Preventing the Top 9 Threats in Cloud Computing

Although there has been a recent buzz around vulnerabilities and malware, risks in cloud computing are due to issues with configuration and authentication as of lately. As the world is finding out, utilizing the cloud to host your enterprise’s data and applications can provide a multitude of benefits in the realms of management, scalability, and accessibility. Unfortunately, it is becoming more apparent that the cloud also carries some risk behind it. Typically, it is more commonly heard that risks have revolved around areas of data loss, malware, denial of service, and overall system vulnerabilities. A recent report by Cloud Security Alliance states that the most recent threats stem from cloud strategy and implementation decisions. 

There was a survey of over 200 industry experts that helped narrow down nine notable cloud-related threats and risks. For each of these threats, there are also recommendations on how to try and become resilient against them. 

Data Breaches

Whether it is a cybersecurity incident or an attack where confidential information is compromised, it is considered a data breach. Breaches can immensely damage a companies reputation and lower customer trust and loyalty. Financially, data breaches can cause lower market values and more accrued costs to remedy the incident. One of the first steps in protecting vital information is determining who has access to it. Disaster plans and strategies with well defined RTOs and RPOs can help to protect the company and ease the magnitude of the breach. 

Misconfiguration

Setting up computing assets incorrectly ultimately results in misconfiguration, making them vulnerable to attacks. Unsecured data containers, unchanged credentials, disabled security controls, excess permissions, and disabled monitoring are among some examples of misconfiguration. Though some cloud aspects can be extremely complex, there are resources that can ease management and control. Automation should be embraced, as well as technologies that can help scan for misconfigurations.

Lack of Security Strategy

As migrations become more and more mainstream, companies have to tackle the challenges that come with implementing proper security measures to protect against cyber attacks. A companies security architecture is essential for operating within the cloud. With strong security, financial loss and reputation damage are some things that can be avoided if an attack was attempted. To ensure your business is safely protected, develop a security plan that aligns with objectives. The security plans and models should always be up to date.

Insufficient Authentication

Another security risk can be a result of inadequate credential protection or lack of rotating passwords. Authentications should be multi-factor with strong passwords. Businesses should practice strict identity and access controls for those who utilize the cloud. Keys should be rotated, unused privileges and credentials removed and managed central and programmatic keys.

Hijacking

When accounts are hijacked, the attackers are able to access and abuse accounts that can contain sensitive material. Cloud service accounts are at the most risk in a cloud environment. Account hijacking can be so severe that accounts can be fully and completely compromised. There could be a complete deletion of assets and data. Information can be leaked that damages business reputation and user information and more. IAM controls are vital to mitigate a hijacked account. 

Insider Threats

Insider threats do not have to go through firewalls or other security defenses. They already are able to work on a trusted level to directly access the network, systems, and data. Like other attacks, insider ones can also affect company productivity by causing downtime. Being proactive about insider activity and implementing proper security and monitoring measures onto computer systems within the company can help reduce insider threats. Only allow a minimum amount of employees access to confidential and sensitive material and train those to handle administrative responsibilities. 

Insecure APIs

APIs stand for Application Programming Interfaces. These are usually the most exposed parts of a system. APIs need to be designed to defend against attacks with authentication and access control, encryption, and constant monitoring. Diligent management of inventory, auditing, and testing can be good practice for secure APIs. Keys should be properly protected and never reused, if possible.

Weak Cloud Usage Visibility

Cloud visibility is determined by whether or not the organization has the ability to have a visual of the cloud service and analyze whether the usage in the company is safe or not. With a lack of awareness, there is also a lack of security. To mitigate this risk, it is important that there is proper training throughout the company for cloud policies and services. Solutions that offer an analysis of outbound cloud activities can help with increased visibility. 

Abuse of Cloud Services

Criminals may use cloud computing to target their victims and use the cloud service against them. DDoS attacks, phishing attempts, email spam, digital currency “mining” are just some examples of misuse of cloud resources. If an attacker is able to compromise a user’s cloud infrastructure, the business can face immense consequences. Enterprises must monitor those who have access to the cloud and set up mitigations for any threats or risks. Data loss prevention and disaster recovery plans can aide in the recovery process if abuse of cloud services should occur.


The cloud is a complex environment that provides users with a multitude of benefits. It is important, however, to be proactive when dealing with the threat and risks that come with cloud infrastructure. Becoming aware is step one in protecting your livelihood. With this list of threats, security awareness regarding the cloud can become more mainstream.