Without a doubt, cloud computing has changed the way businesses and individuals operate. Thanks to the increase in the world’s population and information, many companies and network servers have processed much more data and content.
We think that we generate at least 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Fortunately, cloud computing has helped us process most of this data and streamline it into smaller chunks for consumption. Cloud computing has also allowed companies, whether multinational or small and medium, to save large sums of money on internal storage infrastructure.
Cloud computing has helped us save space on our devices at the consumer level. Combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing has also made it easier to access content such as photos and videos.
However, like any other form of technology, cloud computing also runs the risk of being compromised. As a vital online technology, cloud cybersecurity attacks represent 20% of all cyberattacks in 2020making it the third most targeted type of technology.
If you think hackers are only looking for big companies, think again. In 2014, leaked nude photographs of numerous celebrities including Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton made their rounds on the internet following a massive iCloud breach. But that’s not all; Cybersecurity experts also pointed out that text messages, emails, calendars and address books were also leaked and stolen. Since the incident, Apple has done a lot to clean up its image and assure customers around the world that its platforms are safe to use.
To protect you from potential harm from a cloud cyberattack, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common threats and what you can do to protect yourself if you’re a cloud user.
Common threats faced by cloud computing users
In 2018, it was reported that unauthorized access is the most common cloud computing security issue. Considering the incidents mentioned above, it is understandable why.
Unauthorized access is essentially the act of someone gaining access to a computer network, system, or other resource without proper authorization. One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain illegal access is to obtain login credentials from an insider. Often, because people have poor password practicesit’s easy for a dedicated hacker to launch a brute-force attack to try to gain access to your account.
Cloud account hacking occurs when an individual’s or company’s account is stolen or compromised by an attacker. This can happen through a variety of means, including brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, and even phishing attacks.
In phishing attacks, a hacker impersonates a person or business to gain your trust and, in turn, gain access to an account. To do this, an attacker could pretend to belong to a social media network that you are part of. They’ll then send an email, text, or private message letting you know your account has been compromised and asking you to click a link to log into your account if you want it back.
Once you log into your account, they will steal your credentials. Although it may not seem like much, phishing attacks are actually very effective. In reality, a 2021 report from Cisco revealed that at least one person clicked on a phishing link in approximately 86% of organizations.
Unauthorized data sharing
Cloud-based computing and devices make it easy to share and store data. However, this also means that it is easy to share the stored data with external parties who might not be authorized to view it.
Additionally, cloud environments are usually accessible directly from the public internet, which means that hackers can access them as well.
Malicious internal members
Every organization is exposed to internal threats. Since the malicious insider already has access to some level of information and data, it can be difficult for companies to prevent these types of attacks from occurring.
The best way around this is to keep proper logs of who logs into particular software and systems, and to limit the permissions granted to employees. This reduces the possibility of an incident occurring.
As cloud-based infrastructures are directly accessible from the Internet, they are susceptible to attack by hackers and other malicious actors.
Beyond brute force attacks and phishing, skilled hackers will look for vulnerabilities in a cloud system. Since most companies usually hire third-party cloud providers for their service, these providers are designated as targets. Hackers will then keep abreast of news and developments when these vendors release new updates for their products or if a bug in one of these recent updates has been reported.
How users can protect themselves while in the cloud
Always use strong passwords
Passwords are the first line of defense against any kind of cybersecurity attack. This is why it is extremely important that your passwords are at least 12 characters long and contain a mix of letters, numbers and special characters.
While you’re at it, always make sure to avoid reusing passwords across multiple accounts. If you’re struggling to manage all of your passwords, sign up for a free password manager service. A password manager saves you from having to remember different passwords. Instead, all you have to do is remember a key password to log into your encrypted vault.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) involves the use of two different methods to verify an account connection. Instead of relying solely on a password, users will need to protect their accounts by scanning their fingerprint or face, entering a code from a text message or an app.
Ditch public Wi-Fi whenever possible
Although public Wi-Fi networks are useful, they are often not secure and can allow others to see what you are doing online. They are also extremely vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. MITM attacks occur when an attacker “sits” between two victims. In this case, it is you and the network server you are using.
By intercepting the connection, the hacker is able to steal information and other credentials.
If you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN helps encrypt all your internet traffic and prevents snoopers, hackers, and even your internet service provider from seeing what you’re doing online.
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