The 10 Biggest Cloud Security Threats Facing Businesses Today (and How to Mitigate Them)

by | Nov 09, 2022

Cloud Computing Security Threats

Almost every business in the U.S. today depends on cloud computing in some way, even if they’re not consciously aware of it. Many of the apps and software that businesses use are hosted via cloud platforms, which opens up a whole new world of potential security threats.

Rather alarmingly, 98% of companies have experienced some form of a cloud-based data breach in recent years, highlighting the vast exploitability of this widely-used computing resource.

In order to protect your business from these ever-present cloud security threats, you first need to know what the most common security threats in cloud computing are, and how best to either mitigate or avoid them entirely.

In this blog, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know, as a business owner/operator, about the 10 most common cloud computing security threats, including how cyber criminals (hackers) are able to exploit them, some real-world stories of businesses that were affected by a cloud-based data breach, and then what you can do to prevent the same thing from happening to you.

Why Are There More Cloud Computing Security Threats Than Ever Before?

There are a few reasons for the increase in cloud security threats over recent years, including:

  1. The rise of cybercrime as a profitable business, with hackers able to easily sell stolen information or hold it ransom for payment.
  2. Cloud computing technology is still relatively new, and so there may be vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered or addressed by cloud providers.
  3. Many businesses lack proper training and education on cloud security best practices, leaving them more vulnerable to attacks.
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Real World Examples of Businesses Affected by Security Threats in Cloud Computing

To better understand the depth of exploitability of current cloud technologies, here are some real-life stories of how businesses had their data compromised or stolen via a security weakness in their cloud infrastructure:

  1. In 2015, the IRS announced that they had been the victim of a massive data breach affecting 100,000 taxpayers. Hackers were able to access sensitive personal information through an online application used for obtaining tax transcripts. The agency faced severe criticism for their lack of proper security measures, leading to a major overhaul of their cloud computing security practices.
  2. In 2014, the security firm Imperva discovered that hackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in Adobe’s ColdFusion web application software, hosted via Amazon Web Services (AWS), to access sensitive information from numerous businesses. This included credit card numbers and medical records from healthcare companies, as well as login credentials for a poker website.
  3. The internet giant Yahoo faced several major data breaches, with one affecting over 1 billion user accounts in 2013 and another affecting 500 million accounts in 2014. These attacks were thought to have been carried out by foreign government entities, but could have easily been prevented with better cloud security measures in place.

The 10 Most Common Cloud Security Threats Facing Businesses Today

Now, let’s take a closer look at the 10 most common cloud security threats facing businesses today:

  1. Insider Threats

These can come from current or former employees, contractors, or anyone else with legitimate access to your cloud-based applications and information. This type of threat often occurs due to human error resulting from a lack of proper training on security protocols, cloud misconfigurations as well as not regularly updating and monitoring access privileges for all users.

  1. Data Loss/Leaks

These types of security challenges can happen through accidental misuse or negligence, as well as malicious attacks like phishing scams or ransomware. It’s important to have strict policies in place for handling sensitive data, regular backups stored securely offsite, properly configured security settings for access controls and employee education on identifying potential scams.

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  1. Unsecured APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) help facilitate communication and data exchange between different applications, but if they’re not properly secured they can leave information in your cloud environment and network vulnerable to attack. Make sure to regularly update and patch any APIs in use, as well as regularly monitor activity for suspicious behavior.

  1. Inadequate Identity & Access Management

This refers to the processes and tools used for controlling who can access your cloud-based resources, and what level of access they have. It’s important to regularly review and update user privileges, as well as utilize multi-factor authentication for added security.

  1. Malicious Insiders

Similar to insider threats, this type of threat involves an individual with legitimate access to your cloud resources purposely using that access to harm your organization. The best defense against this is having strict security protocols in place, as well as monitoring for any suspicious activity from users with privileged access.

  1. Account or Service Hijacking

This type of attack involves a hacker gaining unauthorized access to an account or service (such as AWS or Microsoft Azure), potentially giving them full control over all related resources and information. Security solutions that help prevent this include strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, performing regular penetration testing and regularly monitoring for suspicious activity.

  1. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

These involve flooding a network or service with excessive traffic, causing it to crash or become inaccessible. The best defense is having a solid disaster recovery plan in place, as well as utilizing resources like AWS’s Shield service to help mitigate DoS attacks.

  1. Insecure Interfaces & APIs

Similar to unsecured APIs, this refers to any interfaces or APIs that haven’t been properly secured and updated, leaving them vulnerable to attack. It’s important to regularly patch and update all interfaces and APIs in use, as well as monitor for suspicious activity.

  1. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

This type of attack involves a hacker intercepting communications between two parties, potentially gaining access to sensitive information or altering the communication itself. Utilizing secure protocols like SSL/TLS can help prevent this type of attack, as well as employee education on identifying and avoiding phishing attempts.

  1. Shadow IT

This refers to the use of unsanctioned cloud applications and devices, which can leave your information vulnerable to attack if not properly secured. The best defense is having strict policies in place for device and application usage, as well as regularly monitoring for any unauthorized access or activity.

Cloud Security Threats

Finding a Qualified MSP to Protect You from Cloud Computing Security Threats

It’s important to remember that these security risks are constantly evolving, and it’s crucial for businesses to stay up-to-date on the latest security measures and technologies available. By understanding and being proactive about potential threats, organizations can better protect themselves and mitigate the financial cost of a security breach.

Cloud security should be a key component in any organization’s IT strategy.

All too often, businesses invest heavily in their IT infrastructure while leaving vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches. These breaches result in costly downtime and the potential for data loss or theft. Security is a critical issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Talk to our team of cloud security professionals to find out how we can help secure your company’s assets.