Cloud computing continues to gain wide adoption. Large enterprises and SMEs alike are quickly adopting the cloud not only as a supplement to their in-house infrastructure but as a complete substitute.
This is in line with a world that is increasingly shunning ‘physical’ assets and solutions to a more service-based economy. Tom Goodwin, Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation at Havas Media captures this shift brilliantly saying, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”
For cloud computing COVID pandemic has been instrumental in driving an increased adoption and reliance on cloud-based services. The new shift to remote work during the lockdown necessitated the need for a wider cloud adoption even for businesses who had previously shunned the technology.
While this is good news as far as cloud service providers and futurists are concerned it has increased the inherent risks associated with cloud computing. Like any technology, cloud computing is not without its challenges. It is after all a relatively new technology that still has a lot of room for improvement.
Moreover, businesses that had adopted cloud computing for the first time as a result of the pandemic may find themselves unprepared to handle the unique challenges faced in adopting a cloud strategy.
Even cloud service providers who may tout themselves as experts in the field may find themselves unprepared for the security risks that will inevitably come with a growing cloud ecosystem.
Security threats are impossible to escape, even in the cloud. Understanding the risks will thus be important in developing a sound strategy to prevent and even deal with any disaster scenario.
Security risks of cloud computing
Lower and Weaker Security Protocols
Embracing the cloud means transferring your organization’s control and visibility over your assets. It involves placing a lot of trust on your cloud service provider for your data security management. Although this is laudable and is in fact one of the benefits of using the cloud it also means that managers might completely ignore their role in their own security.
Most CSPs are usually well armed to deal with any security lapse. Most have a wide range of security protocols and backup options to protect their clients’ data. This does not however mean that they are perfect. Even large conglomerates like Apple, Google and most famously Yahoo fall victim to hacks and data leaks.
Managers may thus find themselves blind sighted when such an attack occurs. The result might be such huge losses the company may never recover from.
One way to protect your organization is to adopt a multi-cloud solution so that you are not particularly vulnerable to one point of failure.
Overwhelmed security professionals
Adopting the cloud will introduce more complexity into your organization. For SMEs this can be a big problem. Their IT teams will find it hard to adapt and integrate data across cloud applications.
Learning and adapting such applications might be especially challenging for businesses who may have on-premises solutions. Their old IT department may find themselves completely unprepared to adapt to the new frameworks.
The result is an overwhelmed and stressed cyber security team. They may also need to be re-trained and re-tooled to get to speed with the new technology.
Compliance and regulatory issues
With the new focus on privacy in recent months regulation surrounding user data are only going to get tighter. As pointed out earlier, adopting the cloud means relinquishing a lot of control and visibility to the CPS. It also means that the CPS will also be largely responsible for handling compliance with any regulations.
If an attack occurs and a data is leaked the business may face severe penalties. In Europe for instance General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will fine companies up to 4% of their total annual revenue or a onetime payment of €20 million, whichever is higher.
Technology is constantly evolving. Even CSPs which are still businesses have to keep changing their infrastructure to keep up with the competition. This places more stress on in-house security teams who may have to re-skill and re-tool themselves so as to remain up to date.
This constant re-structuring increases stress for these teams. It also results in more security risks as hackers are constantly sharpening their arsenal for more impact.
Although using the cloud has a lot of benefits it does with its own risks. This is mainly because cloud computing is still a novel technology whose inherent risks have not completely been mapped out.
It is thus important that companies institute the right protocols and strategies to protect them from such risks.