The Risks of Using Cloud Services

risk management

Mar 4, 2019

Mar 4, 2019

risk management

When J. C. R. “Lick” Licklider developed ARPAnet in 1962, he had the vision of creating a device that could receive and send data simultaneously amongst a large group of people. He called this idea the  “Intergalactic Computer Network”. It carried the necessary principles that would find today’s Internet and, later, cloud computing and storage. In 2018, the Internet had 3.2 billion users. As a result, large amounts of data production and sharing created the demand for quicker, more collaborative storage solutions as an alternative to physical drives.

Cloud Storage vs Cloud Computing

When differentiating between cloud storage and cloud computing, it is important to establish their link. Though often used interchangeably because of similar founding principles, their roles put them at separate playing fields.

The purpose of cloud storage is to store data on the Internet, making it the go-to for companies and institutions who regularly need to upload and store their files. Cloud computing takes that data and can edit, change, or solve it. Today, 9 in 10 businesses make use of these services to increase collaboration and efficiency amongst themselves and their stakeholders.

The Risks of Cloud Storage

While using cloud services has saved companies more time, money and space, it has inherent security risks that could jeopardize confidential data. Here are three of its vulnerabilities:

Entrusting Data to Third Parties

When a company uses services such as Box, Google, or Dropbox, it becomes part of business protocol to upload and store files to these digital facilities. However, as a result, the file’s security settings are now up to the third party and beyond the company’s control.

Uploading files to the cloud makes data more vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is not only because of the lack of proper security measures, but mainly that uploading to the cloud requires an Internet connection. When the connection is not safe or the transmission is not encrypted, the company risks compromising their files and data.

Leaking Confidential Data

Because of the cloud’s collaborative nature, uploaded data can be misused or mishandled by any of the resources these files are shared to. Without proper protocols in place, the company may have to confront internal threats, as well.

Using of Personal Devices

The use of cloud services encourages employees to bring their own devices to the office or to work from home. Though a gray area for some companies — as the use of personal devices help increase employee efficiency — the risk of unexpectedly losing these devices or of personnel connecting to unsecured WiFi is a legitimate concern. After all, data breaches on personal gadgets are much harder to track than those via company-owned assets.

The Safety Measure

When placing more data in cloud, there are several ways a company can secure important files. Here are some of them:

Encrypting Uploaded Data

The process of encryption starts when readable data is encoded and is locked with a “key”. Without it, the information could not be accessed. Encrypting data that is “at rest” or stored in local disks ensures that the data cannot be stolen. When it comes to data “in flight”, there risk involved is higher because files or documents are sent and viewed from multiple IP addresses. As the file is in flight to another destination, the data stream is highly encrypted to prevent any hackers from stealing the data as it is moving.

Implementing API-based CASB

A cloud access security broker or CASB comes hand in hand with data encryption, adding additional protection for when data is sent to another network. When data is stored in third-party media like the cloud, CASB prevents malware and data breaches through data loss prevention (DLP) tools and threat protection.

Backing Up Data

In the event of a crisis, it is recommended that companies should regularly backup their resources through automation or the cloud’s own backup services. When using the cloud, an organization becomes responsible for auditing and monitoring performance, as well as being alert for potential threats and breaches. Though always good practice, it is best to stay diligent should a breach take place.

An essential for companies is to discern if using cloud services improves their internal processes, without the risk of uploading highly sensitive information. Introducing this technology entails both threat and opportunity, and it is the company’s responsibility to establish the proper defenses once they determine that it is worth the risk.

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Wilson Consulting Group is a cybersecurity firm that aims to provide companies the solutions to keep their systems secure. Our Risk Management and Assessment Services identifies, evaluates, and responds to your network’s risks.

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