Are you prepared for cloud computing vulnerabilities? Businesses are still developing new apps and moving old ones to cloud-based services. Organizations that use cloud technologies and/or pick cloud service providers (CSPs)s and services or applications without fully understanding the risks are putting themselves at risk of several commercial, financial, technological, legal, and compliance issues. Cloud computing is a fast-growing sector, and cloud computing jobs have a high demand. But unfortunately, according to a study by HelpNetSecurity, 93 percent of organizations have major concerns about public cloud security. So let’s take a closer look at cloud computing vulnerabilities and how you can be prepared.
Understanding cloud computing vulnerabilities
There are several benefits of cloud computing. It may be less expensive (due to greater capabilities in the public cloud that might help productivity versus fewer abilities in private clouds). The second one is time to market will also be quicker (with more features accessible on a public cloud, which would aid productivity versus fewer functions available on a private cloud).
Although most businesses are currently using cloud services, data security is one of the key topics they should consider.
At a high level, cloud environments face the same dangers as traditional data centers; the threat situation is similar. Cloud computing runs software, and adversaries attempt to exploit any vulnerabilities. In cloud computing, however, unlike in a data center where IT systems are concerned, the CSP and the cloud customer share responsibility for assuring that any security vulnerabilities resulting from these software flaws are addressed. As a result, consumers must trust that the CSP will fulfill their obligations.
If cloud computing vulnerabilities meet the following criteria, it is cloud-specific:
- It’s an inherent feature of or common in a core cloud computing technology.
- It has its origin in one of NIST’s fundamental cloud characteristics.
- Cloud-based technologies can create vulnerabilities through the use of tried-and-tested security measures.
- It is prevalent in established state-of-the-art cloud offerings.
What are the cloud computing vulnerabilities, concerns, and threats?
Even in the cloud, businesses make a significant blunder when they think that the cloud will protect their workloads and data from attack, theft, and other misconduct. Even in the cloud, flaws and the potential for exploitation are unavoidable.
Misconfigured cloud storage
Cybercriminals exploit cloud storage for various purposes, including generating fraudulent revenue. Despite the potentially enormous consequences, businesses continue to make the error of cloud storage misconfiguration, which has cost many firms millions. It is one of the most common cloud computing vulnerabilities.
When organizations fail to set up cloud storage correctly, they risk having their data exposed to the public. Cloud misconfigurations can swiftly develop into a major cloud security breach for an organization and its customers. There are various sorts of cloud misconfigurations that businesses face. The following are some examples of misconfiguration:
- AWS security group misconfiguration: Amazon Web Services (AWS) security groups control access at the source, destination, port, and protocol levels. These can be linked to EC2 server instances and various other resources. An attacker can exploit a flaw in the AWS security group configuration to access your cloud-based servers and data stolen.
- Lack of access restrictions: The consequences of inadequate security or safeguards to prevent uninvited access to your cloud infrastructure may put your business at risk. Unprotected cloud storage buckets can allow attackers to access data stored in the cloud and download sensitive information, with serious ramifications for your organization. S3 buckets were initially enabled by default on AWS, resulting in many data breaches.
How to prevent misconfigured cloud storage?
When it comes to cloud computing, double-checking cloud storage security configurations after setting up a cloud server is always a smart idea. While this may seem self-evident, other things such as transferring data into the cloud without regard for its security can easily divert your attention away from it.
You can also use specialized tools to inspect cloud storage security settings. These cloud security software can help you check the status of security configurations regularly and identify potential flaws before they become serious problems.
Who has the power to establish and manage cloud resources? People who want to move into the cloud without knowing how to safeguard their data are one of the most common causes of cloud computing problems.
Open S3 bucket
According to an article by Soc Investigation, misconfigurations of S3 buckets are responsible for 16% of all cloud security breaches. S3 is AWS’s cloud storage service, a basic storage system.
It lets you save, access, recover, and backup as much data as you want whenever and wherever you choose. According to statistics, around 1 in 6 of the 12,328 buckets identified were openly accessible to anyone who wanted to look for them.
Any information kept in an open S3 bucket can be quickly searched by various scripts and tools if it isn’t properly secured. Open S3 buckets may result in significant data breaches and the exposure of highly sensitive data.
Data breaches are costly, and millions of dollars can be lost each time. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of victims were small businesses. Data breaches disproportionately impact small businesses for various reasons, one of which is that they do not have the same level of security as multinational corporations. They are appealing targets, and when their data is stolen, they tend to suffer the most damage. It is one of the most dangerous cloud computing vulnerabilities.
The consequences of a data breach could include:
- Negative influence on the brand’s reputation and loss of confidence from partners, clients, and customers
- Theft of vital intellectual property
- Regulatory fines and other penalties
- Legal actions
It would be best to consider extra cybersecurity-related costs, such as forensics and crisis management.
How do you stay protected against data breaches?
Data breaches can happen in a variety of ways. Someone in your organization might have downloaded malware, or an attacker may use cloud security flaws to penetrate your network security remotely.
Attackers can also physically access your computer and take data.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing data breaches, but some common practices include:
- Routine security audits
- Secure and encrypted servers
- Incident response plan
Unlike an organization’s on-premises infrastructure, cloud-based installations are accessible from the public Internet and outside the network perimeter. While this infrastructure is beneficial to employees and consumers in terms of accessibility, it also makes it simpler for attackers to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s cloud-based resources. Inappropriate security settings or stolen credentials might allow a hacker to get direct access, which may go undetected by the company.
APIs allow unrelated software products to communicate and interoperate without knowing one other’s internal workings. APIs are often required, and they frequently grant access to critical business data. Many APIs are made public for businesses to expedite their technology adoption by allowing outside developers and business partners to use the organization’s services and information.
APIs are sometimes implemented without adequate authentication and authorization. Because they are completely unsecured, anybody with an internet connection can access — and potentially misuse – data. As a result, insecure APIs are becoming a major target for hackers and other bad actors.
It’s critical to design and use APIs with the following characteristics in mind when using a cloud provider’s APIs or creating business APIs deployed in the cloud:
- strong authentication
- data encryption
- activity monitoring and logging
- access controls
Businesses that create and use APIs need to be security conscious, especially when dealing with sensitive code. Penetration testing is required for cloud and other outside APIs. Avoid using non-conforming external APIs.
How do you stay protected against API attacks?
There are a few things you can do to protect your cloud system from API assaults:
- Perform API attacks on your site’s vulnerability to determine whether it is robust.
- Transmitted data should be encrypted using SSL/TLS encryption.
- With MFA, you can improve your security measures.
- Be picky about who you give your API keys to, and get rid of them when they’re no longer necessary.
These are all security precautions to ensure the safety of your APIs, but developers are also responsible for creating stronger authentication APIs.
Account hijacking, also known as session riding, occurs when users’ account credentials are stolen from their computer or device.
An account may be hijacked in a variety of ways. These are some of the most common methods:
- Phishing: To gain access to their information or capture their session ID, hackers may direct customers to an insecure website where they can steal their data or hijack their session.
- Keyloggers: A software program that keeps track of user activity, including usernames and passwords, and transmits the data to hackers.
- Buffer overflow attacks: Overwriting data in memory with bad content designed to provide the unauthorized attacker entry.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks: An attack in which the attacker uses a web browser to deliver harmful scripts to obtain access to unsecured accounts.
- Brute force attacks: When attackers guess passwords — usually with software — they compromise accounts.
How do you stay protected against account hijacking?
Create strong passwords and change them regularly. That will help prevent you from becoming the victim of a brute force attack. When feasible, consider using multifactor authentication (MFA) to increase your account’s security level further. This will give attackers extra difficulty by adding an additional barrier to their access.
Phishing is one of the most common reasons for successful account hijacking. When clicking online and email links and receiving requests to change passwords, exercise caution. Also, if you employ people who use cloud services, make sure they are aware of cloud computing security issues so they can recognize account takeover attempts.
Consult a threat detection specialist to prevent account takeovers. They may examine your network for possible holes and implement security measures to keep your data safer from these techniques.
Even if you prevent yourself from the other types of cloud security threats, malicious insiders, such as present and previous employees, can still harm your organization. It is one of the most common cloud computing vulnerabilities.
- Business partners
How do you stay protected against malicious insiders?
Unfortunately, because insider threats are more common than external attacks, companies are more prone to them. One reason is that the danger (typically) does not exploit cloud vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive data.
The good news is that insider dangers may be addressed by being proactive. This entails restricting access to critical data and giving people only the information they require to know and nothing more. You should also do regular security checks and suspend access as required.
You are in charge of how often to conduct audits, although it is recommended that you do so at least twice a year. Some businesses do quarterly evaluations, while others only do monthly ones.
Lack of visibility
The cloud-based assets of an organization are located outside the corporate network and utilize infrastructure that the company does not own. As a result, many conventional tactics for viewing networks are useless in cloud environments, and some businesses lack cloud-focused security tools. This might restrict an organization’s capacity to watch over its cloud-based resources and defend them from attack.
External sharing of data
The cloud is meant to make data sharing as simple as possible. Many clouds allow you to explicitly invite a collaborator via email or share a link that leads to the shared resource and allows anyone with the URL access.
However, this simple data sharing has its drawbacks. Because link-based sharing is simpler than explicitly inviting each intended collaborator, it cannot be easy to manage access to the shared resource. The shared link may be forwarded to someone else, stolen during a cyberattack, or guessed by a cybercriminal, allowing them to gain unauthorized access to the shared resource. Furthermore, link-based sharing makes it impossible to remove access only to one person in possession of the connected URL.
Cybercrime is a business, and cybercriminals target their victims based on their expected return on investment. Publicly accessible cloud-based facilities are frequently inadequately secured, and they contain a lot of sensitive and valuable data. Furthermore, because many different firms utilize the cloud, successful assaults have a good chance of being repeated many times with considerable accuracy. As a consequence, corporate cloud expansions are frequent targets of cyberattacks. It is one of the most common cloud computing vulnerabilities.
Denial of service attacks
Many organizations find that the cloud is critical to their ability to conduct business. They utilize the cloud to keep vital corporate data and run important internal and customer-facing applications.
This implies that a successful cloud infrastructure DoS assault would majorly affect many organizations. As a result, DoS assaults in which the attacker wants money to cease the attack are a big worry for an organization’s cloud-based resources.
Stored data is lost
Because of the nature of cloud computing, data may be destroyed for various reasons. Customer data can be lost if it is accidentally deleted by the cloud service provider or a physical catastrophe, such as a fire or an earthquake. The burden of avoiding data loss does not solely rest with the provider. If a customer encrypts data before uploading it to the cloud and loses the encryption key, the data will be lost. Furthermore, incorrect knowledge of a CSP’s storage model may result in data loss.
Many businesses are concerned about data privacy and confidentiality. Data protection laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and many others demand that companies maintain customer data secure. Furthermore, organizations have a lot of internal data critical to their competitive edge.
Many organizations are hesitant to store this information in the cloud, especially since nearly three out of four businesses cite security. Many firms have embraced cloud computing, yet many do not know how to keep their data safe. As a result, sensitive data is vulnerable to exposure – as seen with the numerous cloud data breaches.
Legal and regulatory compliance
Limiting access to protected information (credit card data, healthcare patient documents, etc.) is a standard feature of data protection regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA. This might imply building a physically or logically isolated section of the organization’s network accessible only to workers with an authorized need for it. It is one of the most costly cloud computing vulnerabilities.
Migrating data protected by these and other rules to the cloud might be more difficult. It’s more difficult to achieve and show regulatory compliance when moving data across regulations like this one. With a cloud solution, organizations have just limited insight and control into parts of their infrastructure. As a result, 42% of businesses find legal and regulatory compliance a major cloud security concern, requiring specialized cloud compliance solutions.
Cloud infrastructures are enormous, but they occasionally fail — usually in spectacular fashion. Such incidents are caused by hardware malfunctions and configuration mistakes, which are the same issues that plague conventional on-premises data centers.
Cloud security can also be jeopardized by a distributed denial-of-service and other malicious methods that aim to disrupt the availability of cloud resources and services. Suppose an attacker can prevent any public cloud resources or services from being accessible. In that case, it will harm all businesses and cloud users that rely on those resources and services. Cloud providers are well-versed in dealing with assaults, and support staff can assist with any unique business workloads under attack.
Businesses and other public cloud users can’t prevent cloud outages or assaults, so prepare for them as part of your disaster recovery plan. Consider the consequences of such problems on cloud workloads and data sources, and plan ahead of time. It is one of the most inexpugnable cloud computing vulnerabilities.
Anyone may establish a public cloud account and then use it to provide services and migrate workloads and data. However, those who are not well-versed in security standards will frequently misconfigure the security settings, leaving exploitable cloud vulnerabilities. Such “shadow IT” installations may never even identify or report attacks in many situations. This prevents the company from taking any action to prevent the issue until long after.
Businesses are becoming more tolerant of shadow IT, but they must do so securely. Business users, departments, and other organizational entities must follow the organization’s established guidelines to avoid vulnerabilities and ensure the safety of the whole company.
It’s possible to talk about more threats and vulnerabilities, but we decided to concentrate on these particular ones. You may include any concerns you like in the comments section.