The Top 10 Cloud Security Risks


Even when you have cloud protection in place for your company network, there are still various cloud security risks that could impact your business.

Although you can’t remove risks altogether, you can manage them, so it’s a good idea to get to know where risks are coming from before they occur.

This way you can do everything possible to mitigate these risks.

Although cloud security is put in place to protect important data, there are still risks that can impact its effectiveness.

Therefore, in this post we have put together a list of the top 10 cloud security risks ranging from cloud misconfiguration, to organised crime and hackers, so you can be aware of the threats to your network security.

Equally, we have included a few methods you can use to help prevent these risks from penetrating your company network and stealing your confidential information.

So, let’s kick things off with a definition of Cloud Security.

What is Cloud Security?

Otherwise known as cloud computing security, cloud security is a collection of security measures designed to protect cloud-based infrastructures and applications.

These security measures ensure there are authentication processes in place, access controls are monitored, and data privacy protection is prioritised.

Ultimately, cloud security can be configured to protect the data that is most important or confidential within your company, to best prevent cyber attacks.

The way this security is provided depends on the individual cloud provider or solutions that are in place within an organisation.

However, despite having cloud security in place, some companies may still fall victim to cyber attacks, hence why it is essential to be aware of the risks out there.

Therefore, we have listed the top 10 risks to your cloud security infrastructure below so you can be prepared in the event of any cyber attack.

Keyboard keys with blue light underneath

1. Cloud Misconfiguration

Cloud misconfiguration isn’t as complicated as it sounds, as it’s basically another way of saying human set-up error.

When setting up cloud security, mistakes can be made such as incorrect access controls, incorrect asset set up, or exposed credentials, and this is one of the top problems for cloud security systems.

This is as simple as forgetting to check a box when setting up your cloud security, and before you know it your network is flooded with hackers.

You need to consistently monitor cloud configuration and it’s worth having a second pair of eyes to check over all of the access and set-up controls to check everything is aligned with the company’s security goals.

2. Denial of Service (DoS)

Any cloud environments need access to internet connection, so this means they are always going to be susceptible to attacks.

As with any type of security, cloud security systems can be threatened by attacks such as:

  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Password attacks
  • Zero-day Export
  • SQL Injections

However, the most likely attacks to occur when it comes to the cloud are Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and these attackers in particular can flood a cloud network altogether.

The goal of these attacks is to flood a site and make a resource or website’s content unavailable. A DoS attack uses one system to flood a site, whereas a DDoS uses multiple systems to flood a site.

The end goal is to slow down the website traffic or interrupt it altogether, and this means not only is information unavailable to those visiting a website, it is unavailable to your company too.

To mitigate these attacks you should restrict access to your network, and have a baseline of traffic so you can easily notice when traffic increases and identify if it is a DoS or DDoS attack.

3. Insecure API’s

API’s or Application Programming Interfaces, typically interact with cloud applications and unfortunately they often hold vulnerabilities.

For example, API’s may be used in conjunction with your cloud security network and due to their vulnerabilities, they can bring attackers in with them.

Vulnerabilities usually stem from lack of authentication, and therefore your network can become open to anyone, good or bad.

Therefore, it can be said that API’s can punch holes into your environment’s defence without necessarily knowing it.

It’s important to ensure your company’s IT team verifies every external application that teams plan to use and bring into your network, as this way vulnerabilities can be detected before they enter.

man coding on computer

4. Lack of Cloud Security Architecture or Strategy

Organisations can often jump into the cloud without a solid architecture or cyber security strategy in place.

However, without policies and procedures in place, you may find yourself at a loss in the event of an attack, unsure how to mitigate threats, or without the right resources or trained employees.

It is important to understand the threats you are exposed to when using the cloud, as issues can arise such as data loss, financial loss, reputational damage, or legal and compliance issues.

5. Insider Threats

Insider attacks can be malicious or unintentional, but either way they can still cause as much harm as an external attack on the cloud security in place.

Therefore, adequate training is key in order to make employees aware of how they can cause harm whether it’s accidental or not!

Ultimately, if your employees have access to confidential company information, then they have the ability to steal that information.

Hence why it’s important to ensure that all employees are given limited access to files, as you can always grant further access to content if needed.

If you grant full access to employees straight away, it’s too late to take that access away and you may be at risk of an inside attack.

6. Data Breaches

Data breaches can pose a huge risk to not only company data, but equally to the reputation of companies.

The effects of a data breach can be irreversible in some cases, hence why its essential to be prepared and know exactly what occurs during an attack of this kind

Data breaches occur when sensitive information is no longer in your possession without your permission, and this is valuable for hackers.

Important, private, or confidential information is what attackers are looking for and therefore will take anything they can find to use against your company, or spread elsewhere online.

Row of padlocks

7. Limited Visibility

When companies or organisations move their data or information over to the cloud, they in turn forfeit a level of visibility into network operations.

This is because all of the responsibilities are no longer tied to the organisation’s cyber security team, but instead some of these responsibilities move over to the cloud service provider.

Therefore, this limits the visibility of some workloads that are in the cloud, so it’s vital to ensure your accessibility controls are set accordingly. You must ensure that the relevant team members can still access files and monitor them regardless of the use of cloud security.

8. Data Loss

We have touched on data breaches above which involve attackers stealing data and either demanding a ransom or leaking the information elsewhere.

Data loss is a slightly different risk as data can be altered, deleted, or the access can be changed leading to the original owner no longer having access to the data

Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail:

  • Data alteration – this involves data being manipulated in some way so that it cannot be reverted to its original state.
  • Data deletion – this involves the accidental or purposeful deletion of data with no backup copies to restore and usually happens due to human error or malicious intent.
  • Loss of access – this risk occurs when data is still within the system but no longer available to access due to the change of credentials or ownership of the files.

Data loss isn’t always a risk that occurs from malicious intent, as sometimes deletion, alteration or loss of access can be a genuine mistake on the part of an employee.

However, it is still a risk nonetheless and can result in data that can’t be retrieved or accessed in the future.

9. System Vulnerabilities

There can often be vulnerabilities within a cloud security provider that can increase the chances of disruption, penetration, and compromise the confidentiality of your data.

These vulnerabilities can include anything from weak credentials, to incorrect access settings, and often make it easier for attackers to get into your system and conduct an attack

This is a risk that can be a result of human error, therefore it is vital to ensure you are scanning for vulnerabilities regularly to catch anything that has been missed during the setup process.

hands on keyboard

10. Organised Crime and Hackers

Cyber criminals choose their targets based on the profitability of an attack.

For example, an attacker’s first choice may be a banking service, or company that is known to be wealthy, as the chances are if they manage to hack into a network they will end up stealing larger sums of money.

However, cloud based infrastructure is accessible through the internet, is often insecure, and can contain a lot of sensitive information and private data.

Therefore, as many people use the cloud, this makes it more likely that hackers can be disguised behind the large online population, and attacks can be repeated without victims finding out who they are.

Therefore, those using the cloud can often become high priority targets.

How to Manage Cloud Security Risks

Although the list of risks to cloud security may seem lengthy, there are a few things you can do to help prevent them.

Ultimately, your organisation is in charge of the settings and set up of a cloud security provider, and therefore it is easier to ensure that access is limited and files are protected based on your business requirements.

There are a few ways you can ensure that your information remains safe, such as:

  • Authentication processes – when allowing employees to access protected or confidential files, it is important to ensure you have an authentication process in place. Whether this requires approval from a team manager, or two-steps such as a password and one-time passcode, this will ensure that data is only accessed by those with the correct credentials.
  • Strong passwords and credentials – it is important that across your company different usernames and passwords are used for different accounts, as hackers can easily identify passwords by trying to log in using commonly used words and phrases.
  • Back up important data – backing up your data is essential to prevent data loss and in some cases the risk of human error, as this process ensures that you always have copies of confidential data to refer back to if something happens to the original file.

This is not an exhaustive list of the things you can do to protect your company data and prevent cloud security risks, however it is a good starting point in creating a stronger network overall.

The Top 10 Cloud Security Risks

Although cloud security will decrease the chances of a cyber attack upon your company, hackers are still able to penetrate into your network, steal your data, and ruin the reputation of your business.

Therefore, we hope this list has shed some light upon some of the main risks to be aware of if you have cloud security in place, from insider attacks, to poor security architecture.

Although cloud security providers can do a lot of the work for you, it is still up to you and your team to ensure that credentials, access settings, and general set up of the security is fit for purpose and safe from attackers.

Here at TLR we can support you and your team in conducting assessments and identifying and removing cloud security risks. We have a range of services including penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and even team training to help you prepare for any kind of attack.

If you require some help when it comes to mitigating risks within your cloud security, get in touch with our team to see how we can help!

Become cyber resilient

Get in touch today to see how we can make you more cyber resilient. Empowering you to lead from the front.

Written by

Dave Roberts