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Cyber attackers exploiting poor cloud security

More than a third of organisations report a cyber attack on the cloud environment due to a lack of basic cloud security hygiene

Despite 42% of organisations saying they are concerned about cloud security, many are failing to carry out security testing or follow best practices, a study shows.

The potentially devastating effects of poor cloud security was illustrated recently with a data breach affecting 100 million Capital One customers that was blamed on a “configuration vulnerability”.

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However, a survey from security firm Outpost24 conducted at Infosecurity Europe in June 2019 reveals that many companies are unable to detect abnormalities in their cloud environment, while 37% of the 300 security professionals polled admitted they had already experienced a cyber attack on their cloud systems.

As more organisations embrace digital transformation and migrate to the cloud, the survey report said the finding highlight the lack of security hygiene when it comes to cloud environments.

The survey also shows that 27% of organisations do not know how quickly they could tell if their cloud data had been compromised, while 11% said a compromise on their on-premise data would be much quicker to detect, indicating some organisations are still relying solely on cloud service providers to protect their cloud data.  

Although 42% of security professionals believe their on-premise data is more secure than their cloud hosted data, 19% of organisations carry out security testing on their cloud environment only once a year and 11% never run any security testing at all.

“The cloud offers organisations huge benefits in terms of cost savings and scalability, however security in the environment should never be overlooked,” said Bob Egner, vice-president at Outpost24.

“Organisations should treat their cloud assets just as they would their on-premise assets and apply all the same security principles of vulnerability and application security assessment, plus checks for cloud misconfigurations and security posture.”

It is extremely important to understand the shared responsibility model, said Egner. “And what cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure can and cannot offer in terms of security, as ultimately the responsibility of protecting your data and cloud workloads lies with you, the organisations using the cloud services,” he added.

When asked how many products and applications are running in the cloud, 34% of respondents said more than half, while 15% said all their assets were running in the cloud.

“Our survey clearly shows that many organisations today are heavily reliant on the cloud, and often multi-cloud, which makes it difficult to apply and homogenise the correct security controls across multiple cloud service providers,” said Egner.

“Security testing should be continuous across the entire technology stack, including the cloud. Running automated and continuous testing is the best way to identify if cloud data is being accessed by anyone maliciously and to help spot any misconfigurations in real-time which could put the data at risk,” he said.

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