The cloud is often seen as one of today’s most cutting-edge pieces of technology. It’s redefined the way businesses operate while drastically lowering costs. Companies don’t need to invest in expensive hardware and computer software.
As long as you have a decent high-speed internet connection and a smart device, you can be productive and drive sales from any remote location.
Cloud servers and cloud computing have drastically changed the working landscape, which is why 90% of surveyed organizations replied they’re using some type of cloud service. Another survey was able to uncover the reasons why companies turned to the cloud:
- 38% answered for disaster recovery
- 37% answered for flexibility
- 36% answered for alleviating IT team’s workload
The Cloud isn’t untouchable
Working with the cloud has many advantages over its hardware-based predecessor, but it still has its weaknesses. It’s not bulletproof, and it’s certainly not airtight.
There are many weaknesses that attackers can exploit, and if cloud users and security teams don’t take necessary precautions, they’re effectively leaving the door wide open.
Unfortunately for many businesses, cloud security is only an afterthought, often when it’s too late, and a breach has already occurred.
We’ve already seen that 9/10 businesses are using the cloud, what are some of the security flaws they should be aware of?
Security flaws with the Cloud
Low Visibility – one of the biggest challenges facing IT teams is securing their data and traffic flows. Without full visibility, this task can quickly become unmanageable. One of the main issues occurs when organizations use multiple cloud assets spread across various environments. It’s not uncommon for teams to use multiple SaaS vendors, creating visibility issues as users request access within different providers from a range of different endpoints.
Misconfiguration – human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches, and one misconfiguration in the cloud can have disastrous consequences. A simple mistake can grant public access to critical information, or allow users to access data they’re not supposed to.
Errors can occur when security teams don’t have full visibility of their cloud network, such as a piece of IaaS added without notification, or misconfigured virtualized network functions create undetected data leaks.
Low native security levels – Due to the fractural nature of cloud technology, without a high level of native security, attackers can easily access or read data transmitted from the cloud to the endpoint, and vice versa.
Many of the best practices used for closed-perimeter networks are out of date. When an organization only implements barebones security such as two factor authentication (2FA), no data encryption, DNS filtering, or wi-fi security of any kind, they will become easy targets.
The main takeaway up until this point should be that clouds are “porous,” with data flying everywhere and anywhere and changing hands more often than ever. And the level of complexity is ever increasing as organizations use multiple cloud providers, overlapped by multiple SaaS and IaaS products.
Dealing with the cloud
Dealing with cloud security should be a significant concern for any organization that uses cloud-based apps, cloud storage, or cloud servers for computing. Protecting your organization’s reputation and integrity is vital if you want to succeed, but there are also huge fines for companies that fail to protect their customer’s data.
An organization can be fined up to 4% of their annual revenues or 20 million euros ($23.6 million) under GDPR, and penalties from the CCPA range from $2,500 per case, up to $7,500 for intentional violations.
Cloud security trends
Cloud security in the last decade has evolved with a focus on cloud solutions:
Security as a service (SECaaS)
Traditional security technology often found in the organization’s data centers or gateways is quickly being replaced by cloud services. These security services, such as a firewall, are now available via the cloud, which offers practical advantages.
Cost and flexibility- The SECaaS business model is typically a subscription service available in multiple tiers depending on the users’ needs. This makes it significantly cheaper than hardware-based solutions, plus it’s easier and quicker to scale up at a moment’s notice.
Instant updates – Anti-virus and firewall software are only effective when they’re fully updated and patched. Otherwise, zero-day exploits and other malicious code can make its way past the defenses. Firewall as a service (FWaaS) can be deployed throughout your entire organization and deliver instant updates no matter the user’s location.
Other new products like cloud access service brokers (CASB) are purposely built for users and organizations to safely access the cloud. CASBs sit between the user and the service provider, providing functionality for a safe and secure environment through four pillars:
- Data security
- Threat protection
However, we can’t just take security products and make cloud versions of them. This contributes to “tool sprawl,” which is itself a security risk and waste of time and energy for IT teams, while leading to visibility issues enhancing the risk of misconfigurations.
The rise of cloud-native security and networking is transforming the way organizations perform. Corporate data centers can’t keep pace with this new model, and businesses require flexible solutions that allow them to scale up and change access privileges at a moment’s notice.
One of the most vital new trends is SASE, a term coined by Gartner. SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) delivers a unified array of products and incorporates networking and security into a single, manageable console.
Closed network perimeters are fast becoming a thing of the past as cloud computing allows users to become the new perimeter. Organizations need a user-focused security solution that can combine Zero Trust, segmentation, and least-privilege access polices based on cloud-first architecture, allowing users to access the data and services they need from anywhere and any device.