The four biggest cloud security threats and how to prevent them

Various cloud security threats can put your data at risk, but most are preventable. Learn about the common dangers and how to mitigate them.
Data safety is the primary concern of businesses and individuals storing their files on the cloud. The fear is legitimate because cloud security threats continuously evolve as attackers find new ways to exploit system vulnerabilities.The good news is that proper cybersecurity hygiene can keep your data safe from prying eyes. According to Verizon, 82% of attacks involve a human element, so educating yourself on common threats and taking the necessary precautions is enough to protect your cloud space.To help you stay safe online, this guide will outline the most severe dangers and ways to avert them.
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Examining cloud security threats and their consequences

While businesses are more common targets of cyberattacks than individuals, both user groups risk cloud breaches without adequate protection. The most common threats are:
  1. Misconfiguration
  2. Account hijacking
  3. Unsecured connected services
  4. Malware infections
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Misconfiguration—the leading cloud security threat

According to the NSA, misconfiguration is the main cloud vulnerability, despite being the most preventable one. It happens when a user or the cloud administrator doesn’t set up proper security layers, exposing a large attack surface.A good example is a misconfigured restriction of outbound traffic, which can result in data exfiltration. Other dangers include:
  • Unsecured automated backups—Besides securing your master data, you must protect backups and limit access to them
  • Lack of monitoring—Continuous traffic monitoring is essential for identifying and responding to security threats
  • Poor credentials management—Relying on your cloud provider to store login credentials is extremely risky, as any server breach can give the attacker access to them

Account hijacking due to insufficient security

Cloud drives have become popular targets of phishing and similar attacks involving account takeover. This is not a surprise, considering the amount of invaluable data they store. To keep your account safe, you must familiarize yourself with the common attack types so that you can recognize the signs of a scam.The following table explains the main attacks that can result in account hijacking:
AttackHow it works
PhishingThe attacker sends an email impersonating a legitimate sender, requesting the target’s login credentials. The email typically contains a spoof link leading to a page designed to steal the login details
Smishing/VishingSimilar to phishing, except these attacks involve SMS messages (smishing) or telephone conversations (vishing). The attacker impersonates a customer care representative to manipulate the user into revealing their login credentials
Brute force attacksUsing a specialized program, the attacker enters numerous character combinations at high speed to try and guess the user’s password

The risks of unsecured additional software

This threat is particularly prevalent in business cloud environments. As you scale your operations, you’ll likely connect various services to your cloud storage to boost your efficiency and productivity. Unless such platforms have proper security layers, they can become weak links an attacker can exploit.The same can happen with personal cloud storage if you install add-ons coming from unreputable sources. That’s why most cloud providers have a specific list of plug-ins and supported software.Before adding a platform to your workflow, do your due diligence and assess its security measures. Keep close track of all connected services, and limit authorization for adding new ones.

The dangers of cloud malware

Much like local storage, cloud drives can be infected with different types of malicious programs. The most common malware type affecting cloud environments is ransomware, which holds the target’s data for ransom until they meet the attacker’s conditions.Based on data treatment, there are two ransomware types:
Crypto ransomwareEncrypts the user’s data, making it unreadable to the original owner until the ransom is paid
Locker ransomwareLocks the user out of their account and demands payment in exchange for login credentials
External services like VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and RDPs (Remote Desktop Protocols) are among the most common ransomware delivery vectors, which ties back to the importance of choosing your connected platforms wisely.

How to ensure cloud-based threat protection

As daunting as the above dangers might seem, you can minimize the chances of falling victim to them by following a few steps:
  1. Have clear cloud data protection policies
  2. Secure your storage with strong passwords and two-factor authentication
  3. Use end-to-end encrypted cloud storage

Follow the necessary cloud data protection practices

In light of the ever-growing cyber threats, cloud data protection emerged as an essential security concept. It’s a collection of safety policies particularly important to business users, although individuals should implement them as well to safeguard their files and data.Some of the core cloud data protection guidelines include:
  • Keeping your business and personal accounts separate and securing both with strong credentials
  • Avoiding public Wi-Fi even if you use a VPN, as an average solution can’t offer sufficient protection
  • Ensuring your cloud provider has the necessary security layers (firewalls, physical server security, and zero-trust protocols)
  • Educating other users of shared storage on the importance of cloud security

Set complex passwords and enable two-factor authentication

Brute force attacks can guess simple passwords in seconds. The same goes for dictionary attacks, which start with common passphrases or the target’s personal details.To prevent such attacks, use complex combinations of alphanumeric and special characters. Shifting between upper and lowercase is also helpful, as is staying away from common keyboard patterns (e.g., 1qaz or asdfg).You can use password generators and strength checkers to create random passphrases virtually impregnable by brute force software. For instance, several checkers showed that a password like Ry4s-sW8–hR4s! would take two hundred million years to crack using a typical program.Still, password attacks are far from the most elaborate threats, so you need additional security layers like two-factor authentication. Even if someone guesses/steals your credentials, they won’t have access to your storage without the one-time code sent to your trusted device.

Secure your files and data with end-to-end encryption

As mentioned in the ransomware explanation, encryption makes data unreadable to everyone but the decryption key holder. Instead of falling victim to this technology, you can leverage it to ensure only you and authorized parties can see the contents of your files.This is only possible with end-to-end encryption (E2EE). Other types, like encryption at rest or in transit, happen on the cloud provider’s server, meaning they create and hold the decryption keys. This gives them access to your files, endangering your privacy and confidentiality.With E2EE, files are encrypted on your device. Your cloud provider only stores encrypted data, so the risk of sensitive files leaking is virtually zero. Even if an attacker breaches the server, they can’t see data in plaintext without your private decryption key.Note that this level of privacy and security isn’t offered by most Big Tech providers like Google Drive or Dropbox. If you want complete confidentiality and protection, sign up for Skiff Drive.

Protect your files with Skiff Drive’s cutting-edge security measures

Skiff Drive uses end-to-end encryption to give every user full ownership and control over their files. Your data is shielded with two keys:
  • The public key that gets shared among users
  • The private decryption key that remains on your device and can’t be accessed by anyone—including Skiff’s team
Only the users you decide to share your files with can see the unencrypted copies.To protect your cloud from phishing and password attacks, Skiff supports two-factor authentication and zero-knowledge login. Your credentials aren’t stored on the platform’s servers, and you don’t have to leave any personal information to get started. You get complete anonymity and privacy to enjoy peace of mind when storing sensitive files.Skiff’s advanced end-to-end encryption extends to links, so you can share files without privacy concerns. You can also opt-in for InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) storage to save files in a secure, decentralized environment.Skiff Drive is open source, so all of its security measures are verifiable. Anyone can inspect the codebase by visiting Skiff’s GitHub, and you can check out the whitepaper for an inside look into the platform’s cryptography and available features.If you own any crypto assets or want to communicate anonymously, you can log in with various wallets:

Create a secure ecosystem with Skiff’s privacy-first products

Once you sign up for Skiff Drive, you’ll get access to three additional end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  1. Skiff Mail—Send secure emails and attachments unreadable by everyone but the recipient
  2. Skiff Pages—Create unlimited docs and enjoy invite-based collaboration in a secure cloud environment
  3. Skiff Calendar—Schedule private events and video conferences
You can use Skiff with browsers and macOS, iOS, and Android devices. Visit the download page to start creating a comprehensive E2EE workflow.

Get started for free, scale as needed

Skiff offers a robust free plan with 10 GB of secure storage and all of the above benefits. There’s no time limit to the plan, so you can enjoy Skiff’s advanced security without restrictions by following three steps:
  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Create your Skiff account
  3. Upload files to Skiff Drive and explore other E2EE products
If you need more storage or additional features, you can choose between three paid plans. The following table compares all tiers and their key benefits:
Price$0 foreverFrom $3 per monthFrom $8 per monthFrom $12/user per month
Storage10 GB15 GB100 GB1 TB aliases4101015
Custom domains0125
File versioning24h24 hoursUnlimitedUnlimited
Pages collaborators666Unlimited
If you’re using another cloud provider and want more security, you can transfer all your files to Skiff Drive easily with the platform’s one-click migration. Unencrypted copies won’t be stored, so you can enjoy outstanding security from the moment you transition.

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