Updated: Nov 7
More than ever, we are seeing a huge increase in cloud security threats. From cloud vulnerability to ransomware on data services, threats within the cloud environment continue to be one of the biggest cybersecurity industry trends. With companies allowing for flexibility with remote work, the dynamics and necessity for cloud services have created an awareness and concern for security controls across all industries and organizations.
While cloud services offer cost-saving optimization through scalability and effectiveness, they have also created an increase in security threats. Cloud enterprises and networks that have not been securely configured are a significant cause of data breaches, insecure interfaces, and account hijacking. Threat actors compromising multiple cloud environments within an organization incurred an average cost of $4.75 million in 2023. While many threats are damaging, these are the top five biggest security threats to cloud services that all organizations should be concerned with:
Loss of Data -- the #1 security threat for ALL cloud services. 64% of cyber practitioners cited data loss/leakage security concerns. With the increase in cross-cloud platforms across organizational environments, sharing data has never been easier between internal and external. Unfortunately, too many assumptions are made by users who assume that once data is in the cloud it's safe and secure, assuming its cost-saving benefits and ignoring security best practice procedures (such as regular backups).
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks -- DDoS attacks deny access to externally facing services, flooding them with malicious requests. Again, the assumption that cloud platforms are inherently safe and reduce security risk is misleading. This is especially the issue with non-traditional online devices or the Internet of Things (IoT). DDoS attacks vary in impact and complexity. An attack can make the traffic look like real web traffic with no abnormal behavior; however, if the attacker has adequate computing tools and resources, they can increase traffic to overwhelm any asset’s bandwidth, bringing down its operations.
Malware Infections -- because of the ease of data accessibility on the cloud, malware is also easily accessible. This is especially the case if that data is not being screened or monitored for malicious code that can infect cloud infrastructure servers hosted in the cloud space. These tactics can usually be successful if proper advanced threat protection and firewall rules or a Zero Trust model is not in place. Once malware gains access it spreads rapidly, even creating the opportunity for more serious threats that include the compromise of user credentials and keylogging.
Cloud Security Misconfiguration -- sometimes the most basic of security controls are the most critical. Restricting access, strong password policy, and data encryption can amplify a security program significantly. Unfortunately, these controls are often overlooked, especially within the Cloud when new assets are deployed. Configuration drifts, lack of standard procedures, and guard rails for user management are major issues with cloud platforms.
Insecure APIs -- the use of online application usage and mobile connectivity to critical assets have redefined the importance of APIs (arguably one of the largest attack surfaces). API adoption has been on the rise for the past decade, but its security solutions have not kept pace — at least not the implementation of them. Exploitation of inadequate authentication and open-source software have created a bastion of new vulnerabilities that are overlooked in remediation efforts. As a result, these interfaces are completely open to the internet, their enterprise systems, and coding and data are accessible to anyone.
Other cloud security challenges that networks face include:
Regulatory compliance across their cloud environments.
On-prem to cloud migration issues and constraints
Multiple unchecked entry points for attackers
Unauthorized access to data cloud services which could result in a breach of confidential information