Next-Generation Threats: Securing Multi-Cloud Environment

Using cloud services from multiple cloud service providers is the fundamental tenet of a multi-cloud environment. With multi-cloud, businesses can supervise different projects from several cloud service providers in different cloud environments.

Multi-cloud is known for its cost-effectiveness and adaptability as it allows flexibility by managing assets and data migrations between on-premises resources and the cloud.

Multi-cloud security refers to cloud security solutions that protect business assets, such as applications and private customer data, against cyberattacks across the cloud environment. The highly complex nature of multi-cloud environments and deployment increases the attack surface for possible cyber intruders.  Cloud security requires an integral approach that addresses diverse security exposures and lays the foundation for in-line security controls across multiple environments.

As the environment of multi-cloud systems and procedures evolve, so do the environmental threats.

Here is a list of next-generation threats to multi-cloud environments

Data Transgressions

It has been estimated that nearly 40 percent of businesses had gone through a data transgression in their cloud environment in 2022. There has also been a great increase in sensitive data storage in the cloud; more than 40 percent of the data stored in the cloud comes under the sensitive category. But unfortunately, less than half of this sensitive data is secured.

Attackers may take advantage of weaknesses in one cloud system to gain access to sensitive data in another. Lack of encryption and key control issues cause multi-cloud data concerns. Lack of control by businesses over encryption keys for their data is the major hindrance affecting the safety of sensitive data. Fortification of access controls should be done by adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) and identity and access management (IAM).

Insider Threats

Cloud adoption has considerably increased in the post-COVID world due to its flexibility and scalability. As organizations focus more on external threats like ransomware and zero-day exploits, insider threats largely remain ignored. Insider threats become even more challenging to defend against. Cloud-based applications can be accessed by unsecured devices or unsecured APIs, which may suffer from hidden misconfiguration and poor access management.

The threat landscape is much larger because of the cloud’s reach and cannot be protected by firewalls or defined boundaries between internal and external corporate networks. Hostile insiders can use existing cloud security gaps to do the damage. Even benevolent employees can do the damage by having unsecured passwords, misconfiguring the cloud workload, and leaking the credentials to the public. Insider threats are much more difficult to identify and remediate than external threats.

Misconfiguration of the cloud

A single misconfiguration of the cloud can have devastating and cascading effects on your cloud security. Cloud misconfiguration means any glitch, error, or gap that may expose the cloud environment to risk during cloud adoption. Unrestricted inbound and outbound endpoints open to the internet can be potentially problematic. These ports mark the opportunities for security events like lateral movement, data exfiltration, and internal network scans once a system is compromised. These ports then become common entry points for attackers.

Most businesses avail API keys, passwords, encryption keys, and administration credentials through poorly configured cloud buckets, compromised servers, HTML code, and GitHub repositories. This makes the cloud environment even more vulnerable to compromised security. You should use the secret management solutions and services of various cloud providers.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

Though considered small in scale compared to other threats, it comes with a massive breach in multi-cloud security apparatus that stays for a longer duration of time. Advanced Persistent Threat gains an authorized stronghold, executing a continuous and extended attack over a long time. While Malware has a quick damaging attack, APTs have a more stealthy and strategic approach in their attack.

APTs gain entry through traditional malware like phishing and hide their attacks by secretly moving around and planting their attack software throughout the network. Once in the multi-cloud environment, they register their foothold and persistently extract data for years without the security personnel realizing their presence.

Attacks On Supply Chains

A compromised back-end infrastructure could lead to supply chain attacks. Businesses are seeing increased cyber-attacks because of weak supply chain methodologies. The most imminent supply chain risk organizations face is open-source software. Though the open-source community provides many modules, tools, and resources that largely benefit businesses, it comes with the inherent risk of compromised security. Businesses often rely on third-party risk management best practices to circumvent the inherent risk a compromised cloud apparatus poses. However, a more sophisticated attack can still make supply chain attacks possible.

Attackers with malicious intent to destroy competitive businesses often use attacks to dismantle the secured supply chains by gaining access to the cloud environment of the business. Multi-layered security and adopting a zero-trust security mindset is the key to securing the cloud apparatus and making any attacks or leakages in the cloud ecosystem redundant.

Cloud Native, AI, and Machine Learning Attacks

Cloud-native security is a set of security features and technologies designed for applications built and deployed in a cloud environment. In this approach, security is rooted in the applications and infrastructure from the start rather than a post-built system.

The use of AI and machine learning in managed third-party risk has come a long way in securing multi-cloud networks from phishing and malware attacks. Still, attackers also leverage the same AI and machine learning modules to develop even more sophisticated breaches into cloud space and, thereby, businesses’ sensitive data. As it eases business processes, AI can also be used for nefarious designs if the intent is malicious. Attackers use the help of machine learning to track the vulnerabilities and sensitivities in multi-cloud networks and apparatus to look for breaches.

Conclusion

Using a multi-cloud environment is highly instrumental for organizations because it saves money, provides freedom and flexibility, and gives you a better experience. But with it comes the enhanced exposure to risks lurking in the background. Sensitive data is often stored in the cloud spaces without encryption, which is like a goldmine to the attackers. A comprehensive knowledge of future threats to multi-cloud-based environments will help develop vital mitigating strategies. As the base of the cloud networks and its usage widens, so does the amount and intensity of threats to it.

By Nagaraj Kuppuswamy

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