There are several reasons to believe that the cloud is safer than on-premises servers, ranging from improved data durability to more consistent patch management – yet there are also vulnerabilities to cloud security that enterprises should address. Among them is cloud-based malware.
Indeed, while cloud infrastructures are typically more immune to cyber threats than on-premises infrastructure, malware distributed through the cloud surged by 68% in early 2021, allowing for a wide range of cyber strikes.
Ransomware, one of the types of cloud-based malware, made headlines earlier this year after a successful assault on one of Toyota Motor Corp.’s components suppliers prompted the carmaker to shut down 14 Japanese facilities for a day, halting their total output of about 13,000 automobiles. This was the most recent instance of ransomware’s threat to all industries.
Safeguarding against cloud-based malware has to be part of any organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy if they are still using data center infrastructure instead of cloud technology. Hardening data centers and endpoints to guard against ransomware assaults is essential, but cloud infrastructure confronts a new type of danger. And if the company is entirely cloud-based, malware is less of a concern.
However, if you already have a cloud provider, you may wonder: Doesn’t the cloud provider handle all of the cloud-based malware? Both yes and no.
While your cloud provider will safeguard your cloud infrastructure in certain ways, under the shared accountability model, the company is responsible for dealing with a wide range of security risks, events, responses, and other issues. That implies companies must prepare themselves in advance in case of a cloud-based malware assault.
How can malware enter the cloud?
A malware injection attack is one of the most common ways for malware to infiltrate the cloud. A hacker carries out a malware injection attack and attempts to inject harmful services, code, or perhaps even virtual machines into the cloud system.
SQL injection attacks, which target insecure SQL servers in cloud infrastructure, & cross-site scripting attacks, which run malicious scripts on victim web browsers, are the two most frequent malware injection assaults. Both attacks can potentially steal data or snoop on users in the cloud.
Malware can also enter the cloud via a file upload.
Most cloud storage companies now provide file-syncing, which means that as files on your local devices are updated, they immediately transfer to the cloud. So, if you download a malicious file to your local device, it may go to your organization’s cloud, where it can access, infect, and encrypt corporate data.
According to one study, malware supplied via cloud storage programs such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box accounts for 69% of cloud virus downloads.
A New Threat
Your cloud infrastructure is more than just a virtual copy of your on-premises data center and IT systems. Application programming interfaces (APIs) — the software “middlemen” that allow various apps to interact with one other — power cloud computing. The API interface that configures and runs the cloud is known as the control plane.
The goal for all cloud platform providers, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, is to ensure the robustness and resilience of your data. Furthermore, duplicating data on the cloud is simple and inexpensive, and a well-designed cloud architecture assures repeated data backups. That is the primary impediment to an attacker’s ability to utilize malware: The fact that companies have many copies of the data defeats their capacity to shut them out. If an attacker can encrypt the data & demands a ransom, then companies may simply restore the most recent version of the data before the encryption.
AWS’s redundancy and robustness for thousands of customers running thousands of networks and servers are hard to recreate in the company’s own data center architecture. And if a company’s access to its on-premises systems is revoked and encrypted, regaining access without paying the ransom can be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, in some situations.
Cloud security is different since you determine it by smart design and architecture instead of intrusion detection & security analysis. Hackers aren’t seeking to get into the company network to lock it out of their systems; they’re looking for cloud misconfigurations that will allow them to operate against the cloud control plane APIs and take the data.
Best ways to prevent cloud-based malware
Fix the cloud security holes
There are several entry points for hackers to breach cloud infrastructures, and once they do, they may introduce cloud-based malware like crypto miners and ransomware. One of the first lines of protection against cloud-based malware must be patching up the security gaps in your cloud infrastructure.
- Ensure that company identity & access management (IAM) policies are solid.
- Configure the public APIs correctly.
- Correctly configure the cloud storage.
Secure the endpoints to prevent malware from entering the cloud by detecting and removing it
Endpoint detection & response is an excellent “second line of defense” against cloud-based threats.
- Monitor suspicious activities.
- Strike in isolation.
- incident reaction
Detect cloud-based malware by using a second-opinion cloud storage scanner
Because the primary scanner likely won’t pick up a cloud-based malware infection that the company’s secondary scanner does, a second-opinion cloud storage scanner is a superb second line of protection for cloud storage.
Data backup strategy
Companies should have a plan in place for data backups, specifically for situations involving ransomware. A data backup strategy is their greatest shot of retrieving lost information when it comes to ransomware assaults in the cloud, which can result in enterprises losing sensitive or important data.
CISA advises adopting the 3-2-1 method. According to the 3-2-1 approach, companies should keep each file with the following:
- One on the local server for editing on a workstation and for easy accessibility.
- One as a backup on the cloud.
- One on a long-term storage device like a replicated offsite, drive array, or even a tape drive from the past.
Businesses should handle a variety of cloud security concerns, including cloud-based malware. Because cloud providers follow a shared responsibility paradigm, they should be ready for a cloud-based malware assault. We described how malware might reach the cloud in this post, along with four steps you can take to protect the company better.
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