Mitigating 10 Emerging Threats and Vulnerabilities in Cloud Computing

As organizations increasingly migrate their operations to the cloud, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential threats and vulnerabilities that may compromise the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of sensitive information. In this blog, we will delve into 10 common threats and vulnerabilities in cloud computing and discuss effective strategies to mitigate them, emphasizing the importance of a robust cloud computing security architecture.

Differentiating Vulnerabilities & Threats

While both contribute to cloud security risks, they hold distinct meanings and require separate approaches for mitigation.

  • Vulnerabilities are inherent weaknesses in a system, representing the “how” of a potential attack. They’re areas that, if not taken care of, might allow someone or something to get in and mess with important information
  • Threats are entities or events that actively attempt to exploit these weaknesses, representing the “who” and “why” of a potential attack. Threats could be cyber-attacks, viruses, or even just someone trying to access information they shouldn’t. They’re the active dangers that we want to guard against to keep everything safe and sound.

1. Misconfigurations

Misconfiguration occurs when cloud services are not set up securely, leaving them open to exploitation. Examples include using default passwords, granting excessive permissions, and leaving sensitive data unencrypted.


Follow best practices: Utilize cloud provider documentation and security guidelines to ensure proper configuration.

Use strong passwords: Enforce complex password policies and utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added cloud security

2. Lack of Visibility

Many organizations lack complete visibility into their cloud environment. This hinders their ability to detect and respond to potential threats promptly. Additionally, it makes it difficult to track user activity and enforce access controls effectively.


Cloud security tools: Cloud providers offer various tools for visibility into user activity, resource utilization, and potential security risks.

Invest in Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions: These solutions aggregate security data from various sources, providing centralized monitoring and analysis, helping identify and respond to potential threats.

3. Poor Access Management

Inadequate access management practices can leave your cloud environment vulnerable. This includes granting excessive privileges, neglecting to revoke access when no longer needed, and failing to enforce strong password policies.


Principle of least privilege: Grant users only the minimum access required for their specific roles and revoke access when no longer required.

Robust password policies: Mandate the use of intricate passwords and periodic password updates.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Add an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification factor when accessing sensitive data.

4. Insider Threats

Malicious insiders, whether employees, contractors, or vendors, can pose a significant threat to cloud computing security. These individuals with legitimate access may misuse their privileges intentionally or unintentionally.


Thorough background checks: Implement rigorous background checks before granting access to sensitive data and systems.

Security awareness training: Educate employees about the best practices and the importance of data protection.

Monitor user activity: Monitor user activity for suspicious behaviour and implement anomaly detection systems to identify unusual access patterns.

5. Unsecured APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are essential for cloud applications to interact and share data. However, insecure APIs can provide attackers with a backdoor into your cloud environment.


Implement strong authentication and authorization mechanisms: Ensure only authorized applications can access APIs.

Monitor API activity: Monitor API activity for suspicious behaviour and identify potential unauthorized access attempts.

API security best practices: Follow industry best practices for securing APIs, such as using HTTPS, encrypting sensitive data, and keeping APIs updated with the latest security patches.

6. Zero-Day Exploits

Zero-day exploits are security vulnerabilities unknown to the software vendor and, consequently, remain unpatched. These pose a significant threat, as attackers can exploit them before a fix is available.


Stay informed: Regularly check for new zero-day vulnerabilities and prioritize patching systems once patches become available.

Implement layered security: Utilize a combination of security measures, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and application whitelisting, to mitigate the impact of zero-day attacks.

7. Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the use of cloud services outside the IT department’s control and without proper authorization. These unsanctioned services create blind spots in your security posture, increasing the risk of data breaches and introducing vulnerabilities that IT teams may be unaware of.


Establish clear policies: Develop and enforce clear policies outlining authorized cloud services, usage guidelines, and approval processes.

Educate employees: Raise awareness about the risks associated with using unauthorized cloud services.

8. Data Breaches

Data breaches involve the unauthorized access and exfiltration of sensitive data, such as customer information, financial data, or intellectual property. These breaches can have devastating consequences.


Encrypt data: Implement robust data encryption methods to secure data both when stored within the cloud and while being transmitted across networks.

Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions: Implement DLP solutions to monitor and control data movement, preventing unauthorized data exfiltration attempts.

Data Backups: Maintain regular backups of your data to ensure recovery in the event of a data breach.

9. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks flood your cloud resources with massive amounts of traffic, overwhelming your systems, and rendering them unavailable to legitimate users. This can disrupt critical operations, cause financial losses, and damage your reputation.


DDoS mitigation solutions: Utilize cloud-based solutions to filter out malicious traffic and protect your cloud resources from being overwhelmed.

Work with your cloud provider: Collaborate with your cloud provider to develop a comprehensive DDoS response plan, outlining steps to identify, mitigate, and recover from DoS attacks.

10. Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, can infiltrate your environment through various means, including phishing emails, infected downloads, or software vulnerabilities, and cause data corruption, operational disruption, data exfiltration, and ransomware attacks.


Endpoint protection software: Install and maintain robust endpoint protection software on all devices accessing your cloud environment to detect and prevent malware infections.

Safe browsing practices: Train your employees to recognize and avoid phishing attempts, suspicious links, and untrusted attachments.

In wrapping up, a strong cloud security approach boils down to having and regularly testing response plans. Whether it’s a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) situation, a malware incident, or a data breach, well-prepared and routinely tested response plans ensure quick and effective reactions to different threats.

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