Cloud Security: The Challenges of Securing the Cloud

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Many companies nowadays have begun to look to the cloud to help with their IT infrastructure needs. It’s no mystery why, as moving to the cloud affords several benefits irresistible to companies, especially to those looking to lower their overhead as well as increase their efficiency. These benefits range from business-critical information and data being accessible by employees from anywhere, even in remote locations.It also allows seamless and agile IT infrastructure expansion without having to pay the enormous upfront cost.

However, these benefits do come with a price, with that being the increased difficulty in fully securing a company’s data from disastrous cyberattacks and data breaches. Only by identifying these challenges and properly utilizing cloud security measures can companies truly reap the benefits of the cloud while keeping themselves and their customer safe.

With that said, here are some of the challenges of securing the cloud.

The Prevalence of Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the risky practice of employees using unauthorized software and/or devices to bypass IT security measures in the performance of their job, or for non-work related duties.

There are many examples of how Shadow IT can manifest in the workplace. One particularly common exampleinvolves an employee using a web tunneling service or VPN on their endpoint to view websites that have been blocked for security reasons. Another possible exampleis an employee using their own personal and potentially unsecured devices as an endpoint to access the office network or database.

The fact that Shadow IT bypassesthe IT security measures set by the company means that in every instance where they’re used, the company’s network and database are being exposed to unnecessary and avoidable security risks – risks that the security measures were supposed to mitigate.

No matter what the reason of the usage of Shadow IT, even if it’s for the sake of increasing productivity during a tight deadline, the truth remains that the company was deliberately rendered vulnerable to outside threats. These threats can and will take advantage of that window of opportunity, no matter how seemingly small or harmless that window is.

Shadow IT’s threat is compounded even further when we apply it to the cloud, as a cloud-based or cloud supplemented infrastructure’s entire purpose is to make the company server/database accessible to as many endpoints as possible. This presents a scenario where there are too many endpoints to secure, or even keep track of.

Thankfully, there are ways to address Shadow IT as a threat, with one of the main ones being encryption. Through the judicious encryption of the company’s data and managing the encryption keys among trusted staff and personnel, a company can reliably secure itself from data breaches and information theft – the worst consequences of a Shadow IT scenario.

App or System Vulnerabilities

No application or system is perfect. Vulnerabilities will always be present in all software and hardware. It’s only a matter of time before they’re discovered and then exploited by cybercriminals looking for their next big paycheck. Whether a company has truly adopted the cloud or is still sticking with traditional IT infrastructure, they will still need to mitigate the potential damage that currently existing vulnerabilities can cause. One way of doing this is to ensure that all systems and software are constantly patched and updated to their latest versions, no matter the resource cost needed to do so.

Ever Evolving Cyberthreats and Cybercrime Tactics

Yet another challenge that cloud infrastructure adopters need to work around is the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape. Cybercriminals have proven themselves capable of changing their tactics to keep up with the current IT trends. We’ve seen this in their shifting of targets and the tools they use– from victimizing end users with phishing and malware attacks to big enterprises and companies having ransomware and advanced persistent threats (APTs) used against them.

With cloud infrastructure clearly being the popular choice among big businesses, it’s only a matter of time before cybercriminals develop ways to attack databases and servers in the cloud. In fact, it’s already happening, with one notable instance involving cybercriminals exploiting a MongoDB database vulnerability to infect several databases with ransomware.

Only a multi-layer security approach can protect a company during this generation of cybercrime. Not only should a company utilize a robust security solution, they should also invest in a vulnerability management system, an incident response plan, and proper security hygiene training/enforcement among employees.

Conclusion

There are many benefits to adopting the cloud. However, companies looking to reap these benefits should do their homework when it comes to combating the security risks inherent in a platform that affords more freedom and efficiency.