Cloud storage has been rising in popularity over the last few years. Simply put, it is a way of storing and accessing large amounts of data online. You can access your data using multiple devices from anywhere - as long as you’re connected to the internet.
Although there are benefits like cost-effectiveness, easy accessibility, and getting rid of physical storage systems, cloud storage systems also have their fair share of risks. While most offer decent security measures, finding the right secure storage solution is complicated.
That said, it is in your best interest to understand how cloud storage works and the potential risks that are involved. Keep reading to learn about ten major security concerns that will haunt you if you don’t have a secure storage system in your company.
How Secure Is Your Data In The Cloud?
As the technology evolved, companies and agencies started migrating tons of data to cloud storage facilities. Most of these facilities were provided by third-party companies; hence there are quite a few inherent security risks associated with using these storage systems and file-sharing applications.
Network storage solutions are usually part of a larger shared environment - your virtual machines (VM) will be sharing hardware, software, and infrastructure with other cloud users. In most cases, you’ll have no idea about the number of users or the identity of anyone sharing the same environment. As a result, data security and privacy protection seem to be the primary concerns of most organizations willing to migrate their data to the cloud.
Now that you understand how cloud storage works, here are some notable benefits and drawbacks:
- Storing your data in the cloud is cheaper compared to other forms of data storage
- It offers easy accessibility as long as you’re connected to the network
- Your data is continuously backed up. Hence, in the event of a catastrophe, you’ll still be able to access the data
- It allows syncing and updating of the data in real-time
- You’ll get additional layers of security when it comes to protecting your valuable data
- If you don’t have an internet connection, you won’t be able to access the data
- Costs can rise quickly based on your requirements of space, security, and privacy
- Customer support can be lacking, especially if you’re using a free or a bottom-tier plan
- You won’t have absolute control over the data as it will be hosted on third-party servers
What about security?
Data security is the process of protecting your data from unauthorized access or theft throughout its lifecycle. It involves deploying tools and security measures such as data encryption, two-factor authentication (2FA), data masking, etc., to protect sensitive data from cybercriminals and other threat actors.
You might wonder how networked storage is protected?
To keep the data secure, most service providers believe that the first line of defense is encryption. Most data encryption methods utilize complex algorithms to conceal your data from threat actors. And to decipher what’s below, cybercriminals will need the exact set of encryption keys.
Can my cloud be hacked?
Any encrypted information isn’t 100% uncrackable. But it requires a lot of processing power, relevant software, and a lot of time. You’ll surely get an added layer of protection, but there isn’t a 100% guarantee that your cloud storage is fully secure.
That said, keeping your data in the cloud safe is a shared responsibility - you and your service provider should work together to achieve this goal. Many things need to be considered when choosing a cloud storage provider, from secure military-grade encryption to critical management systems.
Cloud Storage Security Risk You Should Look Out For
Although cloud storage is deemed safer than other storage methods, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can upload the data and be at peace. Like any technology, cloud storage, too, is prone to cybersecurity threats.
Here are ten significant security risks that you should be aware of:
- Shared Servers - Cloud storage systems use servers to store data. It is just that you (the user) don't have physical access to the servers. Usually, cloud storage providers don’t offer individual servers for each user; multiple users share a server’s space as per requirements. You may be putting your data at risk if other users sharing the server upload potentially hazardous data or don’t follow appropriate security measures.
- Data Privacy - When you store data in physical drives and on-premise servers, you have full control over who accesses it. However, with the cloud, your data is stored on third-party servers. Hence, you won’t have full-fledged control over who sees it. So when you migrate your data to the cloud, be ready to compromise with losing essential privacy controls.
- Lack of control - Choosing a third-party cloud service means that you’ll be letting off a lot of responsibility off of your shoulders. While you don’t have to worry about managing the data, you will also lose out on having complete control over certain aspects. For instance, if there’s an outage or malware infection at the provider’s end, there’s nothing you can do to protect the data.
- Lack of backup services - Although some cloud providers offer an automatic data backup feature, most of them don’t. You’ll need to manually backup copies of the data you store in the cloud. You’ll lose your data if you’re using a third-party service that doesn’t offer automated backups in case of any unforeseen event.
- APIs and storage gateways - When you have a lot of data to manage, it is in your best interest to opt for APIs and storage gateways that allow easy data migration. Think of these tools as the middlemen between you and your cloud service provider. However, insecure APIs and gateways are easy targets of cyberattacks and might lead to data loss.
- Cloud Credentials - As you already know, cloud storage allows easy access and collaboration. You can have multiple users and customers upload, edit, and download data by providing them with login credentials to the shared network. The problem is that credentials are usually managed by individual users and are subject to compromise. Weak passwords are the easiest targets for hackers trying to get into your cloud storage.
- Phishing Protection - Cloud storage is the new favorite target of phishing attacks. Hackers use targeted emails to steal sensitive data, such as usernames and passwords. What if one of your employees or customers falls prey to one such phishing attack? Cybercriminals can quickly get hold of credentials and access your shared storage. Unfortunately, not all third-party providers offer enough security measures to mitigate this risk.
- Breach Drills - Data stored in the cloud has a high-probability of a cyberattack. Hence, businesses need to run security breach drills to empower their employees and customers. Third-party storage providers don’t usually organize such training and leave it upon their users. Since most companies are adopting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture, it poses a huge security risk as one or more of these devices may be compromised and act as a backdoor entry point for rogue elements.
- Loss of data - Data loss is one of the significant concerns of cloud storage. Although cloud servers are built for safety, there are various ways to lose data. It can be due to a technical error, accidental deletion, data overwriting, or any malicious action. Either way, if your service provider doesn’t offer multiple security features and automatic backups, your data isn’t 100% safe.
- Malware Infections - Cloud storage is most susceptible to malware infections. The fact that your data is stored and transmitted over the internet adds to the risk. Even if your service provider offers the necessary security measures, criminals can still intercept the data during its transmission. From cross-site malware injection attacks to SQL injection attacks - once the cloud storage is infected with malware, attackers can take over your data, delete it, modify it, and even block you from accessing it.
Tips To Prevent Cloud Security Threats
Even though cloud storage is considered a safe file storage system, it isn’t completely immune to cyber threats. Your service provider may offer the required security net, but it is good to practice some security measures to minimize the dangers. These include:
- Educate employees - Educate your employees about common threats when it comes to using cloud storage. Inform them about safety measures such as using complicated passwords, enabling two-factor login authentication, and using a reliable antivirus. Teach them about phishing and other socially-engineered attacks so that they’re aware of how to access your cloud network safely.
- Secure a data backup plan - Make sure to create multiple backups of your data. Keep a physical copy of the data alongside cloud backups to avoid any risk of data loss. Not all, but most third-party service providers offer automatic backups. Just make sure that your service provider offers it as well.
- Encryption key - Encrypting your data is a surefire way to keep it protected from prying eyes. Opt for military-grade encryption (256-AES) to mitigate risks of data loss and theft. It is a good idea to use an additional set of encryption keys on top of what your service provider offers, as these keys will act as extra security layers.
- Establish secure cloud policies - If you follow a BYOD policy, ensure that all devices accessing your shared network meet the necessary security guidelines. Implement a comprehensive suite of threat detection, user management, and response tools to mitigate the breach and data theft risks.
Cloud storage is flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. But to get the most out of it, you need to ensure that you address related security concerns by implementing a comprehensive cloud security strategy before migrating all of your data to the cloud.
Keep in mind the dangers listed in this blog, and make sure that you’re well prepared to tackle security concerns. Finally, make sure that your service provider offers all of the secure storage features to ensure that your data is fully protected from cyberattacks, such as data theft, data manipulation, data loss, malware infections, and more.
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