As the popularity of cloud computing skyrockets, organizations must consider the security risks that come with it. Cloud data protection should be a top priority for all organizations using or planning to use the technology. Failure to address security risks could result in cyberattacks, data loss, and costly disruptions.
According to a Snyk report, 80% of organizations suffered a security incident affecting their cloud infrastructure last year. And with the use of multi-cloud solutions on the rise, data security in cloud computing will only become more critical in the future.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is an on-demand service which delivers computing services over the internet. Services include access to servers, storage, databases, applications, development tools, and networking capabilities.
One of the main benefits of the cloud is that organizations don’t have to spend time and money maintaining servers. Instead, they outsource data storage to third-party service providers, which manage the upkeep and security of those systems.
Cloud computing comes with a number of other benefits:
- Enhanced collaborative working, especially if teams work remotely
- Increased productivity and output
- Improved accessibility resources
- Strengthened data protection
What Are the Security Issues in Cloud Computing?
Although cloud computing offers several benefits, there are several drawbacks. A significant issue is data protection, with the technology vulnerable to several information security risks.
Cybercriminals often target cloud systems, with hackers gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data. According to an IBM report, 45% of data breaches occurred in the cloud.
Attackers might exploit vulnerabilities, launch phishing campaigns, or, as is increasingly common, infect organizations with ransomware.
It’s not only criminals that create information security problems. Employees and other stakeholders might accidentally leak data, while an improperly configured cloud database could leave information publicly available.
Access controls restrict who within an organization can view sensitive information. These systems ensure that employees can only view information relevant to their job.
Without such protections, users might accidentally view or expose confidential data. According to the 2023 Thales Cloud Security Study, human error accounted for 55% of cloud data breaches, making it the most common source of security incidents.
Why Is Cloud Computing Viewed as More Secure?
The information security risks that come with cloud computing are not unique to this particular technology. All Internet-enabled systems contain security risks, and it’s up to the people managing those systems to protect users.
Cloud computing provides many such tools to combat the threat of cyberattacks, data breaches, and other security incidents.
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Identity and access management (IAM) is a cloud security strategy that tracks users and their actions. If users attempt to access data or perform a task they aren’t authorized to do, the IAM system automatically denies them access.
This strategy focuses on a user’s identity and actions rather than the device they’re using or its location, which makes it extremely effective against cyberattacks.
Automatic Security Updates
Cloud security systems must be robust enough to fend off cybercriminals. Threat actors constantly find new methods to exploit weaknesses in organizations’ defenses, so you must carefully monitor your systems.
To help mitigate these risks, cloud security providers release regular updates, or patches, to their software. Once applied, these updates prevent malicious actors from exploiting known vulnerabilities.
Regular backups are essential for data availability and integrity. If your information is all stored in one place, a technical failure could mean you lose access to it.
But if you keep information in the cloud, you can access information from any device. This means that a technical problem with one device won’t render the data unavailable.
Plus, the data is automatically backed up regularly, so you won’t lose progress if you encounter a problem.
Encryption is a popular form of data protection, and it’s especially useful for information in transit. The process works by scrambling data so that it’s only readable to authorized users.
Cloud data can be encrypted within your remote servers and when it’s sent to another cloud within a multi-cloud security environment. This protects the information from cyberattacks targeting the cloud and devices that access it.
Things to Consider for Strong Cloud Data Protection
Given the many in-built data protection benefits of cloud computing, it’s easy to think of it as a plug-and-go solution. That means organizations must take extra steps to manage these systems. Fortunately, you can strengthen your cloud data protection practices in many ways.
This includes guidance from international standards such as ISO 27001 (and its supporting standards, ISO 27002, ISO 27017, and ISO 27018), technological solutions, and best-practice processes.
Create Robust Access Controls
Many cloud services come with the option to add access controls, but it’s also worth considering additional protections within your organization.
With access controls, you can be sure that only authorized personnel can view sensitive data. You should set up the technology alongside access control policies to create access layers tailored to specific job roles.
Provide Employee Training
Employees are the last line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity. Criminal hackers often target them with phishing emails designed to capture their login credentials. The 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 49% of data breaches occurred this way.
Malicious actors can bypass your defenses and steal sensitive data when such attacks happen. The best way to address this risk is to educate your staff to spot fraud and respond appropriately when they identify a threat.
Monitor and Record Data Access
By monitoring and recording who has access to various systems within your organization, you can quickly spot users with unrestricted access to sensitive data or systems.
Use Data Encryption
There are a variety of end-to-end data encryption tools that organizations can use to protect their information. You can adjust the types of information that are encrypted and the systems that are subject to it. For example, you might wish to secure information only when it’s in transit or automatically scramble email attachments.
Manage Cloud Data Protection With ISO 27001
Organizations that want to take cloud data protection seriously should use ISO 27001 as a guide. The international standard describes best practices for implementing an information security management system (ISMS).
The framework helps organizations manage all aspects of information security, from processes and policies to technology, in a single location.
As cloud security increasingly dominates the way organizations work, ISO 27001 has become a crucial resource. Its supplementary standards ISO 27002, ISO 27017, and ISO 27018, contain comprehensive advice on managing cloud data protection.
Start your ISO 27001 certification journey today with support from ANAB-accredited certification body Orion.
Find out more about ISO 27001 here.