Top Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities & How to Address Them?

Top Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities & How to Address Them?

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As companies keep increasing their usage of cloud services, the risks of cloud computing vulnerabilities also increase. Cloud computing services have become a go-to solution for data storage, business operations, and team collaborations. And why not? They are cost-effective, flexible, and boost productivity. However, it is not always smooth sailing. They too have their fair share of security risks.

 A study by IBM shows that cloud data breaches cost companies $4.8 million on average to recover. This comes when 65% of organizations are defaulting to cloud-based services. So, if your business uses cloud computing services or even offers cloud services, you must be aware of the lingering threats.

This blog lists the top vulnerabilities in cloud computing, what is their impact, and best practices to address them. Remember, proactive prevention is always better than required remediation.

Definition of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to services that are provided over the internet (in this case, “the cloud”) such as servers, storage, networking, analytics, software, and intelligence. It is a cost-effective way where typically pay for the service you want to use.

Most companies use cloud computing for data storage and business operations. Instead of storing files on a device or hard drive, you can save them on the cloud, which you can access from anywhere, as long as you have access to the Internet. Based on the deployment model, the cloud can be classified as a public, private, and hybrid cloud.

Cloud computing is broadly divided into 3 types:

Cloud computing has revolutionized business operations and eliminated storage issues. It will continue to expand to make the services more convenient. However, business owners should stay updated with the evolving vulnerabilities of cloud computation so that they do not face any cyberattacks.

What are Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities?

Cloud computing vulnerabilities are security gaps or weaknesses in a cloud computing environment that hackers/attackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive data, and interrupt services.

These vulnerabilities can be present anywhere in the cloud environment, including applications, infrastructure, data storage, and communication pathways. These vulnerabilities could be due to bugs in the software, outdated security patches, insecure access controls, lack of encryption, etc. Identifying and promptly addressing these vulnerabilities is key to a secure cloud environment.

rising cloud security data breach

The Impact of Cloud Vulnerabilities on Businesses

The impacts of cloud vulnerabilities include unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyberattacks. Additionally, these vulnerabilities endanger system integrity, privacy, and the overall security posture of the cloud environment. Here is a brief description of their impact:

  1. Data Loss: Sensitive information, such as customer data and financial records can be stolen or lost due to unfixed cloud vulnerabilities.
  2. Financial Loss: It can be expensive to recover from data breaches. Additional costs include legal fees, fines, compensation to affected customers, and investments in new security measures. Additionally, sales might go down due to a loss of customer trust.
  3. Compliance Issues: If cloud vulnerabilities are exploited, then it can lead to violation of data protection laws such as GDPR or HIPAA. This may result in legal penalties and fines.
  4. Reputation Damage: If there’s a security breach due to vulnerabilities, the news can spread quickly, resulting in broken customer trust and reputational damage. Rebuilding the trust can be a long and challenging process.
  5. Loss of Intellectual Property: Critical business information such as product designs and trade secrets can be stolen by exploiting cloud vulnerabilities.
  6. Operational Disruptions: Security incidents can interrupt business operations in the cloud. As a result, it can decrease productivity, delay projects, and affect the overall efficiency of the business. Additionally, it can lead to revenue loss. 

List of Top 10 Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities

Cloud computing is going to integrate AI in most of its services in the coming years. This means new and unique cloud computing vulnerabilities are going to emerge in the future. Companies face a wide range of risks with the cloud. However, the majority of breaches occur from these 10 vulnerabilities:

Top 10 Cloud Vulnerabilities

1. Misconfigurations

As per the National Security Agency (NSA), cloud misconfiguration is probably the most common vulnerability faced by organizations. Cloud misconfigurations refer to incorrect security settings in cloud applications and systems that expose them to various security risks. Misconfigurations can happen in many cloud components, including storage, networking, and access management. These misconfigurations can reveal sensitive data, lead to unauthorized access, increase the attack surface, and pose many other risks.  

Common cloud misconfigurations include:

    • Open Ports: Open ports allow web traffic into the environment without any restrictions. As a result, it may lead to exploitation by hackers.

    • Insecure Storage: If you don’t have proper data security measures such as publicly accessible buckets or containers, it can impact data integrity.

    • Disabled Logging and Monitoring: If the logging and monitoring systems are disabled, it can create security gaps and delay in incident detection.

    • Excessive Accessibility: Without inadequate access controls, cloud data can be exposed to unauthorized users and hackers.

    • Improper Secret Management: Usually, secrets include digital credentials like encryption keys, API keys, passwords, etc. Without proper configuration, these crucial elements can be compromised.

    2. Insecure APIs

    In December 2021, a security breach in Twitter API exposed the personal data of 5.4 million users. In addition, a section of this data was sold on the dark web and the rest was released for free.

    Cloud computing relies heavily on application programming interfaces (APIs) for better functioning of the services. However, third-party APIs often lack proper security measures during their design, configuration, and implementation. These weaknesses can lead to injection attacks (SQL injection and XSS), data exposure, and privilege escalation.

    There are many API security issues, such as:

      • Weak authorization and authentication controls

      • Outdated API versions

      • Missing endpoint security

      • Improper error handling

      3. Lack of visibility

      In cloud computing, lack of visibility means that the organization struggles to monitor and track activities within the cloud environment. This includes:

        • Not knowing which users are accessing data
        • Which data is being acceded
        • Where the data is stored or moved

        Without clear visibility, it can be challenging to detect security breaches. This vulnerability can lead to delayed incident response, unauthorized access, and risk of data loss.

        4. Improper Authentication and Authorization

        When cloud systems do not effectively verify user identities and manage their access controls, it can result in unauthorized users getting access to sensitive data or resources. Weak password policies and lack of multi-factor authentication are common authentication vulnerabilities.

        If users are granted more privileges than necessary, it can lead to misuse or data leaks. Organizations need to ensure that only authorized users can access specific data and resources. Additionally, their identities should be verified through strong authentication measures.

        5. Insider Threats

        Insider threats involve risks from individuals within the organization, such as employees, contractors, or business partners, who have legitimate access to the cloud environment. These individuals might misuse their access to steal sensitive information, cause damage, or leak confidential data. Such threats can be intentional or accidental.

        types of insider threats

        6. Shadow IT

        Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized cloud services and applications by employees without the knowledge or approval of the organization’s IT department. This practice can lead to security risks as these unapproved tools may not comply with the organization’s security policies. As a result, it can potentially expose sensitive data to breaches.

        Shadow IT can also cause data fragmentation, where data is spread across multiple services that are not monitored.

        7. Insecure Network Policies

        Insecure network policies are weak or poorly configured rules and settings that manage how data travels across a network. These policies may leave networks open to security threats such as unauthorized access or data interception.

        Common issues include:

          • Open ports
          • Unencrypted data transmissions
          • Weak firewall rules

          8. Inadequate Identity and Access Management

          Inadequate identity and access management (IAM) means that the organization cannot effectively manage user identities and control their access to cloud resources. This often leads to unauthorized access or users having more privileges than needed.

          Common IAM practices include:

            • Weak user authentication

            • Insufficient access controls

            • Lack of regular audits

            Strong IAM measures protect sensitive data and resources from potential breaches.

            9. Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

            Zero-day vulnerabilities are those security flaws that are unknown to the cloud service provider. As a result, they lack the security patch or necessary remediation. Attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access or cause harm before an organization implements a solution.

            Zero-day attacks can be very dangerous because they exploit weaknesses that organizations are unaware of. Therefore, it leaves the cloud environment defenseless.

            10. Lack of Encryption

            Data encryption is when data cannot be read without a proper key, even if it is accessed. Lack of encryption means that data (whether at rest or in transit) is not being encoded to prevent unauthorized access. Without encryption, sensitive information can be easily intercepted and read by attackers.

            This vulnerability can lead to significant data breaches. Additionally, it can expose confidential information such as personal data, financial details, and intellectual property. Implementing strong encryption methods for both stored data and data being transferred is crucial for protecting sensitive information.

            Best Practices for Cloud Security

            Best Practices for Cloud Security

            When organizations are looking to migrate or use the cloud, these are the must-have security measures for evolving cloud computing vulnerabilities.

            1. Understand Shared Responsibility: Know which security tasks are handled by your cloud service provider and which are your responsibility. This ensures all important areas are covered and nothing falls through the cracks.
            2. Secure the Perimeter: Protect cloud environments with strong firewalls, network segmentation, and access controls to prevent unauthorized access and outside threats.
            3. Monitor for Misconfigurations: Regularly check and correct cloud settings to avoid vulnerabilities caused by incorrect configurations. Use automated tools for continuous monitoring.
            4. Use Identity and Access Management: Implement strong IAM practices to control who can access your cloud resources. Use multi-factor authentication and least privilege access principles for additional security.
            5. Implement a Zero Trust Approach: Treat all network traffic as untrusted. Verify every request, implement strict access controls, and continuously monitor all activities to enhance security.
            6. Use Log Management and Continuous Monitoring: Collect and analyze logs from all cloud activities. Continuous monitoring helps detect suspicious behavior and respond promptly to security incidents.
            7. Encrypt Your Data: Protect sensitive data by using strong encryption methods for both data at rest and in transit. This ensures that even if data is intercepted, it remains unreadable without the decryption key.
            8. Meet Compliance Requirements: Ensure your cloud practices adhere to relevant legal and regulatory standards such as GDPR and PCI DSS. Regular audits and compliance checks help maintain security and avoid penalties.
            9. Conduct Penetration Testing: Regular penetration testing involves simulated real attacks that help discover potential vulnerabilities. As a result, it can help you quickly remediate and secure your cloud environment.

            Want to conduct cloud penetration testing to have successful business operations? Qualysec offers hybrid pen testing for in-depth analysis and comprehensive results. Talk to our expert now!

            Talk to our Cybersecurity Expert to discuss your specific needs and how we can help your business.


            On one hand, businesses want to expand their business using cloud computing services. on the other hand, the sheer volume of cloud computing vulnerabilities is giving them nightmares. The dynamic nature of cloud environments provides unique challenges, such as misconfigurations, insecure APIs, and shadow IT. The financial and reputational impacts of these vulnerabilities can be severe, costing companies millions and breaking customer trust.

            Partner with a top cybersecurity firm like Qualysec and get customized solutions to address cloud vulnerabilities. Remember, prevention is better than spending millions on recovery.


            Q: What are the main security risks of cloud computing?

            A: There are several security risks in cloud computing, such as:

              • Misconfigurations

              • Insecure APIs

              • Lack of visibility

              • Improper authentication and authorization

              • Zero-day vulnerabilities

              • Lack of encryption

              Q: How to find cloud vulnerability?

              A: The best way to find cloud vulnerabilities is by performing penetration testing. The process involves simulating real-world attacks on the cloud environment to identify where the flaws lie.

              Q: What is vulnerability management in the cloud?

              A: Cloud vulnerability management refers to the continuous process of identifying, classifying, prioritizing, and addressing security vulnerabilities in a cloud environment.

              Pabitra Kumar Sahoo

              Pabitra Kumar Sahoo

              Pabitra Sahoo is a cybersecurity expert and researcher, specializing in penetration testing. He is also an excellent content creator and has published many informative content based on cybersecurity. His content has been appreciated and shared on various platforms including social media and news forums. He is also an influencer and motivator for following the latest cybersecurity practices.

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