Cloud – Cybercriminal’s latest turf

The remote working scenario is one of the biggest contributors to the meteoric rise in cloud computing. In 2021, the global cloud services market was recorded at US$ 387.15 bn, which is projected to reach US$ 1630 bn by 2030. In 2020, when the world was moving to embrace cloud, the cyber criminals had found their latest turf too. Incidentally, cloud computing platforms became the third most-targeted cyber environment that year and accounted to almost 20% of the total cybercrime recorded. In the last year, 79% organizations have experienced a cloud attack.

Some of the largest cloud attacks of the year included:

  • Advanced Info Services (AIS)-2020
  • Keepnet Labs – 2020
  • CAM4-2020Granting
  • Microsoft-2019-20

Cloud Security Challenges

With the cloud coming in hybrid, private and public variants, it’s the public cloud that is more susceptible to security threats as it lacks clear security parameters. Moreover, modern cloud approaches like CI/CD methods driven through serverless architecture pose certain security vulnerabilities and multiple layers of risks such as:

  • Poorly secured cloud ingress ports and API vulnerabilities
  • The lack of visibility and tracking in shared cloud models (PaaS and SaaS)
  • Legacy security tools providing insufficient security to modern ephemeral workload
  • Unidentified code changes in development cycles while implementing highly automated DevOps CI/CD culture
  • Unnecessary and unrequired privilege grants to untrained users
  • Inconsistent management of hybrid and multi-cloud environments
  • Incompetent compliance checks and lack of real-time alerts about misconfigurations

The Big Picture

Simplifying management and minimizing utility bills are not the only cloud computing gifts to an organization but so is the data vulnerability to cybercriminals and compromised IT infrastructure. Here we explore some of the common pull that cybercriminals find enticing and areas to exploit in cloud computing. Here we explore some of the common pulls and areas that entice cybercriminals.  

#1 – Pay-per-Usage Model

The best feature of cloud computing that has acted as a lodestone to organizations has the same pull for the cyber criminals as well. These features provide the same flexibility and monetary benefits while providing simplicity in management and providing accesses to data and IT capabilities.

#2 – Global Access

Global reach, flexibility in resourcing, host applications, store and share files, deliver websites are all advantages that even the dark web finds enticing as much as the legal businesses.

#3 – Cloud Attacks

The high demand of cloud platforms has made it a vulnerable target for cyber criminals to mount an attack on cloud itself using IT resources of the organization under attack. By decrypting credentials, sending large volumes of phishing and spam messages, mining bitcoins, breaking entry into the password database and so on cyber criminals are exploiting cloud for their own benefit.

#4 – Employee Misuse

Data accessed through the cloud platforms while working from home might most probably miss anti-virus software and are at a greater risk of getting hacked. Lack of stringent measures from the employee’s end might also put a company’s system at risk like uploading or downloading files by bypassing corporate email gateways. Such practice makes it easier for hackers to access customer lists, intellectual property, source code, patient files in case of healthcare organizations and so much more.

#5 – Are the cloud platforms less secure?

An enterprises cloud platform is as secure as its network. A secure, well-run chain of businesses always have a load of data and common access methods which are always the vulnerable targets to hackers.

#6 – On-premise or Cloud?

This is an ongoing battle and the jury is still out on that one. Both have their pros and cons but the fact remains that cloud is cheaper and offers better scalability and flexibility than on-premise servers. Moreover, a cloud server can introduce a patch version where the services can continue without interruption even in the case of some glitches.

#7 – Cloud defense

When the pandemic hit, cloud was the only way forward for organizations to stay afloat and process business continuity. Moreover, the cloud provider to a certain extent provides security management 24/7 in a much more robust and proactive way. However, this calls for boosted security while remotely accessing files from systems that are less secure.

The Cloud Cover

The cost on information security and risk management technology went up 12.4% in 2021. Moreover, with more cyber security experts being part of an organizations decision making board information security is growing leaps and bounds and an essential part of a company’s cloud and intellectual journey.

Denial of service attacks, malwares, phishing, ransomware are a few cybersecurity challenges that digitally intelligent organization faces on a daily basis and the hybrid work model is definitely increasing the risk, pushing the need for risk governance and integrating security into core business functions. Hence, more and more companies are opting for Managed Security Service Providers who can seamlessly manage firewalls, intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning, virtual private network, anti-malware services and much more security options. However, a few tactics can increase your security and safety of your cloud environment.

#1 – Security Monitoring

Cyber attacks and security breaches requires more than just an anti-virus, it needs continuous end-to-end monitoring with constant vigilance from a skilled and well-equipped security team with security intelligence, top-notch security monitoring system and a detection and containment technology stack.

#2 – Vulnerability Management

Taking a risk-based approach to vulnerability can help an organization minimize their exposure to a number of threats as it helps to evaluate and prioritize them. It gives the security officers the heads up to take down or put-up safety measures to sabotage these imminent threats. Moreover, visualizing the threats in a real-life exploitation index helps security personals to understand the damage a certain type of threat may have to the organization.

#3 – Identity & Access Management

Keeping a track of and minimizing access to company data is highly crucial to limit data breaches. Moreover, privileged identity and access management should include: identity of duties, roles and authorization, dedicated monitoring for privilege access and directly integrating them to security platforms.

#4 – Cloud Security

Misconfigurations are a big no in public cloud as it leaves the IT landscape exposed and vulnerable. Fixing them with the right tool and the right team at the right time is crucial for an organization’s continued IT and data security. For this posture management of cloud security is the way to go, as it helps to catch misconfiguration at the development or testing phase itself and keeps up a continuous scan across deployment and operation. They can also be used to monitor specific use cases that are specific to the type of environment irrespective of the type of cloud platform.

#5 – Incident Responses

Incidents and root-cause analysis should be fully integrated with the security monitoring architecture for early detection and resolution. Automation of incident responses enhances end-to-end security monitoring and improves efficiency and visibility. Moreover, playbooks and runbooks not only provide quick solutions but also provides historical correlations to previous attacks thereby eliminating repetitions.

Cyber Cloud Perspectives

Cyber crimes have been breaking stereotypes and breaching barriers that were otherwise thought to be impenetrable. On the same lines, cyber criminals have managed to break the rock-solid trust the decision makers of an organization had on cloud platforms by embracing the same set of virtues that endeared them to cloud in the first place. However, protecting them via traditional methods may not only be impractical but inefficient as well. Hence, cloud needs fortifications and continuous monitoring to combat the issues and threats the new age black hats orchestrate.

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