Seven security issues with cloud computing


  • Restricted visibility and control
  • Unauthorized excess
  • Exposure of Application programming interfaces
  • Threat to credentials
  • Hijacks
  • Malevolent insiders
  • Loss of data
  • Confidentiality

Companies are migrating to cloud commuting speedily, and there are reasons for concern.

As you walk through this article, you will be well aware of these sensitive areas and why they need to be approached.

Firstly, a quick revision for the beginners;

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing refers to the various services delivered, including servers, databases, networks, storage, software, analytics, and intelligence present over the internet hence called “cloud.” The cloud aims to provide speedy innovations and discoveries, feasible resources, and flexible economies of scale.

Why do companies opt for cloud computing?

1. Value

Capital expense of purchasing hardware, software, and cost of setting up and running data centers on-site is waived off with cloud computing taking care of electricity for power cooling, infrastructure, companies looking to speed up their productivity.

2. Rate

Large scale services are provided within a few clicks of the mouse button and save much planning and executing timing.

3. Universal scale

Services are provided to a various geographical location, such as delivering the right bandwidth

4. Potency

It removes the task involved in data stacking, storing, and manages everything in one go.

5. Performance

Regularly upgrades commuting services worldwide by introducing high and fast working hardware.

6. Reliability

Make data backup, has disaster recovery and mirrors data at a different redundant site on the cloud network provider.

7. Security

Introduces policies and technologies to control and strengthen security to help protect data, apps, and infrastructure.

key characteristics include;

  • increase user flexibility
  • cost reduction of management
  • easy accession and visibility
  • easy maintenance
  • dynamic elasticity

Despite these positives, we see a massive lag in cloud computing’s overall working, and there are several security issues to be answered.

Let’s have a look at it all!

  • Restricted visibility and control

When an organization migrates their operation and assets to the cloud, they lose a chuck on viability, visibility, and control over the assets and procedures they have moved. Cloud Service providers cater to the policies and responsibilities that are included in cloud services.

The shift of control from the organization to the cloud depends on the cloud service model, which leads to a prototype shift for organizations concerning sign-ups and security regulations.

These cloud-based resources are located externally and run on structures that the organization does not own. Therefore, companies cannot utilize traditional tools to acquire visibility in the cloud computing environment as some companies are cloud-based security tools deficient. Thus companies cannot protect themselves from any attack.

  • Unauthorized excess

Cloud service providers quickly supply new services. It gives any organization a self-service provisioning feature. Additionally, it provides any other organization’s personnel to offer supplementary services from the cloud service providers agency without consent from the IT department.

It practices IT shadow- the exercise of using an organization’s software unsupported by its IT department.

These practices pose a threat to the organization and can lead to malware infections or information exfiltration since there’s a lack of protection of these resources by the organization.

Cloud services are out-premises-based, and they are directly visible to the public internet. While this benefits employees and customers, it makes it prone to attacks by hackers and attackers that will gain unauthorized access to a company’s cloud-based services and resources.

Error in proper configuration or compromised details can allow an attacker to gain fast access without even knowing the concerned organization.

  • Exposure of Application programming interfaces

The cloud service providers offer various application programming interfaces for their customers to control and interact easily with cloud-based applications. Clients use these applications to deliver, supervise, organize and observe their assets and users. However, if the customer has not rightly secured the programming interfaces, it will call upon successful attacks, thereby compromising their cloud-based infrastructure and assets. The attackers can use these assets to prolong further attacks against all the other connected customers.

Therefore, these interfaces are highly open to bullying by cybercriminals that could exploit sensitive data and infiltrate an organization’s cloud environment.

  • Threat to credentials

By gaining access to a user’s cloud credentials, the hacker can easily access the cloud service provider’s services. It also paves the way for the attackers to target organizations’ assets. It puts the other organizations using the same service provider at a greater risk.

It also gives rise to cybercrime. Since cloud-based assets are directly in contact with the public internet, it is therefore weakly secured. Being used by various companies, a lot of sensitive data is fed into it. Due to the lack of data breach checks, successful attacks are repeated multiple times.

The severity of the threat depends on the extent to which data is breached. Sensitive data at high risk of being breached include intellectual property rights, trade details and secrets, health and financial records. These attacks call upon fines, lawsuits, and criminal charges, and above all, the organization’s reputation is positively affected in the market.

  • Hijacks

The hijacking of a cloud account is when a client or an organization’s cloud account is hijacked and attacked by a hacker or a cyber-criminal. It is a typical move to steal schemes and to conduct malicious or unauthorized activity. Email accounts and other credentials are easy details that help the attacker impersonate as the account owner.

Cloud computing platform is the new ground for phishing, online scams, and cybercrime attacks. It is undoubtedly easy when organizations use weak or repeated apparent passwords. The hijacking of accounts is a serious concern as it is a significant threat to cloud computing. As more and more organizations become increasingly adhered to cloud services, they begin to share their infrastructure and assets, including the core business functions. If a hijacker gains access to a client’s credentials, it can have full-fledged control over its online accounts.

It is mostly observed that organizations in the cloud often lack the ability to recognize any threats online compared to in-house threats. Therefore, this becomes an easy medium for hijacking.

  • Malevolent insiders

For any organization, the primary threat is the threat one faces from the intracellular networks. These can include current or former employees, contractors, business associates, or persons who directly access the cloud system. This attack can be due to egoistic reasons, revenge, or financial gains. It is a specific threat that can be explained as a conscious effort to compromise any sensitive information. The extent of threat can differ from the attack on individual clients or organizations to many affiliated institutions.

As this insider has unknowingly authorized access to the cloud’s assets and services, it is not very evident to identify any threats occurring to the system. With an increase in deployments, it is all the more difficult to recognize any kind of malpractice over the infrastructure and services’ control.

These malicious insiders are well aware of all the value-based assets present in an organization. They know what can cause harm, and if they have little knowledge of exploitation principles, they are more likely to determine compromising vulnerabilities that are often overlooked. These individuals also have a plus point in knowing the security checks present and finding ways to bypass these security systems.

  • Loss of data

Data loss is a shared cloud security risk. It is different from data being stolen or distributed, as it solely involves the wiping away and clearance of data entirely. It can be primarily due to a virus, an attack, or system failure. And if the data is not backed up, it poses a greater risk, highlighting the importance of securing or protecting cloud services.

A loss of data can damage the business as most of the data will be challenging to recover. It may also mean expenditures of time and money resources for several data recovery attempts. The organization may also have to invest in recreating the data; thus, it can disrupt the flow of the working process.

Apart from data loss, there are high possibilities of sensitive data being leaked to the general public. This leakage is one of the most critical concerns of organizations that have signed up for cloud computing. Any individual that knows the tools and links can very well make use of the data accessible.

  • Confidentiality

Confidentiality can be defined as the prevention of unauthorized access of information, and hence it makes sure that only the user that has the permission can access it. By this very definition, we understand how confidentiality is not maintained as the data is available to everyone. Attackers usually use cloud environments and applications as a pretext for their attack. Employees now have gotten normalized to receiving emails with links that ask for their credentials before they can gain an insight into any document or website. It is mainly because of the ever-growing cloud-based emails and document sharing services.

Since in cloud computing, the user’s data is stored on remote servers, others can be operated by others and easily accessed by the internet. It is the issue that is somehow rising in any of the factors discussed above.

Due to widespread accessibility, data can be rapidly provisioned without the requirement of any management effort or service provider interaction. There are high possibilities that data stored on the cloud can interact with other user’s data, and therefore, this data can be compromised unintentionally due to the resemblance. There can also be a breach of confidentiality due to un-trustworthy cloud service providers.

Final thought

Though cloud computing is an essential model that provides convenient, all-rounder, on-demand network access, it faces a high degree of threat. With several advantages, it brings along an increased number of security concerns and threats as well. Its structure is different from the process in-house, and their organizations need to review through all the after-effects. However, one needs to overcome these threats by coming up with solutions for maintaining confidentiality, reducing data being breached, losing information, and all the factors discussed above. Organizations share some of their most important and sensitive data; therefore, an attack could be alarming to the organization’s reputation and functioning. One-to-one encryption is a potential method to prevent involvement by third parties.

However, until the cloud service providers come up with stringent steps and restricted access, these issues will remain critical concerns.