In today's digital landscape, protecting sensitive information is more critical than ever. With the increasing adoption of cloud services, organizations are storing more and more data in the cloud. While the cloud offers many benefits such as scalability, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness, it also presents a unique set of security challenges. Cloud data security is crucial to protect sensitive information, maintain data integrity, and comply with various regulations. Cloud breaches can lead to sensitive information being exposed, financial losses, and damage to an organization's reputation. With the burgeoning use of cloud-based systems, organizations must ensure that their data is protected and that they are compliant with industry regulations.
In the wake of the security risks, organizations must prioritize data security in their cloud infrastructure and implement necessary measures such as encryption, access controls, and incident response plans to protect their data from potential threats and breaches. In this article, we look at the top 9 cloud data security challenges that organizations typically face, discuss their potential costs, and the measures to overcome the risks.
Before delving into the challenges, it is important to get a handle on the landscape of cloud data security and why these challenges can have such a pronounced impact on businesses. Cost is the main component that we need to understand in this regard.
Issues with cloud data security that result in breaches or theft of sensitive data can come with many tangible and intangible costs. First, companies that fail to secure compliance with the relevant data security laws and regulations can be imposed heavy fines, a financial burden that their financial reserves might not be equipped to handle in the long term. Apart from fines and sanctions, there is also a chance that data breaches would be accounted for by a large loss of customers, coupled with an equally large loss of revenue.
Finally, the long-term cost companies must worry about is the cost of loss of reputation and reliability. This can affect customer acquisition in the long-term and dramatically alter the prospects of a business. Many companies have been forced to scale down significantly or shut down completely because of a data breach.
While cloud data security challenges might be a problem for all industries, those that are routinely dealing with personal and sensitive information, like healthcare, medicine, aviation, and insurance seem more likely to feel the effects at a larger scale.
Lack of visibility and control is one of the most critical challenges that companies face as they move to the cloud. Without this ability organizations will struggle to maintain security and compliance and have a tough time identifying and remedying potential threats.
Data visibility and control involves full knowledge of what data is stored, where it is stored, who can access the data, and what data security measures can be best employed to mitigate potential risk. Various means of visibility and control, like data classification, have been seen to better equip businesses to deal with data loss or theft quickly and easily, as borne out by the findings of the 2021 Cloud Data Security Report by Netwrix. Organizations can bring better visibility and control into their enterprise data by deploying the following solutions:
Cloud data breaches are an increasingly common concern as more organizations move their data to the cloud. These breaches occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive information, resulting in a loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data. The breaches can happen due to numerous factors such as weak passwords, misconfigured cloud services, and phishing attacks.
Data breaches are particularly damaging to the reputation of a business and its finances. In fact, according to an IBM Security report discussing the cost of data breaches in 2022, 83% of organizations under their survey have had at least one data breach, with the average total cost of a data breach sitting at $4.35 million – a cause for concern. Organizations can address cloud data breaches by deploying the following solutions:
Interesting Read: "Cloud Data Security Challenges"
Ensuring compliance with various regulations such as SOC 2, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS can be a major challenge for organizations as they adopt cloud services. It may become difficult to maintain compliance as they might not have enough visibility and control over their cloud data and infrastructure. With the increasing enforcement of these regulations, these concerns have now become even more significant and pressing issues for businesses all over the world, especially those that are running global operations.
Inadequate adherence to compliance is drawing more severe financial penalties, in addition to direct and indirect costs to address compliance risks. While audits, remediation, and sanctions form the bulk of the immediate direct financial burden, other costs associated with legal fees and loss of reputation can also affect companies to a great degree. A GlobalScape report estimates the average cost of non-compliance issues for organizations to be in the ballpark of $14.8 million. Organizations can minimize compliance risks by deploying the following solutions:
Insufficient encryption is a major concern for organizations as they adopt cloud services. It refers to not applying enough encryption to data in transit and at rest, which makes it more vulnerable to attacks. With the increasing use of cloud services, the risk of sensitive data being intercepted, stolen, or tampered with increases.
Employing encryption is one of the most straightforward ways to ensure excellent cloud data security and for this reason, it is ranked in the top 5 in the IBM report when it comes to factors that can dramatically reduce the cost of a data breach of any kind. Organizations can improve encryption by deploying the following strategies:
Suggested Read: “Data Sprawl”
Unsecured third-party access is a major concern for organizations as they migrate to cloud services. It refers to the risks associated with granting access to third-party vendors, contractors, and other external parties to access their cloud data and infrastructure. These parties may not have the same level of security controls and policies in place, which can increase the risk of data breaches and compliance violations.
According to the IBM report, the involvement of third parties is one of the factors with the most impact on increasing the overall cost of data breaches. To minimize third-party access organizations can undertake the following steps:
A complex multi-cloud environment can create several security and compliance challenges for organizations. It refers to the use of multiple cloud services and providers, which can make it difficult to maintain visibility, control, and consistency of security and compliance policies across different environments. Managing a multi-cloud environment can be more challenging as it requires organizations to adapt to different platforms, configurations, and security requirements.
Complex multi-cloud environments call for complex security systems, which are cited in the IBM report as the top factor when it comes to increasing the potential cost of a data breach for organizations. organizations can adopt the following strategies to embrace multi-cloud environment strategy:
Misconfigured cloud services are a significant security concern for organizations as they adopt cloud services. It refers to the risks associated with incorrectly configuring cloud services, such as not setting proper access controls, failing to encrypt data, and not keeping software updated. Misconfigured cloud services can make it easier for attackers to access sensitive data and can also increase the risk of compliance violations.
A Gartner report finds that through the year 2025, most if not all cloud data security failures can be classified as the fault of the customer. This is borne out by another report from AlertLogic, which states that about 35% of all breaches occur as a direct result of misconfigured cloud services that stem from human error. Organizations can configure cloud services better by adopting the following steps:
Insider threats are a significant concern for organizations as they adopt cloud services. It refers to the risk of malicious or accidental actions by employees, contractors, or third-party vendors that can compromise the security and integrity of cloud data and infrastructure. Insider threats can include actions such as stealing sensitive data, misusing cloud resources, and intentionally or unintentionally compromising security controls.
Insider threats are more of a challenge for organizations because security measures that protect the perimeter are usually not enough to deal with them. A report from the Carnegie Mellon University CERT finds that insider threats to cloud security remain a complex and complicated issue, as both human error and malicious intent of insiders can contribute to it. Organizations can address insider threats by deploying the following strategies:
The lack of cloud security expertise is a significant concern for organizations as they adopt cloud services. It refers to the risk of not having enough trained and experienced personnel to effectively manage and secure cloud services. This can lead to misconfigurations, lack of visibility, and an increased risk of security breaches and compliance violations. This ties into earlier points, as a complex system, coupled with a lack of cloud security experts and relevant positions, can exacerbate the vulnerability of organizations to data breaches and security loopholes. Organizations can improve their in-house expertise in cloud security by adopting the following steps:
A lot of the challenges discussed above can be mitigated by using a Data Privacy Management platform. Protecto’s Data Posture Intelligence identifies risks associated with enterprise data by analyzing usage, access, and sensitivity associated with enterprise data in just a few hours. By applying privacy engineering, data analysis, and AI to automate the complex steps in the discovery of risks associated with enterprise data, Protecto allows companies to get quick visibility into which users have access to the data, and how the data is used. By offering these insights in a matter of just a few hours, Protecto helps organizations to get a jumpstart on understanding their privacy and compliance risks and implement a complete data posture framework to improve visibility and control over data.
Protecto is easy to deploy, use and manage so data teams can get a jumpstart in performing activities such as finding vulnerable data and data-related activities, auditing user permissions, and generating compliance reports within a few hours. By taking actions to enable tighter control of access over their data environments, companies can minimize breaches and privacy violations and meet compliance needs faster. In addition, companies can reduce their enterprise data surface and minimize costs associated with stored data by deleting or archiving unused data and regulate user access.
Contact us today to understand how Protecto can help you address your data security and privacy risks.