Defending Your Business from Cloud-Based Threats: A Comprehensive Guide

Businesses are relying on online resources for data storage and processing. 76% of companies globally use an operating model with multiple cloud infrastructures. Due to this, the market for cloud security service providers is projected to grow and reach $83.03 billion by 2029.

Unfortunately, the cloud environment creates more vulnerabilities for businesses, creating opportunities for unauthorized access. A survey released in July of 2021 states that 98% of the respondents underwent at least one data breach through their cloud. So, it’s more important now than ever for businesses to defend themselves from cloud-based threats. Let’s discuss how in detail.

The Importance of Cloud Security

Undoubtedly, having a good level of security in the cloud is crucial for organizations of all sizes in this era of technological advancement. 93% of companies are extremely or moderately concerned about their cloud’s security. Moreover, one in every four organizations has confirmed an incident involving cloud security in 2021-2022. Therefore, if you want to limit the threat of data breaches through the cloud, you need to secure it.

Potential Cloud Security Challenges 

Though there have been improvements in the cybersecurity sector, there are still challenges present in cloud security, with the main ones being:

Data Leakage or Loss

Though the cloud has made it a lot simpler to access data, it has also increased the risk of data breaches. Cybercriminals usually try to get their hands on sensitive system information and data files, which can damage the company if such data is lost or leaked. Therefore, data protection should be the top priority of your cloud security provider.

Incident Response

It’s important for businesses to always prepare for the worst; this also applies to cybersecurity. Studies show that 91% of SMBs don’t have cyber liability insurance, which is quite concerning. Moreover, undergoing a cyber-attack can take a serious toll on a business financially. Therefore, it is vital for an incident response plan to be in place to best deal with the aftermath of an attack.

Data Privacy

An extremely pressing issue in cloud computing is data privacy. In December 2022, Google was issued the biggest fine for violating GDPR policies. As a result, businesses must comply with all the legal requirements to protect their company and customer data.

System Misconfiguration

You may encounter a system misconfiguration when important cloud security settings aren’t correctly implemented. These misconfigurations refer to certain loopholes, faults, flaws, or vulnerabilities within your cloud infrastructure that expose your organization to data breaches, ransomware, malware, and other issues. Incorrect configurations can occur quickly, making this a challenge for organizations to bypass.

Regulatory Compliance

Regulation authorities have introduced data protection laws like HIPAA and PCI DSS. These help organizations ensure unauthorized parties cannot access sensitive data. Sensitive data includes medical history, credit card information, and other critical information.

Complying with these regulatory requirements has been an issue, as companies need more control and visibility over their data due to its volume. With numerous laws created for the data stored in the cloud, the best security systems are needed to uphold the standards appropriately. 

Most Popular Cloud Security Solutions 

Cloud security features specialized tools and resources, such as the following:

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

CIEM tools are meant to help manage access controls and identity for the cloud. It utilizes the ‘least privilege’ method, enabling cloud users to manage IAM through multi-cloud environments to create a unified, singular approach to identity management.

Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)

CWPPs protect the cloud while it’s being utilized for work processes. It safeguards serverless workloads, containers, and virtual machines (VMs) to implement security across hybrid, private, or public cloud environments. CWPP gives a centralized location to users so they can manage the security of their workload, irrespective of how many cloud security services are being used.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

CSPM tools are meant to help with misconfigurations. These systems identify and prevent configuration mistakes, as well as non-compliance. CSPM tools can also be utilized for continuous monitoring after the initial configuration. However, teams need to plan a budget and implement it effectively.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

SASE is a novel cloud security tactic to reduce remote users’ latency. The system has enforcement points that inspect and approves traffic. These points directly conduct the inspection, rather than the alternative, in which traffic is routed to data centers, inspected, and sent back. The SASE model saves time and is extremely beneficial for businesses that operate on a remote or hybrid working model. 

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

When cloud-based apps are being made, SAST tools scan binaries, byte code, and source code for vulnerabilities like SQL injection. They also help remediate related issues and proactively work on limiting exposures when an application is launched.

SAST ensures that the scanning is conducted without really executing the code. Moreover, it is usually used in conjunction with Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), performed when the application is running.

Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB)

CASB is the way cybersecurity professionals expand their offerings to a cloud application. Essentially, they are the middleman between the user and the cloud service provider for monitoring things like malware detection, compliance, data access, and more. It addresses four basic pillars:

  • Visibility: CASB allows businesses to detect suspicious requests, making it easier to make cloud services accessible. It also limits user access and specific activities within broad cloud-based apps.
  • Compliance: This method also helps in detecting threats that should be addressed. It also monitors compliance.
  • Threat Detection:  CASB also utilizes behavior analytics to detect abnormalities so that insider threats and compromised accounts can be detected early. It further identifies and averts malware from being shared or uploaded over the cloud.
  • Data Protection: CASB observes data moving through the cloud and provides protective measures, such as access control, tokenization, and encryption.

How to Defend Your Business from Cloud Jacking

Cloud jacking is when an unauthorized party takes over your organization’s cloud account or steals information. For those storing sensitive data on the cloud, it is integral to defend it against cloud jacking. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can do that:

  • Hire cybersecurity experts
  • Have multi-factor authentication activated for those who can access it
  • Have users utilize VPNs when accessing the cloud
  • Limit access controls for susceptible information

Conduct Periodic Cloud Security Assessments or Audits 

Cloud audits are periodic examinations that organizations conduct to evaluate and document the performance of their cloud vendor. It allows them to see if they abide by best practices and meet established controls.

It’s similar to a regular IT audit, as it also examines several types of performance, security, administrative and operational controls. The main difference is that it focuses on cloud environments specifically. By conducting cloud audits, you can ensure whether your cloud vendors’ services focus on specific controls, particularly those involving risk management and security policies.

Encrypt and Back Up All Your Data 

Statistics show that 93% of companies that become victims of a significant data breach- without a recovery plan- tend to close down in 12 months. This shows that protecting and backing up data is integral, as it can make or break your business’s future.

Secure All Your Sensitive Data 

Sensitive data includes personally identifiable (PII) or confidential information, such as credit card and social security numbers or hospital reports. You need to ensure that if your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data is being stored on the cloud, it is secured via the solutions detailed earlier. 

Educate Your Employees about Cloud Security Best Practices 

Educating your employees on cloud security best practices will mitigate the risk of a cyberattack.

Implement Cybersecurity Rules

Since eight in ten people are working in a hybrid or remote model, employees need increased awareness regarding how to operate the cloud securely. By implementing strict cybersecurity rules, you can avoid the risks of exposure to threats.

Implement Access Control Policies

Access control policies enable you to easily manage the users who can access cloud services as required. The groups’ needs to be well-defined, and employees should know the importance of access and identity management, which combines access management and multi-factor authentication policies.

Endpoint Detection and Response

Employees accessing the cloud through their personal devices at different locations should be told about the security measures they may take to enhance computer security, such as:

  • Not using public WiFI
  • Keeping the computer locked
  • Installing antivirus software

Get Cyber Insurance 

Cyber insurance is a great way to ensure you’re covered for the expenses and costs incurred after a data breach. However, it would be best if you were wary of the policy you take out, as it should include Contingent Business Interruption if the cloud vendor has an outage.

Moreover, if someone breaches the data stored in the cloud, the vendor won’t be technically responsible, and the claim would be submitted under the Errors and Omissions category. However, you can also claim that the vendor did not perform their service properly.

Restrict Admin Rights and Monitor Staff Online Activities 

Those with administrative privileges for applications and operating systems can easily make significant changes to the operation and configuration of their system, access sensitive data, and bypass security settings. Therefore, admin rights should be restricted to a select few, and staff’s online activities should be monitored diligently.

Back-Up All Assets Frequently 

Original data is an asset that is difficult to replicate, so it’s essential to back it up frequently. The best practice is to back up projects and data weekly or daily. Moreover, though the information is usually backed up automatically on the cloud, it’s vital to back it up manually.

Common Problems When Defending Your Remote Business from Cyber Attacks 

Defending a remote business from cyberattacks with all your data stored and shared over the cloud can get tough. The main issue is for SMBs to get adequate security within their budget, as it can become a pricey endeavor.

Moreover, human error is highly possible when dealing with remote workers, making it easier for cybercriminals to attack. Technological challenges also occur since teams may use personal devices to work, exposing the company cloud to potential cyber threats.

In Conclusion 

Cloud-based threats can be highly destructive for organizations, especially SMBs, who conduct all their online activities through the cloud. Therefore, keeping it protected is vital. CXI Solutions has many cloud and cybersecurity solutions available for businesses of all sizes to ensure they remain protected against cybercrimes. Contact us today for more information. You can also read our cloud security blogs to learn more about protecting your business!