While the cloud provides organizations with a host of cost and efficiency benefits, it also brings with it some concerns, specifically surrounding data security and accessibility.
Cybercriminals seek to disrupt and profit from everyday operations through attacks designed to steal data or limit access to data by leveraging endpoints, applications, email, known and unknown vulnerabilities, and more as entryways.
Consequences of A Cloud Data Breach
These attacks present immense risks to organizations on several fronts. A successful attack on an organization’s cloud will affect productivity, as resources are reallocated to investigate the breach, determine its cause, and patch security gaps.
A breach can also impact brand reputation, and therefore revenue, as consumers are less willing to trust compromised organizations with their data. Finally, a successful breach can affect organizations from a compliance perspective.
As cyberattacks have become more common, there are increased regulations regarding the level of protection that must be in place to secure consumer data. Thus, a successful attack can indicate non-compliance, which is often accompanied by a fine.
Though cloud providers have equipped their services with various defenses, organizations are not without responsibility. Cloud providers secure the cloud, but organizations are responsible for securing the applications, workloads, and data maintained within it. This requires constant monitoring of the network and visibility into data use and movement.
To mitigate these risks and ensure security within the cloud, organizations have spent resources to build IT security teams with the skills, systems and tools to detect and remediate threats. Unfortunately, these team members cannot be present 100 percent of the time and the summer months are typically when vigilance is lowest.
Heightened Cloud Security Risks During Summer
While enterprise IT teams must always be vigilant of looming threats, data is at especially increased risk during the summer and holiday seasons for a myriad of reasons. For example, employees that are traveling or working remotely may be using insecure networks to access the organization’s cloud. Additionally, when out of the office employees may use personal devices that are not subject to the same security standards as those owned by the organization. Outdated applications or operating systems could have vulnerabilities that can be leveraged by cybercriminals to gain access to the cloud.
Organizations are also at increased risk for breach as members of the IT and security teams might be out of the office, and therefore not focused on conducting regular security checks and maintenance. For example, last summer the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks swept the globe, impacting companies across industries to great detriment. Both of these attacks were proliferated through the EternalBlue exploit, which leveraged a Windows vulnerability. Though a patch for this vulnerability had been made available months before these attacks, many organizations had not yet administered it, leaving them susceptible.
Ransomware attacks such as these can be especially damaging to enterprises, as even if they pay the ransom, it is hard to guarantee that data has not been altered or copied while in control of the malicious party. This is one reason data backups are so important.
Steps to Cyber Defense During the Summer
Before leaving the office for a vacation, there are a few steps that IT teams should take to ensure data stored within the cloud remains secure.
1. Make sure you have coverage
When out of the office, IT teams must ensure the network is monitored for suspicious activity that might indicate an attack. Depending on the size of your team, it might make sense to enlist a managed security service provider. It is challenging, and not always practical, to have full redundancy on your security team. Having an MSP that is up-to-speed and aware of your environment can be a big help.Before leaving, review your organization’s security protocols with your MSP. This will give you peace of mind that your cloud environment is being monitored across endpoints, applications, and the perimeter, ensuring your team is being alerted when they must respond to incidents.
2. Ensure cloud backup
As organizations increasingly move their data into multiple clouds, regular, secure backups are necessary to ensure data is always available. For example, in the event of a ransomware attack, having a recent backup allows data retrieval without having to pay.For the best visibility, security teams should back up all of their data, stored across the multi-cloud environment and on premises, to one centralized storage point. Enlisting an enterprise class backup vendor allows IT teams to securely back data up with single pane of glass visibility and time-based roll back capabilities in the event of a breach.
3. Administer patches
Before logging off for a summer trip, security professionals must review their solution stack, operating systems, applications, and devices to ensure that all known vulnerabilities have been patched. This will protect your network from situations similar to those of WannaCry and NotPetya which exploited known vulnerabilities.With a team you trust monitoring your cloud security program, your data securely backed up across cloud environments and on-premises instances, and known vulnerabilities patched, your corporate network has the necessary defenses in place during your absence.
As cyberattacks persist, organizations need to ensure that the data they have stored in the cloud is secured and backed up. This mitigates security risks while keeping data accessible. To ensure a high-level of security is maintained, security teams should consider working with a managed security service provider to monitor traffic and data movement within the network during common vacation seasons.