6 Cloud Security Challenges and How to Address Them

Cloud computing can provide significant benefits to organizations of all sizes. According to the CIO Agenda Survey by Gartner, expanding into the cloud technology (or expanding use of the cloud) are some of the top business priorities and a crucial element to achieving an organization’s mission.

Cloud services help enterprises expand their capabilities while minimizing labor costs and capital expenditures for adding new technology solutions.

What’s more?

It also helps them to increase their agility by instantly acquiring infrastructure resources and services when required.

However, in addition to the ample benefits of cloud technology, there are also challenges, some of which are security-related.

In 2019, over 540 million Facebook user records on the Amazon cloud server were exposed.

What does that mean?

That even large, successful companies face challenges while working with cloud infrastructures and sometimes end up falling victim to cyberattacks.

Security is often a bottleneck for cloud services, and it remains to be one of the top concerns of many professionals around the world. The risks and challenges associated with cloud security need to be properly addressed before you adopt a cloud solution.

The average cost of a data breach worldwide is close to $3.86 million, with an estimated cost of $148 per compromised record, according to a report. However, the numbers vary from one country to another: from $1.24 million in Brazil to $7.9 million in the USA.

Security challenges in the cloud can leave your data and organization at risk of cyberattacks that could have long-term, devastating effects.

Although most company owners believe that the cloud computing system is significantly better than their on-premise network, there are many cloud security challenges to address.

Like what?

Let’s take a closer look at the biggest cloud security challenges:

Challenge #1: Lack of Cloud Security Skills

As networks rapidly expand to include cloud technology, the increasing gap in cybersecurity skills becomes more prominent day-by-day. There is a major lack of security professionals equipped with the knowledge of cloud security and this is a big challenge for companies that are looking to adopt cloud services.

In fact:

A survey revealed that most companies are concerned about the security of their cloud infrastructure. In fact, about 16% of companies admitted they have overlooked critical security vulnerabilities due to a lack of skills to mitigate them.

What’s more?

Nearly 64% of senior executives said their companies are suffering loss in revenue because their teams lack the skills and expertise to ensure security in cloud services and carry out necessary tasks.

Finding a security professional with cloud security skills can be quite difficult. As a result, many systems deployed in cloud computing infrastructures tend to be weak and vulnerable to cyberattacks. The lack of skilled security professionals in cloud services can become a crisis for companies adopting cloud technology.

How Can You Address a Lack of Cloud Security Skills?

One way you can address the issue of lack of cloud security skills is by outsourcing to a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) or a cloud security company that is skilled and empowered with the best knowledge and tools to guide your organization or manage the cloud.

You can work with a MSSP from the initial phase of the implementation of cloud service until your internal security team is equipped and has reached a credible level to manage the cloud’s security on their own.

Another way to address this crisis:

Hold regular training sessions for your security professionals and empower them with the knowledge about cloud services. Through further training, and security awareness initiatives, you can push your employees to follow better security measures, which will strengthen the overall security of your organization.

Challenge #2: Insecure Interfaces and APIs

An application programming interface (API) is an essential element of the cloud infrastructure as it is the interface that provides direct or indirect cloud services and infrastructure to users.

Developers use APIs for provisioning, orchestrating, monitoring, and management.

The availability and security of general cloud services are tightly embedded with the security of these APIs. All too often, people use APIs but do not securely manage their tokens and keys. Be very careful with this.

From access control and authentication to activity monitoring and encryption, these interfaces must be designed securely to protect the cloud infrastructure from both malicious and accidental attempts to circumvent cloud security policies.

How Can You Prevent Insecure Interfaces and APIs?

One of the most basic ways to prevent insecure interfaces and APIs is by securing your authentication tokens and keys that are used for calling the APIs.

Furthermore, ensure that your teams follow a security by design approach throughout the development process.

By integrating cloud security early in the process, companies can have a better understanding of the overall security standpoint and implement enhanced security measures. This will ensure that the cloud infrastructure is designed with adequate authorization, authentication, and encryption.

To secure your cloud infrastructure from third-party suppliers, analyze their security model. Understand the dependency chain associated with the cloud computing interface and take necessary security measures.

Challenge #3: Data Privacy Issues

One of the biggest security challenges of cloud infrastructure is data privacy as data can be potentially anywhere on the cloud. You need to know where your data is being stored, (for example, in which countries), as different data privacy laws come into play.

For example:

Businesses often utilize third-party suppliers and companies as part of their service offering to users. But it’s critical to have appropriate mechanisms in place to prevent these third parties from exploiting customers’ data.

What’s more?

Companies need to be aware of where their data exists in the cloud to make sure that they are not breaking any privacy laws such as GDPR.

How Can You Prevent Data Privacy Issues?

It is critical to address concerns regarding data privacy and cloud security issues. By monitoring user access control and restricting access, there is a lot of control that can be levied to ensure enhanced data security of the stored data.

This will ensure that authorized users can only access specific cloud data that is needed for business functions.

But that’s not all.

You should also implement encryption for sensitive data to reduce the damage of cloud data breaches and other cyberattacks. By adding extra layers of data security such as multi-factor authentication, you can increase your level of cloud security significantly.

Challenge #4: Lack of Visibility/Control

The ease of implementing new servers, new services, etc. can also allow the cloud deployments to get out of control. Whether you’re dealing with public or hybrid cloud environments, a lack of visibility in the cloud infrastructure can mean a loss of control over critical aspects of data security and IT management.

A lack of visibility is one of the most important cloud security challenges as it affects the organization’s ability to enact incident response plans, verify the efficacy of their security controls, and properly assess information about their data, services, and users.

It is crucial for organizations to have a cloud usage policy with approved mechanisms for getting approved servers stood up, deployment processes, etc.

A lack of visibility in the public cloud also poses business risks in terms of compliance, governance, and security.

This is important for verifying how much visibility and control the cloud computing solution will offer.

How Can You Address a Lack of Visibility/Control Issues?

Maintain strong compliance and security controls across the entire cloud infrastructure platform: core network/hardware controls, data center controls, and operational security practices like change control, data disposal, and others.

These cloud security controls will help prevent a wide variety of teams from deploying all sorts of resources outside of the visibility of the security team.

Ensure that you have good auditing in place. Have strong controls for approved server images, processes for deploying. Furthermore, monitor cloud audit logs for unapproved usage.

Challenge #5: Cloud Service Hijacking

When a cloud account gets stolen or hijacked, the attacker may impersonate the account user to conduct malicious or unauthorized activities that may lead to the compromise of the data and trust the company has earned.

Cloud service hijacking at the enterprise level could be devastating, depending on what the attackers might do with the stolen information. Company integrity and reputation can be destroyed, sensitive data can be falsified or leaked causing significant costs to a business and its customers.

What’s more?

Organizations may face legal implications if a data breach causes the loss of the sensitive data of users such as personal information, credit card info, banking details, username, and passwords.

How Can You Prevent Cloud Service Hijacking Issues?

Implement strong authentication policies for accessing data on cloud services, especially those that deal with the sensitive information of the company or its customers. Make sure the IP addresses are restricted for cloud applications so that the users are only able to access corporate networks.

What else?

You should install multi-factor authentication such as dynamic one-time passwords delivered via biometrics, tokens, or other means. Ensure that sensitive data is encrypted while at rest and during transmission in the cloud. Also, have regular and secure backups to prevent the loss of data in case of data breaches.

Challenge #6: Lack of Compliance

Organizations are increasingly leveraging cloud infrastructures and services. That said, a hybrid infrastructure does pose some unique security challenges for companies in the government, financial, healthcare, and other regulated industries.

One of the major security challenges of a lack of compliance is that many enterprises are still manually testing to check whether they are compliant and meeting regulatory or custom security policies for auditing requirements and security compliance.

To begin with, such manual tasks are often complex, tedious, and error-prone processes. Especially when working with a combination of on-premises and heterogeneous systems in the cloud. This is because cloud computing systems often change very quickly, making traditional compliance mechanisms obsolete.

What else?

When configuration changes are made manually, they may go undetected, so these changes are not sharable, reproducible, or repeatable - all are crucial if you want to conduct a successful security audit.

How Can You Prevent Lack of Compliance Issues?

Companies should consider open-source tools and automate the scanning and rectification of security controls. The aim is to provide visibility into tasks and enable these tasks to be scalable - from individual systems to the container level to the hybrid infrastructure.

At the end of the day, it is crucial for cloud services to gain compliance assurance, as it helps identify and protect data and systems.

By identifying each control, you can map it to your risks or requirements, and document it. This will help you develop a compliance and security presence in the cloud.

Ready to Prevent These Cloud Security Challenges?

Cloud computing comes with plenty of benefits, but it also poses some significant security challenges that might jeopardize your organization’s credibility and put your customers’ data at risk of cyberattacks.

Once you understand what’s at stake and how to prevent cloud security challenges, you can make better proactive, informed decisions about IT infrastructures.

You can’t, however, implement these security controls overnight. They require a strategic approach and professional experience which can help reduce potential flaws, costs, and risks during the implementation process.


Cypress Data Defense was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado with offices across the United States. Our goal is to help organizations secure their IT development and operations using a pragmatic, risk-based approach. The diverse background of our founders allows us to apply security controls to governance, networks, and applications across the enterprise.

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