What is Cloud Security? Definition, Benefits, Pillars, Cloud Security Risks, and Threats

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What is Cloud Security

Cloud infrastructure is everywhere! We have quickly adopted the cloud for all our workloads and personal usage. We’ve developed cloud-native applications and even adapted to a cloud-first business approach. But do we realize cloud infrastructure comes with its own set of risks?

As all our data is distributed on the cloud, we don’t realize the security concern. But the reality is that security risks are higher! From data loss and leakage, accidental exposure of credentials to sophisticated cyber attacks, to name a few…

Today, in the complex contemporary world driven by innovation and shadowed by the growing business of cybercrime, organizations need the flexibility and scalability of cloud services.

They must secure their data and infrastructure in the cloud.

But how? The answer is – by incorporating Cloud Security Solutions!

This blog post is your guide to Cloud Security, from benefits, pillars, risks, and solutions. Scroll down and get to know all.

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud computing security is entirely about keeping cloud data safe. To do that, it incorporates different security measures to secure cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data.

Implementing these measures will ensure that only authorized users and devices can access data, manage access to resources, and keep data private.

Cloud security also helps companies follow rules and regulations regarding data.

It even secures the company’s data against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, malware, hackers, and unauthorized users trying to access or use data without permission.

Cloud Security is introduced to Protect the following:

  • Data — All the information stored, modified and accessed
  • Data Servers — Core network computing hardware & software
  • Physical Networks — Routers, cabling, electrical power, climate controls, etc.
  • Data Storage — Hard drives, etc.
  • Applications — Traditional software services (email, productivity suites, tax software, etc.)
  • Operating Systems (OS) — Software that houses
  • Middleware — Application programming interface (API) management,
  • Computer Virtualization Frameworks — Host machines, virtual machine software, and guest machines
  • Runtime Environments — Execution & upkeep of a running program
  • End-user Hardware — Computers, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, mobile devices, etc.

How does Cloud Security Work?

Each cloud security measure is designed to attain various key objectives, contributing to the entire protection of data and systems

  • Enable data recovery during data loss
  • Protection against malicious data theft
  • Mitigating human error or negligence
  • Reducing the impact of compromise

Data Security

It is a subset of cloud security that addresses the technological side of threat prevention. Providers and clients can use tools and technology to create barriers to sensitive data access and visibility. Encryption is one of the most effective techniques available.

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Encryption scrambles your data so that it can only be viewed by someone who knows the encryption key. So, if your data is lost or stolen, it will be rendered unreadable and useless. Data transit security measures such as virtual private networks (VPNs) are also prioritized in cloud networks.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

It is the accessibility privileges granted to user accounts. User authentication and authorization are also managed here.

Access controls are critical for preventing legitimate and criminal users from entering and compromising sensitive data and systems. IAM encompasses solutions such as password management and multi-factor authentication.


It focuses on policies that prevent, detect, and mitigate threats. Threat intelligence can assist SMBs and enterprises in identifying and prioritizing threats to protect critical systems.

Individual cloud clients, however, may benefit from valuing safe user behavior policies and training. These are largely applicable in organizational settings, but standards for safe use and responding to risks can be useful to anybody.

Data Retention (DR) & Business Continuity (BC)

The planning includes technological disaster recovery procedures for data loss. Backups and other data redundancy strategies are essential to every disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Additionally, having technical mechanisms to ensure uninterrupted operations might be beneficial. Frameworks for validating backup validity and specific staff recovery instructions are equally vital components of a comprehensive backup plan.

It concentrates on maintaining user privacy as mandated by legislative entities. Governments have recognized the necessity of preventing private user information from being misused for profit.

To comply with these policies, organizations must follow regulations. One way is to utilize data masking, which hides identities within data using encryption technologies.

Top Cloud Security Risks and Threats

A weak cloud security can expose users and providers to all cyber security threats. So, here are the cloud security risks you must know so you can take proper measures accordingly.

Cloud-based Infrastructure Risks

It includes incompatibility with older IT frameworks and disruptions to third-party data storage services.

This risk is associated with one of the most significant concerns with the cloud: the lack of a perimeter.

Traditional cyber security concentrates on perimeter protection; however, cloud systems are extensively networked, which implies that unsecured APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and account hijacking can be serious issues.

So, cyber security experts must adopt a data-centric strategy when faced with cloud computing security issues.

Internal Dangers

Interconnectedness resulting from human error, such as misconfiguration of user access controls, also challenges networks.

Malicious actors frequently attack networks using compromised or weak credentials. Once a hacker has made a landing, they can quickly extend and exploit weakly protected cloud interfaces to locate data on various databases and nodes.

They can even utilize their cloud servers to export and keep stolen data. Security must be in the cloud, not only guarding access to your cloud data.

Malware, Phishing, and DDoS Attacks

These are the most common types of external threats posed by malevolent actors.

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Third-party data storage and internet access both pose security risks. If the services are interrupted, you may lose access to the data.

For example, a phone network failure could prevent you from accessing the cloud at a critical time. Alternatively, a power outage could disrupt the data center where your data is housed, perhaps resulting in irreversible data loss.

Top 7 Cloud Security Challenges

Lack of Visibility and Tracking

In the cloud model, cloud providers maintain complete control over the infrastructure layer and do not expose it to the customers. The lack of visibility and control extends to the PaaS and SaaS cloud architectures. Cloud users frequently struggle to identify, quantify, and visualize their environments.

Increased Attack Surface

The public cloud environment has become a broad and very tempting attack surface for hackers who exploit inadequately secured cloud ingress ports to access and disrupt cloud workloads and data. Malware, zero-day exploits, account takeovers, and other harmful attacks have become commonplace.

DevOps, DevSecOps, and Automation

Such automation requires organizations to include security controls in code and templates early in development. Security-related changes made after a workload has been deployed in production might degrade the organization’s security posture and increase time to market.

Constantly Changing Workloads

Cloud assets are provided and retired dynamically—at scale and with velocity. Traditional security systems are simply incapable of enforcing protection principles in such a flexible and dynamic environment, with its constantly changing and transitory workloads.

Complex Environments

To manage security consistently in the hybrid and multi-cloud environments preferred by enterprises today, methods and tools must work seamlessly across private and public cloud providers, as well as on-premise deployments—including the branch office edge protection for geographically distributed organizations.

Granular Privilege and Key Management

Cloud user roles are frequently configured with broad privileges beyond what is intended or required. Giving database delete or write permissions to inexperienced individuals or those without business deleting or adding database assets is a common example. At the application level, incorrectly set keys and rights put sessions in danger.

Cloud Compliance and Governance

All major cloud providers have aligned with well-known accreditation programs, including PCI 3.2, NIST 800-53, HIPAA, and GDPR. Customers are responsible for ensuring that their workload and data processes are compliant.

Given the cloud environment’s limited visibility and dynamic nature, the compliance audit process becomes nearly impossible unless technologies are utilized to do continuous compliance checks and send real-time alerts regarding misconfigurations.

Importance of Cloud Security for Organizations

In the 1990s, both corporate and personal data were stored locally, as was security – locally secured. If you worked for a corporation, your data would be stored on enterprise servers as well as on the internal storage of your PC at home.

But now, the introduction of Cloud technology has compelled everyone to reconsider cyber security. Modern organizations increasingly embrace cloud-based environments and IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS computing platforms.

The dynamic nature of infrastructure management, particularly in scaling applications and services, can provide a number of issues for organizations in effectively resourcing their departments. These as-a-service models enable organizations to outsource various time-consuming IT-related duties.

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Also, your data and apps may be able to move between local and remote systems while being internet-accessible. The data can be stored anywhere, whether you browse Google Docs on your smartphone or use Salesforce software to manage your customers.

As a result, Safeguarding becomes more challenging than preventing unauthorized persons from accessing your network. While third-party cloud computing companies may administer this infrastructure, data asset security and accountability responsibilities do not always shift accordingly.

Cloud security necessitates changing some old IT practices. However, it has become increasingly important for two reasons:

  • Convenience over Security – Cloud computing is rapidly becoming a key method for both workplace and personal use. Innovation has enabled new technology to be implemented faster than industry security regulations can catch up, putting greater responsibility on users and providers to manage accessibility hazards.
  • Centralization and Multi-tenant Storage – Every component, from fundamental infrastructure to minor data such as emails and documents, may now be found and accessed remotely via 24/7 web-based connectivity.

    All of this data gathering on the servers of a few major service providers could be quite dangerous. Threat actors can increasingly target enormous multi-organizational data centers, resulting in massive data breaches.

By default, most cloud providers follow standard security policies and actively preserve their servers’ integrity. However, organizations must decide for themselves how to protect cloud-based data, applications, and workloads.

Security risks have advanced as the digital ecosystem has evolved. These risks specifically target cloud computing providers as a result of an organization’s general lack of visibility into data access and movement.

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As threat actors recognize the advantages of cloud-based targets, they will progressively test them for exploits. Although cloud providers take on many security responsibilities from clients, they do not handle everything. This means that even non-technical people must educate themselves about cloud security.

So, without taking active actions to increase cloud security, organizations may face considerable governance and compliance risks when handling client information, regardless of where it is hosted.

Cloud security should be a top priority regardless of your organization’s size. Cloud infrastructure serves almost every facet of modern computing across sectors and verticals.

However, successful cloud adoption is predicated on implementing adequate countermeasures to protect against modern-day cyberattacks. Whether your organization uses a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment, cloud security solutions and best practices are essential for maintaining business continuity.

However, users are not the only ones responsible for cloud security. Knowing the extent of your security responsibilities can assist the entire system stay considerably safer.

How to Secure the Cloud?

Fortunately, you can do a lot of tactics to protect your own data in the cloud. Here are some of the popular approaches:


    Encryption is one of the most effective techniques to secure your cloud computing systems. There are various alternative ways to use encryption, and a cloud provider or a separate cloud security solutions supplier may give them.

    • Communications with the cloud are completely encrypted.
    • Particularly sensitive data encryption, like account credentials.
    • End-to-end encryption of all the data that is uploaded to the cloud.

    An end-to-end encryption ensures that your communication is never made available to anyone unless you provide your encryption key.

    You can either encrypt your data before storing it in the cloud or utilize a cloud provider to encrypt it as part of their service. However, end-to-end encryption may be unnecessary if you solely use the cloud to store non-sensitive data like corporate graphics or films.

    If you use encryption, keep in mind how important it is to manage your encryption keys securely & safely. Maintain a crucial backup; ideally, do not keep it in the cloud. You may also want to change your encryption keys regularly so that if someone acquires access to them, they are locked out of the system when you make the change.


    Configuration is another effective strategy in cloud security. Many cloud data breaches result from simple vulnerabilities like misconfiguration problems. Preventing them significantly reduces your cloud security risk. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this alone, you may consider hiring a separate cloud security solutions company.

    Here are Some Principles you can apply:

    • Never leave the default settings untouched. Using the default settings grants a hacker front-door access. Avoid complicating a hacker’s path into your system.
    • Never leave your cloud storage bucket open. An open bucket may allow hackers to access the content simply by opening the storage bucket’s URL.
    • Use any security controls provided by the cloud vendor that you can enable. Not choosing the appropriate security choices can put you at risk.

    Some Basic Cybersecurity Tips to Remember

    • Creating Strong Passwords that combine letters, numbers, and special characters will make your password more difficult to guess. Avoid making obvious choices, such as replacing a S with a $ symbol. The randomer your strings are, the better.
    • Use a Password Manager. It will allow you to create unique passwords for each application, database, and service you use, eliminating the need to remember them all. However, you must protect your password manager with a secure primary password.
    • Back up your Data regularly so that if your cloud provider experiences downtime or loses data, you can fully restore your data. That backup might be on your home computer, an external hard drive, or even cloud-to-cloud, provided the two cloud providers do not share infrastructure.
    • Anti-malware Software and Antivirus can help you protect yourself. If malware infects your system, hackers will easily access your account.
    • Avoid Accessing your Data via public Wi-Fi, especially if it lacks adequate authentication. Employ a VPN to protect your cloud gateway.
    • Protect all Devices that access your cloud data, including smartphones and tablets. If your data is synchronized across multiple devices, any of them could be a weak link, jeopardizing your entire digital footprint.
    • Modify Permissions so that no one or device can access all of your data unless essential. Businesses, for example, will do so through database permissions. If you have a home network, set up guest networks for your children, IoT gadgets, and television. Save your ‘access all areas’ permit for personal use.

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    Janki Mehta

    Janki Mehta

    Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.