Cloud computing isn’t the future—it’s already here. According to recent research from the Cloud Industry Forum, 88% of businesses use cloud-based applications, and that number is expected to rise, with a whopping 67% anticipating an increase in their adoption in the near future.
The benefits of cloud-based applications include enhanced productivity, profitability, agility, and operational efficiency. It’s not just good marketing that tells us so, but rather real results backed up by detailed, data-driven case studies.
Unfortunately, the very characteristics that make cloud-based applications so effective (no installation, access from anywhere with an internet connection, etc.) also mean that without security designed specifically for the cloud, cloud apps are vulnerable to security threats.
Best-in-class cloud security couples easily with your existing infrastructure and cloud applications, and empowers you with both safety and flexibility. In order to identify a reliable security solution, however, it’s important to understand the most common threats associated with cloud computing.
Cloud computing threats and consequences
With the rise of cloud-based applications, data has never been so easily accessed—and easily exploited. Worldwide, the average data breach costs an organization $3.86 million, according to a 2018 study from IBM. In the US alone, this number more than doubles to $7.91 million per occurrence. Data is not only a valuable asset; it’s also a dangerous liability.
Aside from costly data breaches, the Cloud Security Alliance reports 11 other cloud computing security threats, including:
- Weak identity, credential, and access management
- Insecure APIs
- System and application vulnerabilities
- Account hijacking
- Malicious insiders
- Advanced persistent threats
- Data loss
- Insufficient due diligence
- Abuse and nefarious use of cloud services
- Denial of service
- Shared technology issues
Like data breaches, each of these threats—when successfully exploited—can be catastrophic. Take the $2 million T-Mobile hack, where attackers accessed encrypted passwords, account numbers, billing information, and email addresses, all via an exploited API.
Protecting against these threats doesn’t just come down to ethical responsibility; it also comes down to survivability in the face of increasingly sophisticated methods of hacking
What to look for in a cloud security platform
Despite the threats associated with cloud computing, a strong security platform will significantly mitigate risk—protecting yourself is just a matter of knowing what to look for.
Centralized identity management
As intelligent as your employees (and vendors and partners) may be, they’re likely reusing existing passwords across multiple platforms or choosing common, easy-to-crack passwords.
By centralizing identity management with single sign-on (SSO), users have a single authentication point for all of their provisioned applications, ensuring your users’ passwords can be as strong as possible without sacrificing user experience.
Should you require more robust security measures, opt for cloud security that offers additional security factors, such as Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication. It makes contextual access decisions based on device, location, IP address, and more.
Intelligent lifecycle management
As security perimeters grow to include not only employees but also partners, vendors, contractors, and even customers, it’s more important than ever that each user has access to the tools they need—and only the tools they need.
A platform for managing user identities via an automated lifecycle process can help—enabling IT to automatically provision and deprovision users as needed. This eliminates stale accounts and drastically reduces your attack surface area.
Lifecycle management can be given a boost with an intelligent system that integrates seamlessly into tools like Universal Directory, SSO, and Adaptive MFA. These sophisticated methods of identity control across lifecycle states can be used to bridge the gap between legacy on-premises systems and newer cloud-based infrastructure.
Cloud security is not just important: it’s imperative
Cloud computing is here to stay, but its success and ability to improve a company is based on the quality of that company’s cloud security.
A best-in-class cloud security platform will not only ensure your users and their data is protected, but also empower IT to spend less time with unnecessary administrative tasks and more time thinking about the future of the business. After all, the future might be closer than you think.