6 Cloud Security Challenges and How to Help Mitigate Them

The digital-first environment in the modern enterprise has made the decision to move workloads to the cloud an easy one. Businesses leveraging the cloud benefit from cost savings, scalability, mobility, increased collaboration, and rapid innovation. It is no wonder cloud adoption is accelerating – Enterprise Strategy Group reports that today 58% of businesses have moved their business-critical applications and workloads to the cloud – a 26% increase over 2021.

But migrating workloads and applications to the cloud does not come without risk. Data loss, breaches and privacy concerns are high, as cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to infiltrate corporate networks. CheckPoint reports that 27% of organizations experienced a security incident in their public cloud infrastructure over the last year – and a quarter of those were due to misconfigurations that left the cloud infrastructure vulnerable. Also, the vast majority of enterprises have hybrid or multicloud deployments, which makes data difficult to monitor, and data access hard to control.

Let’s delve into six of the key challenges of cloud security, and what you can do to help mitigate risk:

1. Multicloud Security

According to Cloud Security Alliance's annual Top Threats to Cloud Computing: The Pandemic Eleven, 57% of organizations say it is challenging to protect data in multicloud environments and comply with corporate and regulatory policies. That is due to cloud environments having built-in controls and security tools that may differ significantly. Plus, security professionals with mutlicloud experience are not only expensive, but they are also scarce.

Recommendation: Leverage third-party cybersecurity consultants and professionals with experience in implementing security across multicloud environments.

2. Misconfigurations and Vulnerabilities

The lack of experience combined with the need to manage various vendor-specific security settings results in misconfigurations, which leaves cloud assets vulnerable to malicious activity. Some of these misconfigurations are intentional, introduced by bad actors inside an organization, as well. In addition to misconfigurations, vulnerabilities can include missing patches, weak passwords, and flawed or outdated system components. About a third of organizations have a hard time identifying and correcting misconfigurations before they are exploited, due to the complexity of their cloud environments.

Recommendation: Implement tools that continuously scan for and flag misconfigurations and provide access to resources for remediating them.

3. Cloud Compliance

Not only do cloud environments change frequently, but audits of them are also increasingly complex and requirements more stringent. Most compliance audits are conducted manually, which takes time and resources, distracting IT staff from other business-critical tasks. A lack of knowledge about the unique regulations around cloud environments makes compliance challenging for many organizations.

Recommendation: Implement solutions that leverage AI and machine learning to continually scan your cloud environment for potential noncompliance issues and replace manual processes and reporting.

Need help validating your digital security services and visualizing the gaps in your current security configuration? Learn how BDO Digital Active Assure can continuously validate that your cybersecurity measures are effectively defending against threats.

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4. Identity and Access Management

While the cloud has made hybrid and remote working viable, it has also made managing access problematic. Enterprises must verify the identities of employees accessing resources from outside the four walls of the enterprise using myriad devices, many of which are personal and unprotected. Each cloud application may have different access credentials and requirements, and improper service and user provisioning/deprovisioning can leave critical data and resources open to unauthorized access.

Recommendation: Zero Trust and least-privilege access models, as well as the implementation of Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions such as Azure Active Directory, Okta and Onelogin can help teams manage access effectively and ensure cloud data and resources are not compromised.

5. Insecure Interfaces and APIs

Application programming interfaces (APIs) enable the transfer of data between business platforms and tools, but code vulnerabilities can expand the attack surface. For example, a compromised or hacked API can give bad actors access to sensitive business data or customer information. Denial of Service (DoS) attacks can be used to degrade service performance, and hackers can introduce malicious code that executes unauthorized operations.

Recommendation: Make sure to update traditional controls and change management policies to accommodate the ever-evolving software environment, and leverage automation to continuously track and monitor APIs for suspicious activity.

6. Third-party Risk

Products and services fromvendors – whether open source, SaaS, managed services, or other integrations – may contain vulnerabilities. While you cannot really prevent that, you can track it and you can evaluate solutions and vendors carefully before you add anything to your environment.

Recommendation: Look for vendors with compliance certifications and a strong cybersecurity strategy. They should issue frequent updates and patches as well as have a reputation for being transparent about security issues.

These are just some of the challenges with securing growing and ever-changing cloud environments. As the cloud becomes an increasingly critical tool for scaling business operations, reducing costs and enabling innovation, more challenges – and associated security risks – will emerge. Without guidance from experienced security professionals, organizations may not be able to keep up.

BDO Digital is helping middle market companies minimize cyber risks and maximize opportunities, to maintain cloud security and compliance in the rapidly evolving landscape. To learn more, check out our upcoming webinar “Staying Secure in the Cloud” and gain insights into top threats that the financial services industry is facing today.

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