The cloud has been hailed as the savior of 21st-century business. Not only is it possible to build a company from the ground up using only cloud-based services, but taking advantage of the cloud allows a company to save time, money, and other valuable resources, helping small businesses get bigger, faster. To many entrepreneurs, the cloud is a digital miracle.
However, the cloud isn’t infallible. In fact, as the cloud becomes more widely accepted, it becomes a major target for malicious hackers and cyberattackers looking for an easy score. Before moving to the cloud ― or before tragedy strikes from the cloud ― business leaders must learn about the potential threats of working with the cloud and what they can do to remain completely safe.
Common Threats From the Cloud
Too often on the web, writers use vague language when describing digital threats to businesses. Terms like malicious attack and cyberthreat sound terrifying, but they don’t provide much information about what hackers actually do to cause damage to digital business data. In the interest of informed preparation against assault, here are some of the most common risks associated with the cloud:
- IP theft. Intellectual property (IP) is easily some of the most sensitive data a business can store, and when it is located on the cloud, it can be stolen and sold to the competition. Worse, businesses that don’t understand their cloud services could even lose rights to their IP to their cloud providers.
- Malware infections. A cloud user doesn’t have to be a inept to fall victim to a malware attack, which usually occurs through phishing. Unfortunately, malware can be difficult to recognize, but it is almost always devastating: stealing as much valuable data as possible and deleting the rest.
- Insider attack. End users ― typically, employees within a company ― must be heavily restrained, or businesses risk losing control over the cloud. A disgruntled employee shouldn’t be able to download customer contacts and sell them to competitors, but this remains among the most common insider threats.
- Compliance violations. Dozens of government agencies create regulations to ensure private information remains private, but in using the cloud improperly, some companies may violate those rules and suffer fines and sanctions that debilitate business.
How to Thwart Cloud-Based Attacks
As is usually the case, education is the first step to securing a cloud against attack, both external and internal. The more a business leader knows about the cloud and understands how certain threats manifest, the better equipped his or her company is to effectively combat the attacks that will inevitably occur.
Specifically, there are four main strategies for preventing a catastrophic cloud data breach, but not every method is appropriate for every business. Performing additional research to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the following precautions should improve a business’s cloud security to keep it safer from various threats.
- Create a cybersecurity policy. To thwart insider attacks (as well as employee negligence that can lead to massive data breaches) businesses should have strict cyberpolicies that enforce authorization, password creation, and other essential security measures.
- Use a private cloud. Public clouds ― which exist on shared servers alongside potentially dozens of fellow businesses ― are less secure because when more people have access, cybercriminals have more opportunities to find a way in. Private clouds give individual businesses complete control, which almost guarantees safety.
- Watch data transfer channels. Often data is fully protected in the cloud or on a computer, but while it travels back and forth, it is vulnerable to attack. Data encryption during transit is indispensable.
- Hire a security expert. Businesses with enough budget should add a qualified security professional to their IT team. These experts should be extensively trained in the latest techniques and technology to keep all data safe, especially when it is in or around the cloud.
Why the Cloud Is Still Safer Than Alternatives
Though it isn’t infallible, the cloud remains one of the most valuable tools a business can use. Digital files cannot degrade due to water or fire damage; files in the cloud cannot be lost due to improper sorting; and even if some data gets deleted, prior backups should prevent a catastrophic loss. As long as business leaders remain smart about cloud security, the cloud continues to be the best place for business information.