Top 7 Cloud Security Challenges to Watch Out for in 2024

Cloud Security

The accelerated adoption of cloud computing brings immense advantages and new cybersecurity risks that organizations must avoid. As more sensitive data and critical workloads move to public clouds and SaaS applications, cloud security is paramount.

Looking at key technology and threat trends, these 7 cloud security challenges should be top of mind for CISOs and security leaders in 2024:

Misconfigurations and Inadequate Cloud Security Policies

Misconfigurations of cloud platforms persist as a top threat vector. Whether improper access controls, storage settings, encryption controls, or other factors, missteps open the door to cyberattacks and data exposure. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report found misconfigurations involved in 70% of cloud breaches.

Compounding matters, many organizations lack formal cloud security policies or have inadequate identity and access management (IAM) controls and governance. Together, misconfigurations and poor policies result in data leaks, account compromises, and cloud infrastructure exposures at an alarming scale.

In 2024, ransomware gangs and nation-state groups will increasingly exploit these areas, underscoring the importance of continuous cloud configuration and policy compliance monitoring, cloud workload protections, and always-on cloud security posture management (CSPM).

The Insider Threat in the Cloud

Insider threats range from credential theft to malicious actions by employees and third parties misusing access. This risk increases with hybrid and remote workforces accessing cloud environments from everywhere. Insiders have legitimate access to cloud data and workloads, making malicious actions harder to spot.

Whether intentional damage or accidental exposures, the insider threat compounds in the cloud. In 2024, overlooked or inadequately monitored identity and access controls will be involved in over 80% of cloud security incidents according to Gartner.

Implementing principles of zero trust access and least privilege access backed by strong IAM and behavioral monitoring capabilities will grow in importance to counter insider cloud threats.

Shortfalls in Cloud Data Security Controls

While infrastructure security has advanced, data security practices in the cloud often lag, creating gaps attackers exploit to expose sensitive data. Challenges around data discovery, classification, encryption, and rights management are compounded by cloud data sprawl across complex hybrid environments.

In 2024, over 60% of sensitive data in the cloud will lack integrated classifications, encryption or tokenization required by internal policies and data regulations according to a recent IDC survey. This leaves data vulnerable at a time of increasing cyberattacks and insider threats.

Organizations must double down on unified data security, risk assessment, and controls across cloud data stores. Robust data-centric protections and governance must catch up with infrastructure security.

The Global Cloud Skills Shortage

The cybersecurity skills gap shows no signs of narrowing. Yet advanced skills are required to properly configure, integrate, optimize, and secure complex hybrid cloud environments. Without cloud-focused security staff, organizations struggle to reduce risks.

In 2024, over 75% of companies will report lacking the necessary cloud and container security skills in-house according to recent analyst firm estimates. AlongsideStaffing challenges will be compounded by continued high turnover rates.

In response, leading organizations make workforce development a C-level priority – investing in cloud and DevSecOps training, partnerships with colleges, and exploring creative hiring and retention strategies.

Challenges Securing Complex Cloud Supply Chains

Today’s cloud environments encompass a mesh of services and relationships, including infrastructure, platforms, containers, functions, and SaaS across providers. The varying standards create security gaps ripe for lateral movement and supply chain attacks as seen in recent software compromise campaigns impacting thousands globally.

In 2024, over two-thirds of security incidents will involve access abuse from third parties like vendors, contractors, and connected cloud service chains according to Gartner. This underscores challenges in securing broad cloud ecosystems and preventing lateral threat movement.

Security teams must expand their focus from internal security posture to the full cloud supply chain. Key steps involve assessing third-party risks, implementing unified control and visibility spanning services, automating security oversight across relationships, and planning compromise.

Escalating Nation-State Cyber Threats

Geopolitics and cyber warfare are colliding. State-sponsored advanced persistent threat groups continue to conduct sophisticated, stealthy hacking campaigns motivated by political, economic and military aims across cloud environments and supply chains globally.

In 2024, nation-state actors will remain a dominant threat according to US intelligence community guidance. Major cloud platforms and downstream organizations are increasingly targeted by groups linked to China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Defending against nation-state adversaries requires assuming compromise will occur, then implementing resilience and cyber counterintelligence strategies to defend critical cloud workloads and speed detection and response when incidents inevitably occur.

Shared Responsibility Model Confusion

While public cloud providers secure the underlying infrastructure, customers remain responsible for properly configuring and securing the workloads they put in the cloud. Shared security model confusion persists on where these delineations lie. Disagreements leave security gaps cyber adversaries take advantage of.

In 2024, unclear lines of responsibility across security operations teams and cloud providers will directly contribute to over one-third of cloud security failures according to analyst predictions. Legacy security teams often struggle to adapt to cloud provider divides.

Clarifying responsibilities through updated cloud policies, governance procedures, and cooperative planning helps close gaps. Key focus areas involve identity and access management, workload security, and cloud security monitoring and response.

The Path Ahead

As these key challenges reflect, cloud security threats and complexity will continue escalating in 2024. However with proper planning, updated skills, and sound defenses tailored to the cloud, risks can be managed. Cyber resilient cloud architectures, zero trust access controls, unified data protections, and advanced security analytics and automation all play central roles in this ongoing security journey.

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