July 27, 2020
Cloud Security

How to Eliminate Your Company's Cloud Security Exposure Risks

Data breaches, insider threats, inadequate cloud security, and misconfiguration represent just several ways in which network intrusions occur. CISOs and IT professionals work diligently to prevent malicious attacks, but even the most well-funded and elaborate security plan to protect sensitive data can be exploited. 

While cloud integration is necessary—especially for those looking to scale up—most organizations rely heavily on CSP and SaaS firms for operational and infrastructure security. Adding to their vulnerability, employee negligence plays a key role in a significant number of incidents, which could be mitigated if organizations utilized proper encryption tools. 

Eliminating your company’s cloud security exposure risks requires a multi-pronged approach that includes employee education and stringent security policies, strong passwords combined with multi-factor authentication, scrutinizing access controls, and implementation of the most secure form of encryption. 


Top Threats to Cloud Computing

In a survey of 241 industry experts, the nonprofit Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) analyzed 11 of the top threats to cloud computing, with data breaches and misconfiguration topping the list. The other common causes included lack of cloud security architecture and strategy; insufficient identity, credential, access and key management; account hijacking; insecure interfaces; and other factors. 

Data breaches are particularly devastating because they not only damage an organization’s reputation, but have severe financial repercussions. IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report” pegs the average cost at $3.92 million. 

Despite large investments in cloud computing and associated security,  “misconfiguration of cloud resources is a leading cause of data breaches and could allow deletion or modification of resources and service interruption,” CSA reported in its survey. 

The 2017 Amazon Web Services leak, which divulged personal information about 120 million-plus American households, is a clear example. Including everything from ethnicity and income to interests and hobbies, the disclosure was the result of an unsecured AWS storage bucket accessible to anyone with the exact URL. 

Whether breaches target the cloud or gain access to hard drives via phishing scams, the resulting theft could lead to the exposure of vast amounts of data. In the first nine months of 2019, for example, there were more than 5,000 breaches, cumulatively exposing 7.9 billion records. That represented a 33 percent increase from the same period in 2018, indicating that attacks are likely to rise. 


Employee Security Training Necessary To Combat Threats 

CISOs understand that the human factor puts their company at risk from cyber threats. 

In fact, the research firm Gartner estimates that through 2025 “99 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.” Already, 90 percent of corporate data breaches were caused by social engineering attacks directed at employees, underscoring the need for comprehensive policies dedicated to cloud computing and conventional cyber threats. 

A common misperception is that once information is migrated to the cloud, security responsibilities simultaneously transfer as well. Yet at the end of the day, your company owns the data being stored, meaning ensuring proper security protocols is essential. If the threat of a breach isn’t enough, governments are increasingly developing regulations to protect consumers from data exposure, subjecting organizations to expensive fines for lack of compliance. 

At the very least, organizations should develop policies before integrating cloud technology, establishing protocols for accessing data, interacting with third-party organizations, and teaching internet best practices. Significant resources should be dedicated to educating workers about their inherent exposure utilizing email, where most phishing schemes begin.  


User Access Controls 

Access and key management were among the new concerns in Cloud Security Alliance’s 2019 threat rankings. 

“It isn’t that these are necessarily new issues,” CSA reported. “Rather, they are more significant issues when dealing with the cloud because cloud computing profoundly impacts identity, credential and access management. In both public and private cloud settings, CSPs and cloud consumers are required to manage IAM without compromising security.” 

To appropriately safeguard data, firms need to establish and regulate permissions. This ensures users don’t have access to data they shouldn’t be privy to, and enables organizations to oversee this. 

In addition to limiting access, it’s imperative that user passwords are strengthened and multi-factor authentication (MFA) is instituted, adding an extra layer of security. Despite increasing security risks, MFA adoption isn’t nearly as widespread as IT professionals would like, because users consider such protocols too time-consuming. Regardless, mandating MFA should be a priority, and organizations should go beyond token authentication by including geometrics or behavioral information to confirm credentials. A survey of IT securing managers in the United Kingdom and United States found that nearly half of organizations were victims of a security breach due to compromised credentials.  


How Atakama’s File-Level Encryption Is The Best Defense Against Cloud Breaches 

MFA, similar to other security protocols, is not infallible. The FBI’s notice last year concerning cybercriminals circumventing multi-factor authentication through social engineering attacks underscores the need for more robust security. 

The agency called for further education of administrators and users to identify phony websites, and better detect social engineering plots. It also recommended more complex forms of MFA. 

Even if all these recommendations are adopted, cybercriminals will continue to push the limits of what they can do. The good news is that Atakama’s military-grade, file-level encryption distributes encrypted file keys to devices you control, eliminating the need for passwords. 

The bottom line: Even in the event of an intrusion, a hacker wouldn’t be able to access the encrypted files stored on the device. Going a step further, files living on the cloud only exist in encrypted form, and stay that way while stored there. Atakama’s sophisticated solution protects against the scourge of human error, access management flaws, misconfiguration, and the many vulnerabilities that put you at risk, ensuring sensitive files are secure at all times

To learn more about how Atakama can help your organization eliminate its cloud security exposure risks, book a demo/free trial today.

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