As technology evolves and more organizations turn to cloud computing solutions, data security becomes more important — and more challenging — than ever. While the cloud offers numerous benefits for businesses, including scalability, cost-effectiveness, and remote work capabilities (just to name a few), it also introduces new security risks and vulnerabilities.
Let’s explore the challenges that organizations face along with practical, actionable solutions and cloud security data programs that help to mitigate the risks.
The growing issue of cloud security risks
According to a recent report from Cloud Computing News, a staggering 81% of companies experienced a cloud security incident in the past year alone. This statistic highlights the pressing need for organizations to address cloud security concerns, particularly as the global cloud computing market continues to expand. Clearly, ensuring data security in the cloud is crucial for any organization currently utilizing or considering moving to the cloud.
While the adoption of the cloud has been invaluable in facilitating remote work and moreover, revolutionized the way that we store, process, and even analyze data, it brings with it certain vulnerabilities that amplify data security risks.
This is why organizations need to implement robust cloud storage security measures even as they enjoy the myriad advantages of the cloud, since proper encryption strategies, access controls or user access policies, and regular vulnerability assessments are all crucial for keeping your organization’s data secure in the cloud.
Why the cloud amplifies security threats
Cloud computing presents unique security vulnerabilities that organizations must address to protect their sensitive data. Read on to uncover some of the top data security vulnerabilities in the cloud and explore strategies to safeguard your organization’s data.
- Misconfigured cloud storage. Misconfigurations in cloud storage can inadvertently expose sensitive information to unauthorized access. To prevent this issue, the team members responsible for data security should double-check cloud storage security configurations during the initial setup and verify that they are still correct on a regular basis as well as after any major changes are made. Additionally, controlling who can create and configure cloud resources, developing and maintaining strict user access policies, and utilizing specialized tools to assess security configurations can bolster data protection.
- Shared infrastructure risks in the public cloud. Since cloud services are often shared among multiple users and organizations, the security of one entity can impact others. This means that a security flaw in the cloud provider’s infrastructure or misconfigurations can potentially expose the data of multiple customers on that cloud simultaneously, amplifying the impact of a security incident.
- Data transfer and storage vulnerabilities. The cloud relies on data transmission and storage over networks and third-party servers, introducing additional risks. Data in transit may be susceptible to interception and unauthorized access if not properly encrypted. Similarly, data at rest within cloud storage systems can be compromised if the cloud provider does not implement vigorous encryption and access controls.
- Increased attack surfaces. Cloud environments are often composed of multiple interconnected systems and networks, creating a larger attack surface for potential intrusions. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in one part of the cloud infrastructure to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data stored elsewhere, leading to potential data breaches or unauthorized data modifications.
- Loss or theft of intellectual property. The loss or theft of intellectual property (IP) is a major concern for organizations that leverage the cloud. Data alteration, deletion, and loss of access are common causes of IP data breaches. Organizations can mitigate these risks by prioritizing regular backups, employing data loss prevention (DLP) software, and implementing stringent encryption practices. Geo-diversifying backups or backing up data in multiple locations ensures redundancy and enhances data resilience.
- Compliance violations or regulatory actions. Simply transferring applications to a public or shared cloud does not guarantee regulatory compliance, even if you use a trusted cloud provider. In fact, compliance in the cloud can be even more challenging than keeping your data on-premises due to privacy mandates like CCPA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR. To address this concern, organizations should carefully review cloud service agreements, seek clear cloud and data security policies, and establish an incident response plan for any violations related to cloud computing. Data security strategies that include encryption according to the necessary standards also facilitate compliance.
- Poor or improper access management. Improper access management remains one of the most prevalent cloud computing security risks. Issues such as managing a distributed (remote or hybrid) workforce, user password fatigue or improper/poorly chosen passwords, inactive assigned users, and multiple administrator accounts can compromise data security. Organizations can counter these risks by developing a comprehensive data governance framework, link human user accounts to centralized directories, and regularly audit user roles, privileges, and access via a rigid user access policy.
Choosing effective cloud security solutions: what to look for in cloud security
If your organization is moving to the cloud or already leverages cloud computing, it is essential to seek a security solution with the features that best align with your specific needs, including any industry-specific regulations or standards that you must adhere to such as HIPAA, GDPR, or similar governance. What’s more, if your IT department needs to provide staff with secure remote access to the cloud, tightly controlled security becomes more vital.
A data security solution that works in the cloud and offers data protection, encryption, and access management tools will enable your organization to address security challenges in 2023 — and beyond, enhancing your cloud security posture and protecting critical business assets.
Learn more about mitigating cloud security risks
The growing popularity of the cloud means that cloud vulnerabilities have become a major challenge for IT departments and anyone else responsible for data security at their organization. In fact, we recently surveyed nearly 500 data security professionals about the state of data security in 2023, and cloud security risks were the second most reported external security threat, with 42% of survey respondents claiming that it was a major concern for their organization.
The security of cloud computing in 2023 — and beyond
It goes to follow that securing the cloud is paramount in today’s era of remote work and users needing to access sensitive company data from anywhere, using any device. While cloud computing offers immense benefits, data security professionals need to be proactive about the security risks posed by switching to the cloud.
By implementing measures to prevent misconfigurations, protect intellectual property, ensure regulatory compliance, and strengthen access management, organizations can protect their data in the cloud. Embracing an effective data security solution like WinZip® Enterprise can fortify your organization’s defenses and mitigate emerging threats in the cloud (and elsewhere).