Nowadays, it seems that just about everything is virtually up in the air – or to be more exact, in the cloud. And even businesses that were among the slowest to switch to the cloud have already moved to cloud-based computing or are transitioning to the cloud.
If you’re reading this because you’re genuinely unsure of how safe your cloud-based data is, you’ll only get part of the picture. What you really need is Data Security Posture Management that examines your data security in detail, looking for vulnerabilities. However, it’s possible to get an overview of the type of issues it might uncover, as well as some reassurance on the kind of data protection measures you can expect from your cloud provider.
How is Cloud Storage Secured?
One of the best ways to keep data safe is to make it unintelligible through encryption. Accessing the unencrypted data means having access to the key. But now things get more complicated.
Where is the key kept? Most providers keep it themselves to save you from having to encrypt data yourself before transferring it. When users log on using a password, the key automatically unlocks the data. But how safe is your provider’s encryption key? Flawed security practices could mean that the key can be misappropriated and used without their or your knowledge.
We already touched on passwords. But just having a password shouldn’t mean that anyone who has it can access all your data unless that person actually needs that level of access. Identity management indicates which users have access to different types of data. However, passwords aren’t foolproof, so additional measures should be in place to ensure that the person using the password is actually the one who is authorized to do so.
Multi Factor Authentication
It’s that extra little step in signing in that makes many users impatient, but multi factor authentication is a must for any company seeking to keep its data safe. The first “factor” is the password. The second one is a notification sent to a mobile device or email address to confirm identity. More authentication layers can be added, particularly when protecting your business’s most sensitive information.
Bring Your Own Device
Let’s suppose that a bad actor has stolen a password and has what’s needed to pass multi-factor authentication. Is there a way to stop them from gaining access? Bring Your Own Device means that your business only allows specific devices to be used when accessing data.
Splitting Information Between Data Centres
Apart from trying to control who has access to what encrypted information, there’s still the question of your cloud provider’s servers. To prevent data theft directly from servers, many providers split up your data, spreading it across several data centers.
When is Cloud Stored Data Unsafe?
So far, everything sounds pretty good, and most IT professionals will agree that the cloud is likely to be safer than having your data stored on an on-premises server. So, your next question may be under what circumstances cloud data may be unsafe. Let’s look at just a few examples of that next.
Open S3 Bucket
It’s believed that a misconfigured S3 buckets account for up to 16 percent of breaches. If an S3 bucket is misconfigured, any information in the open bucket can be searched – and up to one in six buckets are openly accessible. There are even tools for finding and accessing these buckets which may contain “interesting” information like passwords.
Data Breaches in Small Businesses
Small businesses frequently don’t have the kind of security that big corporations have, and that makes them disproportionately likely to experience a data breach. They’re also the ones least able to afford this kind of damage.
It’s great being able to access your data no matter where you are, but it also makes it easier for unauthorized people to find ways to access your data resources. If security settings aren’t up to scratch or credentials are stolen, the consequences could be dire.
APIs Not Secure
APIs make your life easy. They allow different types of software to “talk” to each other – but they may also grant access to sensitive data. If they’re left public so that developers or business partners can use them, someone far more sinister may access them too. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them, but you should learn how to use APIs safely.
Account hijacking occurs when an approved user’s account details are stolen through phishing, keyloggers, buffer overflow attacks, cross-site scripting attacks or brute force attacks.
Unfortunately not all the people we work with may be as trustworthy as we would like. From disaffected employees, to contractors and business partners, access to data could mean a security breach.
Lack of Visibility
Without security tools that focus on the cloud, you may not be able to monitor and track all your cloud-based data and it may be open to attacks.
Link-Based Data Sharing
Being able to share data by simply providing a link can be immensely convenient. But if the link is forwarded to another person, stolen in a cyberattack, or correctly guessed by a hacker trying to break into your resources, your information is no longer secure.
If there’s money to be made from data, there will be criminals trying to gain access. If your cloud facility is publicly accessible, it is less likely to be secure. With information from many businesses being stored, one attack can give cybercriminals an attack strategy that can be repeated.
Denial of Service
A denial of service attack could leave your business unable to function. Attackers hold the affected businesses to ransom, demanding payment for service to be restored.
Lost not Stolen
Accidental deletions, natural disasters, inept use behavior, and data that was encrypted before uploading by users who then lost the encryption key can all result in the loss of data. Needless to say, although no crime was committed, a business can suffer heavy losses in this way.
Data Privacy and Legal Compliance Concerns
It’s possible to use the cloud securely, but with many businesses not knowing how to do so, they’re concerned that they’ll fall afoul of the law and be unable to protect sensitive data. And with limited control over the infrastructure where data is stored, businesses fear that they will struggle to show compliance with the law.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
There are several other ways in which cloud-based information may be lost or stolen, or through which businesses may be unable to access vital data stored in the cloud. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Using Data Security Posture Management, businesses can identify the chinks in their armor and take the necessary steps to protect their information. It’s a highly technical approach that most businesses can’t do in-house, but it’s still the best way to find out just where your data is, and how well it is protected. Meanwhile, avoid common cybersecurity errors by staying informed and training your staff – it’s a good start for your journey towards more secure data and systems.