6 Common Cloud Vulnerabilities & How to Fill Those Security Gaps
Cloud computing has been expanding rapidly over the past few years. It has fundamentally transformed business, allowing organizations to stay up with the increasingly digital environment of today. Companies of all sizes across the world use cloud services for a variety of purposes, including cloud-native development, data analytics, machine learning, and application migration. Although managing and storing data has never been simpler, cloud vulnerabilities now pose a serious danger to data security.
What are Cloud Vulnerabilities?
The overlooked security gaps present in your cloud environment can potentially compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data and resources. Further, threat actors can take advantage of those gaps to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive operations, disrupt service, or worst encrypt confidential files. Those security gaps in your cloud infrastructure are commonly referred to as cloud vulnerabilities.
From a different security point of view, poor security can have an economic impact on your company as well. If client data is compromised, it can also harm the reputation and result in economic loss. Companies must take action to adequately safeguard their data from any cloud risk since the entire cost of inadequate cloud security might be high.
Statistically speaking, 93% of enterprises have serious concerns regarding cloud data security —according to a study by HelpNetSecurity. So what are such cloud risks – let’s have a closer look at the same.
Top 6 Types of Cloud Vulnerabilities You Should Know
Businesses commit serious errors even in the cloud when they believe that the cloud will shield their workloads and data from intrusion, theft, and other wrongdoing. Defects and the possibility of exploitation exist even in the cloud. Below are some common cloud vulnerabilities to watch out for.
Note: Here we will focus on the risks as well as the remedies to minimize the threats.
1. Misconfigured Cloud
According to a recent NSA analysis, cloud misconfiguration is most likely the vulnerability that organizations experience the most frequently. Misconfigurations can come in a variety of sizes and shapes, some of which we will discuss below. They are frequently brought on by ignorance of best practices or by the absence of peer review from your DevOps/infra team.
Identification and Access Control
One frequent risk in cloud systems is identity and access management (IAM) which is not secure. In a word, it happens when a user of your infrastructure or service has access to resources they shouldn’t and/or don’t require.
To minimize this risk:
- Apply the least privilege concept to all of your cloud resources and users to minimize cloud vulnerabilities risk. Never provide a service full access to a resource if it just requires read access or access to a small portion of the resource.
- Use third-party tools to check for and find IAM policy misconfiguration; a cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) can aid in making a misconfiguration more visible.
- Review access and privileges on a regular basis because access requirements can change.
Public Data Repository
This is a cloud vulnerability example that develops when a specific data blob, such as an S3 bucket or, less frequently, a SQL database, is partially or entirely made accessible to the public, and that public is given read-only or read/write access. The incorrect configuration of a resource is a frequent cause of this problem.
To reduce the likelihood of incorrectly configured public data storage, your DevOps team, sysadmins, and management should adhere to a few fundamental guidelines.
To minimize this risk:
- Utilize outside technologies to swiftly analyze your infrastructure for this kind of vulnerability.
- Always have your cloud resource’s data storage set to private by default.
- When utilizing Terraform or another IaC framework, be sure to have another team member examine the infrastructure-as-code files.
There are numerous additional cloud vulnerabilities in this group; to lessen misconfiguration, follow these fast tips:
- Use the most recent version of SSL/TLS and always use HTTPS instead of HTTP (the same goes for any other protocol, such as FTP instead of SFTP).
- Limit all inbound and outgoing ports if they are not required for a certain internet-facing computer.
- Utilize a secure secret management solution to save confidential information, such as API keys and passwords, in one single location. (e.g., AWS Secrets Manager).
2. Unsafe APIs
Insecure APIs are also one of the cloud vulnerabilities. In contemporary software development, APIs are widely utilized in microservices, application backends, and website backends. They must respond to requests from mobile devices, software, websites, and other parties, as well as from hackers, spammers, and bots. In order to provide cyber threat mitigation and safeguard against unwanted traffic, having a secure API is essential.
These malicious requests might come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Among the most typical are:
- Insertion of queries and code (SQL injection, command injection)
- Exploiting a lax access control system
- Targeting a flaw caused by a dated component (software libraries, database engine, runtime environments, etc.)
Many cloud service companies provide internal solutions. Otherwise, you may assure API compliance on your own by following a few simple steps.
To lessen this type of cloud vulnerabilities:
- Use a web application firewall (WAF) to filter requests based on IP addresses or HTTP header information, identify code injection attacks, and set response quotas for individual users or other metrics.
- Put DDoS protection in place (see more information below).
3. Poor Visibility
Your infrastructure’s size expands along with the utilization of cloud services. It might be simple to get lost in or overlook some of the running instances of cloud services when businesses use thousands of them. Accessibility to information about the condition of your entire environment must be simple and convenient.
The inability to see the cloud environment is a serious problem that can lead to cloud vulnerabilities. And, delay responding to threats and lead to a data breach. Therefore, managers, sysadmins, and DevOps teams need to adopt a proactive security strategy.
To minimize this risk:
- Watch for and identify threats.
- Make sure you can see your cloud environment.
- Implementing tools like a CNAPP can reduce risk and accelerate reaction times in the event of a breach.
4. MFA is Not Present
With multi-factor authentication (MFA), a user must provide at least two different types of identification validation in order to access an account or data. As an illustration, a conventional MFA requires the user to input both a username and password. A second validation is then required from the user, such as a one-time password or code that they received via SMS, email, or push notification on their mobile device.
Lack of MFA can be considered one of the serious types of cloud vulnerabilities because both users’ passwords and their identities are susceptible to theft.
To minimize this risk:
- Implement MFA throughout your organisation to gain access to an additional level of authentication.
- Any employees who are given access to their accounts and data in the cloud must always be subject to MFA.
5. Malicious Insiders
Another most dangerous cloud vulnerability type is unauthorized access. When a person gains access to any or all of your company’s cloud resources, it is known as unauthorized access.
These nefarious insiders have a number of ways to access your cloud accounts. This can happen as a result of too lax policies or a former employee still having access to the accounts, as was discussed in the section on cloud misconfiguration.
Read more about Insider Threats and their Impact on Security.
Due to a successful phishing attempt and/or lax credential protection, malicious insiders may also gain access to your cloud resources through account hijacking. This type of cloud vulnerability can be especially harmful because it puts intellectual property as well as data at risk of theft or alteration.
To minimize this risk:
- Ensure MFA is turned on.
- Utilize a program that is automated to weed out phishing emails.
- Inform staff members about phishing scams.
- Verify that secure password procedures are being used.
6. Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks
Other nefarious attempts malicious actors attempt are Denial of Service attacks and Distributed DOS to bring down a website or other web service. The latter operates by overcharging the server and saturating it with requests coming from several sources (thus dispersed). Making the service unavailable to requests from legitimate users is the aim.
To minimize this cloud security risk:
- Select a cloud provider that offers DDoS protection; most do, for example, AWS Shield offers simple integration and no additional charge.
- Make sure DDoS protection is constantly enabled on your cloud service.
Your company must take action to ensure mitigation of the growing number of cloud computing risks. We covered the most prevalent cloud vulnerabilties, but there are still a lot of other flaws that need to be fixed. In order to defend against, stop, and fix vulnerabilities, we offer sophisticated, unified, and automated protection. Discover more about the cybersecurity service offerings from SysTools.
Q- How cloud vulnerability is different from traditional security threats?
You’ll see traditional IT threats in on-premise ans software. Whereas cloud vulnerabilities are specific to cloud computing environment.
Q- What are the commonly associated cloud risks?
With vulnerabilities in the cloud computing environment, you would attract data breaches, unauthorized access to sensitive information, data loss, service interruptions, and potential financial losses, etc.
Q- How to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in cloud computing?
The best way to identify risks is to regularly assess your cloud environment. Thus, as far as the mitigation part is concerned, you can do the same by implementing strong security measures and stay up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.