What Is Cloud Security? What Are The Threats And Challenges?

Cloud Security

Cloud security has gained a lot of importance over the past year, especially since cloud adoption became a hot topic after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The popularity is because the cloud offers greater flexibility and efficiency at lower costs. The preference for cloud security companies is so great that after being valued at USD 29.5 billion in 2020, the cloud security software market is expected to go beyond USD 37 billion in 2026!

This market’s products and services protect cloud resources with a collection of technologies and policies that protect data while guaranteeing regulatory compliance.  Issues of privacy, access, data security, and backup become crucial as cloud computing technology resources are shared by a large number of people,.

What is cloud security?

cloud security

Cloud security is a discipline concerned with the protection of digital assets stored on cloud computing platforms. It refers to the protocols, technology and best practices involved in protecting cloud computing infrastructures, applications running in the cloud, and data held in the cloud from internal and external cybersecurity risks. Cloud computing, or the transmission of information technology services online, has become a necessity for organizations, governments, and individuals looking to boost innovation and cooperation. To keep data and applications in the cloud safe from current and upcoming cybersecurity threats, cloud security and security management best practices to prevent unauthorized access are required.

It is primarily designed to protect components like physical networks, data storage and servers, computer virtualization frameworks, execution and upkeep of running programs, operating systems, applications, end-user hardware, and middleware.

Components of cloud security

Components of cloud security

Its scope involves the following :

  • Data security– involves threat prevention at a technical level. Encryption is said to be one of the best cloud security tools.
  • Identity and access management– deals with access privileges for user accounts to stop unauthorized or malicious access. Multi-factor authentication and password managers are good examples of access management tools.
  • Governance– deals with policies for preventing, detecting, and mitigating cybersecurity threats. Rules for safe use and protocols for threat response are some good examples.
  • Retention of data and business continuity planning– deals with the recovery measures required in a data loss event. Regular backups and systems to ensure uninterrupted operations and detailed employee instructions for backup and recovery are critical to data recovery and business continuity plan
  • Legal compliance– involves legally mandated user privacy protection. Data masking, which uses encryption, is one of the methods to protect user information.

How it works


The responsibility for cloud computing security is generally shared between the customer and the service provider. Here, all parties must consider how their obligations and responsibilities can be shared, as it is related to risk management involving the scrutiny of the information being handled. These factors determine the cloud security architecture, which could involve encryption methods and key management.

While the customer must manage the users and cloud accounts in such a way that unauthorized access is avoided, the cloud provider is duty-bound to secure the cloud infrastructure. Keep in mind that the responsibility depends on the service model in use. If the customer is using managed or software as a service (SaaS) level services, then they have lesser responsibility when compared to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).

Cloud security measures generally work to achieve data recovery, protect storage and networks, deter human error or negligence, and reduce the impact of data or system breaches.

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What are the major data security concerns?

data security

The relatively high number of attacks on clouds around the world demonstrates the need for appropriate cloud security solutions. Security concerns are becoming increasingly important as enterprises around the world continue to transfer workloads to the cloud. A study conducted by statista.com in 2021 found that 64 per cent of the global respondents cited data loss/leakage as their top cloud security concern. Meanwhile, data privacy and confidentiality and unintentional disclosure of credentials ranked second and third, respectively.   

Types of cloud security threats

security threats
  • Data breach– this is when individuals who aren’t authorized gain access to cloud systems and mess with the data stored there. The safety of the organization can’t be assured once these individuals gain access. The main cause of data breaches is human error. Employees must be given sufficient cybersecurity education on the protection of data so that this risk is mitigated. 
  • Account hijacking cloud account hijacking can have severe consequences for organizations like falsification of information, data leaks, etc. Once they hijack your cloud account, hackers can damage a company’s reputation and customer relationships. Companies can also face legal charges if the affected customers decide to sue.
  • internal threats– when authorized personnel access an organization’s cloud systems, either unintentionally or with malicious intent and cause harm. Internal threats are far greater than outside hackers because they are far harder to identify.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attackswhen cybercriminals flood a cloud system with more traffic than it can handle at its peak, causing operations to stall. Business ceases to function when internal users and customers are unable to access the system.
  • Misconfigurationone of the greatest cloud computing security threats, it commonly occurs because of attempts to make cloud data shareable and accessible
  • Insecure user interfaces and APIs software user interfaces and APIs that are usually responsible for providing, monitoring, and managing cloud services. Cloud service companies provide APIs to programmers using a certain framework, making their systems more vulnerable to hackers. As a result, organizations run the risk of unauthorized access, password reuse, and anonymous access.

What are the challenges?

security challenges

Cloud security services are essential when it comes to authenticating a user’s access to  devices, networks, and apps. Because cloud threats are becoming more sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to have the correct security measures in place to avoid unauthorized access, compromised accounts, and data breaches. Because data in the public cloud is maintained by a third party and accessed through the internet, maintaining a safe cloud poses various issues.

  • Visibility into cloud data and shadow IT– Cloud services, in many cases, are accessible outside of the corporate network and from devices that are not maintained by IT, necessitating full visibility of data by the IT team, as opposed to traditional network traffic monitoring methods. Anyone can easily subscribe to SaaS services or create new instances and environments using cloud computing. To get authorization for, and subscribe to, new cloud services or create new instances, strict use policies must be observed.
  • Lack of controlIn a third-party cloud service provider’s environment, or when leasing a public cloud service, companies don’t own the hardware, software, or applications that the cloud services run on. Customers of cloud security services are given restricted control, meaning that the IT teams have less access to data or the underlying physical infrastructure.
  • Data transfer– Databases, applications, and other services are frequently integrated and interfaced with cloud applications. An application programming interface (API) is often used to accomplish this, therefore making it critical to know which programs and personnel have access to API data, as well as encrypting any sensitive data.
  • Default credentials– Embedded and/or default credentials may be present in cloud apps. Default credentials represent a higher risk since attackers may be able to guess them. These credentials must be managed in the same way that other forms of privileged credentials.
  • Misconfiguration Cloud-native breaches are frequently the result of a cloud customer’s security responsibility, which includes the cloud service’s setting. According to research, only 26% of businesses can presently audit their IaaS infrastructures for configuration issues. IaaS misconfiguration is frequently used as the entry point for a Cloud-native breach, allowing the attacker to successfully land and subsequently extend and exfiltrate data. According to research, 99 per cent of misconfigurations in IaaS go unreported by cloud clients.
  • Incompatibilities– IT technologies that were designed for on-premise or one type of cloud are typically incompatible with different cloud settings. Misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, data leaks, excessive privileged access, and compliance difficulties can all be caused by incompatibilities, leaving firms vulnerable to misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, data leaks, and compliance issues.
  • External attackers– Exploiting cloud vulnerabilities is a lucrative business for attackers. Rapid detection and a multi-layered security approach (firewalls, data encryption, vulnerability management, threat analytics, identity management, and so on) will help you reduce risk and be better prepared to respond in the event of an attack.
  • Multitenancy– It is the foundation for many of the cloud’s shared resource benefits (e.g., cost savings, flexibility), but it also raises concerns about data isolation and privacy.
  • Vulnerabilities of scalability– Cloud computing’s main advantages are automation and rapid scaling, but the downside is that vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and other security flaws can spread quickly and at scale. Cloud administrator consoles, for example, allow users to provision, configure, manage, and destroy servers at a huge scale quickly. Each of these virtual computers, on the other hand, comes with its own set of privileges and privileged accounts, which must be properly set up and managed. All of this is exacerbated in DevOps organizations, which are by their very nature fast-paced, highly automated, and tend to consider security as an afterthought.
  • Insider threats– Insider threats (whether caused by negligence or malice) take the longest to uncover and resolve, and they have the greatest potential for harm. To eliminate these dangers and reduce the harm they do (for example, by avoiding lateral movement and privilege escalation), a strong identity and access management framework, as well as effective privilege management technologies, are required.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Which are the best cloud security certifications?

1. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) by (ISC)² is one of the top cloud security certifications because it verifies that you have the updated technical knowledge and that you can create, manage, and secure apps, data, and infrastructure in the cloud by following industry best practices. It is one of the industry’s most difficult and cutting-edge examinations.

2. Professional Cloud Security Engineer by Google– measures your ability to assure compliance, data security, network security configuration, access control within a cloud solution environment, and cloud operation management. The certified professional can manage identity and access management (IAM), use technologies to provide data protection, manage incident responses, configure network security, gather logs, and define policies in all aspects of cloud security. The certification needs three years of industry experience as well as one year of designing and managing GCP solutions.

3. GIAC Cloud Security Automation (GCSA)– addresses modern DevSecOps approaches for building, designing, and reliably deploying systems and applications. It demonstrates that not only is your theory in cloud security automation sound, but you can also put DevSecOps principles into practice in an automated manner. This certification is targeted at DevOps, systems administrators, security analysts, and engineers who operate in the public cloud.

4. CompTIA Cloud+– certifies that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain, design, and optimise cloud infrastructure services. It emphasises cloud systems and technologies, and it requires a minimum of 2-3 years of system administration experience. Cloud+ certification is required for a number of positions, including cloud experts, network engineers, network administrators, system administrators, cloud engineers, cloud developers, and cloud product managers, among others. Troubleshooting, security, configuration, deployment, management, and maintenance are all required skills for this certification.

5. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)– designed for cloud-savvy professionals, it is widely acknowledged as a standard of expertise and practical knowledge in the field of cloud security. Professionals in information security jobs, such as managers, consultants, and security architects, should get this certificate to demonstrate their ability to effectively apply cloud-specific controls. The exam is open-book, and you can either study on your own or sign up for their thorough training.

What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

It is a market category for IT security products that identify cloud misconfiguration issues and compliance threats. One of the main goals of CSPM programming is to constantly analyze cloud infrastructure for security policy gaps.

Organizations that have embraced a cloud-first strategy and want to extend their security best practices to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments generally employ CSPM. While most commonly associated with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud services, it can also be utilized in Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud settings to eliminate configuration errors and reduce compliance risks.

What does a cloud security engineer do?

A cloud security engineer creates, maintains, upgrades, and enhances cloud networks and cloud-based systems on a regular basis. They are in charge of secure cloud infrastructure, platforms, and software operations. Cloud security engineers analyze vulnerabilities to cloud systems, create new features to meet security requirements, and construct, maintain, upgrade, and improve cloud-based systems.

A cloud security engineer’s daily responsibilities include :

  • Development of cloud-based programs, integrating identity and access management, and securely configuring cloud infrastructures.

  • Threat simulations and penetration testing are used to discover and detect potential threats.

  • Offering security advice on service design, application development, and coding.

  • Managing encryption and cryptography of data in the cloud.

  • In the cloud environment, logging, monitoring, and responding to recognized problems.

  • Assisting development teams in implementing new features or resolving security issues by acting as the customer’s voice.
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