The popularity of cloud apps and software has increased significantly in recent years. But while the use of cloud services can be beneficial for businesses and employees, also brings new cybersecurity risks.
The ability to log in from anywhere using cloud apps is convenient for employees, but it is also a potential new opportunity for cybercriminals, who, with a set of stolen passwords, could access sensitive information. There is even the possibility of hackers abusing cloud services to launch ransomware attacks and other malware campaigns.
But there are steps you can take, and mistakes to avoid, to ensure your organization’s cloud security strategy delivers increased productivity and keeps users and the network safe from cyberattacks and incidents.
1. Do not leave cloud accounts exposed and without security controls
Cloud applications and services allow users to access files and data from anywhere, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. Remembering passwords can be difficult, that’s why many users use simple, common or reused passwords.
While this approach reduces the chances of users being locked out of their accounts, creates an open target for hackers – particularly if the breach of an email address or other corporate application that is part of the cloud suite gives attackers the opportunity to escalate your privileges and gain additional control over systems.
In many cases, companies don’t realize that a cloud account has been abused by cybercriminals until it’s too late and data has been stolen or ransomware has reached the network.
It is vital that all cloud accounts are properly protected, using a unique and complex password, and that they are also equipped with multi-factor authenticationso even if the password is breached, leaked or guessed, there is an additional barrier that helps prevent the account from being taken over and abused.
Organizations should also consider providing staff password manager programso users don’t need to remember passwords, allowing them to create longer, more complex passwords that are less likely to be breached.
2. Do not give each user the keys to the kingdom
Cloud apps and services are convenient and give users a variety of tools they need to be productive, all in one place. But different users have different needs, and most users don’t need high-level privileges, especially when that access could be easily abused by an unauthorized user that you have hacked or taken control of an account with administrator rights.
Therefore, it is imperative that IT and information security teams ensure that administrator privileges are only available to those who truly need them, and that any accounts with administrator privileges are properly protected, so that attackers cannot gain access and abuse at high level. accounts: to create additional accounts that they could use to conduct their business secretly, for example. It is also important that regular users do not have the power to escalate their own privileges or create new accounts.
3. Don’t leave cloud apps unattended and know who’s using them
Companies use a wide variety of cloud computing services, but the more applications that are used, the more difficult it is to keep track of them. And that could provide a gateway for malicious users to enter the network undetected.
It is vital that IT departments have the necessary tools to keep track of which cloud services are being used – and who has access to them. Enterprise cloud services should only be available to users who work for the organization. If someone leaves the company, access must be removed.
It is also important to ensure that cloud applications are not misconfigured in a way that means they are open to anyone on the internet. This open access could lead to brute-force attack attempts, or cybercriminals could try to use phishing or stolen credentials to access cloud applications.
In the worst case, a misconfigured cloud app facing the open internet may not require login details, meaning anyone can gain access. It is vital that organizations are aware of how their cloud services interact with the open web and that only those who need these services can access them.
4. Don’t Ignore Updates and Security Patches: Cloud Software Needs Them Too
One of the most important things you can do to improve the cybersecurity of your network is apply updates and security patches as soon as possible. Cybercriminals regularly seek to exploit known vulnerabilities in applications to breach networks and lay the groundwork for cyberattacks.
Cloud software is no different. Vulnerabilities can be discovered and will receive security patches, which need to be applied.
IT departments running large cloud-based networks may think that security is handled by the cloud service or application provider they use, but that’s not always the case: cloud software and applications are too. they need patching, and it is vital that this work is done immediately to ensure that the network is resistant to cybercriminals trying to exploit the vulnerabilities.
5. Don’t rely solely on the cloud for data storage – keep backups offline in case of emergency
One of the key benefits of cloud software is that, in many cases, it is available at the touch of a button: users can access data stored in the cloud, from anywhere and from whatever device they are using.
But that doesn’t mean that data stored in the cloud is necessarily accessible 100% of the time. Systems can be disrupted and data can also be manipulated by cybercriminals.
If cybercriminals breach the identity controls that protect cloud accounts, data could be deleted or taken hostage. a common tactic used by ransomware gangs, for example, is to delete backups stored in the cloud.
No matter how strong your cybersecurity controls are, protecting cloud accounts is particularly important. The data must be backed up and stored offline because, if the worst happens, and the data in the cloud is lost or inaccessible, there is the possibility of restoring from backups.
Not only is it important to save regular backups so that the restore point is as recent as possible, meaning everything is as up-to-date as possible, those backups should also be tested regularly. After all, there’s no point in keeping backups if they happen to not work when you really need them.