The Cloud Security Risks Hidden in Plain Sight

There are two popular attitudes about cloud security, and both of them are wrong.

One belief is that putting data in the cloud amounts to putting it on the public internet for anyone to access. Therefore, the only way to keep data safe is to keep it at home and out of the cloud altogether. The opposite belief is that cloud providers cover their own bases well because they have to, meaning that while data in the cloud may pose security challenges, it is no longer your problem.

Simple Errors Lead to Cloud Security Risks

The real truth is more subtle and complex — and so are your cloud security needs. The challenges are out there in plain sight, but many enterprises ignore cloud security risks.

As Infosec Island reported, one key Wall Street firm got its cloud security wake-up call in May when it learned that a bucket permission error allowed any client of the cloud service to access account details belonging to 2.2 million customers. As it turned out, the bucket’s permission structure had been set up incorrectly.

This is the kind of simple error that anyone could make, which is exactly the point. No level of precaution by the cloud provider can eliminate these risks because they are inherent to the relationship between provider and cloud user.

Be Responsible for Your Own Cloud Security

Wherever and however you store your data, you need to provide a means for your own authorized users to access and modify that data. After all, that’s what the data is for. No cloud provider can relieve you of that responsibility because only you can specify the permissions for access. You must ensure that the permissions you grant are only the ones you intend to grant.

Cloud security risks are complex because, in the interconnected world of layered services, multiple third parties may have a role in managing your data. Data owners must be ready to answer questions such as:

  • What security policies do vendors have in place?
  • Do they use contractors who may have access to the data?
  • Where is the data actually stored?
  • What other business relationships do vendors have that could provide additional parties with access to the data?

Services that can automate and manage your third-party risk management process can solve part of the problem. Of course, it’s just as important to manage these services responsibly. After all, it is still your data, and security lapses will end up at your door.

Read the white paper: Address six essential concerns of cloud security to build your business

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Rick Robinson is a writer and blogger, with a current 'day job' focus on the tech industry and a particular interest in the interplay of tech-driven factors and business considerations - think of the relationship between virtualization and cloud computing. Rick also blogs at Rocketpunk Manifesto on outer space, possible futures, speculative technology, and speculative literature. He has also had print articles published on aviation and military history.