6 Security risks you should be aware of when using cloud storage

In 2018, there were approximately 3.6 billion consumer cloud users across the world, a 50% surge from the 2.4 billion in 2013. 

According to Gartner Inc. the global public cloud services market is forecast to climb by 17.5% to $214.3 billion this year against the $182.4 billion in 2018. 

That’s an exceptional rate of growth. 

It’s interesting to note that International Data Corp. (IDC) predicted that the collective sum of the world’s data would soar to 175 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025 from 33 ZB in 2018 ?. 

So let’s take a quick look at the rise and fall of cloud storage: 

We can’t deny the fact that people, governments, and companies like yours have moved away from the conventional way of storing data. Instead, they’ve opted to upload and store their sensitive data in the cloud. 

This revolutionary technology has many advantages like lower costs, faster time to market, versatility, and higher employee productivity. 

Cloud storage systems, like other types of technology, come with several security risks despite comprehensive security measures. 

It’s therefore, essential to understand that not all the information you store in the cloud is safe from cyber threats. 

“The prevalence of cloud storage has provided criminals with opportunities, including the ability to organise their activities in a distributed, scalable, and somewhat anonymous way” this comes from the book The Cloud Security Ecosystem: Technical, Legal, Business and Management Issues by Ryan Ko and Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo. 

In today’s blog post, we take a look at six security risks your company should be aware of when using cloud storage. 

Let’s get started: 

1. Data loss

Companies today store mounds of sensitive data, including intellectual property in the cloud. While cloud storage companies have seen their security protocols evolve to meet the growing security needs of businesses the world over there is still the reality of data loss that businesses today must face. 

Ransomware attacks are on the rise and are a major cause of data loss on the cloud. According to Cyber Security Ventures in 2019 a new organisation can fall prey a ransomware attack every 14 seconds.   

There are some basic security steps you should follow to avoid data loss: 

  1. An agreement can be signed with your cloud service provider around data restoration and backup. 
  2. Consider what your internal protocol for data backup and restoration is and ensure this process is up to scratch. 

READ: How you can prevent cyber threats today

2. Loss of control 

While the cloud services are surely gaining popularity for many reasons among businesses today, there are also concerns over losing central control of your data. 

Often cloud service providers are run by third-party entities like Google Drive or Dropbox, which takes your data outside your security environment and opens your data up to being viewed outside of designated access privileges. 

You can avoid this risk by ensuring that your cloud provider encrypts all your files when they are stored. 

3. Insider threats 

These types of threats refer to your employees sharing internal data, whether intentionally or not. This often happens in the form of phishing attacks. 

In fact, according to Threatbusters Bitglass’ 2019 Insider Threat Report, 59% of organisations experienced an insider attack over the last 12 months.  

This same report indicated that 41% indicated that they don’t monitor for unusual behaviour within their cloud environments. 

Human error remains one of the great unsolved problems within the cybersecurity domain the world over. 

READ: 6 Ways your IT department can promote security awareness

4. Lower client trust 

Information security risks result in the declining trust of customers and subsequently lower earnings. 

In fact, cybercriminals obtained more than 40 million customer credit and debit card numbers from Target in 2013. The retail company spent $202 million on legal fees and other related expenses. They were required to pay $18.5 million to 47 American states and the District of Columbia as part of the settlement and lost customers as a result of the breach. 

5. Malware infections 

If you fail to control and manage endpoints with access to cloud applications, it can present a significant risk to your corporate data. File upload malware may leak into that application, resulting in an enterprise-wide infection and data corruption. 

Your employees form an important part of your company’s security solutions. Without a reliable download threat detection system, your employees could unintentionally download infected files to their corporate and mobile devices which can have devastating effects. 

READ: 5 Ways security compliance can grow your bottom line

6. Compliance violations 

Companies have to deal with regulatory controls set by governments in their respective jurisdictions about the information and data that your company holds – from Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for confidential student records, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare, to Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) for data protection in South Africa. 

This means that you’re mandated to implement rules on data access and protection. Bring your own computer (BYOC) puts your company at risk of violating these laws which can lead to severe repercussions. 

Don’t let security threats rain on your parade 

Cloud storage is prevalent among enterprises worldwide and for good reason. It’s important to note that this technology, however, has presented itself as one of the favourite playgrounds of cybercriminals. 

These are the dangers that you’re up against. 

It’s now time to strengthen your line of defence and institute an enterprise risk management strategy.

A cybersecurity expert dedicated to protecting organisations against the digital risks associated with digital transformation.

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