Top Cloud Security Challenges and How to Combat Those




Wissen Team


June 8, 2023

Adopting cloud-based solutions and software is now standard practice in all enterprises. ISVs and software vendors have migrated their software and services to the cloud as well. As such, every IT team has to deal with cloud-based technologies, their benefits, and their drawbacks as a routine protocol.

Indeed, the cloud is extremely sophisticated and advantageous in its services offering; however, it brings baggage of problems, with cybersecurity being at the top of the list. Every IT department has to be aware of the security challenges that could be thrown up with cloud adoption.

Vendor Selection

In most cases, enterprises choose vendors offering cloud infrastructure and solutions rather than undertaking the complexity and cost of creating a private cloud. The chosen vendor must be certified by worldwide standards and recognized frameworks in the security arena. Their technology offering should also adhere to worldwide governance standards for data management and security.

Even the partners that the cloud vendor uses should be scrutinized for security hardening practices. SLAs and contracts should be read and reviewed in detail as they bring out the company’s philosophy and approaches toward cybersecurity as a policy.

Planning, Cloud Migration, and Security Architecture

Once the decision is made to migrate to cloud-based computing, enterprises should not dive into just shifting all software and services onto the cloud without due diligence and understanding of the security architecture. Without a proper migration plan, systems could become vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and there might be the breaking of compliances and protocols, thus resulting in system breakdowns and data leakages.

A rework of security architecture in the cloud environments, updating risk assessment policies, software migration, and its deployment must be considered. Compliances, protocols, security management, and service management should be re-adjusted for the newly introduced cloud environment. Favorably, production support could be outsourced to experts to assist the IT department.

Endpoint Security Engineering

An unsecured endpoint could be the vulnerability that a hacker is looking to initiate a cyberattack on the cloud. A compromised endpoint could result in ransomware attacks as well as data theft.

Irrespective of how secure the architecture and data in the cloud, all human interaction is via the endpoints. These endpoints must be secured and hardened per security standards, protocols, and compliances deemed fit for the enterprise.

Encryption Implementation

Implementation of any cloud-based service entails the usage of web services. These web services sit between your network and the cloud and are the conduit of all data transfer to and fro from the cloud to your endpoints. Encryption of data in transit as well as at rest within the cloud framework, the edge, and the endpoints are prerequisite cyber security implementations.

Strategic partnerships with cryptography experts should be created to implement encryption at the different stages of the data life cycle.

Credential, Key, and Access Management

Many cyberattacks are successful in enterprise environments due to incorrect Identity and Access Management (IAM). Non-adherence to strict IAM guidelines or the absence of access management standards increases the level of cybersecurity threats within the cloud and the enterprise infrastructure. The hijacking of accounts with administrative privileges due to inadequate security controls could result in a serious data security breach.

On that note, device inventory, account management, privileges definitions, and password management should not bypass IAM guidelines and controls. Cryptographic key management and multifactor authentication compliances and protocols must be established. Scalability factors must also be introduced in the IAM standards set forth for the enterprise.

Security Testing for Cloud-Based Applications and Interfaces

Migration to the cloud means software applications are either rewritten or migrated to work in the cloud environment. There can be partnerships created with ISVs who offer cloud-based software as well. All these products, whether built in-house, migrated, or used as a service, use Web API and Webservices.

Along with interface, application, and unit testing, the APIs used within the application should be specifically tested for security compliances and appropriate security protocol implementation. Frameworks must strictly adhere to security standards as laid out for the enterprise.

An unsecured API or interface results in a compromised application which in turn could be used as a vulnerability to initiate a cyberattack. Professionals specialized in such security testing must be consulted for such intricate and complex testing.

Secure Cloud Control Plane

As enterprises begin to use more features offered by cloud-based vendors, there are several command and control panels made available. The number of these configuration consoles could increase substantially depending on the number of resources and services used by the enterprise.

These control consoles or collectively known as the Cloud Control Plane has to be secured at all times. If not properly configured, this cloud control plane could be accessed by unauthorized users, and considerable damage could be done to the cloud infrastructure, data, and services.

Due protocol and security governance must be developed and adhered to for account inventory management, access control, privilege levels, etc. Multifactor authentication should be a default standard used for access to Cloud Control Plane. Besides, logging of console usage and its audit should be done at regular intervals.

Metastructure and Applistructure Architectures

The metastructure layer is a set of API and code that connects the infrastructure of the cloud to the applications and data hosted in the cloud. The applistructure layer is the layer directly interfacing with the application and providing services such as messages, queues, and notifications. These layers are developed and maintained by the cloud service provider.

If the architecture of these layers has been poorly implemented, it could result in service disruption as well as loss of data to the enterprise. Therefore, the cloud service providers should be transparent about the development architectures used for these layers and publish the results of the tests carried out on release.

The CSP should also define protocols and services that have been put into place to address the continuity of operations of these layers and contingencies in place in case of disruptions.

The Cloud Is a Shared Resource

Cloud Service Providers have multiple customers sharing resources and services across them. So, the single customer or enterprise does not have complete control over the cloud infrastructure that hosts the software or the services used by that enterprise.

Traditional monitoring methods do not work in this shared environment. Mapping and monitoring network traffic, filtering data, and load balancing are limited and, at times, not even an option in control of the enterprise. There could be blind spots that limit the ability to control the performance and security of hosted software and services.

Increasing the observability of performance data made available by the CSP is essential. To that end, the deployment of automatic risk analysis tools using AI and ML is becoming increasingly popular in improving cloud visibility.