As more companies and large corporations move their business operations to the cloud, increased awareness for tighter security is gaining traction as well. Organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) have been leading the path toward a more secure cloud computing environment for enterprises.
Large multinational tech companies have ramped up their security service offerings, as in the case of IBM: in 2014, they introduced the Dynamic Cloud Security portfolio, which is expected to solve cloud security concerns related to access control, data protection and increased visibility.
But unless users remain vigilant in taking the necessary steps to secure their networks, hacking and other cybersecurity threats are a very real concern. Here’s a list of the worst threats to cybersecurity and some of the countermeasures you can implement to avoid them.
Data loss may happen in several ways, one of them being when a disk drive is damaged and dies as a result. Without a backup, it’s harder to retrieve the drive’s contents. Another way it can happen is when the key to unlocking encrypted data is lost. The worst kinds are those that take place because of an intentional attack, where hackers and malicious elements force their way into the cloud to erase valuable and confidential enterprise data. To prevent the negative consequences of data loss, never forget to backup your cloud data. It’s a simple and effective solution that can easily be implemented right away.
Breach of Data
If a data loss can occur due to simple negligence or the built-in obsolescence of certain gadgets, the cause of data breaches are a lot less innocent. In most cases, a data breach happens as a result of a malicious or intrusive intent. Some of the most high-profile cases occurred in recent years. During the 2013 holiday season, Target was the victim of a massive series of data thefts that resulted in the exposure of up to 40 million credit and debit cards to fraud, with up to 110 million individuals affected. Other cases include those that occurred with the world’s largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot, financial giant JPMorgan Chase and even one of the most powerful governments in the world, the White House.
To prevent a data breach, invest in data encryption tools. Some are even free, such as Bitlocker, FileVault, DiskCryptor and AES Crypt. And also, never forget or lose your data encryption key.
Account or service traffic hijacking is a type of identity theft where data collected from a computing device or cloud enterprise is stolen and used for unauthorized activities—often with malicious intent. A hacker who illegally gains access to accounts can use the data on the cloud, often with dire consequences. Examples include phishing, buffer overflow attacks and loss of passwords and other sensitive or confidential data, where the owner or enterprise loses control over the account—in the worst case scenarios.
Hackers can manipulate data, damage a business’s reputation and cause disruption to normal day-to-day operations for an enterprise that falls victim to account hijacking. Large corporations such as online retailer Amazon, as well as the websites of government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation and NASA have had their online platforms compromised.
The best defense strategies against account or service traffic hijacking are easy and straightforward: never share account credentials or passwords with anyone, including business partners or colleagues, implement a strong two-factor authentication technique and update passwords on a regular basis.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack
A DDoS attack happens when multiple systems flood the bandwidth of a target system or web servers of an enterprise—the result of several compromised systems flooding the targeted system with traffic. DDoS attacks are considered to be old disruptors of online business operations, and thus, mostly manageable. But, hackers in recent years have adopted increasingly sophisticated ways of managing an attack. This has made it harder to trace bad users from legitimate ones. In 2013, it was reported that the number of attacks rose by as much as 50 percent.
DDoS attacks may impair a customer’s cloud service, and when this occurs, the customer is billed for by the cloud provider for the resources consumed during the attack. When this type of attack is not detected and not taken down in time, it can prove to be too costly to continue operations, potentially resulting in the disruption of normal business operations.
The best defense against this threat is hiring the services of top DDoS protection service providers. Because of its complexity, it’s recommended to have a team of experts to provide guidance as to the best preventive measures to mitigate threats. A few reputable providers include Incapsula Enterprise, F5 Silverline DDoS Protection and Arbor Cloud.
Insufficient Due Diligence
Insufficient due diligence sadly takes place far too often in most business enterprises, resulting in insecure IT systems and unprotected data infrastructures that make them more vulnerable to attack. There are many benefits to using the cloud, but businesses must have a clear understanding of what it takes to keep data safe and secure. Ideally, enterprises must always remember to involve the IT team before introducing any cloud computing initiatives to the organization.
It is best to hire a team of IT experts, ideally those who have undergone formal training such as the cloud technology associate certification course. This team should be headed by a CISO to overlook cloud security matters. Having these experts on board will guide an enterprise in such matters as the correct incident response, encryption use and how to monitor the IT infrastructure.
As a final note, it is important to take the necessary measures to ensure that the IT infrastructure of an enterprise remains secure from any cyber attacks. Having a team of experts to take charge of enterprise IT security will give organizations a better chance of avoiding the negative effects, which are possible results of one or all of the abovementioned security threats in the cloud.