With increased performance, decreased costs and easy access of applications to the masses, cloud computing has been adopted by several enterprises today. It alleviates the problem of underutilisation of infrastructure and enables optimum usage of computing power and storage capacity. Cloud infrastructure can be deployed in operational models such as private cloud, public cloud or hybrid clouds. In any of these operational models – although the architecture supports high performance and improved access, these are the exact factors that aid cybercriminals as well.
There is always a tinge of worry when it comes to data being sent from clients to servers – especially due to the uncertain physical location of the data. Data spoofing, data leakage and unauthorized access – all pose a number of vulnerabilities in a shared infrastructure environment. Although there are a number of concerns there are also equal number of methods to identify risk factors and mitigate Cloud security risks. The aim is to reduce the attack surface and bolt in security at every layer or probable access point.
Identifying Cloud security risks
The first step towards securing your cloud environment is to identify the risk factors. Find out all the probable loose ends and then work towards tightening the cloud security. Let’s talk about some of the most common risk factors here:
1. Data breaches: Data breaches damage data confidentiality, availability and integrity. They could also result in data loss and damage. The main reasons are insufficient identity and credentials management, insecure APIs and easy registration systems.
2. Misconfigurations: Misconfigurations are human errors that allow excessive permissions and put the cloud infrastructure at risk. Maintaining unused and stale accounts could lead to unauthorized access. Another such misconfiguration could be allowing excessive sharing settings which can lead to the exposure of sensitive data. Many times, leaving the default settings unchanged (which includes the default admin credentials) or port numbers. Lastly, disabling encryption could be a major cloud security issue.
3. Account hijacking: Stolen credentials are used to gain access to sensitive data. Cyber-criminals or hackers use password cracking methods or phishing emails and cross-site scripting or such other industry-known tricks to gain access to internal accounts.
4. Denial of service attacks: the DOS (Denial of service) attack enables the hacker to make it impossible for a service to be delivered. The most common type of DoS attack is to flood the server hosting the application with ping requests, overwhelming the bandwidth, CPU or RAM capacity, until the server is unable to handle any other requests (for application access).
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is similar to DoS but includes multiple systems involved in the attack. APDoS (Advanced persistent Denial of Service) essentially targets the application layer and attackers can directly hit databases or servers.
5. Malware: Malware essentially infects a cloud provider’s servers. The attacker entices a user to click on an attachment or social media link and the malware gets downloaded. This malware is designed to bypass detection and compromise data security.
How To improve or to mitigate?
In order to mitigate cloud-related Cybersecurity Threats, it is essential to understand how to balance operation and security optimization. Here are a few ways to tighten the security of your cloud infrastructure:
1. Network segmentation
Beginning with the very basic blocks of any infrastructure – the underlying network should be secured against any attacks at the physical layer. Proper segmentation of networks limits the privileges. It helps stop the hop along on that attack vector. With segmenting, you can also segment the sensitive information into other virtual servers, thus compartmentalizing it and making it difficult for hackers to gain access.
2. Data encryption
Encrypting the data limits data exposure and liability. With proper encryption, the convenience and access times are impacted and the hacker finds it difficult to gain access. This will work well against Cybersecurity Threats.
3.Limit user access
Simply limiting access to your own organisation subsets, reduces the attack surface for the hacker. Access is provided only to those who need it for business operations.
4.Inventory of PII and PHI
A complete account summary of every element of personally identifiable information and PHI an organisation holds, helps determine how you collect, use, store and dispose this data. In the long run, it will help reveal the risks for any data breaches that could occur.
5.Incident response plans (IRP)
An effective IRP (Incident Response Plan) designates roles and provides guidelines for the actions to be taken in case of a security breach event.
Another important part of implementing cloud security is the reinforcement of the best practices. Here are a few pointers.
- Identify and document asset vulnerabilities. This helps understand what makes your business so attractive to cyber criminals. Prepare a formal written policy for device usage, social media and internet safety withing the organisation. Enforce multi-factor authentication.
- Secure the network infrastructure with firewalls at various points, implement content filtering and use load balancing to identify potential traffic inconsistencies.
- Dispose-off old machines appropriately. Wipe out all the data and then dispose them.
- Identify and document internal and external threats – it’s not always someone from the outside. Disgruntled or heavily indebted employee could also commit a cyber-related fraud.
- Use the right tools to assess your vulnerabilities and gauge your company’s resilience through penetration testing etc.
- Impact analysis will help determine the consequences of a cyber-attack in terms of financial, operational and reputational losses.
- Risk responses are essential to prioritize how you will resolve the immediate flaws to the security.
- If you make any changes to your systems, ensure that you haven’t in turn negatively impacted any of the other systems – thus creating loopholes in security.
- People are your greatest security liability – ensure that rules and best practices are documented and people are educated about the risks too. Develop a companywide cloud usage and permission policies.
- Implement identity and access control to know who has access to what data and regularly review all users’ effective permissions. Validate that all access rights are aligned to data protection and revoke excessive or inappropriate access rights.
- Use continuous change monitoring to detect suspicious changes and investigate them promptly.
Although there is no way to protect your cloud infrastructure 100% from attempted cyber-attacks, you can take all the necessary steps to ensure that you limit the attack surface and are prepared for any incidences whenever needed.
ECS works with the best Cybersecurity experts in Gujarat. We work with you to understand your network and cloud environment and then create a detailed plan to reduce the risks and enhance the security of your infrastructure. To consult with our experts, you can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +91 89800 05006 and we shall be glad to discuss your requirements in detail.