5 common causes of cyber risk

Cloud usage has grown exponentially in recent years, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

Businesses have moved to cloud computing for many things, including data storage, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and analytics. But as cloud adoption grows, adversaries are focusing their efforts on exploiting common cloud vulnerabilities. (Read also: How to Prepare for the Next Generation of Cloud Security

The cloud isn’t going anywhere. As the threat landscape evolves, companies must ensure they are doing their part to maintain a secure cloud environment to protect themselves, their customers and their supply chain from cyber-attacks.

In that regard, here are five common vulnerabilities that put cloud customers at risk:

1. Misconfigured Settings

Misconfigured settings are often the root of cloud data breaches, with 68% of enterprises now recognizing it as a leading cloud security issue. (Read also: Data Breach Notification: The Legal and Regulatory Environment

Because cloud services are designed to make things quick and easy, access to data may not be as limited as it should be. And this can open many doors for unauthorized access.

When you work with a cloud provider, you’re applying what’s called a “shared responsibility model” – which is why some may assume that it’s the cloud provider’s responsibility to handle all of your security. Usually, however, the configuration is up to the organization.

This means that your company’s IT team must check all settings and permissions and ensure that basic security measures are covered. This includes restricting access, setting up multi-factor authentication (MFA) and using all of the logging and monitoring tools on offer as they can help you track and manage what’s going on.

It’s also a good idea to regularly check your cloud audits to make sure there has been no suspicious or anomalous activity related to misconfigured settings.

2. Poor data quality management

It can be harder to maintain visibility over all your data when it’s kept in the cloud. That’s why it’s especially important to make sure you’ve properly labeled and categorized your data in order of sensitivity. (Read also: Smart data management in a post-pandemic world

When you have this information, you can decide on appropriate levels of security, limiting access to highly sensitive data.

Cloud services also make sharing data really easy; but this could be a security issue if not managed properly. Administrators can configure access to data sharing, so it’s a good idea to consider which data should retain these capabilities and which not. You should also limit the devices that can download your company data, as companies often overlook that aspect.

Finally, it is imperative for cloud users to ensure that data is as secure as possible during transfer. The cloud makes it difficult to monitor or intercept traffic, reducing the visibility of data transfers, so it’s important to make sure it’s encrypted properly. Client-side encryption is best because it encrypts the data on your end before it’s even sent to cloud servers.

3. Insufficient employee training

Educating staff on cloud best practices and security fundamentals is extremely important. (Read also: Encryption Just Isn’t Enough: Critical Truths About Data Security

Some hackers will even use cloud-based services as the subject of their phishing emails, for example sending a malicious link that appears to come from Google Drive or OneDrive, which then asks for confirmation of credentials to access the document. Employees need to understand how to identify these types of threats and understand other key risks that can harm the business, such as shadow IT.

Using unknown software and devices on a corporate network causes many problems for organizations as it is nearly impossible to have complete visibility, especially with a larger number of remote workers.

Nearly 80% of employees admit to using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications at work without IT approval, and often these apps are cloud-based. Unsecured devices and software can lead to data loss and vulnerabilities, so personnel must be trained to minimize these serious possibilities.

4. Inadequate Security Policy

Security must be viewed in every context; and the cloud is no different. (Read also: SaaS Security: Pitfalls IT Often Overlook

Written policies help document rules and regulations for users to understand how to use cloud applications securely.

A cloud security policy should outline the following:

  • Who can use the cloud.
  • What data should be stored in the cloud.
  • What the correct procedures and best practices are for a secure use of the cloud.

All employees should be required to review the policy and they should be monitored periodically and updated as necessary.

5. Choosing the Wrong Provider

There are many cloud providers. But if you choose one that prioritizes security, you and your organization will benefit immensely. (Read also: 5 questions companies should ask their cloud provider

It’s a good start to verify that the cloud vendor is aligned with recognized security standards, as well as checking for other key features and capabilities, such as authentication methods, data encryption, disaster recovery, and technical support.


Working from the cloud can be a huge asset for teams large and small. But as adoption of these types of services grows, it’s essential that security is not compromised for convenience.

Robust cybersecurity requires implementing the right tools and procedures – and by doing so, you’re letting your business reap all the benefits that cloud computing has to offer, while minimizing the chance of cyber-attacks and protecting your organization and its employees.

Leave a Comment