4 Cloud Drive Risks you Can Easily Avoid

While cloud computing can synchronize your systems and keep everyone in the loop, it can also strongly appeal to hackers and cybercriminals. Why? With all of your customer data, logins, processes, and user data on a single cloud platform, it’s easier than ever for cyber attacks to happen.

In this blog, you’ll explore the world of cloud-based data storage, and understand the risks that it can present to your brand, with exclusive insights from our 2024 EASM report. Plus, you’ll learn how to safeguard your sensitive data on the cloud to reduce any security concerns.

TL; DR – Whether you’re a CISO, an engineer, or an entrepreneur, here’s everything you need to know about cloud data risks—and what you can do about them.

1. What are cloud drives, and why are they popular?

Cloud drives are remote databases that anyone can access via an Internet connection or network.

The main public cloud service providers include:

  • Microsoft Azure and OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon AWS

If you’ve already used one of these cloud storage providers, then you’ll know that they can be incredibly useful for businesses.

Here’s how:

  1. You can boost communication: With all of your resources on one platform, it’s easier than ever to stay in sync with your teammates.
  2. You’re more flexible: Keeping everything in one place will streamline your workflows and make you more adaptable.
  3. Your operating costs might be lower: Using one interface for your processes means you don’t have to invest in multiple apps and platforms.
  4. Your data is available anytime: You can access important information from anywhere in the world, so you don’t necessarily have to invest in on-premises data centers. (This is a massive plus for remote-first and hybrid companies.)

But how safe is the cloud storage we’re using? How secure is the cloud, actually?

The reality is that using cloud storage services can present some serious data protection risks. In the next section, you’ll unpack 4 cloud storage security concerns that can jeopardize any business.

2. 4 cloud storage security risks

So, how secure is cloud storage? Is the cloud safe from hackers? In a short answer—no. In our 2024 EASM report, we found that there has been an 11% increase in exposed cloud data year over year. With this in mind, you need to be aware of several security issues with cloud storage.

Cloud drive risk 1: Misconfigurations

On cloud storage systems, there are generally multiple user accounts that can access the data. However, these accounts can be easily misconfigured. And misconfigurations are responsible for 90% of cloud data breaches.

For example, users might have:

  • The wrong access controls
  • Inappropriate permissions
  • Unauthorized access (more on this later)

CybelAngel found that there are 2.8 million misconfigured cloud shares; a number which has doubled since 2022.

Below, you can see a breakdown of these misconfigured cloud storage types. You’ll notice that Google Drive now accounts for most misconfigured cloud storage security issues.

Cloud drive risk 2: Oversharing

Oversharing is another big risk of cloud storage. This is because cloud storage safety depends on sensitive data only being shared with relevant people.

But too often, this information is more widely accessible. Recent reports have shown that the oversharing of critical data has increased by 60% in recent years.

Whether things are shared accidentally or due to insider threats, oversharing can compromise data privacy—which could lead to a breach of regulatory requirements later down the line, such as GDPR for data protection, or HIPAA for health providers.

Cloud drive risk 3: Human Error

A report from Gartner has shown that human error is the main cause of cybersecurity incidents. This could include:

  • Misplacing files
  • Accidental deletion of critical data
  • Falling victim to phishing attacks and other forms of malware

85% of external attacks are caused by negligent actions. This shows that even with the best security features in place, anything can be compromised by human error. It’s one of the biggest security issues in cloud storage, which is why education and training are so important.

Cloud drive risk 4: Unauthorized access

Is the cloud secure? Not as long as anyone can potentially gain access to it. As stated in CybelAngel’s 2024 EASM report, “A single incorrect decision can potentially expose a cloud bucket or leave a share wide open, allowing anyone to discover it.”

Unauthorized access can happen in many ways in cloud environments, including via:

  • Weak passwords
  • Lack of two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Compromised user accounts
  • Stolen credentials
  • Insider threats
  • Brute force cyber attacks

These vulnerabilities can make cloud storage systems an easy target for cyber attacks, leading to data breaches, damaged reputation, and lost revenue.

4. How to reduce your cloud drive risks

So, is cloud storage safe and secure? Unfortunately, not. As we saw in the past section, there are many risks of cloud storage. However, you can mitigate the security concerns with cloud storage via the following best practices.

  1. Implement strong access controls: Make sure that you set up a permissions system so that only authorized people can access critical data in the cloud. If you work with third-party providers, specify your cybersecurity measures in their service level agreements, so that everyone is on board.
  2. Educate your employees and vendors: As we saw before, human error is arguably the biggest danger to your cloud storage. But you can easily offer data security training to reduce this risk. For example, you might teach people how to recognize and respond to phishing attacks, or how to create a strong password.
  3. Embrace multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA should be mandatory for any business that uses cloud storage and wants to take cybersecurity seriously. Having several login steps will add an additional layer of security, and reduce the likelihood of unauthorized people accessing your systems.
  4. Run audits often: It can take some extra time to run audits, but it’s worth the effort to avoid suffering a data breach later down the line. With regular check-ups, you can keep an eye on your cloud-based systems and quickly spot any misconfigurations or vulnerabilities—before they cause any issues.
  5. Monitor user activity: You can also make the most of real-time monitoring tools to watch out for any suspicious activity or strange file access patterns. These signs could indicate a security breach, and you’ll have a better chance of stopping it in its tracks the sooner you know about it.
  6. Create backup and disaster recovery systems: Data loss, ransomware attacks, outages, and natural disasters can happen. But if you have strong backups of all your sensitive information, you can reduce the damage and keep your systems safe.
  7. Invest in an external attack surface management (EASM) tool: Solutions such as CybelAngel offer real-time threat intelligence, helping you identify and address potential security issues in your cloud storage systems.
  8. Stay ahead of the latest trends: By reading up on the latest developments, such as our 2024 comprehensive cybersecurity report, you can put proactive measures in place and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

5. Moving forward

Of course, businesses will always make the most of cloud storage as a means to boost their productivity, keep in sync, and save on operating costs. However, anyone who uses cloud-based systems and APIs needs to acknowledge the risks involved—and act accordingly.

There are plenty of security measures that can reduce cloud drive risk, from educating employees, to regular monitoring, and two-factor authentication. With these strategies in place, companies can protect themselves from the dangers of oversharing, human error, misconfiguration and unauthorized access.

Here’s a quick checklist to remind you of how best to protect your cloud-based data:

  • Implement strong access controls and permissions
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all accounts
  • Conduct regular security audits
  • Educate employees on data security best practices
  • Utilize real-time monitoring tools
  • Back up critical data regularly

And don’t forget to read up on CybelAngel’s 2024 EASM report to understand the full scope of cybersecurity this year. With the right insights, you can proactively put measures in place to protect your cloud storage solutions and keep your company safe.