Navigating cloud security risks: A 2024 roadmap for businesses

As businesses increasingly migrate to the cloud to leverage its scalability, efficiency and innovation potential, the landscape of cloud security risks continues to evolve. In 2024, these risks are more sophisticated than ever, demanding a strategic approach to ensure robust security measures. This article delves into the prevalent cloud security risks identified by experts and outlines effective strategies to mitigate these challenges.

Common cloud security risks and vulnerabilities

  1. Misconfigurations
    Cloud misconfigurations remain a significant security risk, with varying default configurations and service implementations across multiple providers complicating security efforts. The diversity in cloud environments can lead to vulnerabilities that are ripe for exploitation​​.
  1. Data breaches
    Sensitive data breaches are a looming threat in cloud computing, with misconfigurations and inadequate runtime protection providing openings for unauthorised access. The theft of personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) is particularly lucrative for cybercriminals​​.In 2024, IT Governance reported there were over 2 billion known recorded breaches within the IT services and software sector being the second most breached sector.
  1. Insider threats
    Human errors and insider threats constitute a substantial risk, with employees or partners unintentionally leading to security vulnerabilities. In Thales’ 2023 Cloud Security Study, they identified that human error was the top cause of breaches. Addressing these threats involves a focus on access management and comprehensive security training​​​​.
  1. Account takeover attacks
    Social engineering tactics, such as phishing which happens to be the single most common form of cyber-attack, are used to gain unauthorised access to cloud accounts, underscoring the need for vigilance and sophisticated security measures to counter these attacks​​.
  1. Software supply chain risks
    The complexity of software supply chains introduces additional risks, with vulnerabilities in third-party services potentially leading to significant security breaches. Effective management of these supply chain threats is crucial for maintaining cloud security​​.
  1. Talent gap in cloud security
    The global shortage of cyber security professionals presents a challenge for businesses, making it difficult to address the intricate cyber security needs of cloud-native environments. This gap necessitates innovative solutions to bolster cloud security efforts​​.

Mitigation strategies

We’ve given an overview of common pitfalls around cloud security, but what can you do to combat these risks? There is no one answer as businesses must adopt a comprehensive and multi-faceted security strategy, including but not limited to:

Regular risk assessments: Continuous risk assessments are essential for identifying and prioritising new vulnerabilities, ensuring that security measures remain effective against evolving threats​​.

Enhanced access control: Strict access controls and adherence to the Principle of Least Privilege can significantly mitigate the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches​​​​.

Robust data encryption: Encrypting data in transit and at rest, coupled with secure data storage practices, is critical for protecting sensitive information from unauthorised access​​.

Comprehensive monitoring: Ongoing monitoring and auditing of cloud activities help in early detection of suspicious behaviour and potential security breaches, enabling timely response​​.

Employee training: Regular training sessions for employees on the latest security threats and best practices are vital for minimising risks associated with human error and insider threats​​​​.

Third-party risk management: Thorough vetting of third-party vendors and secure management of API keys and credentials are key steps in mitigating software supply chain risks​​.

Addressing the cyber security talent gap: Leveraging external partners like Experis and SaaS products, along with empowering developers through shift-left initiatives, can help overcome the challenges posed by the shortage of cyber security professionals​​.

In conclusion, as cloud computing becomes integral to business operations, understanding and mitigating cloud security risks is paramount. By implementing these strategies, businesses can navigate the complex landscape of cloud security in 2024, safeguarding their data and systems against potential threats.

While cloud brings risks, the good far outweighs the bad, and moving applications to the cloud can support your business to be more efficient and perform better. It’s worth remembering Cloud is a shared responsibility where the provider has the tools to secure the environment but then it’s up to the customer to utilise these properly for greater effect.

Our latest whitepaper, Cloudy Waters – The IT Leaders Guide to De-risking Your Cloud Integration Project, is available here to support your cloud strategy.