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6 Cybersecurity Risks for Cloud Computing

Brought to you by WBR Insights

Many businesses these days are moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud. Choosing to transform your IT like this is a big decision, but it can bring several powerful advantages to your business.

Chief among these is the power to create a virtual office through which you can access everything you need to do your job, no matter where in the world you might be. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, and any geographical location can become your office. Cloud computing also brings with it reduced IT costs due to a third party handling the bulk of the heavy lifting, improved scalability—meaning your IT capabilities can grow alongside your needs—improved collaboration, and more.

One of the other claims made by cloud computing providers is that it can make your business more secure. In fact, many companies list improved security as one of their main motivations for making the switch. However, there are many cybersecurity threats out there which can cause serious issues for cloud-based systems.

"Cloud technology and adoption has obviously skyrocketed, so it's no surprise that vulnerabilities within cloud technology will increase," said former Skybox Director of Threat Intelligence, Marina Kidron. "What is concerning, though, is that as these are published, the race is on for attackers to develop an exploit because launching a successful attack on a container could have much broader consequences. Compared to other technology, containers can be more numerous and quickly replicated. The attack footprint could expand rapidly, and the number of victims may be extremely high."

Here are just a few of the cybersecurity threats you should keep in mind when carrying out your computing in the cloud.

#1 Cryptojacking

A fairly new form of cyberthreat, cryptojacking refers to the practice of hacking computers to use for mining cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Mining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of computing power and cybercriminals will often pressgang other systems into working for them.

Cryptojacking is notoriously difficult to identify as your computers will carry on working while being used. The only clue will be that they are operating slower than usual, but this will often be written off with any one of a hundred other reasons.

#2 Data Breaches

One of the most common types of attack threatening cloud systems, cybercriminals are constantly striving to access connected systems and steal data. The data can be personal information which can then be used for blackmail, or financial data with which criminals can make fraudulent transactions and steal money.

We now live in a much tighter regulatory environment due to new legislation such as the European Union's GDPR. Data breaches now carry significant fines. This means you not only have to deal with the internal consequences of a breach, like loss of revenue or reputation, but also a hefty bill.

#3 Denial of Service

This type of attack floods your cloud computing system with a large volume of web traffic, causing it to shut down entirely.

This would be devastating enough for a regular business, but if all your computing systems are in the cloud, it can cripple your entire organization and prevent any staff or customers from accessing any of your systems.

#5 Inside Jobs

A significant proportion of cyber-attacks are carried out with the assistance of someone working within the target organization. These people can range from bad actors, specifically inserted into the organization for nefarious purposes, to blackmailed employees (see data breaches above), or even unwitting victims of phishing scams, etc.

This makes it crucially important to make sure that employees only have access to the systems they need to do their job. If everyone has blanket access to your cloud computing system, the number of people who can cause damage to your organization this way is vastly increased.

#6 Third-party Applications

When your staff installs third-party applications on your computers, it can present a security nightmare for your business. Unless you have strong vetting procedures in place, you never know what other malicious code might be lurking in an otherwise legitimate-looking piece of software.

The problem becomes even more compounded with cloud computing as you cannot account for the programs people might be installing on their own devices, which they may then use to access your IT systems.

Final Thoughts

There you have six threats that can pose problems for cloud computing. Making sure you only go with a reputable vendor which takes its security seriously is the best way to protect yourself from these threats, as is maintaining a culture of cybersecurity awareness within your organization.

Cloud computing is set to be a hot topic at InfoSec Connect 2020, taking place in March at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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