It’s no surprise that more and more companies are relying on cloud support services – and for very good reason, at that. As many organizations migrate to the cloud in the wake of COVID-19 to keep things up and running, there’s much to consider apart from easy scalability and low costs. What’s more, numerous organizations are also speculating on the longevity of their cloud-based operations, even well after lockdowns have eased the world over – simply because of its unprecedented advantages and the positive change that has now been experienced especially by companies that were keen on operating by traditional means.
As an AWS partner, understanding what makes clients migrate to the cloud is something that we have always kept under close monitoring, in order to offer the right services as well as identify common trends among businesses based on company size, specialty, industry and a host of other factors. But once the right services have been facilitated and accounted for, what happens next? Managing cloud-based services to ensure they remain scalable and cost-effective is of essence; an ongoing commitment that requires strategy which looks into the future.
Out of all these long-term, ongoing commitments, security in cloud computing is one of the most important (if not the most important) aspect that safeguards your precious data, while ensuring only the very necessary entities gain access to it. With cyber breaches rampant during the past few years owing to increased digitization and dependency on digital resources, securing your cloud networks is an essential requirement any time you venture out into new hosted territory.
With that being mentioned, here are some of the main vulnerabilities that cloud services are prone to. In spite of all these risks, securing your systems in the right way will always serve your organization, your data as well as the users who access your system, very well. In other words, the pros outweigh the cons. Before we get to the nitty-gritty of all things pertaining to securing your cloud systems, here’s a sneak peak of some of the biggest cyber breaches that have ever happened till date.
NotPetya – June 2017
A more advanced variant of the Petya range of malware, NotPetya was a destructive program that spread much farther than it was originally intended to. Aimed at crippling cyber systems based in the Ukraine alone, this devastating program spread all over the world, corrupting machines across leading corporations such as Maersk Shipping, Reckitt Benckiser, Mondelez, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Saint-Gobain and FedEx. With approximately $10 billion in collective damages, NotPetya has been considered as cyberwar, and no other cyber infections have come close in terms of the level of catastrophe that it left behind.
WannaCry – May 2017
Similar to NotPetya, this worm spread rapidly across computers all over the world. Demanding bitcoin payments in exchange for decrypting files, WannaCry was created from confidential documents that were leaked from the National Security Agency. While the kill switch was discovered and put to use, millions of devices are still at risk of being infected – with trust in the intelligence agencies that were involved in the lapse diminishing significantly.
Yahoo! – August 2013
One of the worst cyber breaches to ever take place, the details of every single Yahoo! email account (around 3 billion of them) were hacked. While the breach initially took place in 2013, it wasn’t discovered until a good 3 or 4 years later.
Posing as a reputed organization and requesting for sensitive login information is a hallmark example of phishing. In spite of many email providers now adept at filtering out such suspicious content, malicious individuals find other channels to target victims. Enabling added security while logging in such as two-factor authentication is a great solution for this, as it requires access to multiple devices that would be registered under an individual account.
Short for Distributed-Denial-of-Service, these attacks deliberately flood servers by sending a gush of traffic through. In turn, this causes servers to crash, making applications unusable and/or inaccessible. This can lead to significant losses in terms of revenue, especially for organizations that run e-commerce operations, while also posing a risk of data loss (especially if data hasn’t been backed up). With the advent of IoT, the likelihood of DDoS attacks has further increased, since more endpoints are present for creating infiltration.
While the act of spying is a tale as old as time, it has become all the more prevalent across the cyberspace. Once again, this can happen via unauthorized access, but it can also take place in the midst of a user or employee that is already authorized for using your system. While the latter predicament is one that cannot be solved by a technicality, it is therefore also highly imperative to screen your employees and conduct background checks if required (especially in the case of highly sensitive data), prior to adding them into your systems.
Ransomware, as its name suggests, encrypts data after hacking into a system and then holds it for ransom. With breaches being the first point of vulnerability, it again stresses on the importance of having tight security across every endpoint in your system. Backups will also prove to be extremely useful during such a compromised time. While you may be able to restore data that has been hijacked, it doesn’t alleviate the possibility of still being misused by the malicious party.
While never intentional, the smallest slip can have devastating consequences. Therefore, user training is essential in order to keep your employees well aware of the potential risks when using your cloud-based systems. Although this is done during the implementation of a new system, it should also ideally be followed up on an ongoing basis, so that users can have an environment to voice any issues that come up, as well as stay informed on any new developments within the cybersecurity industry.
While a wide variety of errors can cause damage, falling prey to phishing, logging in from a public (or suspicious) Wi-Fi network, or creating a lack of restrictions when sharing something over the cloud happen to be some of the most common ones.
Providing services pertaining to software outsourcing in Sri Lanka, we know just how important it is to backup data. Data is king, after all – and while it has the power to transform your own business operations, it also poses the risk of being compromised at the hands of malicious individuals. Therefore, backing your data can make all the difference between a do or die situation, especially when time is of the essence.
On top of that, the importance of securing your cloud systems goes beyond the obvious; as even the biggest names in the business and consumer world have been hit by cyberbreaches, brand reputation has experienced an equal (if not an even bigger) hit. Reeling back from such catastrophic consequences has never been easy, and as companies strive to reel back from the devastation, things are never able to go back to what they were before.
Albeit having its share or cyber vulnerabilities, the cloud can still be intelligently secured, while reaping the benefits of scalability, affordability and real-time access. Adhering to the same great practices that apply to other areas within the cybersecurity realm, your cloud-based systems can also be safeguarded for optimum form and function. If you’re looking to establish cloud computing security or enhance what you already have in place, here’s a step-by-step guide on what you can do.
Start off by talking to your team members about any issues they are currently facing, and whether they may have possibly noticed any loopholes in the system. Getting feedback from your staff will form the base for identifying where your actual problems lie, even in an existing solution. Some questions that you can ask include but aren’t limited to:
– What devices are used to access the system?
– What are the internet networks that are used when browsing the system? Are they secure work or home-based Wi-Fi connections, or more ambiguous public networks such as that of a coffee shop or shopping mall?
– Is access ever granted to entities outside the organization, such as an independent contractor or client?
Based on the information you gather from the risk assessment that is conducted with your team, your cloud provider will now be able to understand your current environment better. In turn, this will help them suggest solutions that will enable you to safeguard your cloud systems. Alternatively, a risk assessment can also be conducted with your cloud service provider already present during the discussion.
Having your system undergo inspections periodically in order to detect any threats or vulnerabilities is a great way to prevent any breaches before they happen. At the same time, it also helps you stay informed of the latest happenings in the world of cybersecurity, while also providing the same insight to the rest of your team. Additionally, training your team to adhere to the best practices and address newfound concerns is also beneficial, since it makes sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to safeguarding your company’s cloud-based assets.
At a time when more and more companies are shifting to the cloud owing to COVID-19, it’s turning into a resource that is now all the more indispensable than before. While cloud computing welcomes a host of benefits such as scalability, affordability and almost 100% uptime assurance, it also faces a risk of cyber breaches and data compromises. So in a digital realm that is dominated by the cloud, how is one to circumvent such vulnerabilities? Before understanding what solutions need to be adopted for the purpose of safeguarding your cloud-based systems and the data in it, it is important to be aware of some of the most common ways that breaches can occur.
Starting off, phishing and identity theft is a form of breach that hackers are constantly churning to get unsuspecting users to share confidential login details, in order to commit cyber theft. Cyber espionage, a manner of spying on the data and behaviour of someone online, can lead to devastating consequences, especially if data is hijacked and held at ransom. DDoS attacks are another form of cyber breach, as their sole aim is to crash servers and ensure reliant applications crash too. Last but never the least (and never intentional, that too) user errors can also reap unpleasant consequences for organizations as a whole. Whether it’s a lack of restrictions, granting access to the wrong entity, or simply logging in from an unsafe Wi-Fi network, such errors can also cause breaches that are sometimes irreversible.
Of course, backups always prove to be useful during compromised times like these, but the risk of having all your data leaked means that those who hacked you can still abuse your data. On top of that, data loss via cyber breaches can also affect your company’s reputation, since it leads to a loss of trust from customers. All in all, while data can be physically restored with a backup, the sentimental loss that occurs due to a shift in brand reputation as well as customer trust can be almost impossible to reel back from, sometimes.
This is why prevention is better than cure. Talking to your team about the challenges they face in terms of security, any loopholes they may have noticed and whether they are sharing company resources stationed in the cloud to external entities can help you create a risk assessment. This can then be forwarded to your cloud provider, who can suggest suitable solutions while also educating your team on the dangers present across the cyberspace (as well as the latest developments), on an ongoing basis.
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