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Cloud Security Solutions. How to safely transition into the cloud

Lorna Jones

Lorna Jones, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
Sep 22, 2023

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Healthcare, banking, and finance are the top 3 most threatened industries by breaches in their cloud infrastructure.

This article will be THE go-to guide for keeping your business and its operations safe from malicious exploits, data breaches and choosing the right cloud service providers for your business. As mentioned on top, those three sectors are the most targeted industries by cybercriminals; since these industries’ operations are mostly interconnected between their facilities and their systems (Let’s face it, most businesses and industries in this era have their dominant existence in the cyber world). It is relatively easy for someone to gain unauthorised access if the security implementation by IT misconfigures security measures and posture.

“From 2009-2021, there were 4419 data breaches in the US healthcare system (In the US alone), which resulted in over 300 million medical records being exposed, with 100$ - 25000$ penalties sanctioned by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for Healthcare providers) reported by HIPAA Journal Healthcare Data Breach Statistics.”

“The average cost of a data breach in the financial sector is around 9.2$ million in 2021, according to the Ponemon Institute’s data breach report. (that 9.2$M per breach, and there were up to 2,527 reported worldwide)”.

Half of the banks in North America are using hybrid systems mixing between the cloud and on-premises data centres, and 39% use public cloud.
In conclusion, most breach motives are for financial reasons and personal data, but looking at the bigger picture. 80% of Healthcare in the US is privately owned, which would down-spiral the reputation of your business.
Vigilant clients would not think twice about staying with HSBC after the cyberattack that occurred 270,000+ clients were unable to access their online banking system. (That’s the largest banking and financial institution in the EU).

What are the most common threats that these industries face?

The most threat patterns that occurred were: Social engineering, Malicious Errors, System Intrusion, and Basic web application attacks. All resulted in data breaches on the cloud infrastructure these businesses use. Ransomware attacks can infiltrate cloud environments through various vectors, healthcare organisations such as infected files or compromised user accounts. Once inside the cloud, malware can propagate, infect other systems, or encrypt data, leading to potential disruptions and financial losses.
Your business is a well-established healthcare provider in the private sector, meaning you own it, but you also inherit all the risks that come with it. One of your responsibilities is to guard the business’ reputation, and one of the factors to keeping its reputation afloat is no scandals and no risks involved for clients to deal effectively with your business.

Clients’ data must stay safe to keep your business’s reputation, so the in-house cybersecurity team must work nonstop. Since the IT workload on-premises versus on the cloud shifted since 2020--(That year was the year healthcare organisations suffered losses the most)--around 21% in 2019 up to 30% in 2020, up to 50-50% between: on cloud and in-premisses workload, with that information and Healthcare using cloud infrastructures to store data, manage it, and scale easier, your business is at several risks: from government compliance such as HIPAA to malicious attempts on your business’ infrastructure.
As mentioned before, 2020 was the most challenging year for healthcare organisations. These are some statistics of high-profile attacks on the healthcare cloud infrastructure:

A Pennsylvania-based Fortune 500 company was breached in March 2020, which resulted in over 250 hospitals losing access to their systems for three weeks.
Even in France, a hospital’s data leaked, and ransomware disrupted operations. (Fact: 5% of attacks on Healthcare are “for fun” purposes).

In Vermont in November 2020, ransomware caused a complete shutdown of 5000 systems, which resulted in 300 staff members in the university-based healthcare network; being put on leave. It was estimated; that the attack cost 1.5 million $ a day.

You run a financial organisation. The finest business ever run is a bank. Your system is modern (Your business was one of the industry pioneers in pushing for a cloud-hosted banking system), but almost the sole reason for cyber attacks occur; is financial gain, and what better way to gain lots of money quickly than to E-rob a bank?

Banks are the more targeted industries in cybercrime. Even if the statistics will not say that, we will. Going the long run, firmly and securely configuring your organisation’s cloud security is crucial. Ensure the IT team and regular employees get proper training, so they would not fall for a phishing scheme. Like the healthcare industry, keeping clients, their trust and your business’ reputation is one of the TO-DOs daily, with 90% of finance using some form of cloud solution, such as a cloud-hosted (CRM) Customer Relationship Management.

Finally, cloud solutions help banks streamline and centralise their data, storage, and interpretation processes, improving operational speed and scalability. And there are factual statistics to knock any business that uses cloud solutions awake and make them get professional help from cybersecurity firms:

A Data breach in May 2019 cost First American Corporation almost $900 million in credit card applications. When a webpage link leading to sensitive information isn’t protected by an authentication policy to verify user access, through an error called “Business Logic Flaw”.

In 2019, a former Amazon Web Services software engineer, Paige A. Thompson, illegally accessed the AWS servers storing Capital One’s data and stole 100 million credit points.

In 2014, JPMorganChase, cyberattackers gained the highest administrative level privilege and achieved root access to over 90 servers. Instead of stealing financial information, customer contact information was the only information stolen (someone wanted to make an email list, and 83 million accounts were compromised? That’s one long email list).

The most common types of cloud malware & threats that can harm any cloud-hosted business:

DDOS attacks - Goal:

Take a target website offline by overwhelming the network with traffic from multiple sources.

Hypervisor DOS attacks - Goal:

Attacks targeting hypervisors exploit weaknesses within the hypervisor layer responsible for managing and distributing resources to virtual machines. These attacks aim to compromise data and system security, potentially resulting in the complete shutdown of your environment. Successful hypervisor DoS attacks can crash the hypervisor or disrupt the entire cloud infrastructure.

Hyperjacking (much more like car jack or hijack but in the cloud and on steroids). Goal:

To gain access to the businesses’ system via accessing admin users’ sessions without their knowledge or permission. It allows them to steal your data or even damage your systems.

Exploiting Live Migration (this is an interesting one. Cloud providers have presented this solution for moving VMs without downtime from one physical server to another to distribute computing resources). Goal:

Install malware on the targeted machines or steal data, and even take over the system because live migrations are usually not very secure.

(IoT & IoMT) Internet of Things and Internet of Medical Things

(In the new era of appliances and modernisation, the cybersecurity teams discovered a new struggle to protect the legacy devices, newer, IP-connected devices, including IoMT devices, BAS systems, HVAC, elevators, CCTV, physical security systems, all these have been introduced and connected. These unmanaged new devices provide a potential entry point for cybercriminals (Where there is wifi, they can enter. 

Healthcare institutions have adopted modern technologies to enhance patient care and streamline operations. However, their investments and proficiency in cybersecurity are different from other sectors. Instead of viewing cybersecurity as a necessary expense to mitigate risk, businesses often perceive it as just another operational cost by executives and board members of healthcare organisations. Goal: to disrupt operational efficiency and possibly take over control of the system).

What specific steps can businesses take to ensure their cloud infrastructure is secure?

Establish code review protocols:

It is crucial to have a designated quality control officer review all code before deployment to ensure code quality.

Vigilantly monitor for data leaks:

Employing a robust data leak detection solution allows for the prompt identification and prevention of both; internal and third-party data leaks, safeguarding against potential cybercriminal exploitation.

Safeguard all cloud-based technology:

Protect your company’s shift to cloud storage by implementing an attack surface monitoring system. It will identify any potential weaknesses in data security, thereby reducing the chances of data breaches.

Ensure the security of all firewall setups:

Inadequate configuration of a web application’s firewall can create vulnerabilities that may lead to a breach. Your business can promptly detect and rectify insecure configurations using attack surface monitoring software.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

A breach is possible by a mere essential security vulnerability.

Find a high-level cybersecurity firm:

Partner with a cybersecurity firm, and go over these points:

  • Remote work management
  • Your business’ container security
  • Disaster recovery
  • Compliance & Regulations

Solutions that MicrominderCS offers

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
CASB is a solution we offer that can take the form of a physical device or software that acts as the intermediary between the cloud service users and the cloud application. It covers IaaS, Paas and SaaS. It monitors all behaviours and alerts users for abnormalities and possible compromising actions. It executes security policy compliance like encryption, tokenisation, authentication, credential mapping, etc.; the best part is we automate it to prevent malware and secure data. 

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
We offer this solution to help organisations identify misconfigurations and compliance problems; by constantly monitoring (just like CASB) every part possible of the cloud from IaaS, cloud security, PaaS, and SaaS, and it automates security and provides assurance policy. Wait, there is more, it not only alerts employees of impending security risks, but our robotic process automation (RPA) will also fix them automatically.

Cloud Container Security
Containerisation is very popular with cloud infrastructure, and containers are risky; when it comes to security. They are isolated packages, and they are penetrable. Microminder’s comprehensive cloud security measures will protect your containerised applications with container-specific tools and protocols.
Visit our website to learn more about Microminder’s Cloud Security Solutions, and book a free demo so we can prepare a personalised solution for your business. Every day companies do not act. They risk losing millions of dollars daily.

What would MicrominderCS advise any business that is concerned about its cloud security?

Hiring a cybersecurity firm specialised in cloud security is the best next step, but not every firm can do the job well; your businesses need seasoned cybersecurity specialists to avoid something like what happened with Cognyte’s cybersecurity firm, ironically the database used to cross-check that personnel information with known breaches, was breached, they left around 5 billion records collected from a range of data incidents exposed online, and accessible without authentication verification.

Are you a business owner concerned about the security of your online presence? Expand your business confidently with our experienced team, as we assume the risks to allow your business to concentrate on your core priorities. Book a demo now to connect with our knowledgeable security specialists and discover how we can safeguard your business. Begin your journey today and join the secure environment provided by Microminder, where your business is always protected.

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