9 Threats to the Security of Cloud Computing

In recent years, cloud computing has become an increasingly attractive way to store and access data on the internet, but many people remain wary of placing their business information on the web. While there are certainly threats to the security of cloud computing, taking precautions when it comes to cloud storage can make these threats easy to overcome and can allow you to reap the benefits of cloud computing without having to worry about your information’s safety. Here are nine main threats to the security of cloud computing and tips on how you can address them. 

1) Compliance 

With a cloud service provider (CSP), if you’re storing and/or processing data, you must ensure compliance with various government regulations. For example, if you store and/or process credit card data, then you need to be compliant with PCI-DSS Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. If you store and process health information which is protected by HIPAA then you need to make sure your CSP has its own safeguards in place for that sort of data. Noncompliance can result in hefty fines or other penalties. 

2) Encryption 

Encryption is one of the most basic yet powerful ways that security can be assured in cloud computing. Encryption works by taking your data and scrambling it up so only you can access it. That way, even if a hacker gets his hands on your data or steals your hard drive, he’ll have no way to access what’s on it and will be completely illegible. This method is also extremely useful when sharing files across multiple computers. 

3) Privileged Access Management 

In order for an organization to leverage all of its cloud computing services, there needs to be an effective Privileged Access Management program in place. If privileged access is compromised, it can have disastrous consequences for a company’s brand and bottom line. These threats should be carefully assessed when considering a move into cloud computing. 

4) Multi-Factor Authentication 

Authentication is a security process where a user proves their identity by providing something they know (such as a password) or something they have (such as an authentication token). MFA takes authentication one step further. It requires two or more authenticators for successful authentication, such as using something you know with something you have (an OTP sent to your smartphone). This makes it more difficult for hackers to gain access without going through additional steps that a legitimate user would never encounter. 

5) Data Leak Prevention 

Data Leak Prevention (DLP) technologies are very common in cloud computing environments, where they are used to enforce policies related to data ownership and access. DLP is an important component of ensuring that sensitive data remains safe. A study conducted by Ponemon Institute found that a staggering 80% of cloud users believe that their sensitive data is not secure when stored on public clouds

6) Malware Protection 

Malware can be hidden inside files in a cloud service that are inadvertently run by end users. Anti-malware software helps keep malware off your computer, but it can’t protect you from malware installed in a cloud service. Managed security services include anti-malware protection, helping ensure threats don’t reach your systems. Combined with encryption and other protection mechanisms, managed security services help protect against data loss and business disruption that could result from compromised systems. 

7) Web Application Firewall 

A web application firewall (WAF) is a system designed to protect against threats such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting, usually in cloud computing environments. WAF products are often used by hosting companies that have limited control over their customer’s applications. A WAF can also protect against direct attacks on underlying operating systems or hardware by performing bytecode transformation of Java or .NET code. Although some WAF products provide DDoS attack protection, it is not their primary purpose. 

8) DoS Protection 

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack can cause serious problems for your cloud computing environment, so you need to make sure that your business has strong DDoS protection in place. A DoS attack essentially floods a website or server with more traffic than it can handle, making it impossible for legitimate users to connect and use it. 

9) Log Analysis and SIEM 

They’re terms you might not have heard before, but they’re essential components of a cloud computing infrastructure. Log analysis refers to regularly monitoring server activity, logging security events and analyzing them for patterns. SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools are specifically designed for log analysis and provide real-time alerts when breaches occur. Since cloud computing is all about efficiency and cost savings, it makes sense that cloud providers would offer their own SIEM software as part of their infrastructure.