Navigating the cloud security threat landscape

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As corporate reliance on cloud storage grows, so does the concern with its evolving threat landscape. With 80% of organizations storing sensitive data in the cloud, it’s no surprise that the cloud is a prime target for cyberattackers.

Effectively navigating cloud security threats means you proactively address vulnerabilities, protect against unauthorized access, and uphold the confidentiality and availability of data, fostering resilient and secure operations. You minimize costs associated with potential breaches, safeguarding both financial resources and business continuity.

Whether you’re new to the cloud or planning to expand your storage infrastructure, here's what you need to know to make it a secure vault for your content.

How do cloud threats differ from traditional threats?

Cloud cyber threats differ from traditional threats in their nature and scope. Cloud platforms and environments operate virtually, challenging the traditional physical boundaries of on-prem infrastructure. 

Unlike traditional threats that often target physical infrastructure, cloud threats leverage the virtualized nature of cloud computing and storage, exploiting security vulnerabilities in shared resources, APIs, and remote access points. 

Cloud providers manage the security of the infrastructure, but customers are responsible for securing their data lifecycle and applications within the cloud. According to Gartner, through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will result from customer-related factors rather than flaws in the cloud service itself. This forecast underscores the critical role that organizations play in implementing policies, training, and vigilant adherence to best practices to mitigate cloud security risks and threats.

Top cause of cloud security failures

What causes cloud security incidents 

The dynamic scalability of cloud environments introduces challenges in monitoring and controlling access. Plus, attack vectors often exploit human errors (for instance, misconfigurations specific to cloud services). 

According to a 2023 report from Cybersecurity Insiders, about one-quarter of organizations experienced a public cloud-related security incident in the previous year. Misconfiguration was indeed the leading cause of cloud incidents, followed by account compromise and exploited vulnerabilities.

Leading causes of cloud security incidents

Top threats to cloud security

Cyber threats to the cloud encompass a variety of malicious activities that aim to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of your digital information. 

Here are the top 10 cloud threats to watch out for. 

  1. Malware and ransomwareMalicious software infecting cloud storage, causing data corruption, unauthorized access, or ransom demands. These cyber threats often come through phishing attacks, in which an unsuspecting user may inadvertently download or execute malicious files, believing them to be legitimate due to deceptive emails or messages received.
  2. Data breaches: Unauthorized or illicit access to cloud document storage, leading to exposure or theft of sensitive corporate data. According to Verizon, 74% of breaches involve the human element, including social engineering attacks (like phishing).
  3. Data loss: This can happen when an employee unintentionally deletes crucial files, a hardware malfunction corrupts a database, or unexpected service disruptions interrupt data transfer processes.
  4. Inadequate access controls: Insufficient, weak, or misconfigured mechanisms and policies designed to manage and regulate access to a system, network, or specific resources. That’s the case, for example, when user roles are improperly assigned, giving individuals more access than necessary. 
  5. Insecure authentication: Weak login mechanisms or compromised credentials. For example, an organization relying on outdated single-factor authentication without additional security layers might fall victim to a cybercriminal exploiting weak passwords. 
  6. Account hijacking: Unauthorized individuals gain control of user accounts. Cyberattack tactics employed often include phishing, credential stuffing, brute force, and keylogging. 
  7. Insecure interfaces and APIs: Vulnerabilities in cloud service interfaces and APIs. Exploitable weaknesses in the design or implementation of these critical components open avenues for attackers to gain unauthorized access, manipulate sensitive data, and potentially compromise the overall security and integrity of the cloud environment. 
  8. Lack of encryption: Insufficient encryption measures, exposing data to interception during transmission and storage. In man-in-the-middle attacks, for example, threat actors position themselves between the communication paths of two parties, intercepting and potentially altering the data being exchanged.
  9. Insufficient visibility and monitoring: Limited control over cloud storage environments, making it challenging to detect and respond to security incidents promptly.
  10. Data location and jurisdiction concerns: Legal and compliance issues when data is stored in different jurisdictions, requiring businesses to navigate different regulatory requirements. Compliance with regulations, including data privacy in all regulatory jurisdictions, is the leading cloud storage security challenge related to unstructured data, per 46% of respondents of a Box-sponsored IDC study.  
Most cited data security and compliance challenges related to unstructured data, according to IDC, Unleashing the Opportunity for Unstructured Data Survey

Minimize the security risk of cloud storage threats with robust policies and user training 

An effective cloud security strategy not only ensures the protection of your assets but also instills stakeholder confidence in the integrity and privacy of sensitive data. 

Get started with these cloud storage security measures.

Cloud security threatProtection measures
Malware and ransomwareEmploy sophisticated antivirus and anti-malware solutions, conduct regular security awareness training and enforce strict download policies
Data breachesImplement robust access controls, encryption, regular security audits, threat assessments, and cyber training to educate users
Data lossEstablish automated backup processes, implement disaster recovery plans, and enforce data retention policies
Inadequate access controlsAdopt zero trust and least privilege principles, properly configure role-based access, conduct regular access reviews and audit user permissions
Insecure authenticationEducate users on password hygiene, implement multi-factor authentication, and promptly address compromised credentials
Account hijackingEducate users on phishing and account security best practices, implement multi-factor authentication, and monitor for unusual account activity
Insecure interfaces and APIsRegularly update and patch interfaces/APIs, conduct security assessments, enforce secure coding practices, and implement robust security controls and monitoring
Lack of encryptionDeploy end-to-end encryption for data in transit and at rest and ensure encryption protocols are up-to-date
Insufficient visibility and monitoringUse comprehensive monitoring tools, conduct regular security audits, implement cloud threat detection systems, and establish incident response plans for swift action in case of incidents
Data location and jurisdiction concernsUnderstand and comply with data protection regulations, choose cloud providers with strong compliance measures, and implement data residency policies

Looking for a secure platform to store your data? Find out the best features of cloud collaboration tools.

Shield your content from cloud security threats with Box

By offering enterprise-grade security and compliance, Box shields your content from cloud threats.  

The Content Cloud platform streamlines workflows and improves collaboration without compromising security. You create, store, share, and work on files through a single platform. Controls to safeguard your data include strong password policies, SSO, MFA, granular permissions, AES 256-bit encryption, and more. 

Box Shield scans your content as you upload, share, preview, edit, and download it, so you get broader coverage for sophisticated malware, including ransomware. With our cloud security solution, you also get timely, informative alerts on potentially compromised accounts and data exfiltration actions. And with Box Zones, we support your data residency efforts across multiple geographies, ensuring you store your content in your preferred region.   

Reach out to us, and let’s discuss your cloud threat security needs.

Get secure cloud storage with Box

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blog post is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.

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