10 Major Cybersecurity Risks for Cloud Users

There is a common misconception among cloud users that the Cloud equals a lower cybersecurity risk.

If you use Microsoft’s cloud services, Microsoft has your cybersecurity risks covered, right? The same goes for AWS, Google, IBM, and other cloud providers, doesn’t it?


There are massive benefits from cloud services, but eliminating cybersecurity risks isn’t one.

Here are the 10 biggest threats your organization faces with cybersecurity in the Cloud.


1. Problems with Cloud Service Configuration

Most cloud services have a range of settings that organizations can use to customize the service. This includes security settings. If these settings are not properly configured, your cloud services, the data you store in the cloud, and your business could be at risk for a cyberattack.

Careful thought must go into the configuration of your cloud services. Too often, the emphasis is on ease of use. However, ease of use should always be looked at through the prism of cybersecurity, i.e., are you making your cloud services so easy to use that you are exposing the business to potential cyberattacks?


2. Data Loss

Cloud services make it much easier for organizations to store data and manage IT services and there isn’t as much on-premises hardware to look after.

However, moving all or part of your IT infrastructure to the cloud doesn’t mean the cloud services provider will handle everything. Your cloud services vendor almost certainly won’t back up your data – the responsibility for that task rests with your business. If you don’t have a backup process in place and a cyberattack compromises your IT, that data could be lost forever.


3. Data Leaks

Data leaks are also a problem for cloud users. This applies when giving access to data, whether to an internal employee or someone external to the company. Many of us will have been in situations where, at the time, it is easier, faster, or beneficial to the task, to simply provide access to the data in question.

However, once that access is given, you have little control over what happens next. Even if the access is later revoked, there are ways for it to have been retained by the individual or individuals involved.

Mitigating this cybersecurity risk primarily involves having robust procedures and policies and training employees on the dangers of data leaks.


4. Compromised Credentials

Cyber attackers and other malicious actors use various methods to access login credentials for many systems and platforms. The cloud services that your organization uses are not immune to this risk. Anything from social engineering to sophisticated phishing attacks could give unauthorized access to your IT infrastructure.

Again, procedures, policies, and training are a large part of the solution for mitigating this risk. Two-factor authentication is another crucial component.


5. Expanding Attack Surface

Organizations across all industries are developing and implementing digital transformation strategies. These strategies involve integrating and connecting systems, platforms, equipment, machines, and people in many situations.

This doesn’t just apply within the organization, either, as there are growing external connections and integrations, too. Connecting with accountants or digitalizing the supply chain are two examples.

These growing connections and integrations result in an unintended consequence – an ever-expanding attack surface that increases your cybersecurity risks. In other words, every new connection or integration is another potential entry point for a cyber attacker.

This risk is challenging, but it involves developing a cybersecurity strategy that considers the expanding attack surface.


6. Malware

Malware is a significant concern for on-premises IT, and it remains a threat to your cloud services. Once malware gets in, it can spread fast, and it can be hard to stop. It can also manifest itself in various ways, including compromising data, DDoS attacks, or ransomware.

Steps to prevent malware in your cloud services include optimizing access controls (see below), segmenting your network to limit the spread of malware attacks, and implementing threat detecting solutions. As malware often gets into cloud systems through user error (such as clicking on a link that shouldn’t be clicked), training is essential too.


7. Inadequate Access Management Controls

Access management determines the data that users can access, the apps they can use, and what they can do in the system. It sounds good in theory, but access management can fail in multiple ways:

  • Lack of policies governing how and when access should be granted
  • Poor oversight leading to rules and policies not being followed
  • Lack of attention, resulting in access configurations becoming out of date (for example, where individuals still have access to systems and data after they have left the company)


Beefing up access control policies and putting proper management structures in place will help to mitigate this cybersecurity risk.


8. Internal Human Negligence

The biggest cybersecurity challenge facing your organization, whether with cloud services or anything else, is your people. Your employees.

In most cases, they don’t mean to put the business at risk and would be horrified at the thought. However, it happens, and it is frighteningly easy for these situations to occur.

Sharing passwords, using easy-to-guess passwords, leaving screens unlocked, losing phones, visiting malicious websites, and clicking on wrong links – are all examples of how employees can inadvertently create a cybersecurity risk for your company.

This problem is further exacerbated because cybercriminals work hard to exploit these vulnerabilities, including creating circumstances where employees can make cybersecurity mistakes.

Training, training, and training again is the solution. Issues around cybersecurity should also be continuously highlighted.


9. Internal Malicious Acts

While employees can inadvertently create a cybersecurity risk in your business, there might be some who will act maliciously. This could be to let in malware, for example, or steal data.

This cybersecurity threat requires a comprehensive approach that includes everything from access management controls to cloud services threat detection to network segmentation.


10. Third-Party Applications & APIs

Third-party apps and APIs can enhance the productivity of your business and make it easier for your employees to collaborate in the cloud, complete tasks, and deliver on your objectives. With the move to cloud services, third-party apps and APIs have only grown.

From a cybersecurity point of view, third-party apps and APIs offer cyber attackers another access point into your cloud services. This particularly applies if an API is poorly written, for example, or if a third-party app has security flaws that haven’t been patched.

Mitigating this cloud services cybersecurity risk includes, among other things, properly managing and risk assessing the third-party apps and APIs that have access to your system.


Cybersecurity You Can Depend On

As you can see from the above, cloud services cybersecurity is a complex issue. Advice, information, and practical support are available, and it’s best to take action now rather than when it is too late.

At StepUP IT, we have extensive experience helping businesses, in a range of industries, tighten the security of their cloud services. We can provide the same help and support to you. Get in touch with a member of our team today.


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