The Cloud Is Under Attack: The State of Cloud Security in 2023

Widespread adoption of cloud technology presents cybercriminals with a larger target to sharpen their focus on and presents small and mid-sized organizations with serious concerns. But adopting strong cloud practices can help successfully reducing threat risks.

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By now, many small and mid-sized organizations have transitioned to the cloud and are running hybrid environments. Not surprisingly, as the adoption of cloud technology grows, it has also become a more attractive target for cybercriminals.

To better understand the reality of cloud security for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Sophos recently commissioned a survey of 4,984 IT professionals in SMBs across 31 countries whose organizations use Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

The results of the survey, The Reality of SMB Cloud Security in 2022, show significant changes in IaaS users’ experiences of cyberattacks over the past year.

According to the survey results:

  • 56% experienced an increased volume of attacks on their organization
  • 59% experienced an increase in complexity of attacks on their organization
  • 53% experienced an increase in impact of attacks on their organization
  • 67% reported that their organization was hit by ransomware

What’s Causing Cloud Weakness?

The survey points to resource misconfigurations and unpatched vulnerabilities as top conduits for ransomware actors and other adversaries to gain access to an organization’s environment. Many SMBs have this exposure and are therefore vulnerable. Only 37% of survey respondents said their organization tracks and detects resource misconfigurations in their IaaS infrastructure – and fewer than half (47%) said they routinely scan IaaS resources for software vulnerabilities.

Visibility into configurations and resources across all levels of maturity is another challenge for SMBs. The survey found just 34% of beginner and intermediate IaaS users have visibility into all resources and their configurations, and only 37% for advanced users.

Visibility and threat detection are crucial in quickly identifying compromises and taking action to avoid further exploitation. While organizations understand the need for this ability, many are strapped for resources necessary to take proper action. Only 33% of IaaS users say their organization has the resources to continuously detect, investigate, and remove threats in their IaaS infrastructure. And only one in four (25%) has processes in place to respond to IaaS infrastructure security incidents around the clock.

Adopt Strong Cloud Practices, Reduce Threat Risk

While the cloud continues to be a challenge to secure, the survey does find some positive news to report. Advanced IaaS users are twice as likely to report a decrease in attack volume, complexity, and impact over the last year compared to beginners. For instance, 38% of advanced users reported that the impact of attacks had decreased over the last year, while only 19% of beginners said the same. Meanwhile, advanced cloud users are far less likely to have experienced an increase in the volume, complexity, and impact of an attack; for example, 61% of beginners reported an increase in attack impact compared to only 43% of advanced users.

This speaks to the clear benefits gained by implementing strong cloud practices. Implementing technologies and strategies to remedy some of the gaps in cloud coverage revealed in the survey will help your organization prevent a breach or attack in the future.

Start addressing cloud risks with the following recommendations.

  • Approach principles of cloud security as you would for traditional on-premises security, with adaptations to reflect the differences in cloud usage and threat risk.
  • Ensure you have visibility into your cloud environments, evaluate your gaps in cloud security, and address accordingly.
  • Invest in tools to shore up cloud defenses, including firewalls, cloud security platforms that integrate protection across multiple environments, and managed detection and response (MDR) services.

Read the results of the survey, The Reality of SMB Cloud Security in 2022, to learn more.


Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.