Cloud computing has taken the world by storm because it’s considered a convenient, relatively stress-free data storage option. It involves using remote servers on the internet to process, store, and manage data instead of using a local server.
In business intelligence, cloud computing has become an integral part of storing business information analysis gathered from the technologies and applications used. Since the data transforms into actionable strategies that increase productivity and profit, cloud storage is one of the safest ways to manage it.
Unfortunately, cloud computing isn't risk-free. At Zuar, we help you turn data into a competitive advantage with our secure data pipeline solutions. Here, we’ve compiled some cloud computing security risks that you should be aware of.
Despite the vendor’s efforts to monitor, then log all network activities it’s possible to lose data that is in the cloud. Data in the cloud can be lost in three ways:
- Overwriting / deleting
- Technical issues
Human error is by far the most common way to lose data. This entails unintentionally deleting the data and it can happen when unauthorized personnel delete the data or overwrite it. In most cases, the person deleting the data is not fully aware of its importance.
If an organization gets hacked, data can be deleted. With rampant reports about hackers gaining entry into an organization’s cloud storage centers and deleting all of their data, this is a possibility that grows every day as hackers become more proficient in technology.
Sometimes a disk drive may become unresponsive or corrupted and one hasn’t created a back up for the information contained in it. If the data is encrypted and you lose the key to open it, there's no other way to retrieve that data.
Hacking is a criminal offense that, unfortunately, has gained in popularity. Cybercrime isn’t easier to get away with, but it can take longer to trace because it can happen remotely. This means that everyone from small businesses to major corporations is at risk. Hacking can be an inside job by unauthorized personnel working to sabotage the company, or the work of outsiders with in-depth knowledge about the company's operations. Usually, a hacker will look for a way to leverage the data they have accessed for profit or personal gain.
Because the cloud aggregates data from hundreds if not thousands of businesses, one threat to one business has the potential to become a threat to all the businesses hosted by the same vendor. Hackers are not the only point of worry; the vendor's staff can also be a potential threat if they become unscrupulous. When a vendor has access to critical data pertaining to the business operations of a company, many businesses do not have the capability to vet the vendor's employees or their technologies and tools.
Reliable cloud services have security protocols that protect the confidential information that clients have entrusted for safekeeping in their servers. But these protocols can be bypassed or may fail to kick in incase of a breach automatically. Of course, if a breach occurs and sensitive data is accessed, the cloud service provider must inform all of the clients using their service. According to the Wall Street Journal, breaches are typically a result of human error, like customers failing to read instructions and setting up computing assets incorrectly as a result.
Organizations that don’t employ the use of proper authentication also open themselves up to breaches. Identification management ensures that the company allocates the right permissions to the right employees. This way no one without the right permission can access sensitive information. A multi-factor or even a two-factor authentication system cuts down the chances of breaches.
An application programming interface allows communication between different parts of a computer program, simplifying the maintenance and implementation of the software. When this is compromised, sensitive data can be accessed easily and the remote server itself can be used in nefarious ways.
A majority of cloud service providers utilize multi-tenant API gateways, meaning the gateway is shared among different users and applications. Since the API gateway is the single point of entry, it can easily be compromised affecting all the users and applications utilizing it. If the API is attacked, the hacker will have access to all the systems and applications.
It’s recommended not to leave one’s API security to the cloud service provider, since they utilize one gateway. When one controls their own API security, a breach on the vendor’s API gateway doesn’t translate to a breach on the company’s applications.
In case there is a breach and data is accessed by outside parties, you may find your business facing a lawsuit from the clients whose data was compromised. This is why it's important to research any cloud service provider before jumping into bed with them. If they are not in compliance with data protection regulations, they could be making companies vulnerable to both breaches and legal woes if customer information is accessed. Whether the data is used maliciously or not, the fact that it fell into the wrong hands is grounds for a lawsuit.
When a company outsources the storage and management of data that they are supposed to protect, they are essentially assuming and relying on the cloud service provider to be in compliance with regulations like HIPPA for healthcare providers and PCI DSS for customers making purchases with a credit card, among others. The company is required to know who has access to customer information, where this data resides and how it's protected. As such, they are directly liable if a data breach at the cloud service provider occurs.
Lack of Control
Having someone else hosting the company’s data can be convenient for business management. However, always remember that the vendor controls the cloud, so they exert a high level of control on all the data in their possession. Features and prices are controlled by the vendor so issues like lack of payment can result in compromising the security of a company’s data. Also, prices can be hiked arbitrarily and if one relies heavily on their service provider for storage they have to pay.
It’s important to use a business intelligence service keeps your security a #1 interest. At Zuar, security is our top priority. That’s why we’re trusted by hundreds of companies. See some of their data success stories here.
One hundred percent uptimes are never a guarantee, though many cloud service providers act like it is. This is because the uptimes are not wholly reliant on the cloud service provider. They are also dependent on the internet service provider, and several other potential weak links. Unfortunately, if the internet is down, so is the cloud service. That means that important data like customer payments can’t be processed until the internet is back up.
Cloud service providers promise 99.99% uptimes but they have no control over when the 0.01% downtime will occur. If it occurs during business hours that is an equivalent of 10 days in the year that one can’t process or access their data.
Hijacked Customer Accounts
Sometimes customers are the source of security issues within the cloud environment they are hosted in. If a customer loses their credential or passwords and constantly enters the wrong details, they may be opening the entire system to access by an intruder. All the intruder has to do is to take control of the user's account and they can manipulate the system internally, corrupt data, wreak havoc with customers and even redirect customers to other sites.
Cloud service providers always ask clients to find a unique password. This makes it hard for a hacker to guess and find inroads into a user’s account. Don’t try to remember all the passwords. Instead, use a password manager to keep tabs of all password used.
Dealing With Security Issues
In case of a security issue with a cloud vendor, the following steps should be taken in order to keep data safe.
The vendor must check the entire structure because a breach is usually an indication of a certain failure in the infrastructure of the system. Look at the personnel and their permissions, the API gateway and how secure it is and customer accounts. Fixing any of these is the easy part but clients must make sure the vendor is compliant with the regulations that protect data.
It’s the responsibility of the company using cloud services to vet the service provider thoroughly and check on their compliance with the regulations before trusting the vendor with the data.
If secure, foolproof data staging is what you need, check out Zuar’s data staging platform, Zuar Runner.