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Top Cloud Security Threats and Solutions

Alekh Verma | March 7, 2023
Cloud Security

A new, globally connected workplace has been made possible by cloud computing, which encourages open collaborations and the free flow of information. In particular, during the Covid epidemic, this has increased productivity for businesses and made remote work possible, enabling them to maintain corporate operations. While the cloud environment has many advantages for businesses, it also exposes a number of weaknesses that can be used by hackers and turn out to be cloud security threats.

In this article, we’ll be covering how to prevent cloud security threats in-depth.

What are Cloud Security Threats? 

The majority of businesses place high importance on cloud security nowadays. Sensitive information can be accidentally or purposefully leaked to harmful third parties due to the volume of information that moves between cloud service providers and enterprises. Many cloud service data breaches are caused by insider threats, human error, weak credentials, criminal behavior, and malware.

Cybercriminals (such as state-sponsored hacker organizations, for instance) try to access the network of the target firm by exploiting security flaws in cloud services. Attackers frequently take advantage of built-in cloud service tools to migrate laterally and exfiltrate sensitive data to systems under their control.

New security risks are posed by cloud services due to their use of public and authenticating APIs. In general, the qualities that make cloud services available to IT systems and staff also make it challenging for enterprises to monitor and prevent unwanted access.

The 2020 cloud security report offers conflicting opinions on whether increased cloud adoption would enhance business security. 45% of respondents indicated that the security of on-premises and cloud applications is equivalent. According to 28% of respondents, cloud apps are safer than on-premises programs, while 27% expressed concern that cloud apps are less secure.

According to the same survey, 93% of respondents were very concerned about public cloud security. These statistics demonstrate that businesses are aware that adopting the cloud is fundamentally safe but are struggling with their obligation to do so. Businesses that use cloud technology without understanding cloud computing security risks expose themselves to a wide range of financial and technical problems. 

Why Should You Care About Cloud Security Threats?

Compared to traditional on-site systems, the cloud has the potential to deliver higher security, but this potential does not imply security. In the end, security is less dependent on the cloud itself and more dependent on how businesses handle management, oversights, and security - how you utilize the cloud is what matters. Infrastructure by itself won't safeguard you from online dangers.

Today, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, or $148 for each compromised record. This represents the global average; in the United States, it is closer to $7.9 million.

Yet, a business can save almost $1 million if they are able to handle a breach within 30 days. Millions of dollars can be saved by an organization if the threat is entirely eliminated.  Although it could seem costly and resource-intensive, cloud security is not when you take the aforementioned numbers into account. In actuality, it is a wise investment with a stellar return on investment.

Common Services for Cloud Computing Security Risks

The following are some of the most common cloud computing security risks affecting organizations:

  • Misconfigured Cloud Services 

A security setting that has been incorrectly applied by a cloud user or administrator is known as a security misconfiguration. An Amazon S3 storage bucket that is exposed to the public internet without authentication is a prime example of cloud misconfiguration. 

According to studies, misconfiguration exposes a growing quantity of data records, which is a major cost of cloud data breaches. Misconfiguration makes it possible for data breaches to occur directly as well as indirectly through brute force attacks and other exploits. 

  • Loss of Data 

The simplicity of cooperation provided by the cloud is a significant advantage, but cloud services frequently make it too simple to exchange data, even sensitive data. Several cloud services have default sharing enabled, and if permissions are not strictly regulated, users may unintentionally or intentionally share data with unwanted parties.

Data leaking was cited as the top cloud security threat in recent surveys by the majority of cybersecurity experts. An organization must pay for financial losses, reputational harm, regulatory penalties, and the exorbitant expense of recovering or recreating the data as a result of data breaches. 

  • Internal Threats 

Insiders with malevolent intent, careless insiders who disobey security protocols and grant attackers' access, and attackers who compromise privileged accounts and pass themselves off as trusted insiders are all examples of insider threats. Internal threats are challenging to identify and have dire repercussions. 

Traditional security tools are frequently inadequate to identify insider threats, even in on-premises situations. Due to the numerous endpoints and service accounts that may be taken over by an attacker and the simple communication between resources in a cloud network, the issue is made worse in a cloud system. 

  • Denial-of-Service Attacks 

Hackers that engage in denial of service (DoS) assaults overwhelm systems with automated, pointless connections, exhaust resources, and deny service to authorized users. DoS is a significantly bigger hazard in the cloud since systems are frequently exposed to public networks. 

Attackers can also use the cloud’s enormous scalability to propel their attacks. Attackers have been known to deploy cloud instances and compromise cloud accounts to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks against others. As a result of the DoS assault coming from their own cloud environment, the victim may incur substantial costs and legal liability. 

  • Meta structural Errors 

A metastructure is a collection of protocols and tools that enable communication between cloud infrastructure and other elements of the IT environment. For instance, crucial components of the metastructure in the Amazon cloud are the AWS API and the CloudFormation template engine. 

Despite having considerable development and security resources, large cloud combines are not faultless. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) identified a number of instances where consumers or cloud providers exploited APIs incorrectly, creating security issues. Zero-day attacks are another concern; they occur when hackers find a hole in a metastructure API that gives them access to thousands or even millions of organizations before the cloud provider notices the hole and patches it. 

Any flaw in the metastructure's functionality or security could cause widespread service interruptions, monetary losses, and data loss for many cloud users. 

4 Mitigation Techniques Defending Against Cloud Threats 

There are three methods that any firm can employ to reduce security risks associated with cloud computing

  • Behavioral Analysis. 

Behavioral profiling, also known as User and Entity Behavioral Analysis (UEBA), is a crucial part of Threat Detection solutions and is today a crucial aspect of IT security. By integrating context and visibility from both on-site and cloud infrastructure, these solutions can discover risks that conventional products overlook, potentially reducing the time it takes to isolate and respond to cyberattacks. 

The ability to automatically recognize a variety of cyberattacks is the main benefit of UEBA. Compromised accounts, internal threats, brute-force attacks, data breaches, and the addition of new users are a few of them. 

  • Processes in DevSecOps.

DevOps and DevSecOps have often been demonstrated to increase code quality and decrease vulnerabilities and exploits. They can hasten the development of applications and the deployment of new features. Working at the velocity that today’s organizational environment demands necessitate integrating development, security processes, and QA within the organization unit or application party- as opposed to relying on stand-alone security verification teams. 

  • Tools for automating application development and management. 

Even a highly skilled security professional might not be able to keep up given the lack of security professionals and the speed and number of security threats that are increasing. Modern IT operations must include automation that eliminates menial chores and replaces human benefits with machine advantages. 

  • Integrated provider and service management. 

Although there isn’t a single product or vendor that can offer everything, having a number of different management tools can make it challenging to integrate your security approach. 

Using a unified management system with an open integration fabric reduces complexity by reducing processes and bringing together various parts. Last but not least, when trade-off considerations must be made, increased visibility should take precedence over more control. Instead of having to maintain incomplete portions of the cloud, it is more beneficial to be able to see everything there. 

How to Prevent Cloud Security Threats

Threats to information security can come from both inside and outside of your company. Additionally, the predicted $6 trillion yearly cost of cybercrime to enterprises by 2021 helps to highlight the necessity of fortifying your defenses against all possible attack vectors.

Here are seven cloud security threats and solutions you must be aware of-  

1. Build Your Defenses Against Malware Attacks 

Any piece of software or code that is intended to carry out harmful operations on a system or a network is known as malware. Based on the unique traits or properties of each type, this kind of security threat can be divided into a number of categories. Malware comes in various forms, including: 

  • Different programs such as worms and viruses replicate on their own and spread across the entire network. 
  • Malicious programs such as Trojans might seem legitimate by the looks. 
  • Software such as spyware secretly monitors and records user activity.

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats

Although anti-malware solutions do a passable job, there is no one perfect solution that can be used to avoid malware-based attacks. Here is a list of some more advice that may be useful: 

  • Since malware has the propensity to infect the entire network, it is advisable to use a reputable endpoint security solution (which typically includes antivirus, antimalware, etc.) across all network endpoint devices. 
  • The significance of routinely applying software updates and patches cannot be overstated when it comes to information security concerns. 
  • Your workers should be trained to distinguish between trustworthy and dubious communications and websites. Employees can be educated and trained to prevent security hazards and increase their knowledge of online threats by attending regular, required cyber awareness training sessions.   

2. Protection From Eavesdroppers Monitoring Through MITM Attacks. 

One of the information security risks known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is when a malicious agent intercepts communication between two parties (such as two computers or a computer and a network appliance) to eavesdrop or manipulate the data. To appear as though they are the intended receiver, the attacker spoofs their address. 

The attacker can covertly intercept network packets using packet forwarding the tools like Ettercap without interfering with the flow of communication between the two ends. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats

These attacks can be avoided in a number of ways. A few strategies that you can use to counteract these threats to information security are highlighted in the list below: 

  • Use HTTPS to connect across encrypted channels whenever you can when online. Even in the event of a successful MITM attack, encryption keeps your data scrambled in an unreadable form and renders it useless to attackers without a decryption key. 
  • With HTTP Strict Transport Security, which only permits HTTPS connections, insecure redirects are eliminated. If a request was initially made to an HTTP site that was not secure before being redirected to a secure HTTPS site, an attacker may be able to hijack the connection using tools like SSLStrip. This ambiguity is eliminated by using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), which also guarantees that only HTTPS connections are made between the client and the server.
  • Don't open attachments, click links, or download software from dubious sources. Malware and phishing emails can both be used to further a man-in-the-middle (MitM) assault. Avoid clicking on any email links, and think twice before downloading any files, especially if the email seems suspect and the message header hasn't been checked. Moreover, check to see whether any program has been code signed before downloading it to your PC. It is a method of ensuring that the program is authentic and hasn't been altered by an attacker.
  • To prevent spoofing attacks, use anti-ARP spoofing software and only ever browse over a secure, reliable connection. In smaller networks, putting only static ARP entries in the cache or deploying anti-ARP spoofing technologies can help reduce the danger of spoofing. Moreover, make sure to use a virtual private network if you must connect via an insecure connection, such as a public Wi-Fi (VPN).  

3. Avoid Becoming a Suspect in a Drive-By Download Attack 

Imagine a scenario in which you are passively browsing the internet on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and manage to accidentally infect your phone or system with malware without clicking on any links or downloading any software. 

Drive-by downloads take advantage of flaws in the operating systems, browsers, or applications, which is why it’s so important to install patches and updates. Through the use of harmful code that is disseminated through hacked websites, they can propagate malware. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats 

While it can be challenging to protect against security threats that aren’t initiated by the victim and, if well-crafted, can sneak past detention, there are several steps we can take to ensure that these kinds of information security threats don’t succeed: 

  • Maintain the most recent patch on all of your operating systems, apps, and programs running on them to close any security gaps that could allow harmful drive-by-download code to infiltrate. 
  • It is strongly advised to frequently scan the system with antivirus and antimalware programs. It’s also a good idea to disable JavaScript in the PDF document settings as a safety measure. 
  • Even reputable websites can be compromised, but it’s much more likely that drive-by attacks will spread through dubious sites, so stay away from such things. Websites with potentially hazardous content can be blocked by installing web filtering programs like OpenDNS or Websense Web Filter. Nonetheless, a complete OS reinstall is advised after infection. 

4. Train Your Staff to Avoid Falling for Phishing Attacks’ Bait 

A form of social engineering attack known as phishing saw a 667% spike in March 2020 alone. Most of us have received dubious emails that ask us to open attachments or click on links. Social engineering attacks take advantage of people’s gullibility by exploiting their skillful social skills to acquire their trust and persuade them to divulge private information. 

There are some examples of sensitive data: 

  • Personally identifiable information (PII)
  • Financial or health results 
  • Propriety information 
  • Information that can be utilized either directly or indirectly to undermine security and gain access to the business network. 

They contact several sources if they can’t get the information, they need from a single one, combining and expanding on the knowledge they have gleaned to develop a plausible and compelling plot. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats

While questionable emails can be blocked by a spam filter, the main goal of social engineering assaults is to encourage people to talk or act in some way. The best thing we can do is guarantee that our personnel regularly complete cyber awareness training and remains vigilant about information security dangers. 

  • Avoid allowing yourself to be persuaded to reveal any personal information. Be careful, especially when using the internet. Be careful with the information you publish or post online regarding your social media account’s privacy settings. 
  • Be aware of telemarketers or strangers who approach you on the phone. This includes those who get in touch with you to ask about your business or who pose as bank representatives. 
  • Check again and again. Make it a practice to double-check your authorization and credentials before releasing any sensitive information. Instead of using information that you receive from the suspicious person, use official contact details (such as the person’s phone number from your company’s internal contact directory).   

5. How to Prevent Compromise If You Experience a DDoS Attack 

Have you ever visited a website and been welcomed by a chatbot waiting to assist you with any questions you might have? Although the majority of us have, not all bots are made equally. For instance, a botnet is a network of several linked devices (PCs, servers, IoT devices, etc.) that is controlled by an attacker and infected with malware. The botnet army, also known as a zombie army, poses a severe danger to businesses of all sizes and may be used to launch DDoS assaults, send spam emails, and participate in fraudulent activities. 

Botnets are used in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to overwhelm a victim system (such as a web server) with more requests than it can handle, ultimately rendering the victim inoperable and unable to handle any valid user requests. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats

DDoS assaults, which try to overload the target's bandwidth or use up its resources to make them inaccessible or excruciatingly sluggish for legitimate consumers, can be difficult to spot. Let's look at various strategies for countering this security threat:

  • Use an anti-DDoS solution to safeguard your network and implement equipment that continuously scans it for any indications of an attack.
  • Patch and upgrade your security software and firewall.
  • Outlining all the procedures to be followed in the case of a DDoS attack, decide on the best course of action in advance.

6. Protect Yourself from the Dangers of Advanced Persistent Threats

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) place a high priority on stealth to avoid detection after infiltrating a network. These attacks last a long time and are directed at high-value targets (such as governments, intellectual property, national defense, etc.), with espionage or data theft serving as the main driving force rather than short-term financial gain. 

These information security attacks, which are frequently carried out by nation-state actors, aim to keep access open while moving laterally within the network to gain a foothold and pursue data exfiltration. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats

APTs are well-funded, play the long game, and frequently employ zero-day assaults to avoid being discovered by security tools installed on the network. Because of these factors, mitigation becomes difficult, but the following steps emphasize some specific activities we may do to move mitigation forward: 

  • Strengthen the perimeter defenses: the majority of the time, when we discuss network security, we really mean protecting the perimeter. But with APTs, we have to pay close attention to how traffic moves via our internal networks. We need to apply updates, patch vulnerabilities and deploy firewalls, UTMs, IDS/IPS, and other security measures to meet our network security goals. 
  • Keep track of every traffic, including inbound and outbound. It is essential to maintain awareness of both incoming and outgoing traffic on the network. 
  • Update software and uphold security regulations. Whitelisting permitted programs, implementing lease permissive rules, limiting administrative access, updating the OS, etc., are further techniques to prevent attacks.   

7. Stop Insider Attacks from Undermining Your Security Inside the Organization 

Sensitive data can be shared with malicious agents by anyone from within the firm who has access to the business network and sensitive information. Internal dangers might come in the form of trusting employees, unhappy workers, outside contractors, etc. 

Some workers unintentionally fall victim to social engineering scams, while others who have something to prove may actively divulge business-critical information. Before permitting external suppliers to be onboarded and given access to the corporate network, these risks need to be evaluated and handled as they might also offer serious security issues. 

Suggested Techniques for Countering Certain Information Security Threats 

Despite having monitoring technology in place, businesses have continued to report data theft and have been attacked by insiders. Security concerns cannot be eliminated by a single solution; instead, a number of measures can be put in place to lessen the likelihood of a breach. 

  • Regularly provide workshops and training on cyber awareness. Employee training can improve their ability to recognize and respond to information security threats. Examples include regular, interactive cyber awareness workshops, simulated phishing assaults, etc. 
  • Before granting access to vendors, evaluate their security capabilities. Before granting any access to the corporate network or exchanging any crucial data with third parties, it is sensible to carry out a thorough, end-to-end vendor risk assessment to understand and analyze their security posture. 
  • Boost visibility inside your company and restrict access to vital systems. Additional measures to prevent insider threats include the use of DLP programs or cloud access security brokers (CASBs) for businesses that use cloud file storage, the blocking of USB ports, need-to-know access restrictions, temporary accounts for contract employees, multi-factor authentication, and low privileges. 


Several information security concerns, including ransomware, crypto-jacking, a lack of encryption, IoT vulnerabilities, etc., have been overlooked because it is challenging to cover all cloud computing security risks that exist. The timely renewal of SSL/TLS certificates is a typical neglectful practice that can be readily corrected. 

The average cost of certificate mismanagement per firm is more than $11 million, and expired digital certificates might cause unanticipated weaknesses in the network infrastructure. We have a higher chance of not just responding to cyber-attacks but also stopping them from ever accessing our networks if we take proactive measures to fight against cloud security threats.  

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