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CYBER SECURITY MUST KNOWS FOR CLOUD SERVICE PROVIDERS

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?

The Information Technology world is emerging and with fast pace, new innovative ideas are changing the scenarios constantly and cloud computing was one of those ideas which has changed the perspective of IT services.

Cloud Computing is a network of remote servers which are used to store, manage and process data via internet, instead of local servers or hard drives.

With ease of use and flexibility, it has become most usable IT services nowadays.

SECURITY RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CLOUD COMPUTING?

Cloud computing transformed the way organizations store, use, and share data, applications, infrastructure and workloads. Cloud computing also provides a flexible model for simplified IT management, remote access, mobility, and cost-efficiency. With so much ease of access and flexibility most of the organisations are availing cloud services, however as more mission-critical applications migrate to the cloud, data privacy and software security are growing concerns. With so much data going into the cloud including critical data like PII and PHI —these resources become natural targets for hackers.

Availing IaaS or Moving web applications to the cloud does not make organisations inherently more secure.  Organization nowadays might be ready to adopt the benefits of the cloud infrastructure. But you must also ensure you address all the potential security risks in cloud computing, especially public clouds.

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING SECURITY?

Cloud computing security is the combination of guidelines and technologies controls, which are helpful to manage information security compliance and provides instructions for securing data applications and infrastructure identify with cloud computing use.

Cloud computing has many advantages, such as Ease of use for customer, speed and efficiency. But there are also many potential threats in cloud computing. These threats include human errors, misconfigurations, data breaches, insider attacks, account hijacking, and DDoS attacks. According to studies, businesses which are using cloud computing services are more prone to data breach and cyber-attacks in comparison of others.

CLOUD SECURITY: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS

Below is the list of most critical cyber security challenges faced by Cloud Service providers.

1.      Data Breaches:

A data breach is a result of infrastructure or application vulnerabilities, human error, poor security practices such as weak password, inadequate access control etc. Data breach is one of the top most security challenges, mostly public cloud because of different requirements by different customers. Solution to this problem is that organizations should always secure their databases which contains sensitive data like user credentials, by hashing and salting and implement proper logging and behavior anomaly analysis.

2.    Human Error:

Human errors like clicking on malicious links, sharing data with unauthorised person, using weak passwords and not having maker checker procedures etc. are challenges in Cloud security. These errors are often at customer’s end. Training and awareness pertaining to Cyber Security, imposing strong password policy and segregation of duties can really resolve this issue. Proper monitoring is also necessary.

3.    Insufficient Identity, Access and Key Management:

Hackers can act as legitimate users, developers, or operators can read, manipulate, and delete data; snoop on data in transit or release malicious software that appears to originate from a genuine source. Any unwanted service running on the server can allow access without authentication. Solution to this problem is implementation of preventative controls across all perimeters, and that organizations scan managed, shared and public environments for vulnerabilities.

4.    Data Loss:

Data loss can be because of an accidental deletion by the cloud service provider, or a disaster like a fire or earthquake, can lead to the permanent loss of customer data unless the provider or cloud consumer .takes adequate measures to back up data, Solution to this problem is having a full proved Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan in place, performing data backups & testing regularly and conducting DR drills at regular intervals.

5.    Insecure application programming interfaces (APIs):

APIs are exposed to public and so too attackers, an API is likely to be the initial entry point for attackers. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities of insecure APIs to get access to servers. Performing security assessment prior to deployment and after any significant change can help to identify the existing weaknesses and patching it.

6.    Advanced persistent threats (APT):

APT uses sophisticated and continuous attack techniques to get access in Cloud infrastructure and monitor the Cloud provider’s activity and steal the data rather damaging the networks. In this the attacker gain access and remain undetected for long. Monitoring network on regular basis for abnormal behaviour, update latest antivirus signatures and scanning networks on regular basis can resolve this issue.

7.    Insider Attacks/ Malicious Insider:

A malicious insider can be performed by any employee or any privileged user who has access to potentially sensitive information, and critical systems which contains critical data. Organisations which are doesn’t have their own IT security mechanism and solely dependent on cloud service providers are at higher risk. A Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution along with event logging and monitoring is a solution for this challenge. A Confidentiality Agreement signed with employees will act as deterrence.

8.    Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) Attacks: 

DDOS attack is a crafted malicious attack to disrupt normal traffic and prevent users of a service from being able to access their data or applications. Attacker can cause a system slowdown and leave all legitimate service users without access to services by forcing the targeted cloud service to consume inordinate amounts of finite system resources such as network bandwidth, processor power, memory or disk space. Implementing adequate network security measures like IDS, IPS, and Load Balancers and monitoring networks for anomalies. Having a robust Business Continuity plan will definitely help.

9.    System Vulnerabilities:

System vulnerabilities are the weaknesses or loopholes in any application and network, which can be exploited by any malicious user to intrude into a system to steal or manipulate data, taking control of the system or disrupting service operations. Vulnerabilities within the components of the application and operating system put the security of all services and data at significant risk. In case of public cloud, application or systems from various organizations are sharing memory and resources, creating a new attack surface. Regular patch management, bug fixing and vulnerability management is the best solution for this issue.

10. Spectre and Meltdown:

Last but not the least, Spectre and Meltdown which are considered as the most catastrophic vulnerabilities where hackers can exploit Meltdown to view data on virtual servers hosted on the same hardware, potentially disastrous for cloud service providers. Spectre is worse –it is hard to exploit and even harder to fix.

In a nutshell the security solution is very crucial for any Cloud Service provider for their business .Compliance related to cyber security protect the organisation from unauthorized access, data breaches and other threats and also provide assurance and confidence to clients.

 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) RISK MANAGEMENT

 What is Risk?

Risk is any unwanted event which impact organisation’s objectives to attain business goal.

There are various type of business risk exists in any organisation

  • Strategic Risk
  • Operational Risk
  • Financial Risk
  • Compliance Risk

Risk Management is a process of Identifying, analysis and evaluating the organisations risks and then providing appropriate controls in order to mitigate the risk.

 

What is IT Risk?

In this digital age most of the businesses are using Information Technology. Hence IT is playing very pivotal role in many businesses.

If any organisation use IT to manage their business, it is very important to understand and identify risk related to their information systems and data, then to manage and reduce the risk, and develop a response plan in the case of any IT crisis.

Nowadays business have regulatory and legal compliance obligations in relation to data privacy, electronics transitions and staff training which are the factors which can influence IT Risk Management strategies.

Main IT risks include software and hardware failure, malicious and virus attacks, humanerrors, misconfigurations as well as natural disaster like flood,fire earthquake and cyclones.

General IT Risk

These Risk can be subcategorised further:

  • Hardware and software failure – Abuse of rights and Corruption of data ,Electromagnetic radiation ,loss of power supply
  • Malware – malicious software designed to disrupt computer operation
  • Viruses – computer code that can copy itself and spread from one computer to another, often disrupting computer operations
  • Spam, scams and phishing – unsolicited email that seeks to fool people into revealing personal details or buying fraudulent goods
  • Human error–error in data processing, data disposal errors, or accidental opening of infected email attachments.

 Natural Disasters such as fire, earthquake, cyclone and floods also acts as risk to IT infrastructure. In absence of business continuity plan, it may lead to data loss, corruption in data records and unavailability of IT services to the customers.

How to Manage Information Security Risk?

Management of IT risk involves a series of activities in this chronological order:

  • Risk Identification
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Development of Response Plan
  • Review of Risk Management procedures

How to reduce Information Technology Risk?

There are lots of risks and threats on business which can impact IT Operations. Applying appropriate measures will protect the IT system through unauthorised access.

Few steps to improve IT Security

  1. Proper access control to computer, servers, networks and Wi-Fi.
  2. Using strong password
  3. Encryption of critical data
  4. Using firewall. IDS ,IPS on the network
  5. Update software and antivirus with latest patches.
  6. Data backup for all the critical data
  7. Information security training and awareness to the staff
  8. Using secure software developments processes.
  9. Implementing SSL for secure online communication.
  10. Last but not the least having Cyber Security Insurance.

 Few famous standards and frameworks which can help organisations to mitigate IT risks are:

  • ISO 31000
  • COBIT
  • COSO
  • NIST Risk Management Framework
  • ISO 27001
  • ISO 27005

For any organisation risk identification is the first step for risk mitigation. An undetected risk is the most dangerous thing, a treatment methodology can be only be implemented once the risk is identified. Organisation need a right approach and skilled workforce to this job.Step by Step risk management process will help organisation’s to mitigate IT related risk and get an effective and efficient IT system to achieve business goals.

Security Measures to Protect Servers and Data from Hackers

There are many security measures to protect servers and data from hackers but to choose the right one is the most important. Especially when you start a business website whether it’s an e-commerce website or a static website, a secured server is a primary concern of everyone.
To run a fully functional application/website, your server should be secure enough to handle the traffic.

CyberLaws.tech helps you protect your server in following ways :

  • Update your kernel and OS :

    Make sure the server you are using, is having current and updated softwares. Always Use the stable version which has been tested more than any beta version available. An old kernel can lead to an easy target for virus, that can harm your server.

  • Monitor Logs :

    Do you have any clue what are log records ? How often are they updated and rotated? LogWatch is a tool, which will email you all the daily reports of your server’s activities that includes anything it determines unusual, eg: repeated failed logins. You should also manually check the logs to keep an eye.

  • Backups :

    People spend hundreds of hours on website but usually forget to take backups which is the most important thing.There are two ways you can save your data :CyberLaws - Manage wordpress backups from plugins

    • Manual Backup : You can use a seperate hard disk for keeping your data secure or you can keep your application/website data on remote system and should regularly keep a check on the backup.
    • WordPress website : If your are using wordpress CMS then you can install following plugins to take automatic backups
      ⦁ BackupBuddy
      ⦁ UpdraftPlus
      ⦁ BackWPUp
      ⦁ BackUpWordPress

    For more wordpress security tips

  • Limit Access to a Minimum :

    Never give more access to your user, than they require.Never give them access to shell, restrict file access to a minimum and leave other services turned off by default until requested, and if your are doing through wordpress then you can use free plugins to limit access to your website. Restricted Site AccessCyberLaws - Limit login access plugin for wordpress

  • Lock down the PHP versions and use Mod_Security with Apache :

    PHP, a server scripting language is always at large security risk, but there are a few steps to do that helps lock it down. CGI has Suexec,which helps to runs processes as the user,and PHP has something similar called PHPSuexec but with downfalls. You should always use open_base directory protection, have safe_mode on system wide, turn off register_globals, enable_dl and allow_url_open to help lock things down.

  • Review Processes Running and Remove Extra Software :

    You can’t protect a system until and unless you don’t know what’s on it. If a hacker adds a script or an extra process, then you will not be able to identify why your server is not working.you should know what all processes are running on your system and who all users are there.cyberlaws-server and data security measures

  • Use a Firewall :

    You should always make sure the your server has firewall running all the time. A firewall is like a screen door to your house. If someone tries to get into your server, which is very likely to happen anytime, the first thing they’re going to try is, to upload something unusual stuff or their own service like redirecting to some other server. A firewalls can stop both incoming and outgoing attacks/viruses even when you’re are sleeping. We would recommend using APF on Linux systems or TinyFirewall on Windows Servers.

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