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📖 6 mins read

A brand new decade just started, which means new 10-year-visions and lists of resolutions will soon begin.

One thing is changing though, and it’s that most people are now moving towards digitized formats of EVERYTHING, even to-do, shopping and resolution lists. This phenomenon is only a simple indication of how much the way we store, protect and consume our data is massively changing and expanding.

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Think about it, we’re generating digital data more than ever before—billions to be roughly exact. With that, the need for efficient data storage solutions like the cloud will continue to boom. Thereby, protecting such data from things like data leakageloss and damage will remain a pivotal security concern.

Security is one of the top reasons some companies are reluctant towards moving to the cloud. Meanwhile, the cloud  holds a wealth of benefits that make it the most efficient data solution of our time. To reap those great benefits, businesses need to stay well informed on how to identify and address data security threats in an effective and timely manner.

This year, as you plan ahead and review your company’s goals, cloud data security is a solid must-add item on that list.

What is Cloud Data Security and Why is it Important?

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Cloud data security covers crucial things including data integrityintellectual property, and customer data, all of which, in case of a breach, can have irreparable consequences on all your other efforts.

If we dig deeper into the subject, we’ll find that the most chilling data breaches that make it to news headlines are usually caused by an  outsider attack. Such attacks are typically carried out by competitors or hackers looking for financial gain.

While such breaches can cost up to millions of dollars, the good news is, compared to insider attacks, they are much easier to detect and address using the right security tools and practices.

So how do you hone your cloud security game for the new year then ☁️? 

For starters, understanding the nature of the threat helps you manage the risk more effectively.

Your cloud security can generally be divided into insider threats and outsider threats. In this blog post we’ll exclusively go through the top 6 outsider attacks to watch out for moving into 2020.

(Also, check our list of insider threats here to make sure you block every threat gateway to your cloud data).

Let’s launch an onslaught on those outsider cyber attacks before they target us, shall we?

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1. Password Hacking 🦹: 

Basic old-fashioned password hacking remains one of the most common outsider attacks in cloud environments.

Things like crackable passwords, weak access security systems and insider vulnerabilities make your cloud environment rip for outsider attacks.

  • Here are a few pointers to get you ahead of hackers:

a. First, use strong passwords and change them more often. This reduces the chances of success from brute force attacks.

‘A weak password is a burglar’s favourite house lock’ — You’ll want to make that a solid mantra at your organization.

b. How about adding another set of titanium locks by enforcing Multifactor Authentication (MFA)? 

MFA dramatically enhances log-in security beyond just email and password:

    1.  Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) adds a second layer of protection to users’ accounts, thereby enhancing log-in security.
    2. Three Factor Authentications (3FAs) takes 2FA to the next level of log-in security. It’s extremely unlikely for a hacker to guess or steal all three elements involved in 3FA, which makes for an even more secure log in.

Bonus Tip for Google Workspace and Chrome environments: Constant identity verification tools like GAT’s Active ID are the latest innovation in cloud security, taking the verification process literally to your employees’ fingertips.

c. Never disclose passwords to anyone, ever. Yes, even real technical support specialists only need need minimal identifying information to tackle your issue.

2. Ransomware Spreading into the Cloud ☁️: 

Ransomware is a type of outsider attack that operates on the well-known concept of extortion — ‘Digital extortion’.

And just like any extortion scheme, here the attacker steals your data and holds it until a certain ransom is paid. Yikes, right?

Ransomware attacks usually target organizations that are more likely to pay higher ransoms. In fact, Finance, Insurance, Hospitals and Energy sectors are at the top of the list for Ransomware targeted sectors. Meanwhile, Shared files in the cloud are currently a top ransomware target.

Ransomware results in operational paralysis, the inability to recover backed-up data, and reputational damage, which can be devastating for organisations that store their data in the cloud.

3. Cloud Account Hijacking 🤖: 

Cloud hijacking is another type of common outsider attack in which an individual or organization’s cloud account or domain is stolen or hijacked by an attacker.

Account hijackers prey on compromised credentials to access and hijack cloud accounts.

Risks? Well, the Cloud Security Alliance rated service traffic hijacking as the third-greatest cloud computing security risk.

Cloud account hijacking incidents can result in data leakage, the use of falsified information, loss of reputation and may even bear catastrophic legal implications, depending on what the attacker does with the information.

So how do you limit the risk of Cloud Account Hijacking?

  1. Be extra vigilant when choosing Cloud Service Providers: Check things like how the service provider monitors and manages vulnerabilities and the number of data breach  incidents they experienced.
  2. Enforce the practice MFA for your cloud users, including 2FA and 3FA methods mentioned above.
  3. Data Loss Protection (DLP) tools like GAT Shield coupled by constant active verification tools like Active ID  and are ideal solutions to combat and mitigate cloud account hijacking attacks.
  4. Always encrypt sensitive data before moving it to the cloud.

4. Phishing Scams 👥:

Ah, those sneaky phishing scams! Phishing is based on the concept of  ‘deception’ where the attacker uses disguised emails, apps and websites to scam recipients, gather personal information and access sensitive data.

This is actually one of the most sophisticated cloud security threats as the attacker usually plays on the recipient’s sense of ‘urgency’ and uses carefully targeted mind gaming tactics.

For instance, a well drafted yet fake email warning you that your account will be suspended unless you take a certain action. That’s one of the most common forms of phishing.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Phishing attackers usually target the following information:
  1. Usernames and passwords, including password changes
  2. SSNs (Social Security numbers)
  3. Bank account numbers
  4. PINs (Personal Identification Numbers)
  5. Credit card numbers
  6. Your mother’s maiden name
  7. Your birthday
  8. Your cloud data
  • When you receive a suspicious email, check the following things before taking any risky action:
  1. Ensure that the email address and the sender’s name match.
  2. Check if the email is authenticated.
  3. Hover over any links before you click on them. If the URL of the link doesn’t match the description of the link, it might be leading you to a phishing site.
  4. Check the message headers to make sure the “from” header isn’t showing an incorrect name.
  • Fake Apps are another new trending phishing threat, especially for cloud environments. Once a user accepts the permission requests of a malicious app, the hacker has access to their account, data and will likely have full control.

Cloud security

* Checkout Jigsaw’s Phishing quiz and test your email phishing spotting skills now (It’s pretty fun too)!

5. Spyware 🕵️:

Well, the name tells the story here. A spyware attack is like a regular ‘spy’ in the conventional sense. It accesses your system to collect and share your cloud data with the attacker without your knowledge.

How does it get in?  

It either accesses your data as a hidden component of a genuine software or through traditional things like deceptive ads, websites, email, instant messages, as well as direct file-sharing connections.

Spywares are very hard to detect. They use a variety of techniques to communicate back to the attacker in a way that won’t illicit the suspicion of your security teams.

Here is what you can do to about it:

  1. Monitoring Login Behaviour: Lookout for logins from unusual physical locations you or your employees have never been to.
    ** GAT makes monitoring cloud login behaviour in Google domains much more effective using several metrics, source, volume, success, failures, etc. to give you the big-picture view of worldwide access to your domain.
  2. Conduct a regular assessment of authorized devices and installed apps.
  3. Prevent ‘High Risk’ Apps from accessing your domain. 
    ** GAT+  is the best tool to protect your Google Workspace APIs from harmful high risk apps. You can view accurate app risk scores, create BAN policies and more.
  4. Invest in a strong cloud security tool to detect and respond to concealed spywares in a timely and effective manner.

6. Domain-wide Spoofing ☠️:

Spoofing is another common form of deceit-based phishing attacks in which the attacker appears to be using a company’s domain to impersonate it or any of its employees. 

This type of attack is very common in cloud environments whereby the attacker successfully bypasses access controls through deceit and steals crucial data stored on your cloud.

In fact, according to the FTC, over 96% of companies in business today have incurred a domain spoofing attack in one form or another.

That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to have the right security practices and tools in place to protect themselves against such threats that can wreak havoc with their cloud data and security.

Cloud-security

And that’s pretty much it for now folks! Remember, solid security infrastructures, robust cloud security tools, regular employee training, and firm security policies can save you the most from vicious outsiders targeting your cloud resources.

Make sure to stay up to date on emerging threats and always have the right tools and practices in place to fend off those sly outsiders.

Thanks for sharing and spreading the word!