Cloud computing has become an integral component of Australian business operations. It’s economical, easy to deploy, and it enables users to access enterprise-grade resources and apps from any location via the web. Yet for all its benefits, the cloud also presents unique security challenges.
As more data is stored in cloud apps, they become an even bigger target for cybercriminals. Your cloud providers do what they can to minimise these threats, but there are several reasons why you need to boost cloud security on your end as well.
Limited visibility in the cloud
The problem with relying on various cloud solutions is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to monitor cloud workloads. Businesses often underestimate the number of cloud applications in use. In fact, Symantec found that the average business thinks they use 450 cloud apps, but in reality, the number is four times higher. Such lack of visibility makes it easy to lose track of user activity across cloud apps. For all you know, employees may be storing data in unauthorised apps or may not be following company security protocols.
To keep tabs on your cloud environment, you need monitoring tools like Microsoft Cloud App Security. This gives you detailed information on the activities and files used in the cloud. It lets you know where data resides and the security status of each app. By proactively monitoring cloud user activity, you can detect and mitigate mounting security risks early, such as high levels of traffic from an unknown IP address or suspicious attempts to access confidential information.
Controlling apps and data
It used to be that only employees within the corporate network could access business apps and data. This is no longer the case, as cloud apps can be accessed from any internet-enabled device. However, the cloud creates an environment that’s far too complex to be protected by standard firewalls.
Companies must be able to control the apps and data users access in the cloud. Otherwise, if everyone has access to confidential information, you run the risk of internal data leaks and tampering. Plus, if employee accounts get hacked, cybercriminals gain unfettered access to your data. The best way to prevent these issues is to create restrictions where only authorised employees can access the apps they need to do their job.
Access management tools like Duo allow you to regulate remote connections with conditional policies. These policies grant or deny access based on the user’s role, location, app, and device, among other things. For instance, you can set a policy that prevents field staff from accessing financial records and proprietary information. You can even block attempts to access cloud apps from unsanctioned devices while connected to public Wi-Fi networks. This dramatically reduces the likelihood of unauthorised access and data breaches.
Proliferation of connected devices
The sheer number of devices that connect to the cloud may inadvertently allow hackers into the network. Let’s assume personal smartphones or laptops are infected with malware. If users have cloud syncing enabled, the malware may move to your cloud database and spread throughout your entire organisation.
Even unpatched Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets like smart thermostats and web cameras inadvertently put organisations at risk. Since these devices are tightly integrated with cloud apps and infrastructure, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to critical systems.
The most effective strategy against these threats is endpoint protection. This means you need to constantly monitor devices for threats, patch them regularly, and install the latest security software.
Subpar security practices
Another issue in the cloud is immature security practices like failure to encrypt data and implement multifactor authentication (MFA). According to Symantec’s Cloud Security Threat Report (CSTR), 73% of businesses blame these immature practices for cloud incidents. What’s worse, they significantly increase your exposure to both external and internal threats.
Without end-to-end encryption, anyone from interns to executives can view, modify, or even steal highly classified documents. Cybercriminals may also intercept data in public Wi-Fi areas if employees don’t secure their connection with a virtual private network (VPN).
Equally, without MFA, the security of cloud accounts hinges on your staff’s ability to set strong and unique passwords, which isn’t ideal. After all, research shows that users have a tendency to create and recycle generic passwords for multiple accounts. If a hacker compromises your passwords, it’s game over. Adding a second authentication factor in the form of a one-time SMS activation code or fingerprint scan strengthens your accounts. Unless hackers have access to both authentication factors, they won’t be able to hijack your accounts. This is difficult even for the most skilled hacker, especially if you’re using Duo MFA tools.
Beyond technology, employees must also develop mature security practices. This involves teaching them the importance of good password hygiene, identifying phishing scams, proper data sharing etiquette, and avoiding unsecured networks. It’s a combination of both the human and technical elements of cloud security that will ensure your assets are fully protected.
Addressing all cloud security issues requires a great deal of expertise and high-level solutions. That’s why Australian businesses turn to Empower IT Solutions. Whether you need advanced access management tools, MFA, or security guidance, we’re the managed IT services provider for you. Call us to boost your cloud security today!