Common Cloud Security Mistakes to Avoid for Businesses

Posted on July 16, 2020 Security

By 2023, cybercriminals will steal over 33 billion records in total. 

Our human brains can barely fathom the magnitude of that number and how damaging that can be for businesses, big and small. 

As we move quickly towards cloud computing, it’s essential to understand the weakness of on-premise cybersecurity policies when it comes to cloud-native environments.

The truth of the matter is that the majority of businesses are still trying to figure out the differences between generalized cybersecurity protocols, and cybersecurity measures that are tailored to cloud-native environments. 

Read on for our in-depth guide on the main cloud security mistakes that most businesses fail to address, as well as the reason why these security challenges are occurring in the first place. 

The Rise of Digital Transformation in a World of Cyber Threats

As with any new form of technology, there will be a batch of security challenges that come attached as the main price tag of innovation.

This is rather magnified when it comes to businesses that aren’t part of the technology sector. Essentially, when businesses aim for implementing digital transformation without having the right structures and foundations in place. 

Whenever we adopt new technologies, it takes us a bit of time to becomes familiar with the security issues that come along with the advancement.

Moreover, when it comes to the deeply connected realm of the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as managing a multi-cloud environment, you’ll have to keep a close eye on these two glaring issues.

1. Polymorphic Attacks

In the simplest of terms, polymorphic attacks (or malware) have the capacity to change, adapt, to ‘morph’ to stay under the radar and avoid detection.

Unfortunately, this specific type of cyber attack is becoming too common. Therefore, you’ll have to start training your team on how to detect them and initiate security protocols that would (at the very least) minimize the damage.

2. A Speeding DevOps

We know that having quick DevOps teams and processes is one of the main benefits of today’s technological innovations. It’s what allowed businesses to keep up with the speed and flow of pipeline integration and delivery.

However, whenever speed is emphasized over quality, you’ll find a higher amount of vulnerabilities were able to sneak past the quality control protocols and stay undetected for longer periods of time. 

Cloud Security Mistakes: The Breakdown 

At this point, we’ve covered the foundational vulnerabilities attached to cloud computing.

Now, it’s time to delve into the top cloud security mistakes of which most businesses fall prey. 

Allowing Runtime Updates to Bypass the CI/CD Pipeline

Since we’ve lightly touched upon the issue of DevOps going fast without security protocols, it’s time to go a bit deeper into how to fix that mistake. 

Traditionally, you’ll find that every DevSecOps team will say that your software deployment is way more secure when the runtime updates are passed through the CI/CD pipeline. 

Essentially, CI/CD stands for continuous integration with continuous delivery. It’s a coding philosophy —so to speak— that’s composed of a specific set of practices.

These practices enforce a system of implementing small changes and comparing the code to the version control repositories on a frequent basis.

CI/CD has been developed as a quality control checkpoint for developers. It’s a mechanism to integrate the code and validate any changes.

Unfortunately, developers are starting to ignore this mechanism in order to speed up deployment. While this does save the developers some time on releasing updates, it creates a host of cybersecurity issues for your security teams.

Using Unsecured Servers and Data

Sometimes, during a business’ transition to cloud computing, the ease of adoption of the keys of their new cloud services can be a bit of a false sense of security. 

One of the great benefits of cloud services is the ease of transition. However, some employees will start making ‘intuitive’ decisions, before truly getting to know the new platform. 

For instance, they can store data on unsecured servers. These are servers that haven’t been checked out by either a professional team within your company or by your cloud service provider. 

Having No Access Control

Another common mistake that some businesses make is having no access control protocols in place. 

Thankfully, this is a problem that can be easily fixed. 

All you need to do is create separate admin accounts that are set based on your employees’ roles and responsibilities. 

Afterward, you can employ multi-factor authentication for these accounts for the added security. 

There’s a reason why multi-factor authentication became a cybersecurity best practice in the industry.

It has the ability to make your cloud much safer by adding a second layer of authentication and ensuring that the person who’s trying to gain access to your cloud is actually authorized to do so. 

A Lack of Encryption Standards

For cloud computing, not any encryption protocol is good enough.

As a cloud user, you’ll have to ensure that your cloud provider supports TLS-based encryption, in addition to the use of secure ciphers. 

Using outdated technology can be quite dangerous for your cybersecurity health. It gives the false impression that you’re secure, when in fact, you’re anything but. 

This is the case with insecure ciphers. It’s quite risky, as it works as a beacon for cybercriminals to take advantage of a glaring vulnerability. 

Having a Manual Patch Process

Or worse, having no patching process at all.

Regrettably, there are many administrators that assume that getting security updates on bootup is enough. 

Yet, the time between one bootup and the next can stretch for months, even years. This elevates the risk level to unacceptable levels. 

A straightforward way to fix this issue would be constituting frequent updates and new patches, preferably in an automated manner. This way, you can eliminate the amount of human error in the process.

Ignoring Zombie Workloads

Whether you’re on a public or private cloud, the zombie workloads will continue haunting you.

Did you know that up to 30% of all virtual servers are zombie servers? Basically, these “zombie” servers run without external communications or an actual contribution to workloads. 

It’s a terrifying thought, especially when you understand the sheer uselessness of it all. These servers are an actual burden on your server power, resources, and environment.

They’re idle servers that keep eating into your operational cost, without giving your actual workloads any returns.

The reason why this is a cloud security issue, not only an operational and financial issue, is because many organizations chose to ignore zombie workloads that’s running on their architecture. 

When you’re having zombie resources running around your deployment, it blocks your ability to detect actual malicious actors like cryptojackers. It’s a glaring vulnerability in your system. 

For cybercriminals, it’s a strong sign that you’re ignoring unnecessary workloads that are slipping into your system. Thus, it’s an indication that you’re lax with your security protocol and won’t notice other significant invasions into your systems. 

Permitting Unrestricted Network Access

As it stands, there are specific areas in your organization where it’s more common to fall back on a blanket set of network configurations.

For instance, your DevOps teams tend to do so, as spending huge chunks of time on segmenting and separating access permissions is not an easy task.

In addition, more often than not, you’ll find DevOps teams placing the main bulk of their workloads into a single VPC, which can create an open door for unknown entities to gain access.

Without a solid deterrent on public network access, your security teams will have to spend more time on identifying malicious activities. 

Having Faulty Rule Configurations

While the benefits of micro-segmentation in containers are numerous, they do come with their own set of security challenges. 

As it were, the more granular your DevOps team get with segmentation, the higher the risk of faulty policy rules slipping through the cracks. 

This applies not only to new rules but also to familiar rules. Even the most well-known rule can create a huge security vulnerability.

For instance, you might give permission to your developers to use a specific IP in order to connect (through SSH) to the production runtime environment.

The problem here is that you can accidentally allow unrestricted public access to rather sensitive areas in your system. Another problem with this type of vulnerability is that faulty rule configurations can stay under the radar, undiscovered, for months. 

To prevent this type of cloud security mistake from happening in the first place, you’ll have to ensure that you’re using cloud security protocols.

For example, you can implement cloud workload identities as the main connection between business logic and your network infrastructure.

Unlocking Cloud Security for the Cloud Age

There is no escaping the fact that it’s the age of the cloud. 

Cloud computing for businesses is not going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, it’s key to start getting familiar with the unique cloud security mistakes that can make your system vulnerable to cybercriminals. 

Now, you know all about the common cloud security mistakes that businesses tend to fall into without knowing. However, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Check out our blog for more information on cloud computing. You can also check out our security section if you have any questions.

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