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Cloud vulnerabilities, Security, and the Impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on cloud services

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If you’re a Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, or Gmail user, you’re already using “cloud computing” but you’re simply not aware of it…

If you’re a Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, or Gmail user, you’re already using “cloud computing” but you’re simply not aware of it. In recent years, cloud computing has become an unavoidable buzzword, so what exactly is this nebulous concept? The “cloud” refers to a worldwide network of servers that acts as a large storage device. Consider this scenario: if your computer, which has all of your information saved on its hard drives, suddenly stops working, or if the physical storage devices that you’ve been using to store your data are lost or broken, you’d start panicking. Here’s when the cloud comes into play. So, cloud computing refers to sharing of infrastructure, software, and data over a network (internet connection). These services are stored on physical or virtual servers hosted and managed by cloud service providers like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure. The cloud service providers will only charge you for the requested resources, and voilà! The required service is now accessible and ready to use.

The global pandemic, and the resulting spike in remote work, have propelled a tremendous drive to the cloud in the last year. We now know that all cloud service providers have access to sensitive data, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding these resources against various cyber attackers/hackers. Our cloud is highly vulnerable to various attacks on the internet and that brings us to our next question

What are the various types of attacks that harm our cloud and render it vulnerable? 

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Let’s start by explaining some of the different types of attacks and cloud vulnerabilities present that render our cloud insecure and unsafe to use. 

  • Dos attacks: DoS attacks are targeted to overload a system and prevent users from accessing services. Cloud computing platforms are particularly vulnerable to these threats. The cloud infrastructure becomes slower, and genuine users lose access to their cloud services. Flooding even a single cloud server might cause problems for users.
  • Man-in-the-cloud attacks: Using “man-in-the-cloud” assaults, hackers may steal data and get access to users’ Drives and all the documents they contain. It’s a major concern for firms and customers, especially since these assaults don’t entail compromising passwords, malicious code, or vulnerabilities. Instead, thieves enter end-user PCs and steal synchronization tokens from the registry, which they then distribute to various devices.
  • Insider threats: A malicious user from within an organization who makes use of valid credentials to steal information for monetary or personal gains. Because they are familiar with an organization’s security rules and processes, as well as its vulnerabilities, insiders have an edge over other attackers.  These attacks have rendered our cloud untrustworthy and dangerous to use, and companies are the ones that bear the brunt of the damage, as all critical client data gets lost or stolen.
  • System Vulnerabilities: System vulnerabilities are another prevalent type of cloud security flaw, and they can emerge for a variety of reasons. System dangers could occur through the incorporation of an insecure third-party application, or from improperly configured security tools within your cloud systems.

How can we safeguard our cloud and avoid vulnerabilities?

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  • Identity access management: To authorize access, a multifactor authentication mechanism should be deployed. We accomplish this by using tools like identity access management and access control lists.
  • Compliance: Existing compliance regulations and procedures should be expanded to accommodate cloud-based data and applications.
  • Risk assessment: The various types of risks that exist must be analyzed and assessed regularly to promptly identify and respond to these risks before they can compromise our cloud. Intrusion detection systems, for example, must be deployed.
  • Client-side encryption: While most cloud services simply encrypt data at rest, only client-side encryption can ensure your files’ privacy. Client-side encryption ensures that your data is encrypted from the moment it is sent until it is received. Any servers it passes through on its way to its destination won’t be able to read it since they won’t be able to decrypt it — only the intended receiver will be able to decrypt it using their key.
  • Network segmentation: You should determine, analyze, and segregate customer data from your own in SaaS environments.
  • Password control: Your team should never allow shared passwords.  To achieve the highest level of security, use passwords in conjunction with authentication tools.
  • Users and administrators You must be trained on cloud security technologies and how to implement them for maximum security.

How has the Russia-Ukraine war impacted cloud-based services?

We all know that the Russia-Ukraine situation has been the most crucial topic of discussion in 2022. The world is in turmoil as a result of the tragic conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to research, Ukraine’s IT outsourcing business is used by one out of every five Fortune 500 organizations. As the cloud becomes the standard IT model for businesses, it has also inevitably become the target of cyber-attacks. Experts claim that data kept in the cloud is just as insecure as data stored on on-premise computers. A DDoS assault, which experts suspect was launched by Russia, knocked off several websites of Ukraine’s banks and government organizations. But this was only the beginning of the two countries’ cyber warfare.

Many fear that cyber-attackers may take advantage of the current situation to disrupt, damage, or destroy crucial IT infrastructure in the midst of continuing cyber warfare. It’s not uncommon for fleets of cybercriminals and exploiters to target overburdened public, corporate, and common user databases, which are already on high alert. Imagine how much damage a business might suffer (in terms of business, data privacy, and confidence) if its internal networks were hacked and left stranded for a few minutes. The current remote work paradigm has amplified security issues. Organizations are already coping with a flood of personal endpoints, or devices, that are connected to their core official networks from a variety of locations.

Data centers are always a top target for cybercriminals since they house millions of businesses, tens of thousands of major ones, hundreds of cloud platforms, and hundreds of government databases.

Investing in and integrating the most modern, military-grade security frameworks for ultimate safety is always vital when it comes to data center service providers, war or no war.

Best practices to follow:

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The difficulty for most businesses will be to ensure that they are prepared to cope with the large number of cyber-attacks that may occur during this period. So, what should businesses do if it’s too late?

  1.  Be Ready to Respond Quickly: Organizations must have designated points of contact in key areas in the event of a cybersecurity incident or critical infrastructure interruption.
  2. Patching essential software: Businesses should make sure that all of their programs, systems, operating systems, and databases are patched and updated to address the most recent vulnerabilities.
  3.  Testing: It is vital to test backup and recovery plans, as well as the continuity of operations if a network or other critical systems are disabled as a result of the assault.

To reap the benefits of cloud computing, we must use our expertise to establish a cloud security strategy that best suits our requirements, and work on protecting our cloud as much as we can. Since everything around us is now digitized, we must educate ourselves and update our skill sets to protect our resources; otherwise, we must be prepared to suffer the repercussions.

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