Businesses across virtually every industry are rapidly adopting cloud service solutions. The global cloud computing market was worth an impressive $371.4 billion in 2020 and could more than double to $832.1 billion by 2025. Amid this rapid expansion, organizations must recognize this movement’s risks.
Cloud security isn’t necessarily less secure than on-premise solutions, but it’s easy to make mistakes when focusing on rapid migration. In businesses’ enthusiasm to embrace the cloud, many overlook vital security considerations.
The cloud offers many benefits. One study of government agencies, for example, found that 13 of 16 agencies saved a total of $291 million by moving to the cloud. As more businesses recognize these advantages, more are accelerating their cloud adoption. But moving so quickly can also introduce several threats.
Here are five of the most prominent risks of rapid cloud expansion and how to address them.
Insufficient Access Management
Access management vulnerabilities are among the most common in cloud infrastructure. In the move to the cloud, businesses often make much of their data easily accessible from anywhere. While loose access management controls make it easier for employees to perform their jobs, it also makes it easier for cybercriminals to get in.
As companies expand their cloud adoption, they should follow the principle of least privilege. Any given employee or program should only have access to the data they need for their regular work. Anything more than that could open the door to massive data breaches.
More reliable authentication methods are also crucial here. Passwords alone are insufficient, as 61% of data breaches in 2021 involved credentials. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) will help ensure remote users are who they say, preventing these attacks.
Cloud Service Misconfiguration
Another common issue rapid cloud expansion can introduce is misconfiguration. When organizations attempt to move to the cloud as quickly as possible, they often make mistakes when configuring their settings. Data breaches from these errors cost $3.86 million on average and are the third most common attack vector behind phishing and compromised credentials.
Thankfully, these vulnerabilities are fairly easy to prevent. Companies must double-check their cloud configurations before finalizing their move to the cloud. Default security settings, access management protocols, and authorizations are common areas for costly mistakes, so teams should pay special attention to them. Businesses can even find automated tools today that check for potential configuration errors.
Rapid cloud expansion can introduce risks beyond those stemming from cybercrime, too. Just as teams may misconfigure their cloud infrastructure, they could accidentally alter, delete, or restrict data while trying to migrate too quickly. This data loss requires no malicious party but can be just as impactful.
Glitches, messy database structure, and user error can lead to companies unintentionally deleting data or making it inaccessible. In all of these cases, the solution is the same: creating backups of all critical data.
Before transitioning to the cloud, companies should assess their data and create backups, starting with the most critical files. These backups should be offline and encrypted to keep them secure. Maintaining them after the move to the cloud can also help mitigate any future breaches.
Reliance on Built-In Security Tools
Organizations’ enthusiasm for the cloud can overshadow third parties’ lack of sufficient security infrastructure. As a result, businesses may move their data to a cloud service provider without understanding that provider’s vulnerabilities. Amazon Cloud Drive, for example, does not offer at-rest encryption, which some users may need.
Companies should understand that cloud providers’ built-in security solutions are often insufficient. Organizations should consider what security features are available and note what additional protections they may need when selecting a provider. Many may need to manually adjust their security settings or supplement their security with services from a dedicated cybersecurity provider.
As businesses’ cloud workloads expand, they become more susceptible to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In these attacks, cybercriminals overload an organization’s cloud infrastructure, disrupting workflows and preventing users from accessing what they need. With more applications running on the cloud, cybercriminals have more to gain from DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks have grown in both frequency and size. They rose 39% between 2018 and 2019, with attacks between 100 and 400 Gbps increasing 776%. When businesses rapidly expand their cloud infrastructure without scaling up security, they become more vulnerable to this trend.
Companies can prevent DDoS attacks through continuous monitoring. Intrusion detection systems can look for unusual network traffic, adjusting network packets, and blocking suspicious activity to keep operations running smoothly. Better cloud architecture, including geographically distributed data centers and redundant network resources, can help further by reducing these attacks’ chances of success.
Embracing the cloud doesn’t inherently mean embracing risk. If organizations understand what threats can emerge in rapid migration and take steps to mitigate them, they can safely enjoy all the cloud has to offer.
Slower, more thoughtful cloud migration can ensure companies experience the cloud’s benefits without sacrificing security. Before expanding their cloud infrastructure, businesses should look for these risks within their operations and work to prevent them.