17 Years Since Cloud Started - Are We Safer or More At Risk?
Although the term “cloud computing” gained prominence as early as the 1990s, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that viable platforms started to be released. In their initial stages, early platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure were introduced as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), offering users the chance to “rent” resources on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Later in the decade came the introduction of platform-as-a-service (PaaS). This adaptation helped further streamline development and deployment worldwide. Thanks to its scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency, cloud computing quickly became adopted by companies from across the globe, further expanding the market and the range of services on offer. Nowadays an estimated 94% of all companies use cloud computing to some extent.
However, with this expansion came an inevitable slew of potential new attack vectors for malicious online actors to exploit. From exposed endpoints to an increased reliance on user understanding, the attack surface had increased, and therefore so had users’ vulnerability levels. Cloud security providers (CSPs) responded in kind with reactive security measures, however the debate as to whether cloud computing has left users better protected or more exposed rages on to this day. And with the average cost of a breach sitting at $4.35m, the need for enhanced cloud security has never been greater.
The New Brand of Danger Posed by Cloud Computing
The primary issue with cloud computing with regards to security measures is the concept of shared responsibility. The fact that robust security relies on both the user and the CSP being equally security-conscious in their approach to cloud usage can leave to gaps in understanding when it comes to who is responsible for what.
Furthermore, this new misunderstanding has opened doors, giving cybercriminals a slew of new opportunities to exploit the system. Combine this with the notion of centralised data, and cloud computing becomes an irresistible target for malicious online actors. The increased attack surface and exposure of endpoints have enabled online attackers to target systems via human engineering tactics.
Despite cloud computing allowing the workforce to become more dispersed geographically, it has simultaneously exposed online victims on a more individual basis. Research shows that over four in five cyber attacks involve some degree of human element. No longer do hackers have to exploit an entire business’ system. Now they can simply rely on exploiting one individual to gain access to a wealth of information - if the right security measures are not in place.
Cloud Safety Measures
While the range of threats faced by the modern enterprise have evolved to exploit this modern means of working, so too have the counteractive measures designed to keep them at bay. CSPs bring with them an armoury of built-in security measures that have a dedicated team behind them hell-bent on securing the infrastructure that is in place.
The likes of cloud-based firewalls and advanced encryption measures actively keep the most common security threats at bay without any need of interjection from the users themselves. On top of this, security updates happen precisely when they should. Gone are the days of relying on a savvy internal team to update on-premise systems at the moment that it is needed most.
However, with cyber threats targeting individuals endpoints, there also comes a need for strict security measures to be implemented across the entire workforce. Efficient and effective employee training has become a modern must to help prevent ransomware and phishing attacks from infiltrating the system. While this may not strictly be in place for many businesses, awareness is definitely growing.
Over half of businesses across the globe are increasing their cyber security budget as a result of emerging threats, with employee training at the heart of most priority lists. With such training in place and the right security measures installed - both proactive and reactive - there is no reason that cloud computing should pose a significant security risk to enterprises.
The Future of Cloud
Today, cloud computing is integral to IT strategies globally. It powers businesses, supports innovation and enables the growth of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, despite this, many brands have failed to fully embrace this once-emerging, now-present technology.
Only 20% of organisations globally have dedicated cloud security leads. This figure seems ever more diminutive when considering how integral it has become as a platform for companies to conduct their work.
The evolution of cloud threats and respective safety measures continues on a daily basis. Ongoing advancements in security, compliance, and hybrid cloud solutions will continue to shape the future of computing. Threat actors will inevitably create new ways of infiltrating enterprises through the cloud. However, with advancements in cloud computing keeping step with these attack methods and the implementation of the right processes becoming more commonplace, the future looks bright for cloud security.
If you are interested in finding out more about what the future holds for the world of cloud computing then make sure to attend UK Cyber Week – Expo & Conference on 17-18 April 2024. Hear from over 100+ cybersecurity experts, hackers and industry leaders in an event that promises to give next-level insights and world-class advice on how to keep you and your organisation safe from ever-evolving cyber threats.