The five biggest threats to Cloud security
As more employees and business processes shift to a Cloud-based model, a whole new raft of potential risks surface, many of which can be addressed through a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing enterprise technology. The five primary threats and their workarounds are as follows:
- Misconfiguration errors - It is imperative to ensure that data is only accessible to authorized users. This should not only cover the application but also the device which is used to access the application or service. Being able to connect the application and device to the specific authorization profile associated with a user is a core requirement to avoid misconfiguration errors. Without a comprehensive mechanism to manage technology across multiple implementation layers (hardware, OS, applications, cloud, etc.), there is inconsistent visibility and control over the system. This is particularly a problem in multi-cloud or hybrid cloud deployments where employees have gone remote, significantly expanding the potential attack surface.
- Unauthorized access from the perimeter - Everyone wants security unless it's inconvenient. Over the past several years enterprise technology has gone through a heavy consumerization process, making transactional technology far easier to use and therefore far more convenient. Most people these days use the same device for both work and personal use and are in the habit of accessing enterprise systems from unsecured locations and nominally secured devices. The definition of the perimeter has expanded greatly since the start of the pandemic, which means the potential scope of risk has expanded along with the expanded attack surface. Securing the perimeter should be a top priority for every enterprise, and there are multiple ways of approaching this.
- Not-secured interfaces or APIs - APIs are widely available, easy to set up, and extremely convenient. They are also the primary interface mechanism to cloud infrastructure and as a result a very tempting target for hackers. There is potentially nothing more dangerous than an unsecured API interface; once a hacker gets through that they have the keys to the kingdom. Because of this, APIs in particular need to be one of the most secure parts of your network (and it is often overlooked). Your security scans should always cover APIs and interfaces.
- Identity Management - This is a side effect of poor data hygiene and security, weak (that is, convenient) passwords, or using the same passwords for all the myriad of applications everyone needs to access on a daily basis (upwards of 150 apps for the average enterprise user). A lot of this can be managed through a robust SSO process, but the protection offered by SSO is only as effective as the user's adherence to security protocols. This is a CISO-crack-the-whip scenario; enforce password hygiene, change passwords often, make them cumbersome. Your employees will hate it and your CISO will love it.
- Lack of Visibility - This is a fairly common lament within IT management. A lack of visibility into IT infrastructure has a significant impact on multiple parts of the organization. Procurement doesn’t know if it's approving things it may already have, Finance is at a real risk of wasting money on things like unused licenses, Compliance is looking at seven or eight-figure fines if they fail an audit, Security absolutely depends on visibility to be effective on any level, and so on. While the need for visibility applies across the entire IT ecosystem, it is particularly problematic when Cloud is factored into the equation since it is so accessible and so useful. This is not just a matter of knowing who has what where, you also need to know who has authorized access to which cloud resources.
Cloud security is important, but Cloud has also become so integral to the way technology operates, that its endemic to all other ancillary capabilities (hardware, networking, IoT, etc.). This is why technology needs to be managed comprehensively, in a fully integrated fashion. No element exists on its own - try using software without hardware, or going online without either. And all of this depends on the presence of a user who understands their critical role in managing technology; security touches every aspect of technology, and every aspect is completely interdependent on everything around it.
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