Putting your data on a cloud-based storage system seems like a no-brainer. Storing mass amounts of data on off-site installations to eliminate the cost of maintaining physical hardware? Sounds like a win-win. If only it were that simple.
Storing data is one of the most common enterprise uses for the cloud. It’s often more cost-effective than using on-prem software and the systems can be accessed from anywhere on any device. However, cloud storage systems come with a load of potential security risks that should be considered before making the jump. While most cloud storage systems have decent security measures in place, they aren’t perfect, and can differ wildly from each other in terms of security coverage.
That said, it helps to know about cloud storage security risks you potentially face so you know how to deal with them if they ever happen. We’ve listed 7 cloud storage security risks that you need to be aware of.
Your data is your data. You don’t want anybody to access it unless you allow them to. This is easy enough to maintain when you store data on-site, but what about in the cloud? Because your data is stored elsewhere, it might be impossible to know just how closed off it is. How can you be sure no one can access it when you don’t maintain the servers it’s stored on? When you migrate sensitive data to the cloud, be aware that you might be losing essential privacy controls.
Lack of control
When you rely on a third-party to store data for you, you’re lifting a lot of responsibility off of your shoulders. This is a double-edged sword, however. On one hand, you won’t have to manage your data – on the other hand, somebody else will. If something affects your storage provider, like outages or malware infections, that will directly impact access to your data. You’ll have to rely on the provider to fix the issues. The more time your data spends unprotected, the more at-risk it becomes.
Saying you store your data “on the cloud” compared to “on a server” isn’t exactly true. Cloud-based storage systems still use servers to hold data, but users don’t physically access them. Cloud storage providers don’t build specific servers for each user; the server space is shared between different customers as needed. You may be putting your data at risk if others using your servers upload potentially anomalous or hazardous information.
Lack of backup services
One of the biggest complaints storage systems receive is that they don’t offer automatic backup functionality. Instead, they expect you to make backups of the data you store on the cloud yourself. To be fair, this issue doesn’t affect every storage provider – some will automatically provide backups of your data for you. However, those that don’t provide backups also don’t give you a safety net in the event of sudden data loss.
A large part of secure data storage is making sure no one outside your organization tries to access your data. Another part is making sure your data isn’t sent to anyone outside your organization (unless you send it yourself). Data leakage can cause serious problems since it could expose business-critical or private data to external sources. Even if you take steps to prevent anyone in your enterprise from leaking data, your storage provider might accidentally expose your data to the wrong person.
Not every security risk comes from the storage provider itself. The devices that access your data are also a potential source of danger. Many companies are embracing BYOD culture, which certainly has its benefits. This means, though, that more worker-owned devices will access your storage provider, which poses a big security risk if one of those devices happens to be dangerous. Shadow IT is another factor; any device that a worker doesn’t register but still uses to access your data can spell bad news.
APIs and storage gateways
Some enterprises use cloud storage APIs or storage gateways to help them migrate their data onto the cloud. These tools act as a middleman between the user and the storage provider. They may help your workers access and manage the data on your cloud, but an insecure API or gateway might cause a lot of damage to your data. If you want or need to use a storage API or gateway, make sure you choose one that has reputable security features.