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Safe and Secure Navigating the Security Concerns of Cloud Hosting

Safe and Secure: Navigating the Security Concerns of Cloud Hosting

The cloud has become integral to modern businesses, but are companies adequately prepared to guard against security threats? 

Recent data paints a concerning picture.

According to a recent survey, 45% of breaches are cloud-based, and 80% of companies have experienced at least one cloud security incident in the last year.

And 27% of organizations have experienced a public cloud security incident—up 10% from last year. 

What Is the Extent of These Data Security Breaches?

In 2020, it was reported that 79% of companies had experienced a cloud data breach. 

Two years later, a study by IDC and Ermetic revealed an even more startling figure – 98% of organizations were affected, an increase of close to 20% in a short period of time. 

To make matters worse, 83% of these cases involved multiple breaches, and an alarming 43% reported 10 or more incidents over the same period.

Who Is Most Affected by Security Breaches?

Who else? Servers!

Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report showed that servers were the main focus of data breaches, accounting for a substantial 90% of security incidents. 

Of those, web application servers were the main target, with over half of the breaches. 

Meanwhile, mail servers were the second most breached, making up a quarter of all incidents.

Cloud-based mail servers made up a massive 96% of these web application server breaches. 

How Much Do These Breaches Cost?

By 2024, Gartner predicts that 60% of Infrastructure and Operations leaders will suffer from public cloud cost overruns that could negatively impact their financial budgets. 

As illustrated by one study, the estimated yearly financial loss for 662 US organizations due to compromised cloud accounts was 6.2 million dollars. 

This equates to an average of 3.5% of their total revenues in the 12 months preceding that study – a large portion of the budget. 

Application downtime of an average of 138 hours in one year can have a costly impact, with repercussions that are felt throughout the company.

Hybrid cloud data breaches tell a more hopeful story, costing an average of 1.19 million dollars less than other cloud security breaches.

According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, the average cost of a breach in a hybrid cloud environment was 3.61 million dollars—lower than other cloud types, including private, public, and on-premises.

Unfortunately, IBM’s 2022 report revealed that the overall cost of data breaches had risen to 6.35 million dollars—a jump of 150,000 dollars since the year before. This all-time high emphasizes the importance of taking proactive steps to improve cybersecurity.

What Are Some Root Causes of Security Breaches? 

Hackers can gain access to your security systems in various ways. Here are some of the main ones.

a). Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack where malicious actors gain access to a user’s system, encrypt the data, and then demand payment in exchange for unlocking it. 

Recent IBM research has highlighted just how big of a threat ransomware poses for cloud hosting services. 

In their 2022 study, 11% of breaches were attributed to ransomware attacks – an increase from 2021 which saw ransomware breaches at 7.8%. 

This indicates that malicious actors are becoming increasingly successful in launching targeted ransomware attacks against cloud platforms. 

Businesses that rely heavily on cloud hosting must ensure they have robust security measures to protect their systems and data from such threats. 

b). Phishing

According to a study by the Cloud Security Alliance, 51% of organizations have stated that phishing is the most common method attackers use to acquire real cloud credentials. 

Phishing attacks involve criminals sending emails designed to look like they are from legitimate companies, trying to fool people into providing confidential information, or downloading malicious software.

Organizations should take steps to protect their data from phishing attacks, such as creating and enforcing a strong password policy and using two-factor authentication for all accounts. 

Again, it is important for employees to be aware of the warning signs of phishing attempts.

And know not to provide any personal or financial information when responding to suspicious emails or clicking on links within them. 

c). Misconfigurations

The exploitation of cloud misconfigurations is a major security concern for cloud hosting. 

According to the 2022 “Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report”, this was the third most common initial attack vector in 2022, comprising 15% of breaches. 

Many organizations have not updated their security protocols and infrastructure to address the vulnerabilities associated with cloud computing.

As such, they are highly susceptible to malicious actors taking advantage of misconfigurations.

For example, if an organization fails to encrypt data in transit between its internal networks and external systems.

Or doesn’t secure access controls on public-facing applications? Cybercriminals can exploit these weaknesses and gain access to sensitive information. 

Not to mention, failing to configure identity and access management tools properly can also lead to unauthorized users gaining access they should not have. 

Strategies For Ensuring Security 

As scary as it sounds, there are some things you can do now to be on the safe side.

a. Data Backup 

Having a backup is an essential part of any cloud hosting security strategy. 

Undoubtedly, it can protect against ransomware by providing a reliable source of data restoration in the event of a disaster or malicious attack. 

Regular backups are essential to prevent major data loss, as ransomware attacks typically result in significant file corruption and/or deletion that can be difficult to restore without a backup. 

A single backup is not enough. 

Regularly back up your data with multiple copies stored securely onsite as well as offsite via secure remote servers or external hard drives. 

This way, even if the primary system is affected by an attack, there is still a version of the data that is safe and secure. 

Besides, having multiple versions of the same files allows users to easily roll back to an earlier version if needed, reducing the impact of any potential ransomware attack. 

b. Testing and Monitoring 

Testing is the practice of simulating malicious attacks on the system in order to discover security vulnerabilities and design methods for mitigating them. 

This can be done through penetration testing, which uses automated tools to identify weaknesses and strengthen defenses. 

Such tests should be conducted regularly, especially when new applications or services are deployed in the cloud.

On the other hand, monitoring helps administrators detect anomalies in network activity as they occur, allowing them to respond quickly to any potential threats before they can cause damage. 

It involves collecting logs from all devices across an organization’s network and analyzing them for abnormal behavior or suspicious patterns that could indicate malicious activity. 

Monitoring also provides visibility into system performance, enabling admins to manage their resources better and optimize performance. 

c. Data Encryption  

Data encryption is one of the most important considerations for ensuring a safe and secure cloud hosting environment for businesses. 

It involves protecting data from unauthorized access by scrambling the information with an algorithm, making it unreadable until a key is used to unlock it. 

With data encryption, businesses can have peace of mind knowing that their sensitive data is protected from malicious actors and hackers.

There are various types of encryption technologies available for businesses to use to secure their cloud hosting systems. 

The most popular forms include;

  • symmetric-key cryptography, which uses the same key for both enciphering and deciphering data
  • public-key cryptography, which utilizes two keys (public and private) for encrypting and decrypting; and 
  • hashing algorithms generate a fixed-length output based on the input message without requiring any secret keys. 

Final Thoughts

Cloud hosting has proven itself to be a reliable and secure way of hosting websites, applications and other digital media. 

It has been used by businesses of all sizes for many years, offering a wide range of features that allow organizations to scale up or down their storage needs. 

And allows users to access their data from any device or location worldwide.

Despite its advantages, it is not without security concerns. 

Organizations should proactively protect their data and adhere to industry-standard security protocols when utilizing cloud services. 

This includes understanding the different levels of encryption available, setting user access privileges, implementing authentication methods, and regularly backing up data on multiple servers. 

So yes, while some risks are associated with using cloud storage solutions, these can be minimized with proper planning and implementation of security measures.