Cloud security concerns are usually misunderstood due to the complexity of Cloud computing. Too often, businesses need help understanding Cloud application security problems and how to handle them, leaving them vulnerable to numerous threats.
Due to the scalability of the Cloud, Cloud application security concerns have also increased considerably. Additionally, traditional security practices often fail to provide application-level security in Cloud computing.
According to the 2022 analysis of Cloud Security, 58% of organizations noticed unauthorized access as the chief security concern.
As businesses acclimate to Cloud computing models, understanding the complexities of these connections is crucial to keeping the data safe and secure.
So, let’s explore Cloud application security issues in detail.
What Are the Cloud Application Security Issues?
The phrase “Cloud application security” refers to the method of defending Cloud-based software applications from the beginning of Cloud deployment.
It is essential to –
- Store everything in the Cloud
- Shield Cloud-based apps from cyber attacks
- Restrict access to the right people only
There must be safeguards to prevent attacks on these Cloud-based apps and unwanted access to the data they store. You’ll also require the same level of direction and management as the Cloud applications you operate.
As we now know what Cloud security is, we can examine the most crucial threats and the reasons why it’s so essential to guard against these security issues.
Types of Cloud Application Security Issues
Let’s focus on some of the most familiar security issues around Cloud computing applications:
Misconfiguration in the Cloud simply means that the configuration of the Cloud services or resources is not set up correctly.
One of the most common reasons for data breaches is the improper configuration of Cloud infrastructure. If misconfigurations exist in the organization’s Cloud, it might leave sensitive data and programs vulnerable to cyber criminals.
It might be challenging for businesses to ensure that only authorized users have access to their data stored in the Cloud because of the open essence of infrastructure and emphasis on data sharing. Therefore, poor administration or management of the Cloud hosting infrastructure will further exacerbate the problem.
Common Types of Cloud Misconfiguration
- Unrestricted inbound and outbound ports.
- Secret-data management failures, such as passwords, encryption keys, API keys, and admin credentials.
- Leaving the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) protocol open.
- Unsecured backups.
- Lack of validation in Cloud security.
- Unblocked non-HTTPS/HTTP ports.
- Excessive access to VMs, containers, and hosts.
How to prevent Cloud Misconfigurations?
Following are the best practices for organizations that they can implement for better security for Cloud-based assets and prevent a Cloud-misconfiguration breach –
- Implement logging practices, i.e., two-factor authentication, etc.
- Enable encryption
- Check permissions
- Perform consistent misconfiguration audits
- Apply strong security policies.
Misconfiguration threatens Cloud security and may even negatively impact business operations.
Therefore, people who are in charge of handling their organization’s Cloud application should be well-versed in the security tools to avoid unexpected misconfigurations.
2. Data Loss or Leakage
Data loss refers to the unwanted removal of sensitive information either due to a system error, or theft by cybercriminals; And, Data leakage can occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to data, typically through hacking or malware.
One of Cloud computing’s primary benefits is the simplicity with which data can be collaborated and shared by internal and external parties.
However, there are potential security issues and difficulties in Cloud computing because transmitting data in the Cloud is typically done via
- Direct email invitations
- The distribution of a general link to a specified group of users
One prominent example of a Cloud data breach is Volkswagen Group of America disclosed a data leak in June 2021 — malicious actors exploited an unsecured third-party dealer to acquire data about Canadian and US customers. Between 2014 and 2019, the company gathered data mainly for sales and marketing purposes.
However, Volkswagen failed to protect this database, leaving it exposed from August to May 2021 and allowing the leak of information to roughly around 3.2 million individuals. Driver’s licenses and car numbers were disclosed during the leak, as well as the loan and insurance numbers of a few sets of customers.
How to Prevent Data Loss/ Leakage in Cloud Applications?
Here are some of the data security practices that prevent data leaks and minimize the chances of data breaches –
- Evaluate the third-party risks.
- Monitor all network access.
- Identify all sensitive data.
- Secure all endpoints.
- Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software.
- Encrypt all data.
- Evaluate all permissions.
The most dominant security concern in Cloud Computing is the loss of data. When information is lost, especially customer data and intellectual property; it is either erased, corrupted, or rendered unusable by human activity or automated processes.
3. Cyber Attack
A cyber attack is a security breach that occurs when a person or group of people attempt to gain unauthorized access to data or systems. The purpose of a cyber attack is to disable a system, steal data, or gain access to sensitive information.
Cyber attackers know how to attack Cloud-based infrastructures that are not securely protected.
A well-known incident occurred in July 2020, when Twitter suffered a cyber attack and its data was breached by a group of attackers who took down many popular Twitter accounts. In addition, they hired social engineering attackers to steal employee credentials and acquire access to the organization’s internal management system.
Many well-known accounts, including that of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama, got hacked. The attackers exploited the stolen accounts to post Bitcoin scams and earned more than $108,000.
Twitter announced it to be a case of phone phishing.
Two weeks after the incident, the US Justice Department charged three suspects, one of them was 17 years old at that time.
The hackers took control of several accounts of prominent people and shared these phishing tweets, as depicted in these screenshots.
If businesses are serious about preventing cyber attacks, they need to assess their vulnerabilities and fix them. It can be done by performing various security checks, revealing vulnerabilities in the company’s Cloud system.
Following Are the Tips to Prevent Cyber Attacks in Cloud Applications:
- Keep your operating system and software up to date with the latest security patches.
- Use a firewall to block unwanted network traffic.
- Install and use antivirus and anti-malware software, and keep it up to date.
- Don’t open email attachments from unknown senders.
- Educate your employees.
- Secure a data backup plan.
- Who has access to the data?
- Encryption is key.
- Take passwords seriously.
To further improve the effectiveness of its cyber security solution, the company should employ solid Cloud security strategies.
4. Insider Threats
Insider threats in Cloud applications are a serious security concern. Threats can come from employees, contractors, or anyone with access to an organization’s data. It occurs when malicious or unauthorized users gain access to sensitive data or systems.
Do you know that Cloud isn’t the only zone where an organization’s network is vulnerable to threats? There’s also an “insider threat” that is present within many organizations; 25-30% of data breaches are caused by insiders.
It’s more challenging to spot suspect threats if insiders are involved. Therefore, every company needs effective security mechanisms to detect harmful insider behavior before it affects business processes.
There are mainly two types of insider threats:
- Those that are desperate, such as a disgruntled employee seeking revenge.
- Those who are ignorant or make unintentional mistakes, such as an employee who clicks on a malicious email link.
Here Are Some Ways to Minimize the Risk of Insider Threats in Cloud Applications:
- Implement least privilege access controls.
- Use activity monitoring and logging for suspicious behavior.
- Educate your users on security risks.
- Keep your applications up to date.
- Restrictions on access to sensitive data.
Other insiders can also put the company’s data and crucial information in jeopardy. For example, the data might be improperly accessed, stolen, or exposed by vendors, partners, and contractors.
5. DDoS Attacks:
DDoS attacks happen when an attacker attempts to make a Cloud application unavailable by flooding it with traffic from multiple sources. The main purpose of a DDoS attack is to shut down and disrupt the targeted infrastructure
The Cloud is vital to many organizations’ capability to do business and manage their activities; So, they utilize the Cloud to store business-critical data.
Malicious attacks against Cloud service providers are rising as more companies and operations transition to the Cloud. Nowadays, DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks are more widespread in which the DDoS attackers aim at causing disruption.
The objective of a DDoS attack is to flood a website with so many fake requests that it can’t handle the real ones. As a result, DDoS attacks can make a website inaccessible for many days.
Mostly DDoS attacks are executed against the web servers of big organizations such as:
- Media outlets
- Government agencies
DDoS Attack Reported by AWS
On February 2020, AWS reported a massive DDoS attack they suffered. At its peak, this attack noticed incoming traffic at a rate of 2.2 terabytes per second (TBps). Unfortunately, AWS did not disclose who among their customers was targeted by this DDoS attack.
The attackers employed hijacked Connection-less Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (CLDAP) web servers. CLDAP is a protocol for user directories and the most effective protocol attack which has been used in numerous DDoS attacks in recent years.
To access servers or databases, hackers use APDoS (advanced persistent denial of service), which targets bypassing the application layer.
How to Know If You’re Under DDoS Attack:
The most obvious symptom of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a site or server suddenly becoming slow or inaccessible.
- Traffic coming from one specific IP address or blocked IP.
- Traffic from devices sharing a common behavior profile, such as a certain type of smartphone or tablet.
- Multiple requests are sent to a single URL or resource on your site.
How To Stop a DDoS Attack?
- Identify the source of the attack
- Monitor your logs
- Use security tools
- Implement a firewall
- Install anti-malware software
- Update your operating system
- Avoid opening attachments
- Be careful what link you click
- Backup your data
How to Detect DDoS Attacks?
It is better to detect the attack as soon as possible before it severely damages your system. You can use the netstat command to display all the current TCP/IP network connections to your system.
To detect DDoS attacks on Windows and Linux Systems, you can check out this KB article on “How to check if my system is under DDoS attack?”
6. Insecure APIs/ Interfaces
Cloud-based systems and application programming interfaces (APIs) are often used for both internal and external data exchange. The problem is that hackers love to target APIs because they provide valuable features and data to use.
Cloud service providers often provide several APIs and interfaces to their customers. These interfaces are generally well-documented to make them easily usable for a CSP’s customers.
But, What is an API?
Application User Interface (API) is the key tool for handling the system in a Cloud environment. Unfortunately, because of its widespread availability, API seriously threatens Cloud safety.
Here are the most familiar issues with application-level security in Cloud computing:
- Insufficient monitoring
- Free and secret access with no authentication required
- Passwords and tokens can be reused
- The use of direct messages for authentication
Thus, hackers will disclose these loopholes and utilize them to bypass authentication processes via APIs.
Hence, it is important to pay extra attention to application-level security in Cloud computing. Protecting APIs and guarding API gateways should be a component of any risk-managing plan.
The Cloud provides several benefits to enterprises; however, it also comes with security crises and threats. Cloud-based infrastructure is extremely different from an on-premises data center and traditional security tools and strategies as it cannot provide effective security.
However, providing high-grade Cloud security to compete with typical Cloud security threats is vital to avoid security breaches and data loss.
Security risks can be significantly minimized with the proper methods and practices. However, safeguards can’t be installed quickly. So, implementing them properly calls for a well-thought-out strategy and expertise.
We hope this article has been useful for you!
If you have any questions or comments, share them with us here.
If you are looking forward to creating a robust Cloud security plan, you can get in touch with our team.