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Don’t underestimate vulnerabilities in the cloud. Adopt hybrid to stay protected


There is no question the cloud has and continues to gain popularity among businesses and individuals, and today — whether it’s SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS — 94 percent of enterprises are now utilizing cloud services. Cloud has allowed organizations to save on infrastructure and operational costs while enabling more flexibility and scalability. Adopting the cloud has helped companies find alternative plans to reduce costs while ensuring the availability of their data and infrastructure.

But every technology has its drawbacks. Cloud-related vulnerabilities have doubled in the last four years, resulting in 82 percent of data breaches involving cloud data compromises. Cloud-first enterprises have been consistently targeted by cybercriminals, resulting in data breaches stemming from inadequate security measures and cybercriminals gaining access to sensitive data through account hijacking. Additionally, when not properly executed, there is a high risk of professionals overlooking outdated applications running in the cloud, enabling new vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit.

This brings into consideration the benefits of a hybrid cloud and on-premises model, which helps to maintain a robust security posture to safeguard business operations more effectively. Let’s dive in deeper to understand further the obstacles companies face when purely dependent on the cloud and the benefits of a hybrid approach.

The Top Vulnerabilities Affecting the Cloud Today

To highlight the severity of the vulnerabilities, let’s consider a recent report by Qualys examining top vulnerable areas about assets hosted in a cloud environment. A few critical threats emerged as significant organizational concerns among the various vulnerabilities examined.

Misconfigurations and external vulnerabilities were identified as the foremost susceptibilities, posing a substantial risk to cloud-based assets. These misconfigurations often stem from the complexity of cloud environments and the challenge of aligning security settings with the specific needs of each organization. External vulnerabilities, on the other hand, highlight the susceptibility of cloud-based systems to threats from external actors, emphasizing the need for robust perimeter defenses.

Another significant concern noted in the report was weaponized vulnerabilities. This threat encompasses vulnerabilities that have the potential to be exploited as weapons by cybercriminals, underscoring the critical importance of promptly addressing vulnerabilities. Malware within the cloud was also identified as a significant risk factor. Cloud environments, while offering many benefits, can inadvertently provide a breeding ground for malware if not adequately secured.

All this to say, the shared responsibility model in cloud computing places the responsibility on both cloud service providers (CSPs) and organizations to maintain security. While CSPs provide security settings and controls, the ease and speed at which data can be moved into the cloud can sometimes lead to these controls being overlooked. This oversight can create vulnerabilities (like those listed above) and potential points of entry for cyberthreats, essentially leaving cracks in the overall defense strategy.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Hybrid Approach

As cloud adoption continues to rise, organizations must strike a balance between the convenience of cloud computing and the robust security measures required to safeguard digital assets. This can be achieved by adopting a hybrid approach of both cloud and on-premises deployments.

Due to the nuanced nature of the cloud, many often find themselves checking boxes and setting up infrastructure without proper security or understanding of what they are doing. Amazon Web Services, by default, turns off all outbound communication on every workload created because they know it is the end user’s responsibility and ultimate risk to “open the floodgates.” While the cloud offers unbelievable convenience, it is a veritable Pandora’s Box of functionality and requires expertise and constant education to stay in best practice and ahead of threats.

Due to the built-in complexity of CSPs, some clever vendors have built an alternative to the cloud model. They are creating remote and on-premises solutions that acknowledge the end user’s need for security, simplicity, and power and eliminate the complexity of management, expertise, and control. Users can free up time and significantly reduce risk by taking advantage of on-premises and remote services and solutions designed to improve the now-aging cloud model.

Furthermore, the cloud is limited by an organization’s internet bandwidth, whereas on-premises infrastructure and storage allow for much faster ingest and recovery speeds. Slow ingest speeds could mean that backup windows are not being met. If backup windows are not met, there may not be a good copy of data to recover from. If cyber attackers compromise data in the cloud, hold it hostage for ransom, or even destroy it, IT teams with on-premises copies of data will still be able to rapidly recover and restore everything.

By adopting the hybrid model, organizations can have the flexibility and scalability offered by the cloud while maintaining the immutability and integrity of on-premises storage solutions. While the cloud brings undeniable advantages, even the most robust cloud security can be penetrable, making on-premises backup storage critical to your overall data protection strategy. To ensure the most effective protection, the best practice is to adhere to the “3-2-1-1-0″ backup strategy. Maintain three copies of your data on two different media types, with one of those copies stored off-site and one immutable or air gapped, while ensuring zero errors upon backup.

Embracing a hybrid approach allows organizations the benefits of data accessibility in the cloud and on-premises. It provides safe, simple, and affordable solutions for organizations to effectively manage and store their data with the robust security measures that the cloud offers. It’s essential to recognize that no system is entirely immune to potential breaches or ransomware attacks. By implementing on-premises immutable backup storage, organizations are fortifying their data protection strategy, ensuring that valuable information remains resilient and safeguarded against potential threats.

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