because technology is changing, the number and type of security risks are changing as well. Make sure to train employees in the most up-to-date security risks and solutions.
Your main priority
As more companies use the cloud for multiple services and trust that it is safer than on-site servers, security risks will always be an aspect of data management. Stay vigilant in knowing all aspects of cloud technology, your cloud service provider, and changes to technology that could increase the risk of a breach. Cloud computing and data management are convenient and the protection of data should be the main priority for employees at all levels of your organization.