Increased cloud adoption across enterprises is presenting new security challenges for IT professionals. More companies seek to take advantage of the accessibility and flexibility offered by cloud environments, but many businesses and managers are unaware of the potential threats to their systems.
Monitoring the trends in cloud security can guide enterprises to best practices for protecting users, identities and data in the cloud. Preparing in advance for changes in cloud use and technology equips businesses to handle attacks and avoid catastrophic breaches.
Understanding Cloud Security Threats
When it comes to enterprise cloud computing, 66% of IT professionals say security is the “most significant concern.” No one is immune; statistics show credentials from 92% of organizations can be found for sale on the dark web. With so much information readily available, compromised credentials continue to be a major problem for businesses of all sizes.
Part of the issue stems from a combination of poor identity and access management practices and user ignorance. Failing to protect user accounts with strong identifiers and proper authentication protocols opens the door for account hijacking. Once a hacker gains access to the network using legitimate credentials, malicious activity can fly under the radar for months or even years before being detected. Such subtle infiltration can lead to significant data loss and compromise, threatening not only the integrity of the network but also the identities of users and customers.
Sharing public links to private data represents another significant problem in enterprise network environments. Twenty-one percent of cloud files contain sensitive data, but many users engaged in collaborative efforts share unrestricted links, which may then be passed on to others who aren’t authorized to access or view the data.
Enterprises also tend to overlook the importance of correct cloud configurations. Misconfigurations, including in cloud storage, rank third among top cloud security vulnerabilities. This highlights the need for more care during cloud implementation and greater awareness of the unique threat landscapes today’s businesses face.
Best Practices for Improved Cloud Security
Because these threats represent only a fraction of potential cloud security issues, robust protection is of the utmost importance for enterprises considering partial or total migration to cloud environments. On average, organizations experience 12.2 compromised account threats per month, and nearly 90% of all data breaches and cyberattacks result from user behaviors. Establishing and adhering to cloud security best practices helps correct these issues and guard against network compromise in the future.
To help mitigate against cloud security threats, businesses should seek to:
• Improve visibility through the use of platforms where all network and application access can be monitored and configurations can be adjusted as needed
• Implement policies to regulate shadow IT, application use and data sharing
• Consistently reinforce security and access policies
• Gain a better understanding of new technologies and the associated security issues before moving forward with adoption
• Get expert help with cloud configuration and application setup
• Perform regular access and security audits of all systems
• Educate users regarding proper protocols for data access and transfer
Evaluating risks and implementing appropriate practices prior to cloud migration is essential. Attacks are becoming more subtle and complex as time goes on, and business owners must get comfortable collaborating with IT professionals to gain a fuller understanding of how security issues in one area may affect the network as a whole. By taking this “holistic” view of threats and threat prevention, enterprises become better able to protect sensitive data and prevent credentials from being compromised.
Trends to Watch as Cloud Adoption Increases
As of 2018, the average enterprise was using 1,516 cloud apps. A look into the future indicates this is only the beginning of the expansion of cloud environments, and businesses need to pay attention to trends in order to be proactive with their security practices.
IT professionals can expect to see an increase in containerization of applications as enterprises look for ways to speed up application creation and deployment. Containerized apps share the same operating are more lightweight, start faster and use less computing power than full virtual machines. However, security configurations for containers are often lacking. In combination with an increased interest in edge computing, this could represent a significant threat to enterprise networks. Security and access control may one day move entirely into the cloud, making it possible to focus more on identifying anomalies and watching patterns of user behavior to detect potential breaches and allow for better protection of new technologies.
Migrating business applications and processes to the cloud can improve efficiency and productivity at the enterprise level, but it also introduces numerous security challenges. Business owners must understand current threats and learn to anticipate potential issues to guide implementation of appropriate security practices. Establishing stronger protections to improve visibility and control safeguards enterprises against emerging threats and is a critical aspect of planning for the future in modern business environments.