By Dotan Nahum CEO and Founder at Spectral.
Digital transformation is pushing business entities to deploy products faster than ever, but at what cost? IT teams feel colossal pressure to balance speed with security. While they are adopting the cloud as a way to remain agile and scalable, this also means they are more vulnerable to malicious attacks. In 2022 alone, the average cost of a data breach in the US alone was $9.44 million.
In this article, we’ll examine how your company can reduce dependencies, improve security and delegate tasks to vendors while increasing development velocity at the same time. We will explore the latest industry trends and real-life examples, which will help you create a comprehensive security stack regardless of whether you’re just starting your journey on the cloud or looking to improve your current security stack further.
Understanding critical vulnerabilities and threats to cloud companies
From weak passwords to insufficient security controls, the cloud presents a range of vulnerabilities that cyber criminals can exploit.
1. No multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA provides an extra layer of security compared to traditional single-factor authentication methods. Its absence is a significant vulnerability for cloud companies. Password-only authentication can be easily compromised through brute-force attacks or the reuse of passwords across multiple systems, resulting in unauthorized access to sensitive information or resources stored in the cloud.
2. Malicious insiders. There are always individuals who have legitimate access to a system but who use their privileges to carry out malicious activities. Insider attacks are hard to navigate because the responsibility doesn’t lie exclusively on cyber security teams’ shoulders. HR departments and managers should also step in to manage disgruntled employees and mitigate the risks of sabotage — the risk that “too many cooks spoil the broth.”
You must implement strict access controls and track user activity for suspicious behavior to prevent this. It’s also advisable to have an incident response plan with clear procedures for detecting, investigating, and responding to incidents.
3. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks aim to take down web services by flooding the server with overwhelming requests from various sources (essentially overloading it). This results in the server becoming unable to respond to legitimate requests, making the web service unavailable.
You can defend your firm against DDoS attacks by monitoring traffic to detect unusual spikes, using firewalls to block malicious traffic, and having backup systems to keep services running even during an attack.
4. Insecure APIs. APIs play a significant role in making digital experiences more connected and efficient. But if an API lacks proper authentication, it can allow unauthorized access to sensitive data stored in the cloud, leading to data breaches and loss of confidential information. Similarly, APIs with weak or broken access controls can allow attackers to bypass established restrictions.
To make your API security robust, implement MFA across the organization and ensure that all of the transmitted data is encrypted using SSL/TLS. You must also be diligent about who all has access to the API keys.
5. Misconfigured systems and networks. Misconfigured systems and networks leave gaps in security measures and expose sensitive data. Always double-check cloud storage security configurations to prevent such gaps after setting up a server. Moreover, you can ensure each person and tool only have access to the bare minimum information and resources they need to do their job effectively.
Why you shouldn’t jump straight into the deep end
Choosing the perfect technology stack is critical for any cloud company, given how it can make or break a project. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose. Hence the need to follow a structured approach so that every decision you make is well-informed and well-reasoned. Here are a few steps you should take when finalizing your tech stack:
1. Determine project requirements and goals. Before finalizing a tech stack, you must clearly understand what the project needs to accomplish, the total cost of ownership, and the performance it is expected to deliver. During these discussions, you’ll need to keep stakeholders in the loop, as much as the developers who will be completing the project.
2. Evaluate technology options and their suitability for the project. With the project requirements ready, you must now evaluate different technology options and gauge their suitability. This involves considering factors such as the technology’s capabilities and limitations. It would help if you also looked at the level of support available for the technology (including community support and documentation) and its overall market adoption.
3. Consider scalability, cost, and security. A tech stack must offer the ability to grow with your business and not hinder it. So, you could prioritize technologies with advanced security features such as data encryption for data (at rest and in transit), secure authentication and authorization mechanisms, and the ability to detect and respond to breaches. It’s also preferable for the tech stack to have a track record of being regularly updated to address recent vulnerabilities.
4. Assess compatibility with existing systems and tools. Interoperability between different systems and tools is an underrated factor and can streamline processes and help you save time and money by preventing duplication of effort.
5. Test and evaluate potential tech stacks through proof of concept. It’s always a good idea to test and evaluate potential tech stacks through a proof of concept (POC). Apart from providing hands-on experience to the developers, this will help you identify any limitations or issues, including performance bottlenecks or security vulnerabilities, and will also provide valuable insights into how you will use the technology successfully in the final solution.
Does the ‘perfect’ tech stack exist?
Every cloud company needs a comprehensive security tech stack to maintain the trust of its customers and minimize the possibility of a security incident. To that end, the security tech stack should include a combination of technologies, processes, and tools that address various security threats and vulnerabilities.