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The Top 7 Cloud Security Threats and How to Protect Your Organization

The increasing adoption of cloud computing has transformed the way organizations store and manage data, access applications, and scale their IT infrastructure. While the cloud offers numerous benefits, it also presents unique security challenges that must be addressed to safeguard sensitive information and maintain regulatory compliance. In this blog post, we will discuss the top seven cloud security threats and provide practical tips for protecting your organization against them.




Misconfigurations are among the most common causes of cloud security breaches. Improper access controls, storage configurations, and network settings can unintentionally expose sensitive data to unauthorized users. Can this be tied back to “human error”? Is it human error when people aren’t trained on the different risks and threats associated with cloud computing? Do your risk management and audit teams understand the differences? Does your security team know how to implement the necessary controls to automate the monitoring and enforcement of security policies?


How to protect your organization:


Weak or Compromised Credentials


Attackers often target weak or stolen credentials to gain access to cloud accounts and resources. Although all 3 items below need to be done, the most important item to do here is implementation of MFA. The MFA that should be implemented is hardware-based, preferably a Yubikey as these are extremely resistant to any form of spoofing or social engineering.


How to protect your organization:


  • Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all users.
  • Enforce strong password policies and encourage the use of password managers.
  • Regularly review user accounts and access privileges to detect and remove unauthorized users.

Insufficient Access Control


Inadequate access control policies can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data and applications. Some say that access controls are the new perimeter. This is absolutely true when it comes to cloud and its broad network characteristic.


How to protect your organization:


  • Implement the principle of least privilege, granting users only the permissions necessary to perform their job functions.
  • Regularly review and update access control policies to ensure they remain effective.
  • Monitor user activity for signs of privilege abuse or unauthorized access.

Vulnerabilities in Cloud Services


Cloud services, like any other software, can contain vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access. Poor code security is poor security regardless of the location where the application is. A course such as the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) by ISC2 should be considered for developers and risk management teams in your organization.


How to protect your organization:


  • Keep your cloud services up to date with the latest patches and updates.
  • Regularly perform vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to identify and remediate potential security risks.
  • Subscribe to security alerts from your cloud service provider to stay informed about new threats and vulnerabilities.

Insecure APIs


Application programming interfaces (APIs) are often used for communication between cloud services, and insecure APIs can be exploited to compromise data or applications. APIs are the new target for attackers and need to be properly secured. Start off with understanding the risks associated with REST APIs by reading the reading the OWASP API Top Ten.


How to protect your organization:


  • Use strong authentication and access control mechanisms for APIs.
  • Regularly audit and monitor API usage to detect suspicious activity.
  • Implement encryption and secure communication protocols for API data transmissions.

Human Error


Accidental data exposure, misconfigurations, or other mistakes made by employees can lead to cloud security breaches. Much of this has to do with proper policies being established and followed. Essentially, this comes back to company culture surrounding security in general. A poorly governed company that has little regard for security will always outrank other companies in the hall of shame for most breaches.


How to protect your organization:


  • Provide regular security awareness training for all staff members.
  • Develop and enforce clear policies and procedures for managing cloud resources.
  • Establish a culture of security and encourage employees to report potential issues or vulnerabilities.

Insider Threats


Malicious insiders can intentionally cause data breaches or share sensitive information with unauthorized parties. This is where zero-trust comes in. Nobody or anything should be trusted. To understand more about zero-trust, you can check out our zero trust discussion paper on the subject.


How to protect your organization:


  • Implement strict access controls and monitor user activity for signs of insider threats.
  • Perform background checks on employees and limit access to sensitive data on a need-to-know basis.
  • Establish incident response procedures to quickly detect, contain, and mitigate insider threats.


Cloud security is a shared responsibility between the cloud service provider and the customer. By understanding the top cloud security threats and implementing effective countermeasures, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of breaches and maintain the trust of their customers, partners, and regulators. Remember, a proactive approach to cloud security can help your organization stay one step ahead of potential threats and ensure the continued success of your cloud initiatives.


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Graham Thompson is an Information Security professional with over 25 years of enterprise experience across engineering, architecture, assessment and training disciplines. He is the founder and CEO of Intrinsec Security, a leading training company that is solely focused on delivering leading authorized IT security training from partners such as the Cloud Security Alliance, ISC2, ISACA, EC-Council and CompTIA.

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