Top 5 Security Threats

Cloud computing has created many opportunities in the business world, but it has also opened systems up to an unlimited number of threats. It has brought experts several alternatives in design, storage and delivering apps, and computing. It enables developers to save money thereby adding value to the investment, but the security challenges it poses cannot be ignored. Everyone from junior employees to those in managerial positions can make poor cloud computing decisions on a daily basis. Rampant abuse of the cloud exposes companies to several threats.

Here are some of the top five cloud security risks faced by all organizations:


Many businesses with a presence on the cloud can attest to how frequent hijackings attempts occur. Once an attacker gains access to your information uploaded to the cloud, all the power is in their hands. They can mislead your clients, provide false feedback, and manipulate information. In some cases, legitimate sites have been taken over by attackers who use them as a base for illicit activities. Rival business competitors might hijack your account to redirect your customers to them or attackers might take over so they can hound you for ransom.

Data Breach and Loss

This often happens to organizations that overlook due diligence before signing up for cloud computing services. Failure to research the strengths and weaknesses of different cloud service providers exposes companies to unprecedented financial, legal, and commercial issues that would badly compromise them. Falling for fraudulent free trials, poorly secured services, and false sign-up requests can expose your cloud computing models like Platform as as Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) to malicious attacks. Service providers often use scalable infrastructure to support multiple customers, but if setup improperly, attackers can get access to different organizations’ data that are sharing hardware and other infrastructure components. Malicious insiders who have access to private information on the cloud can use this knowledge to the disadvantage of the company. Unscrupulous individuals working for the cloud service provider could even gather private information on arbitrary clients, which would most likely go undetected.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

An APT typically infiltrates systems to establish enough footholds for them to secretly steal information over an extended period of time. They operate a lot like parasites mingling among normal traffic to avoid detection by users. The most common points of APT infiltration include committed third party networks, USB devices that are preloaded with dangerous software, and even phishing attacks that lay dormant.

4. Denial of Service Attacks (DoS)

These have been around for ages, but the reliance upon cloud services have made it more attractive in recent years. A DoS attack is typically performed by bombarding the targeted machine or system with abundant requests in an attempt to overload capacity – thereby preventing access for legitimate traffic.  Such an attack causes a slow down or stoppage of targeted systems and costs companies valuable time and money if there not hosted with the proper protection and redundancy.


DevOps refers to the process of coordinating software development, testing, and deployment with respective infrastructure changes in a reliable and rapid manner.  Many businesses don’t regard security implications during the DevOp process, which is very dangerous. To them, it is an expensive undertaking which may not be critical, but they only learn the hard way when vulnerabilities are exposed and used to launch malicious attacks on their systems.

How to Combat Various Threats

While the cloud computing service provider is charged with protecting their customers, individual companies are responsible for their own clients’ data once they decide to use the cloud as a storage option. Data breaches can be avoided if organizations use encryption together with multifactor authentication to protect data.

Basic IT processes can be utilized to mitigate several attacks on systems vulnerabilities. These include: scanning for vulnerabilities, developing a patch management system, and creating user awareness. Some experts warn against the failure to identify vulnerabilities due to cost issues, but those rates are often lower than those incurred while trying to mitigate a successful attack.

To curb attacks from malicious insiders, companies should control segregation of functions as well as the encryption process. They should limit access to critical systems,  incorporating system monitoring, and regularly audit administrator activities. This has proven to be the most effective way of identifying culprits who might have shared your customers’ data illegally.

There is often a chance for employees to share private information on a public server without any ill intentions. Awareness training should be conducted throughout the organization to ensure that all stakeholders understand risks and are ready to comply with measures to prevent and mitigate them.

Advanced security protocols coupled with proper training is the only way to win against disguised Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). IT departments must always be in the loop about emerging attacks and educate fellow employees to avoid and/or properly deal with an attack.

Since the loss of data often has severe consequences for companies; they are advised to conduct system audits to make sure that everything is in place. The federal authorities take data breaches very seriously and will not hesitate to punish anyone involved.

Organizations must ensure optimal security at each stage of the DevOp process if they want to avoid attacks. Consider adopting newer Agile methods that improve your companies ability to better manage your projects and keep security at the forefront of your process.

The Bottom Line

Your choice of cloud computing service provider largely dictates the quality of protection you get. Leaving an unvetted third party in charge of sensitive data is a risky move that can devastate organizations, but that doesn’t mean companies should abandon the cloud. Understanding threats posed and learning how to deal with them along with selecting a credible provider is the only way to survive in the often murky world of cloud computing. There isn’t enough regulation to address cloud issues so organizations must be careful when choosing providers. Reviews are a great way to pinpoint competitive service providers but be cautious if they barely respond to your questions or seem to dismiss the need for optimal security.

You never know what is ahead when it comes to cloud computing, so businesses have to prepare for uncertain times. In a recent summit on security predictions, experts learned that several successful attacks came from obvious vulnerabilities that were not sealed early enough. Hiring a quality IT organization that understands the ins and outs of cyber security, cloud computing and authentication procedures is the best bet for winning against numerous threats.

Never fall for the temptation to take shortcuts or respond to unsolicited offers, as this is often a tactic used by attackers to get started in their malicious activities. As always, tread carefully on the web and in the cloud so you can avoid trouble.