What are the Common Security Weaknesses of Cloud Based Networks?

META: We’re breaking down what the most common security weaknesses are of the cloud and how to avoid these weaknesses.

The cloud has been hugely impactful on the everyday running of many businesses. Basic operations and data are now stored in the cloud, making for a more organized and more secure data storage option than past examples of physical documents or even data stored in hard drives. However, the cloud isn’t faultless. 

The importance of cloud based network monitoring, especially in the case of cloud-based networks, cannot be overstated, but it is just one element of the overall weakness in cloud storage. A weakness that businesses really cannot afford to fall to. In this guide we’re breaking down what the most common security weaknesses are of the cloud and how to avoid these weaknesses.

What is the cloud?

Putting it simply, the cloud is an on-demand data storage facility. With the right authorisation anyone can access the cloud via an internet connection. It puts all your files and data in a non-physical storage bank that are typically run by various servers across different locations.

A common example is Dropbox or Google Drive. You can access these clouds with your own authorisation, typically a login username or email and password, and store and access your documents as you need them.

Businesses use far larger clouds to store all their business and customer data in a remote place that is considered safer to hacking, but as we’ll go on to point out, things are rarely that simple.

Why would anyone hack the cloud?

Data is one of the most valuable assets in the world right now. Oil and gold have nothing on people’s information, and the ability to simply take it “legally” through social media and website browsing is becoming increasingly restricted. The most common way you might see data being siphoned from users and used by businesses is via third-party cookies, but these are about to be scrapped by Google for an alternative expected to drop in 2024. And then there is personal data that is private, like bank details, browsing history, applications, etc.

And that’s just the consumer side of things. The real danger is the data that businesses are holding. Both business and customer documents being stored in the cloud makes for a very attractive target to hackers who might want to infiltrate these systems for many reasons. The most common include ransom, blackmail, activism, or for the sheer challenge.

So, how do these hackers get into the cloud when it was initially deemed so secure?

Unauthorized access

A lot of the methods used to access the cloud illegally come down to authorized and unauthorized access. Unauthorized access is the Mr Robot you’re imagining: someone at a computer using back doors via the public internet to enter the cloud. These methods are possible due to improperly configured security or compromised credentials and might allow them to access the cloud without the awareness of anyone in the organization.

Authorized access

Authorized access is the use of the proper account details and security measures to access the cloud but were perhaps acquired illegally or passed on to someone who isn’t approved to use the details. Unfortunately, a vast majority of cloud and cybersecurity breaches in general are perpetrated internally. That is to say, by employees of the company using the cloud. They can pass on passwords, login details, and some verification details for a fee to hackers, or simply use the information to access the cloud themselves for their own purposes.  

Others?

Both of these instances are possible due to an improperly maintained cloud, which leads to various problems like misconfiguration, insecure interfaces, and phishing.

Phishing uses manipulation tactics, often in the form of emails or calls, to ask you to give them your personal information, which hackers can then use to access the cloud. Misconfiguration is the leading cause of cloud security breaches and is simply a lack of cloud security management due to the nature of the cloud, which allows for convenient access and data sharing from anywhere in the world. Interfaces designed to make things simpler for the customer is also a security risk since it is the customer’s responsibility to secure their details.

How do you avoid breaches in cloud security?

A lot of these problems can be solved with proper security management to the cloud services by servers and businesses. Unauthorized access is available and exploited due to holes in the system that allow the hacker in. Regular configuration and cloud based network monitoring is vital to keeping a secure cloud.

Elsewhere, the high risk in cybersecurity comes down to education. Retraining of employees is hugely beneficial to cybersecurity. Training on avoiding phishing scams, proper password and verification exercises would aid to plug some of the gaps in your cloud security, as will information on what makes for strong customer security when customers are interfacing with your company website.

Conclusion

It is true that the cloud has better security, but it’s not true that it’s infallible. The user-friendly and convenience-based nature of the cloud allows for a lot of areas that a hacker can get in, even if the end-to-end encryption that is making it popular makes it safer.

January 31, 2023
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