So, what are the biggest challenges in cloud security?
1. Insufficient in-house Expertise
Organizations often suffer from a lack of IT expertise on secure cloud usage, since their decision to migrate to the cloud is not supported by proper know-how, experience or training. While cloud providers attempt to keep the cloud secure, inexperienced users without the proper knowledge can jeopardize its security with inadequate management and inappropriate access provided. Organizations can in fact be unintentionally exposing their cloud infrastructure to unknown threats, simply by enacting the wrong policies and configurations, as well as with insufficient knowledge of cloud security controls.
2. Increased Risk of Data Breach
Data breaches rank as the top cloud security concern for organizations according to research from Statista. Due to lack of resources or ineffective strategic planning in a proactive and preventive way, organizations fail to protect their data, which can cause them millions in fines. According to Gartner:
“by 2025 90% of the organizations that fail to control public cloud use will share sensitive data”
3. Lack of Cloud Strategy
The strategic decision for cloud migration should be accompanied by a cloud security strategy. Cloud security strategy contains the scope and operational use of the cloud in business operations while considering cloud security as a primary business target. Each function migrated to the cloud acknowledges the accepted risks involved and takes steps in addressing them in a proactive manner. Without such a strategy, cloud migration and ongoing usage becomes aimless and severely undermines the security posture of an organization.
4. Lack of Visibility and Control over the Data
Since cloud operations presuppose access from outside the corporate network, cyber defense perimeters are blurred, while real-time visibility over access and data traffic become elusive. Compounding the problem are third-party integrated solutions that over which organizations have little control, let alone expertise in fully unlocking their potential. With such a predicament, cloud security can be a real challenge for organizations lacking the expertise to fully realize the potential of their cloud infrastructure.
With a lack of cloud security expertise and experience, ongoing configurations individualized according to special circumstance make difficult to harden networks against potential cloud threats. With 99% of misconfiguration going unnoticed by IaaS cloud users, cloud-native breaches can lead to data breaches through the exploitation of vulnerabilities and errors in the cloud environment.
6. Poor Identity and Access Management Control
Insufficient control, monitoring and management user account policies can expose organizations to a variety of threats, such as password “spraying”, which is the random hijacking of an account with a commonly used password. In this case, attackers use the same common password across multiple accounts (“spraying” it) in hopes of randomly gaining access to a single account. From there, they can enter an organization’s systems to sabotage, cause downtime, or leak sensitive data.
Using cloud computing dictates that organizations comply with mandates found under relevant regulatory frameworks. What’s more is that, where compliance is not required, internal audit controls may come in handy for increased awareness over what transpires in an organizational network. Some regulatory frameworks include GDPR, HIPPA, PCI, SWIFT, FISMA, etc.
8. Insider Threats
Finally, 43% of breaches have been found to be caused by an organization’s staff, partners or contractors, according to MacAfee recent data exfiltration study. Whether accidentally or intentionally, employees can be the avenue through which an organization’s cloud security is compromised, where there are no solid policies underlining the proper access management and monitoring of who can access what and when. What’s more is that insider threats are also the result of poor security awareness, which leaves users vulnerable to phishing and/or social engineering attacks.