Privacy / Security

Dealing with Emerging Threats Related to Increased Cloud Adoption

Increased Cloud Adoption

When cloud computing first earned a significant amount of mindshare, the only vulnerabilities that most administrators ever had to deal with were those related to misconfigured APIs. Assuming that you had only a small portion of your data exposed and only permitted certified individuals to access the API itself, you never had to worry about major breaches. The fact that there were relatively few concerns for small business owners helped to encourage skeptics to migrate everything over to a cloud repository.

Things are increasingly becoming more dangerous, however, and this is forcing researchers to rethink the way that they handle cloud security. It’s likely that damages due to cybercrime will soon surpass $6 trillion, thus making it imperative that researchers find new ways to deal with the fastest emerging threats in the field. This chore is made infinitely harder, however, by the fact that the seemingly never-ending migration of data to the cloud continues to pick up steam.

Biggest Emerging Trends in the Field of Cloud Cybersecurity

Misconfigured API settings are, admittedly, still probably the biggest cause of major data breaches in the cloud space. As a greater number of users create new accounts and start running applications directly on cloud resources, it’s likely that these problems are only going to become worse. Unfortunately, many of the organizations that are currently in the process of migrating their data to a new platform have little to no experience working with sophisticated remote resources and therefore aren’t entirely sure of what they need.

A number of dramatic breaches have actually occurred as the result of other misconfigurations, however. Organizations that find themselves in this sort of a situation might not know the best way to deal with the storage buckets that they have attached to their accounts. Most web applications that use a cloud service provider are going to host their content in some sort of storage buckets. In general, these containers hold onto the static materials that never change regardless of the current experience being presented to the user.

This application is fine and usually doesn’t pose any major security risk because this information would be public anyway. Bad actors who seized control of a static storage bucket could, at worse, commit acts of digital vandalism by replacing permanent assets with something of their own design. Problems start to occur when they’re used to store the materials used to generate dynamic content.

By leveraging the power of even a small amount of JavaScript code, a bad actor could redirect people on a dynamically-generated web app to some other scam ite. Storage buckets are increasingly used to hold internal file structures, which might include things like SSH access credentials or API keys. Gaining control of something like this would enable outsiders to dramatically manipulate sensitive user data.

The good news is that storage bucket threats are essentially already a solved problem. Using the right settings in an administration panel will more or less reduce the risk of these ever becoming an issue. Better defaults on the behalf of host providers would probably stop any and all related attacks in their tracks.

As cybersecurity researchers urge the adoption of these defaults, potential cybercriminals are starting to go after other lower hanging fruit.

Fastest Growing Threats in the Cloud

Distributed denial of service attacks have primarily been carried out against discrete servers for most of history, but they’re now being used to take down cloud hosts at an alarming rate. Having confused privacy and security issues for many years, administrators have unfortunately attempted to obfuscate a large amount of public data, which is making the problem worse. Rather than actually securing the entry points that bad actors turn into attack vectors, specialists have primarily sought to keep information private through somewhat unusual means.

In some cases, they’ve used obscure or proprietary data formats. While these tricks do help to reduce the risk that anyone could gain access to sensitive information, they do nothing to inhibit the use of botnets and other tools to simply send countless requests to a single service and take it down in the process.

Due to the fact that people have transitioned to remote offices, many existing general purpose cloud-based apps are becoming overloaded as it is. Developers from the Microsoft Teams project claim that they had participated in meetings on one single day in April 2021. In just a few months, user accounts registered on the Zoom platform blossomed from 10 million to more than 200 million.

If a dedicated DDoS attack were to target a platform that’s undergone this kind of dramatic growth, then it’s likely that it would be able to take it down with greater ease than would otherwise be possible. This is especially true of smaller corporate platforms that don’t have anywhere near as much physical infrastructure as something like Teams or Zoom ever would.

Increasing the total investment in infrastructure is one way that cloud engineers are solving this issue. Working with a managed VPS hosting service can help smaller businesses do just that without needing to purchase physical equipment. However, simply throwing hardware at the problem isn’t going to solve the underlying problem.

Protection schemes that are designed to stop unauthorized access are having to get far smarter as a result.

Holding Back the DDoS Floodgates

Artificial intelligence algorithms have been created that can beat most of the Turing tests used to stop unauthorized access, but that doesn’t mean that bots have worn the war for cloud security yet. In fact, security researchers are coming up with new ways to use AI-based solutions in response to these kinds of attacks.

Probabilistic calculations can enable an AI agent to figure out the odds of an attack happening at any given time. Simple Python-based tools are proving effective enough that they’re gaining traction among smaller businesses. More sophisticated Ruby and R-based scripts can provide an extra degree of protection for cloud services that provide solutions for larger organizations. These groups are also investing in equally sophisticated training programs that may help to reduce the risk of individuals exhibiting signs of risky behavior in the workplace.

Once the conditions are ripe for an attack, these could activate an additional Turing test on top of the one that’s normally used. Something as simple as a pair of captchas used side by side may be enough to solve the problem. Though it’s a bit of an inconvenience to end-users, it certainly beats having to take an entire service offline.

As people continue to migrate their assets to public cloud hosts, there’s likely to be a number of other threats that show up to take advantage of these new opportunities. A combination of better defaults and predictive AI agents might be the best way of dealing with them.

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