What Risks Exist for Cloud Storage and Services?

7 mins read

More and more businesses are migrating from storing all their details in documents on physical PCs to a shared cloud. The cloud storage option comes with a lot of benefits, like the ability for anyone with the authority to access it with any device, and heightened security as there is no machine to hack. However, there are some drawbacks to this method of data storage that are being ignored. Cloud security challenges include the reduced control offered to consumers, the fact that data is never really deleted, and the strains it offers IT staff. Take a look at our guide to each of these problems to see how you can deal with them.

Reduced control for consumers

The initial problem with cloud security is the lack of control given to the consumer. Customers are going to have to trust businesses with their data, with no ability to access or remove it when they want to. In fact, the responsibility of handling the data isn’t even on the businesses but the operator of the cloud they use, causing another degree of separation between customer and data.

Data is never fully deleted

Due to the fact that consumers have limited access to their data, they also have limited ability to verify the deletion of their data. This is particularly disturbing due to the fact that data is usually stored across various different storage devices within the infrastructure of the cloud, so even if you can be sure your data is deleted in one place, you can’t be sure it’s deleted everywhere.

Lost stored data

However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be lost. There are a lot of reasons why data might go missing beyond a malicious attack, which is a worry for businesses and consumers. A physical catastrophe affecting the cloud service provider is a common way to lose data, like a fire or earthquake. And often, this results in the permanent deletion of customer data.

There is also a common instance of a customer encrypting their data before uploading it, and then losing the encryption key. It doesn’t delete the data but does make it inaccessible, and on the responsibility of the customer, rather than the business or cloud storage provider.

Unauthorised use is simplified

The on-demand and self-service nature of the cloud allows for individuals to develop new ways to access the cloud without the consent of the IT staff, which is commonly known as shadow IT. Implementing PaaS and SaaS products means that staff members can access the cloud as they need to easier, without the input of an IT team, upping the probability of unauthorized use.

Compromised internet-accessible management APIs

Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, can be used to interact with cloud storage, and have their own set of vulnerabilities as an operating system. Hackers can get into the cloud by looking for vulnerabilities in management APIs and turn them into attacks, causing cloud storage to be compromised.

Credentials can be stolen

If an attacker gains access to a user’s cloud credentials, like their login details, they then have access to everything that user was privy to. A few attacks on various staff members, or even landing the right one, can make that a very lucrative attack.

Strains on IT staff

Our idea of IT staff is typically to hand it over to one or two individuals who simply tell us to turn the computer on and off again, but as technology has evolved, the IT team has to with it. It’s very much a learning on the job vocation, and the cloud doesn’t help this with its complexity putting strains on IT staff. Managing, integrating and operating within a cloud might require a specialist alone, as it will require IT staff to learn how to use and maintain a new model, as well as offering basic cybersecurity training to staff accessing the cloud.

Lack of due diligence in cybersecurity

Since lockdown sent everyone working from home, cybersecurity has taken a noticeable and worrying dip. Staff members accessing secure clouds and other data sources from home mean leaving laptops with access granted unattended, hooking up to public networks, where hackers can access, etc. And that’s just the ongoing problems.

Organisations that are in the process of migrating into the cloud are often not doing their due diligence when it comes to security. They have a habit of moving data without understanding the scope of the move, the security required, and their own responsibility when it comes to cybersecurity. Compliance officers at the moment are trying to address this particular issue with training around the world.

Insiders abusing authorized access

And then there is always the option of staff members with access to the data cloud purposefully misusing their access to customer data. There are a lot of reasons why they might do this, one being for the exploitation of wealthier customers, or to remove detection of wrongdoing with data.

Compromised cloud service provider supply chains

If the cloud service provider has parts of its infrastructure, operations or maintenance outsourced to third parties, they could be open to more vulnerabilities provided by these third party sources, allowing more places for hackers to access. 

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