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10 biggest threats to cloud computing- 2019 Report

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is growing rapidly and transforming the way organizations use, store, and share (information, applications, and workloads). With this, it has also brought several security threats and challenges. It has now become a natural target of bad actors with data increasingly moving into the cloud.

The Cloud Security Alliance has released a report which identifies the latest threats in cloud computing and the growing need for cloud customers to understand and adopt security to manage threats and rely less on the vendors.

Top threats to cloud computing:

It is necessary for the organizations to be aware of cyber threats. According to the Cloud Security Alliance report, here are the top threats to cloud computing:

1. Data breaches

Data breach can be the main goal of an attack through which sensitive information such as health, financial, personal identity, intellectual and other related information is viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorised user.


  • Analyse data protection during design and run time.
  • Organizations must restrict access to data and maintain adherence to industry standards and compliance.
  • Implementation of strong API access control.
  • The environment and infrastructure should be designed to restrict access and monitor traffic.
  • Organizations must encrypt and protect data in transit.
  • Implement backup and retention strategies.

2. Insufficient identity, credential and access management

Security threats may occur due to inadequate protection of the credentials. An unauthorised user might read, modify and delete data or release a malicious software.


  • Security awareness should be provided to contractors, third-party users and employees.
  • Use of two-factor authentication should be implemented to secure accounts.
  • Organizations must identity and access rights to detect violations.
  • Segregate accounts based on business needs.
  • The data owner should restrict the internal corporate or customer (tenant) user-account credentials.

3. Insecure interfaces and APIs

Cloud service providers expose a set of software user interfaces or application programming interfaces (APIs) that organizations use to manage and interact with the cloud services. Moreover, customers and third-party users often offer services to their customers through these interfaces.

An unauthorized user may access and re-use these APIs or passwords. They may transmit content, get authorizations and logging capabilities.


  • Use a good security model of software interfaces.
  • Practise strong authentication methods and limit access with encrypted transmission.
  • Use standard API frameworks.

SEE: Saving passwords on your device? 5 ways to secure them in 2021

4. System vulnerability

Security breaches may occur due to exploitable bugs in programs that stay within a system. This allows a bad actor to infiltrate and get access to sensitive information or crash the service operations.


  • Customer access grants must be implemented using a need-to-know, need-to-access protocol.
  • Organizations must regularly detect data assessments and system disclosure alteration, or destruction.
  • Privileges should be separated between business-as-usual systems-level access, and escrowed credential access for sensitive root or system accounts.
  • Frequent check of quality and integrity of system as well as services.

5. Account or service hijacking – using stolen passwords

Account or service hijacking can be done to gain access and abuse highly privileged accounts. Attack methods like fraud, phishing, and exploitation of software vulnerability are carried out mostly using the stolen passwords.


  • Use strong two-factor authentication techniques where possible.
  • The organization needs to take proper steps to verify identity, restrict access and maintain adherence to industry standards and compliance.

6. Malicious insider

A malicious insider can access sensitive data of the system administrator or may even get control over the cloud services at greater levels with little or no risk of detection. A malicious insider may affect an organization through brand damage, financial impact and productivity loss.


  • Organizations must understand the practices performed by cloud providers, how to grant access to employees, and set compliance policies.
  • There should be security and privacy awareness programs to understand, recognize and report any suspicious activity.
  • Organizations should automate their processes and use technologies that scan frequently for misconfigured resources and remediate unknown activity in real time.

7. Data loss

The data loss threat occurs in cloud due to interaction with risks within the cloud or architectural characteristics of the cloud application. Unauthorized parties may access data to delete or alter records of an organization.


  • Cloud service providers should provide adequate security controls to customers as well as specify backup and retention strategies to them.
  • Use strong API access control.
  • Encrypt security of data in transit.

8. Lack of due diligence

Most cloud providers develop a good strategy for due diligence when evaluating cloud technologies. Enterprises that choose providers without analysing the technologies and the due diligence expose of it, expose themselves to risks.


  • Organizations must know what certifications the cloud provider itself has in place.
  • Clear protocols must be defined related to accountability and responsibility of management support and involvement.
  • Use strong passwords with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) tokens.

9. Abuse and nefarious use of cloud services

This threat refers to attackers leveraging the resources of cloud computing to target users, enterprises, and other cloud providers. Examples include launching DDoS attacks, phishing, email spams, get access to credential databases, and more.


  • Organizations must use strong IDS/IPS.
  • Organizations must use firewalls that can inspect incoming and outgoing traffic.
  • The integration of cloud services must not be left up to individuals, groups for implementation.
  • An organization must choose their storage vendors wisely. The process must be corporate IT or security team only. It will be especially important to involve cloud software engineer for problem solving.

10. Shared technology vulnerabilities

Cloud providers deliver their services by sharing applications, or infrastructure. Sometimes, the components that make up the infrastructure for cloud technology as-a-service offering are not designed to offer strong isolation properties for a multi-tenant cloud service. This may lead to vulnerabilities in shared technology that can be attacked in almost all delivery models.


  • Sensitive data should be protected via encryption.
  • Data should be segmented and protected according to sensitivity levels.
  • Organizations must conduct vulnerability scanning and configuration audits regularly.

The rise of cloud computing as an evolving technology brings with it concerns for every business on cloud security threats. Moving critical applications and data to the cloud does not make them more secure and cloud providers should not be just blamed here.

Organizations must outline a good roadmap for evaluation of cloud technologies and service providers. Plus, the IT and security teams within an organization must design corrective controls as a disaster recovery plan, including penetration testing, regular system updates, and provide security awareness training.

READ NEXT: Top 5 hacker vulnerabilities in your systems in 2019 – and how to fix them

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