Businesses are turning to cloud computing services due to their undeniable advantages. Besides flexible cost structures, connectivity is always assured, making resources accessible. Migrating a company infrastructure to the cloud, however, is easier said than done. Companies need to be aware of and prepare for various cloud security risks. In this post, we explored three of the most common security threats all businesses must address.
Cryptojacking is probably one of the biggest threats to companies that utilize cloud services. Also known as “cryptocurrency mining,” the attack requires a lot of computing and electrical power, making it very expensive to pull off. For instance, one Bitcoin transaction requires 215 kilowatt-hours of energy—enough to power an average household for about a week. With the rising popularity of cryptocurrency, the need for more computing power also increases.
To address this issue, threat actors hack into cloud data centers and other cloud-based resources to augment their mining capabilities. Cloud-based cryptojacking malware is sneaked into cloud applications the same way as ransomware and other malware. That is, through phishing emails that contain malicious links or files.
Businesses have to be aware of this cloud security risk as it can cause a sharp increase in energy costs and possible data breaches. No one is immune to cryptojacking, too, so it pays to be vigilant. In fact, in 2018, cryptojacking malware found their way into the databases of large companies like Tesla and L.A. Times through an unsecured Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud infrastructure.
Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks
While cryptojacking malware can be injected into several cloud-based data centers and applications to increase the mining capability of cryptocurrency miners, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have a different motive. In DDoS attacks, threat actors infect as many devices as possible to bombard the targeted cloud service provider with a huge amount of traffic. These attacks are often distractions, while more severe cybercrimes like data theft are conducted.
When a cloud service provider suffers from a DDoS attack, the companies that use its services also suffer from service disruption and potential revenue loss. They could also be subject to more nefarious intent such as ransomware infection and data theft.
The most recent DDoS attack on a cloud service provider happened in February 2020, against an AWS client. It was also the most massive attack ever recorded to date. The victim’s network received a staggering traffic volume of 2.3 terabytes per second, but AWS Shield was able to mitigate the DDoS attack.
One of the security risks that nags every business is a data breach. This cyber risk can result in hefty fines for violating data privacy laws alone. But the long-term consequence is far more concerning—loss of customer trust and reputational damage. A Verizon study revealed that 69% of customers avoid companies with a history of a data breach, while 29% vow never to deal with the business again.
The first two cloud computing security risks we discussed could result in a data breach. Cryptojacking threat actors could also inject data-stealing malware and ransomware once they see the lucrativeness of such an endeavor. A DDoS attack, as mentioned previously, could also make way for data theft.
Threat actors often target cloud service providers to gain access to the data of multiple companies. Besides protecting their on-premise data, organizations also have to make sure that their cloud-based infrastructure is in good hands.
Reducing Cloud Computing Security Risks
The negative consequences of these security risks are quite scary, but they are not reasons for altogether shunning cloud computing. Even on-premise software poses cybersecurity risks that have the same negative consequences. The key is to ensure strong and reliable overall cybersecurity posture.
To lessen the risks brought on by cryptojacking, DDoS attacks, and data breaches, companies have to make sure that their first line of defense is robust. For one, software updates and patches have to be installed as soon as they are made available. Cloud-based threat protection solutions can also be a huge help. It’s also essential to enforce user access management to control and limit data access.
There are many other cloud computing security risks aside from cryptojacking, DDoS attacks, and data breaches. For instance, threat actors can exploit existing vulnerabilities in cloud computing technology. This threat is not unique to cloud computing, though, as other technologies also have weaknesses that make them susceptible to cyberattacks.
Since cloud computing is still considered an emerging technology, it will continue to evolve. Security patches would hopefully be developed to reduce risks. As with other new technologies, businesses have to stay updated about the latest security risks of using cloud computing. They have to make sure their data and network remain well protected while enjoying the benefits of moving to the cloud.