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It’s Not All Rainbows In The Cloud: 5 Threats Businesses Should Consider

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 10:29 -- Kayla Smith

Now that cloud based computing and storage have become a norm in over 70 percent of businesses by 2016, it’s shocking to find out how very few of those businesses are legitimately concerned with the vulnerability and security risks that come along with this new technology.  With the cloud, you’re benefiting from lower fixed costs, more flexibility, automatic updates, and increased flexibility just to name a few, but there are also a handful of new security threats that are associated that businesses should consider and actively work to prevent. 

We want to lay out 5 of the top security threats to be aware of before you switch over to the cloud, and keep in mind, it’s always best to implement a clear plan for security when handling your business softwares and data storage.

1. Data Breach

This is the main threat to businesses when using the cloud, yet this threat has existed for years in many other forms as well. So you’re wondering if storing sensitive data online is less safe than storing in house? A study by the Ponemon Institute showed that over 50 percent of businesses felt that their security measures to protect sensitive data through cloud services were low. As the study also showed, this wasn’t a myth because in nine different scenarios a breach of data had occurred in each one.

After further evaluation of each of the scenarios, it was concluded that companies using cloud based services to transfer and save sensitive data are actually 3 times more likely to have a data breach then those who are not.  The cloud comes with very unique characteristics that can be associated with more vulnerability and which should require more security precautions.

2. Cyber Attacks

More vulnerabilities with the cloud can also lead to cyber attacks and account hijacking since most cloud based data is only secured by a password. If an attacker is able to gain access, they can manipulate, change and save data, they can inject a malicious code that can attack other users in the same software or users visiting your website, and they can also turn off your web server and make your website inaccessible. Another form of cyber attacks include Denial of Service attacks which attempt to make your servers or website unavailable to legitimate users which could also be a smokescreen for other malicious activity.

This is why two factor authentication should always be used, such as using a password and a secret answer and also, invest in security software which uses a cloud-based threat protection network, which will prevent most email and web-borne malware threats before they reach your businesses desktop, laptop, mobile or network.

3. Insider Threats

Just as cyber attacks are increasing, so is the threat of security breaches on the inside. This threat is more dangerous than most businesses assume it is because once an employee has access to your data through the cloud, they can steal data or give access to other malicious parties very easily. Administrative access to the cloud platform by employees, or attackers posing as employees can enable access to any virtual machine or database that is undetected which could potentially destroy your cloud security in minutes. Let the Edward Snowden breach at the NSA alarm you that this is not a joke and that each employee should undergo security education and should be held accountable.

4. Data Loss

Data loss can happen at any moment, whether it is from a crazy natural disaster such as when Google lost data when their power grid was struck by lightening 4 times, or it can happen through a malicious attack.  It may also occur when the service provider issues a data wipe. Loss of this sensitive and important data can be crippling for a business if there are not precautions set in place to recover.

Encrypt data wherever possible to minimize the risks associated with data loss. Your data can be protected carefully by reviewing your providers back up procedures, and making sure there is physical storage locations or other back up processes in place.

5. Lack of Understanding and Support

Most the threats we have talked about so far are pretty technical in nature but a security threat can occur so easily when a business does not have clear security training, policy in place, resources, and support. This is especially important to companies whose data falls under regulatory laws like PII, PCI, PHI, and FERPA, medical regulations like HIPAA or those that handle financial data for customers.

Also, since not all cloud providers are built the same, the standard has not quite been set for what exactly is safe and what exactly is provided in every case. Imagine not being able to get to customer data in an emergency medical situation or during a malware attack and not having the proper customer service to help you through? Make sure your service provider offers excellent customer support and that your employees are educated on the risks and the proper procedures when it comes to the cloud.

The cloud has opened up a whole new world of added flexibility, storage and productivity, but it has also opened the door to many new security threats that can be avoided if the right precautionary actions are taken.  Your company could risk losing business, loss of intellectual property, compliance violations and regulatory actions, contractual breeches and overall your customers trust.  Don’t let these things scare you away, just make an effort to prevent these things from interfering with your business by educating yourself and your employees before you switch over to the cloud.

And as always, catmandu is here if you have any questions or needs regarding security issues in your network and we would be glad hop on a call to set your mind at ease. 

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