The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on IT networks and cybersecurity strategy. While the first phase of the crisis saw many organizations rushing to setup systems to enable effective remote work, they are still confronting the security challenges that come along with these arrangements. One area that they should be monitoring closely in the coming months is cloud security. Without the right strategies in place to address the unique characteristics of the cloud, organizations could be exposing themselves to substantial risk.
What is Cloud Security?
With so many organizations shifting to remote work arrangements, cloud computing has seen a significant spike in demand. In many ways, the cloud is the perfect platform for this time of uncertainty. Capacity is easy to adjust, allowing organizations to right-size their network infrastructure to meet their needs at any given moment.
Keeping those networks secure, however, is a different challenge. Public cloud computing services make an enticing target for cybercriminals looking to disrupt services or compromise data. While the leading cloud computing platforms provide high levels of cybersecurity to protect their shared networks from an external cyberattack, there are other ways that cloud security could be compromised.
Any organization making use of cloud computing needs to make sure it has the right cloud security solutions in place to protect essential data and applications from threats related to COVID-19.
3 Ways COVID-19 is Affecting Cloud Security
1. DDoS Attacks
Long one of the most feared and widespread forms of cyberattack, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are easy to launch and can be quite devastating if a network doesn’t have the right mitigation strategies in place to combat them. With organizations relying upon cloud services more than ever, those same platforms are becoming increasingly attractive targets. If there was any doubt over whether the coronavirus pandemic would cause hackers to scale back their attempts to disrupt essential networks, the DDoS attack launched against the US Department of Health and Human Services should put them to rest.
2. Phishing Malware
Of course, one of the most effective ways hackers have used COVID-19 to exploit cloud security has been through phishing scams. Posing as legitimate messages from health authorities or government agencies, these messages leverage coronavirus anxieties to convince recipients to click on malicious links or download attachments infected with malware. This is especially damaging on cloud networks, where the malware can quickly spread through the system to compromise data and cripple essential applications.
3. Cloud Sprawl
When organizations adopt cloud computing platforms, they often fail to put proper IT governance policies in place to ensure that those resources are being used in the most efficient and secure way. Since cloud resources are so easy to provision, employees and entire departments can set up virtual servers and storage that may go unused or abandoned entirely. These dormant assets may be segregated from other areas of the network or contain no data, but their existence can create a serious security threat if no one knows to account for them. Some of these assets may contain latent security risks due to improper configurations, and at the very least, they create another potential attack vector for hackers to exploit. The rapid shift to remote work due to COVID-19 has caused many companies to adopt cloud computing solutions without putting much thought into how they’re managed, which increases the likelihood that remote employees may inadvertently be creating security risks as they contribute to cloud sprawl.
3 Best Practices to Keep Your Cloud Data Secure During COVID-19
1. Use Automated Security Tools
While most leading public cloud platforms have strong security teams in place to protect their networks, the sheer scope of their operations makes it difficult for them to address the specific needs of individual customers. That’s why any organization using cloud computing needs to deploy the same automated security tools they would use to protect their private networks. Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing can help identify weak points and respond to incidents more effectively. When it comes to DDoS attacks, there are a variety of mitigation strategies that can be deployed to enhance cloud security architecture and keep essential systems up and running even in the event of an attack.
2. Cloud Security Training
When it comes to COVID-19 cyber scams like phishing attacks, cloud security training is one of the most effective forms of risk management. Employees need to be kept up-to-date on the latest threats and strategies being used to compromise security. They should know what to do when a security incident does occur and should have a clear idea of what their obligations are when it comes to managing sensitive data. Education is a key aspect of good IT governance, establishing rules for how cloud computing assets should be utilized in order to avoid cloud sprawl and maintain high levels of cloud security.
3. Get Your Configurations Right
A recent survey of IT professionals found that 92% of them are concerned that their organization may be vulnerable to a data breach due to cloud misconfiguration. These cloud security gaps generally form due to a lack of security awareness, poorly defined or implemented controls, or a general lack of oversight. Remote work environments are particularly vulnerable to this problem since IT departments may not be able to directly implement cloud security solutions. When transitioning to cloud-based remote work, it’s critically important for an organization to establish a plan for governance and oversight to maintain effective cloud security architecture.
Experience Unmatched Cloud Security with DSM!
As Florida’s preferred cloud provider, DSM has seen just about every form of cloud deployment imaginable, ranging from simple public cloud networks to the most complex hybrid IT environments that combine virtual private clouds with public cloud platforms. Our cloud security services can help your organization develop a cloud strategy that not only helps you overcome the challenges COVID-19 has imposed on the workplace, but also ensure that your cloud deployment will incorporate the very best practices when it comes to cloud security. To learn more about how DSM can make your journey to the cloud as secure as possible, contact our team of cloud security experts today.