Many businesses are shifting workloads to the cloud to increase efficiency and streamline workloads. While cloud computing can offer organizations a competitive advantage, it is important not to rush into cloud adoptions without understanding the risks involved as well. A lack of understanding of cloud vulnerabilities can be an organization’s downfall when moving operations to these dynamic environments. Whether your organization is jumping into the move already, or if you’re still on the fence about whether the shift is worth the risk, there are several key security considerations to keep top of mind. Let’s explore some common security risks of cloud computing and review the security measures your organization can implement to protect your cloud services.

The importance of cloud technology for business

Moving from obsolete, on-premises data centers to cloud computing allows companies to gain more business flexibility, thanks to which they can become more competitive. In fact, during the last two decades, more and more organizations have decided to draw on the cloud’s potential.

A pay-as-you-go pricing model enables companies to pay only for the resources that have been used – resulting in reduced costs of running the business. Additionally, organizations can easily and quickly adjust to market changes (they don’t need to build bigger data centers – they can simply request more resources and tools from cloud vendors). The cloud has made remote working significantly simpler. With data and software accessible via the internet, employees can carry out their duties from practically anywhere – all they need is an internet connection.

It seems like there are multiple benefits of moving to the cloud – so, what are the security risks of cloud computing?

security risks of cloud computing

Some common security risks of cloud computing

There are several security risks to consider when making the switch to cloud computing. Here are some of the top security risks your organization should be aware of:

Limited visibility into network operations

When moving workloads and assets to the cloud, organizations forfeit a certain level of visibility into network operations. This is because the responsibility of managing some of the systems and policies shifts to the cloud service provider. Depending on the type of service model being used, the shift of responsibility may vary in scope. As a result, organizations must be able to monitor their network infrastructure without the use of network-based monitoring and logging.

Cyberattacks

By choosing to use a cloud environment for your projects, you hardly ever get separated from other users. While that is a benefit, it is also a drawback; after all, you move large amounts of sensitive data through the internet. By selecting this approach, you are opening yourself up to cyber threats. There are many ways to lose data or access to your software. If your systems are not protected well enough, you can experience a data breach – unauthorized access to your databases or software by someone seeking to steal or destroy your business information. Many types of cyberattacks can compromise your systems. As cybercriminals come up with more and more ways to achieve their goals, you should keep learning about methods that can prevent such attacks.

Compliance Issues

Organizations need to be diligent to make sure that they remain in regulatory compliance with the requirements specific to their industry and geographical location. When using cloud-based services for your data, you must ensure that data access and storage needs around Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are being met by the service provider in line with HIPAA security and privacy rules, GDPR, or other areas specific to your business. In addition, cloud services typically allow for larger-scale data access, so companies need to confirm that the proper access controls and appropriately leveled security measures are in place. Connected compliance management software will aid organizations in staying on top of regulatory compliance demands.

Loss of data

Data leakage is a growing concern for organizations, with over 60% citing it as their biggest cloud security concern. As previously mentioned, cloud computing requires organizations to give up some of their control over the CSP. This can mean that the security of some of your organization’s critical data may fall into the hands of someone outside of your IT department. If the cloud service provider experiences a breach or attack, your organization will not only lose its data and intellectual property but will also be held responsible for any resulting damages.

Insecure Integration and APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow individuals and businesses to sync data, automate data workflows between cloud systems, or generally customize their cloud service experience. When APIs fail to enforce proper access control, encrypt data, or sanitize their inputs appropriately, that can lead to cross-system vulnerabilities. Using industry-standard APIs with proper authentication and authorization protocols reduces weaknesses.

Infrastructure complexity

Moving to the cloud is challenging in and of itself. Vendors offer a wide variety of services to the business customer, and it can be hard to know what to choose. It is not easy to build your dream business infrastructure in the cloud, and transferring your data to it will not be simple either. To deal smoothly with data migration, integrating new services, and managing many operations in the cloud, you need to assemble a team of IT professionals with a specific set of skills and experience.

security risks of cloud computing

How to bolster security in cloud computing

To take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, organizations will need to make deliberate efforts to maintain security in cloud environments. Let’s take a look at some of the leading ways that organizations can improve security in cloud computing:

Cloud penetration testing

Cloud penetration testing should be conducted regularly as part of your business’s risk management strategy as it’s an effective and proactive way to assess a cloud-based system’s cyber security strength. It probes vulnerabilities within the cloud, as a real-world hacker would, to test the system.

User access controls

Implementing user access controls is another critical component of ensuring successful cloud security, due to its typical ease of access compared to on-premises environments. Organizations should consider methods like zero-trust security, which operates under the idea that no one should be implicitly trusted with open network access. Instead, users are only given access to the critical functions needed for each role.

Security training

You should also ask your cloud storage provider if they offer training to help educate staff about potential cyber threats and security risks involved with cloud services. Employees must understand the inner workings of their company’s data management system, especially when it comes to avoiding social engineering attacks on end users’ personal information and files stored remotely.

Continuous monitoring

Arguably the most important component of a successful cybersecurity risk management program is continuous monitoring. As organizations increasingly move to cloud computing models, continuous monitoring will become even more of a necessity for ensuring proper cyber hygiene on an ongoing basis. The digital landscape is shifting at a rapid pace, and if organizations are relying on point-in-time assessments to determine their security posture, more often than not it will be too late to act should a problem arise.

security risks of cloud computing

How to choose the right Cloud Computing solution

What are the security risks of cloud computing when stacked up against the benefits? The few manageable risks are easily overcome by the many benefits of working in the cloud. The cost savings, scalability, and security – plus the seamless ease by which personnel can engage in remote work – make cloud computing the right choice for many of today’s leading companies. Choosing the right technology for your business will mitigate your organization’s risk. With the right technology, proper research, and due diligence, there’s no need to fear putting your business ahead in the cloud.