Pink cloud in a dark and starry sky.

Cloud Hijacking

Cyber risks in a fully remote world.

Rob Peterson weighs in on cloud security and shares 7 steps to keep your organization safe.

In 2014, Yahoo found itself in one of the largest data breaches in history. More than 500 million Yahoo accounts that contained personal information were compromised because of a cloud breach by hackers. This past March, Marriott suffered from a similar breach when two employee accounts were hacked by obtaining their credentials, supposedly from phishing or credential stuffing. The hacker then accumulated the data of over 5.2 million Marriott guests.

Even before the onset of COVID-19, most companies with a web presence were already using cloud computing infrastructures for their storage and access capacities. With the pandemic in full-swing, even those companies that were laggards are now on a cloud somewhere.

 While most medium and large companies are aware of the risks that come with relying on cloud-based platforms, there are still many that do not employ cloud-security best-practices in their organizations.

 What is Cloud Hijacking?

Cloud-jacking or cloud hijacking is the process of stealing an individual or organization’s cloud account information. Hackers access cloud accounts using corrupt email addresses from associated accounts within the cloud they are hacking. These schemes are often used for identity theft or to conduct malicious activities on the rightful user’s account.

 In these instances, the applications a cloud is running or managing allow more leeway for hackers to breach.

 Cloud networks are a prime environment for attack by hackers because of the countless access points.
Hackers gain access to individual employee accounts at large companies through phishing email scams or credential stuffing to then breach larger servers that contain the private information of millions of users.

 Cloud Security Challenges in the Workplace

In March, Marriott had more than $28 million worth of expenses associated with its breach. In 2014, Yahoo lost $1.3 billion in market capitalization. The company also openly admitted to not having cybersecurity insurance. If they had taken precautions, they could have saved themselves gross unnecessary expenses and the integrity of their business.

 Marriott did what Yahoo failed to do by investing in cybersecurity insurance, which saved them millions in the long run.

 Cloud computing can be likened to adding doors and windows to a building. The more doors and windows you have, the more access points someone has to break in through, thus the more access points you have to secure.

 There are thousands of servers attached to cloud networks that need to be secured, and the more access points that are added to a given server, the more entry points exist for threats.

It may be more efficient to work remotely or have teams distributed from their homes, but a data breach can have a significant impact on customers’ trust in the security of your company.

 What should you do to keep your team and company safe?

For service providers and companies that deal with personal information, it is essential that employees not disclose login details. If your company wants to reap the benefits of cloud-based solutions while avoiding the risk of getting hijacked, here are some steps to take into consideration with your team:

  1. Ensure your employees are not sharing account credentials between devices that are not used for work.
  2. Create an agreement between employees about account access to prevent security breaches.
  3. Team members should be trained on how to recognize phishing scams and fraudulent attempts to obtain their credentials.
  4. Adopt a two-step verification technique to ensure there is no unauthorized activity occurring.
  5. Set up requirements for firewalls and limit infrastructure to authorized personnel in order to uphold the integrity of their customers/users’ data.
  6. Implement security encryption into your cloud platform so that data remains hidden from or inaccessible to an unauthorized user.
  7. Obtain appropriate cyber threat insurance.

 While it's impossible to completely eliminate risk associated with cloud-based platforms, there are ways to mitigate the risk of a breach. Understanding the risks and educating your team is a strong start.

 It also helps to regularly review the features of your cyber insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage. Appropriate cyber-insurance can make or break your organization with respect to fiscal impacts of a data breach. As they say - hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

 The volume of cyberattacks is increasing year over year and the threats are constantly evolving. With varying stages of COVID lockdowns in place in many regions and countless companies opting to keep their teams work from home, the number of potential access points for hackers likewise increases exponentially.

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