The state of cloud security

Cloud computing continues to play a pivotal role in driving digital transformations for companies across various industries. The adoption of cloud services provides organizations with unparalleled flexibility and scalability, leading to enhanced operational efficiencies and cost savings.

One significant trend shaping the cloud landscape is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into cloud environments. This convergence will only increase demand for cloud services and make cloud security even more complex. Looking ahead, executives should examine cloud and security trends that could pose a dual challenge for their teams: more sophisticated cyber threats and the need to manage multiple cloud platforms.

Evolution of cloud security

The cloud and security market has evolved as expected in recent years. Trends such as remote and hybrid working, along with the growing adoption of SaaS and cloud technologies, have become commonplace. However, the surge in cyber threats like ransomware and email phishing have fueled the need for advanced security measures.

Organizations are increasingly turning to decentralized models such as SASE to implement Zero Trust frameworks. These frameworks integrate advanced anti-phishing, CASB and DLP protection to improve the security of users and their information in the cloud. The shift to DevSecOps and integration of security into every phase of software development has become crucial. These trends underscore the complexity and dynamics of cloud security and the need for flexible, robust defenses in this ever-changing environment.

New threats and challenges

Although certain aspects of cloud security have not changed much, the market has faced notable challenges. There has been a rise in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, both in frequency and size. Partly due to the recently discovered rapid reset flaw in the HTTP/2 protocol and the resulting DDoS attacks, the most widespread ever recorded. DDoS botnets are also more likely to leverage the power of cloud infrastructure, increasing their destructive capacity and increasing problems for targets.

Cloud security is also under pressure from ongoing regional and global conflicts, fueling a climate of hacktivism. Geopolitical turbulence has made securing cloud services more complex, especially when the primary goal of these cyber attacks appears to be the disruption of critical infrastructure services abroad.

Cloud service users must prepare for new and more powerful threats. A worrying trend is AI-enabled social engineering and email phishing. Social engineering attacks have already severely impacted many companies — causing significant compromises and loss of information. This trend is confirmed in reports that highlight that 'cloud exploitation' has increased by 95% and the number of cases involving 'cloud-aware' adversaries has almost tripled from the previous year. This shows that attackers are increasingly focusing on cloud environments.

Meanwhile, advances in quantum computing threaten the continued effectiveness of current encryption algorithms. This may compromise the confidentiality of data stored in the cloud. This technical progress is accompanied by a complex mix of new rules in the areas of compliance, privacy and data sovereignty. These regulations can sometimes clash, presenting companies with heightened difficulties in maintaining data security and regulatory compliance.

Integrating and managing different cloud-based security tools has also become more difficult. Compounding this challenge is the cloud security talent shortage and a growing knowledge gap. This gap, combined with the rapid pace of innovation and the changing nature of threats, suggests that gap is widening rather than closing.

Strategies for better cloud security

In response to the increasing complexity of threats, especially those amplified by AI, companies are recalibrating their security strategies. There is a focus on user protection and education, providing them with the knowledge and tools to recognize and resist phishing and social engineering attacks with AI. Companies will begin incorporating AI into security tool software to upskill their teams and help streamline detection and response to counter the threat of malicious AI.

Investing in a Zero Trust architecture is a critical cyber security strategy, ensuring strict identity authentication for every user and device attempting to access cloud resources, regardless of the network architecture in place.

As part of these efforts to enhance security measures, organizations are simplifying security processes to make things more transparent and manageable, while also conducting regular audits to ensure the effectiveness of these measures against emerging threats. Periodic audits can also uncover areas of cloud infrastructure that are often overlooked, such as unsecured APIs, misconfigured storage locations, and abandoned cloud infrastructure. These are all high-risk vulnerabilities that could give attackers access if left unchecked.

Finally, integrating cloud security with software supply chain management is a strategy that is becoming more popular. This integration is vital for reducing risk and maintaining the security of third-party services throughout the lifecycle of cloud-based applications. Organizations are increasingly using advanced cloud security solutions, such as cloud workload protection (CWP), cloud security posture management (CSPM) and cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM). These tools provide comprehensive protection by ensuring information security in cloud environments and managing the complex rights and permissions associated with cloud services.

A new kind of cloud

The evolution of cloud computing has led to major changes, making the need for robust, dynamic security strategies more apparent. The rise of AI threats and adversaries leveraging cloud infrastructure in their attacks emphasize the need for continuous adaptation and improvement of cloud security. As the role of cloud computing in business continues to grow, so does the need for proactive and adaptable cloud security. In the coming years, developing resilient, forward-looking security strategies will become more important to explore the complex world of cloud security and realize its full potential, while minimizing risks to businesses.

Cloudflare's connectivity cloud enables organizations to embark on their digital transformation journey and enables IT to take back control: of their environments, of access management, and of their time.

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Learn more about how organizations can enable IT to take back control: of their environments, of access management, and of their time in the The connectivity cloud: A way to take back IT and security control ebook.

This article is part of a series on the latest trends and topics impacting today’s technology decision-makers.

This article was originally produced for CloudWorks


Tony van den Berge — @tonyberge
VP Europe, Cloudflare

Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • Why organizations have started to shift towards decentralized security models

  • How attackers are increasingly focusing on cloud environments

  • Strategies for better cloud security

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