Top Cloud Security Challenges in 2023
Blog Article Published: 04/14/2023
Originally published by InsiderSecurity.
Cloud adoption is speeding up in 2023, with Gartner estimating the worldwide spending on public cloud services to grow by 20% from 2022. This has beaten the initial forecasts of 18% for cloud growth, showing the high demand for public cloud services despite an overall economic slowdown across the globe. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) leads this growth, with the other services close behind.
The cloud bring benefits for companies due to its agile and scalable nature. However, at the same time, cloud adoption presents unique security challenges as well.
We look at the key security challenges in cloud adoption and how to address these challenges.
Insufficient cloud security expertise
Cloud is a different environment from on-premise and cybersecurity teams that “copy-and-paste” security controls into the cloud will soon find that this approach does not work. Cloud lends itself to automation and speed, hence native cloud security tooling becomes a important requirement. These tools require upskilling the current cybersecurity teams; otherwise, CISOs will find themselves with environments their teams are not equipped to defend! It is essential to implement tools that are optimized for cloud environments and to invest in the proper training of the cloud security teams.
Misconfigurations are a key reason for most cloud security breaches, as cloud administrators unintentionally end up exposing cloud interfaces and infrastructure over the internet. This is easily picked up by attackers and used as an entry point into the cloud environment. The misconfiguration may also be carried out by an insider threat with malicious intent, and not be detected due to a lack of cloud security tooling. Insider threat is a genuine risk regardless of which environment it is occurring in, and misuse of authorized access can be very difficult to detect without proper tooling.
Lack of visibility
Multi-cloud is a reality today as most companies do not want to live with the risk of vendor lock-in. Most companies adopting the cloud have hybrid environments with workloads split between on-prem and two or more cloud providers. While this provides flexibility and options, it also becomes a nightmare for CISOs to control and secure due to its scattered nature. Each cloud environment is different in how it functions, and it is important to have a cloud security solution put in place that can provide centralized view of the risk posture of each environment.
Cloud identities are a key focus point for attackers, given that the traditional network perimeter no longer exist in the cloud. Cloud control planes are the “keys to the kingdom” in most cloud environments and attackers can target cloud administrators via phishing attacks, malware etc. to compromise their credentials and gain access. This is especially easy to do if multi-factor authentication (MFA) has not been configured or the password itself is weak and susceptible to brute-forcing attacks. Even if MFA is enabled, attackers can still compromise the cloud control plane if the administrator’s machine has been compromised.
This attack is not just restricted to user identities but also to services and applications. Users can unintentionally grant access to SaaS applications within their cloud environments, which may be malicious and allow attackers to bypass security controls and gain access to your cloud environment. It is essential to follow a zero-trust model and authenticate every request made. SaaS applications should be reviewed for excessive permissions that grant trusted access to cloud data.
Cloud workloads can be vulnerable to the same weaknesses that are present in any software unless controls are set up within the pipeline. Missing patches, insecure coding, weak communication protocols, excessive permissions etc. are all weaknesses that can be taken advantage of by attackers and used to gain a foothold within a cloud environment. Cloud workload protection mechanisms help to assess the security posture of workloads throughout the lifecycle and can mitigate risks arising in real time.
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