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Navigating the Cloud Security Landscape: Understanding Risks, Threats, and Challenges

Every company faces security risks, threats, and issues on a daily basis. Many people believe that these terms all signify a single thing, but they are more nuanced. Understanding the small differences between them can help you safeguard your cloud assets more effectively.

What is the difference between risks, threats, and challenges?

  • A risk is the possibility of data loss or a flaw. 
  • A threat is a type of attack or adversary.
  • A problem is a company’s difficulty in adopting practical cloud security.

Consider this scenario: an API endpoint held in the cloud that is accessible to the public Internet is a risk, an attacker attempting to access sensitive data via that API is a threat (along with any particular techniques they may employ), and your organization’s challenge is to effectively protect public APIs while maintaining them available for legitimate customers or users who require them.

A comprehensive cloud security plan addresses each of the aspects, ensuring that there are no gaps in the foundation. Consider each as a distinct lens or standpoint through which to examine cloud security. A great strategy must manage risk, protect against dangers, and overcome hurdles in order for your organization to expand securely in the cloud.


4 Cloud Security Risks

Risk cannot be entirely eliminated; it can only be managed. Knowing frequent dangers in advance will make it easier for you to deal with them in your surroundings. What are the four cloud security threats?

  • Unmanaged Attack Surface
  • Human Error
  • Misconfiguration
  • Data Breach

1. Unmanaged Attack Surface

An attack surface is the overall exposure of your environment. The use of microservices may result in an increase in publicly available workload. Every burden increases the attack surface. Without tight supervision, your infrastructure may be exposed in ways you are unaware of until an attack happens.

Your company may require it to operate, but keep a close watch on it.


2. Human Error

According to Gartner, human error will account for 99% of all security-related cloud failures until 2025. When developing business apps, human error is a continual concern. Placing resources on the public cloud, on the other hand, increases the danger.

Because of the ease of use of the cloud, users may be using APIs you aren’t aware of, opening potential gaps in your perimeter. Control human mistakes by implementing strong controls that assist people in making sound decisions.


One final rule: don’t blame others for mistakes. The process is to blame. Create protocols and guidelines that assist people in doing the right thing. Pointing fingers will not help your company become more secure.



3. Misconfiguration

Cloud settings continue to expand as providers introduce additional services over time. Many businesses use more than one vendor.


varied providers have varied default configurations, and each service has its own implementations and subtleties. Adversaries will continue to attack misconfigurations until enterprises become skilled in safeguarding their numerous cloud services.



4. Data Breaches

When sensitive information escapes your hands without your permission or knowledge, this is referred to as a data breach. Data is more valuable to hackers than anything else, hence it is the target of the majority of attacks. Misconfiguration of the cloud and a lack of runtime security can open the door for hackers to steal.


The severity of data breaches is determined by the kind of data stolen. On the dark web, thieves sell personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) to individuals looking to steal identities or exploit the information in phishing emails.


Internal papers or emails, for example, could be exploited to harm a company’s brand or destroy its stock price. Whatever the motivation for the data theft, breaches continue to pose a significant threat to cloud-based businesses.



How To Manage Cloud Security Risks

Follow these tips to manage risk in the cloud:


  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify new risks.
  • Prioritize and deploy safety measures to mitigate the identified threats.
  • The dangers you choose to accept should be documented and revisited.

4 Cloud Security Threats

A threat is an attack on your cloud asset that attempts to exploit a vulnerability. What are the four most prevalent dangers to cloud security?


  • Zero-Day Exploits
  • Advanced Persistent Threats
  • Insider Threats
  • Cyberattacks

1. Zero-day Exploits

The cloud is “someone else’s computer,” yet as long as you use computers and software, including those that run in another organization’s data center, you will be vulnerable to zero-day flaws.


Zero-day exploits target flaws in popular operating systems and software that have not been patched by the manufacturer. They’re problematic because an attacker can use zero-day vulnerabilities to get a foothold in the system even if your cloud setup is flawless.


2. Advanced Persistent Threats

An advanced persistent threat (APT) is an advanced, long-term cyberattack in which a hacker establishes an unnoticed presence in a network in order to steal critical data.


APTs are not a “drive-by” attack. The attacker moves from workload to workload inside the environment, looking for private data to take and sell to the highest bidder. These assaults are risky because they may begin with a zero-day flaw and then go undiscovered for months.



3. Insider Threats

An insider threat is a cybersecurity threat that originates within an organization, typically by a former or present worker or another person with direct access to the company system, sensitive data, and intellectual property (IP), as well as expertise in business processes, company policies, or other information that could aid in the execution of such an attack.



4. Cyberattacks

A cyber attack is a bid by cybercriminals, hackers, or other digital enemies to gain access to a computer’s network or system, typically with the intent of modifying, stealing, destroying, or exposing data.


Malware, phishing, DoS and DDoS, SQL Injections, and IoT-based assaults are examples of common cyberattacks on businesses.


How to Handle Cloud Security Threats

There are so many different types of attacks that it’s difficult to protect from them all. However, here are three suggestions to follow while securing your cloud assets from all of these attacks.


  • When developing microservices, adhere to secure code standards.
  • Check your cloud configuration several times to make sure there are no gaps.
  • With a solid framework in place, you can go on the offense with threat hunting.

4 Cloud Security Challenges

The distance between theory and practice is a source of difficulty. It’s excellent that you realize you need a cloud security plan. So where do you begin? How do you approach cultural change? What are the day-to-day practical steps needed to make it happen?


What are the four cloud security concerns that any business encounters while adopting the cloud?


  • Lack of Cloud Security and Skills
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Shadow IT
  • Cloud Compliance

1. Lack Of Cloud Security Strategy and Skills

Conventional data center security strategies are incompatible with cloud computing. Administrators need to develop new cloud-specific tactics and abilities.


The cloud may provide organizations with agility, yet it can also expose them to risks if they lack the internal expertise and skills to adequately grasp security concerns in the cloud. Poor planning might result in misunderstanding the consequences of the shared accountability model, which outlines the security responsibilities of both the cloud provider and the user. This miscommunication could result in the exploitation of accidental security weaknesses.



2. Identity and Access Management

IAM (Identity and Access Management) is critical. While this may appear simple, the difficulty lies in the subtleties. Creating the proper roles and permits for a company with thousands of employees is a challenging process. A holistic IAM approach consists of three steps: role design, privileged access management, and execution.


Begin with a strong role design that is based on the demands of folks who will be using the cloud. Create positions outside of any IAM system. These jobs explain the work that your workers conduct and are consistent across cloud providers.


Following that, a privileged access management (PAM) plan explains which roles require additional security due to their privileges. Manage who has the ability to use confidential information and rotate them on a regular basis.


Finally, the designed roles must be implemented within the cloud provider’s IAM service. After creating these ahead of time, this process will be lot easier.



3. Shadow IT

Shadow IT poses a security risk since it bypasses the conventional IT approval and monitoring process.


Employees using cloud services to accomplish their work create shadow IT. Controlling cloud expansion is tough due to the ease with which resources in the cloud can be turned up and down. Developers, for example, can easily launch workloads using their credentials. Unfortunately, assets created in this manner may be insufficiently secured and accessible due to standard passwords and misconfigurations.


4. Cloud Compliance

Organizations must follow regulations that protect confidential information, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA. Credit card information, healthcare patient records, and other sensitive data are examples of sensitive data. Many organizations control access and what individuals can do when allowed access to ensure compliance criteria are met. Monitoring network access becomes difficult if access control procedures are not in place.



How to Conquer Cloud Security Challenges

Because each challenge is unique, so are the answers. Before using any cloud services, take the time to plan ahead of time. A good plan considers any typical cloud difficulties, such as the ones we’ve mentioned here. Then you’ll have a strategy in place for each anticipated problem.


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