7 Key Cybersecurity Threats to Cloud Computing

When businesses consider cloud computing, one of the major advantages often cited is the fact that it can make your business more secure. In fact, in recent years many businesses have chosen to migrate to the cloud specifically for its security benefits. So, it might surprise you to learn that there are a number of cybersecurity threats that can cause all sorts of problems for cloud systems. 

It is important, then, to understand exactly where your system could be at risk, and what you can do about it. In this article, we take a look at seven key cybersecurity threats that could affect your cloud computing services: 

  1. Crytopjacking
  2. Data breaches
  3. Denial of service
  4. Insider threats
  5. Hijacking accounts
  6. Insecure applications
  7. Inadequate training

To deep-dive into these cybersecurity topics, check out Cloud Academy’s Security Training Library. These Learning Paths cover the leading security tools and best practices and includes Security labs that allow you to gain real-world experience with implementing security best practices. The labs guide you step-by-step in a secure, sandboxed environment.

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1. Cryptojacking

Crytojacking is a fairly new form of cyberattack, and it is also one that can very easily go under the radar. It centers around the popular practice of mining for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. To do this, you need computing power, and cybercriminals have found methods of accessing cloud computing systems and then using their computing power to mine for cryptocurrency

Cryptojacking can be very tricky to spot and deal with. The major issue here is the fact that when hackers use computing resources from your cloud system means your operation will be slowed down, but (crucially) it will continue to work. This means that it can seem as if nothing malicious is happening and that perhaps the computers are just struggling with their processing power.

Many IT teams mistake the symptoms of cryptojacking as a flaw with an update or a slower internet connection, meaning it takes them much longer to establish the real problem.

2. Data breaches

Perhaps the most common threat to cloud computing is the issue of leaks or loss of data through data breaches. A data breach typically occurs when a business is attacked by cybercriminals who are able to gain unauthorized access to the cloud network or utilize programs to view, copy, and transmit data. 

If you use cloud computing services, a data breach can be extremely damaging, but it can happen relatively easily. Losing data can violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which could cause your business to face heavy fines.

Remember that a data breach can cause many different issues for your business. Aside from the fines and loss of data, you can also lose the trust of your customers, or even have your own intellectual property stolen. 

3. Denial of service

One of the most damaging threats to cloud computing is a denial of service (DoS) attack. These can shut down your cloud services and make them unavailable both to your users and customers, but also to your staff and business as a whole. 

Cybercriminals can flood your system with a very large amount of web traffic that your servers are not able to cope with. This means that the servers will not buffer, and nothing can be accessed. If the whole of your system runs on the cloud, this can then make it impossible for you to manage your business. 

4. Insider threats

When we think of cybersecurity challenges, we often consider the concept of malicious criminals hacking into our systems and stealing data – however, sometimes the problem originates from the inside of the company. In fact, recent statistics suggest that insider attacks could account for more than 43 percent of all data breaches

Insider threats can be malicious – such as members of staff going rogue – but they can also be due to negligence or simple human error. It is important, then, to provide your staff with training, and also ensure that you are tracking the behavior of employees to ensure that they cannot commit crimes against the business. 

You should also ensure that you have a proper off-boarding process in place. This refers to the point at which someone leaves the company – you need to ensure that their access to any crucial data is removed and that their credentials no longer work in the system. Many businesses get hacked due to malicious former employees looking to get revenge. 

5. Hijacking accounts

Perhaps the greatest threat to a business that uses cloud computing technologies is the challenge of hijacked accounts. If a criminal can gain access to your system through a staff account, they could potentially have full access to all of the information on your servers without you even realizing any crime has taken place.

Cybercriminals use techniques such as password cracking and phishing emails in order to gain access to accounts – so once again, the key here is to provide your team with the training to understand how to minimize the risk of their account being hijacked.

One of the ways that your business can minimize the risks involved with hijacked accounts, is through proper permissions management. This means that every account across the business should only be given access to the information that they need to do their job. This means that if an account is hijacked, there is less than the criminal can steal. 

6. Insecure applications

Sometimes it can be the case that your own system is highly secure, but you are let down by external applications. Third-party services, such as applications, can present serious cloud security risks, and you should ensure that your team or cyber-security experts take the time to establish whether the application is suitable for your network before they have it installed. 

Discourage staff from taking matters into their own hands and downloading any application that they think might be useful. Instead, you should make it necessary for the IT team to approve any application before it is installed on the system. While this might seem like a lengthy step to put in place, it can effectively take away the risk of insecure applications.

Of course, it should also be noted here that applications need to be patched whenever possible, so make sure that this a part of the ongoing role of your IT team. 

7. Inadequate training

Most cybersecurity threats come in the form of outsider attacks, but this issue is one caused by a problem inside the company. And this problem is in failing to take the threat of cybercrime seriously. It is essential to invest in training on the risks of cyberattacks – not just for your IT team, but for every member of staff.

Your team is your first line of defense against any kind of data breach or cyberattack, so they need to be prepared with the latest information or relevant threats to businesses like yours. Allocate time and budget for staff training, and also make sure that this training is regularly updated so that your staff is being taught about issues that are genuinely affecting organizations. 

To prevent cybersecurity threats, it is no longer acceptable to simply have a presentation about phishing emails and setting a strong password from the IT team when someone new joins the business. Cloud Academy empowers enterprises to create structured cloud training plans at scale with a wide variety of content that delivers the theory, technical knowledge, and hands-on practice. With both individual and enterprise training plans, Cloud Academy’s Training Library provides 10,000+ hours of training material organized by job role, platform, and domain.

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We have taken a look at seven cybersecurity threats to your cloud computing system. One recurring challenge is that you will inevitably be vulnerable to some of these threats if you do not put in the resources and defenses that are required. To prepare for the treats, be aware of them and seek professional training assistance if you don’t have the resources in-house.

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