Cloud computing has undoubtedly changed the way businesses and people operate. Thanks to the increase in population and information around the world, many companies and network servers have handled significantly more data and content.
It is estimated that we generate at least 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Fortunately, cloud computing has helped us process most of this data and break it down into bite-sized chunks for consumption. Cloud computing has also saved companies, both multinational and small and medium, large amounts of money on internal storage infrastructure.
Cloud computing has helped us save space on our devices at the consumer level. When combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing has also made accessing content like photos and videos much easier.
However, like any other form of technology, cloud computing is also at risk of being compromised. As a vital online technology, Cloud cybersecurity attacks account for 20 percent of all cyberattacks in 2020which makes it the third most objective type of technology.
If you think hackers are only after big companies, think again. In 2014, leaked nude photos of many celebrities, including Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kate Upton, circulated the internet following a massive iCloud breach. But that is not all; Cybersecurity experts have also pointed out that text messages, emails, calendars and address books were also leaked and stolen. Since the incident, Apple has done a lot to clean up its image and reassure customers around the world that its platforms are safe to use.
To protect yourself from potential harm after a cloud cyberattack, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common threats and what you can do to protect yourself if you’re a cloud user.
Common Threats Cloud Computing Users Face
In 2018, unauthorized access was reported as the most common cloud computing security issue. Considering the incidents mentioned above, it is clear why.
Unauthorized access is essentially the act of a person gaining access to a computer network, system, or any other resource without proper permission. One of the easiest ways hackers can gain illegal access is to obtain the login credentials of an internal stakeholder. Often, because people have little password practicesit’s easy for a dedicated hacker to launch a brute force attack to try and gain access to your account.
Cloud account hijacking occurs when an attacker steals or compromises a person’s or company’s account. This can happen through various means, including brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, and even phishing attacks.
In phishing attacks, a hacker poses as a person or company to gain your trust and, in turn, gain access to an account. To do this, an attacker could pretend to be from a social network that you are a part of. They will then send an email, text, or private message to let you know that your account has been compromised, and ask you to click a link to log in to your account if you want to save it.
Once you have logged into your account, your credentials will be stolen. While it may not sound like much, phishing attacks are really successful. In fact, a 2021 Cisco report revealed that at least one person has clicked on a phishing link in about 86 percent of organizations.
Unauthorized data sharing
Cloud-based computing and devices make it really convenient to share and store data. However, this also means that it’s easy to share stored data with third parties who might not be authorized to see it.
Also, cloud environments are usually directly accessible from the public internet, which means hackers can access them as well.
All organizations are at risk from insider threats. Because the malicious insider already has access to a certain level of information and data, it can be difficult for companies to prevent these types of attacks from occurring.
The best way to get around this is to keep proper records of who logs into particular software and systems, and limit the permissions given to employees. This reduces the chance of an incident occurring.
Since cloud-based infrastructures can be directly accessed from the Internet, they are susceptible to attack by hackers and other malicious actors.
Beyond brute force attacks and phishing, expert hackers will look for vulnerabilities in a cloud system. Since most companies typically hire third-party cloud service providers for their service, these providers are designated as targets. Hackers will stay abreast of news and developments when these vendors release new updates for their products or if a bug was reported from one of these recent updates.
How users can protect themselves while in the cloud
Always use strong passwords
Passwords are the first line of defense against any type of cybersecurity attack. This is why it is extremely important that your passwords are at least 12 characters long and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
While you’re at it, always make sure to avoid reusing passwords across multiple accounts. If you find it difficult to manage all your passwords, sign up for a free password management service. A password manager eliminates the hassle of having to memorize several different passwords. Instead, you just have to memorize a key password to log into your encrypted vault.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two Factor Authentication (or 2FA) involves the use of two different methods to verify an account login. Instead of relying solely on a password, users will need to secure their accounts by scanning their fingerprint or face, entering a code from a text message or an app.
Get rid of public Wi-Fi when possible
While public Wi-Fi networks are useful, they’re often not secure and could allow third parties to see what you’re doing online. They are also incredibly vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. MITM attacks occur when a hacker “sits” between two victims. In this case, it is you and the network server you are using.
By intercepting the connection, the hacker can steal information and other credentials.
If you have to use public Wi-Fi, make sure you connect to a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN helps encrypt all your internet traffic and prevents snoops, hackers, and even your internet service provider from seeing what you’re doing online.