Many businesses are moving their operations to the cloud, which includes services like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and Google Apps. These services have many benefits, including easy access to your data no matter where you are and being able to access your email on any device you have available to you. However, just because cloud services are convenient doesn’t mean they don’t come with risks of their own. Here are 10 cloud computing security risks that businesses should be aware of before making the move to the cloud.
1) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Launched in 2016, GDPR is a new set of regulations that change how businesses handle personally identifiable information about their customers. According to Gartner Research, by 2018 at least 25% of companies affected by GDPR will be faced with large legal fines if they don’t comply. And it’s not just EU based businesses that are at risk, even organizations outside of Europe could be hit with penalties as a result of noncompliance.
2) The Centralization of Information
Data is more vulnerable to attack and damage when it’s all in one place. With data stored on a server, hackers only need to infiltrate that one machine to have access to everything and there are new ways of hacking into servers or harvesting information from them every day. If you choose cloud based storage for your business, you’ll want to ensure your information is spread out over several different companies or even across multiple providers.
3) The Indiscriminate Collection and Storage of Personal Data
Many cloud computing platforms process large amounts of information that are uploaded by individuals who have little awareness of what is being stored or how it will be used. This can lead to indiscriminate collection and storage of personal data without user consent. In a worst case scenario, inappropriate access to such sensitive information could result in blackmail and theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has addressed concerns about security breaches through its Privacy Bill of Rights, but cloud computing services may not always adhere to these standards.
4) Social Engineering, Phishing, Viruses, etc.
Social engineering is an attack vector hackers use to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or systems. When combined with other hacking techniques, social engineering hacks can be extremely damaging. Hackers prey on human nature on our tendency to act a certain way in certain situations to trick us into revealing personal information that could compromise our digital security.
5) Stored Unencrypted Data Can be Compromised Section
The more obvious risk with cloud computing is that your data isn’t secure. When you save your files in a cloud storage service, for example, you don’t have any control over what happens to them which means others could access them and even steal your information. The best way to avoid these kinds of risks is by encrypting sensitive data before saving it online. Hackers might not be able to see it, but they won’t be able to steal it either.
6) Data security
Regardless of where you store your data, keep it encrypted. Cloud computing makes it easy to share files and collaborate with clients, but don’t trust a cloud service to hold onto your sensitive information; encrypt any data that might have financial or personal value. As an added precaution, backup all your files to at least two different cloud services. This redundancy is crucial in case one of your accounts gets hacked (it happens).
7) Lack of Standard Ethics Within the Industry
Since cloud computing is such a new market, there are still no real standards for ethics within it. This lack of standardization could lead to improper or illegal data use by companies if they aren’t properly monitored. While providers are doing their best to avoid that from happening, as of now, it’s still an issue that should be taken into consideration.
8) Privacy breaches via business relationships with other organizations
If you’re using cloud services for company wide operations, you need to make sure that none of your employees are providing sensitive information to third parties. For example, if a sales rep uses a virtual service for processing transactions, then you need to make sure that he or she isn’t disclosing customer data to those providers without your consent. Without proper procedures in place, breaches can occur when someone from an organization lets confidential details slip while interacting with another business via email or phone conversations.
9) Leakage through embedded or third-party applications
Since cloud applications are hosted on another company’s servers, it’s possible for cloud computing security risks to exist in their infrastructure. If a user does not have access to monitor or manage these potential risks, any sensitive data is exposed.
10) Improper Maintenance and Monitoring
All it takes is one unchecked box in an S3 bucket and your entire account can be laid bare. Moreover, IT admins often don’t even know what to monitor, meaning a lot of risks are flying under their radar. Remember: If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t find it.