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The importance of Cloud amid a rise in Cyber Threats


 

The importance of Cloud amid a rise in Cyber Threats

By Matt Dowson, Iomart, Cyber Specialist.

After a recent spate of cyber-attacks across the UK, there is growing concern amongst businesses across all industries around protecting their data. In this piece, Matt Dowson reveals how adopting cloud effectively is crucial to a robust cyber strategy, but why it’s often overlooked.

Last October iomart released its ‘State of cyber security in the UK 2023’ report in partnership with Oxford Economics, which provided an in-depth look at the cyber security landscape amongst UK businesses. The result of that report demonstrated a clear rise in the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks towards organisations, having experienced on average 30 cyber incidents over the last 12 months, marking a 25% increase compared to the previous year.

The report also gave a clear view of the level of protection businesses had in place. For example, despite spending more than £40,000 a year on cyber protection, such as vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, more than a quarter (27%) thought their cyber security was inadequate to protect them from growing and evolving threats. This can largely be attributed to businesses facing wider financial challenges and as a result, having to shrink budgets. During the pandemic, which proved a particularly difficult time for many organisations financially, 41% admitted to sacrificing cyber protection to keep the lights on.

Organisations are clearly struggling to find the right balance between spending adequate amount on cyber protection, while also investing elsewhere in the business. It’s therefore important for businesses to use every tool and process available to create an efficient level of protection, without breaking the bank. 

Those who do choose to cut back on cyber budgets put their business at great risk of having their systems breached, which can result in having valuable data lost or stolen. To recover from such attacks can incur great financial costs; not only by having to recuperate from the damage of a compromised system, but also secondary costs, such as paying for legal support or investing in initiatives to repair customer trust. There’s a strong financial case, therefore, for businesses to front their costs in cyber protection, rather than paying to recover themselves post attack. 

There are many ways to do this, such as investing in automation and training, as well as outsourcing to a managed service provider, but there’s one easy to access tactic that’s often overlooked – optimising cloud technology.

Cloud technology originated in the early 2000s, when AWS created one of the first public cloud technologies. By 2008, private cloud entered the scene and cloud adoption across businesses grew significantly, as many businesses realised the benefits of utilising these newfound storage capabilities. Today, almost nine in 10 (89%) business are now using the cloud in some way as it has become a widely recognised way of enhancing business processes. During the pandemic for example, cloud technology allowed employees to remotely access company data from their own homes, which was crucial at a time when many people were working from home. In fact, for many organisations, this technology was what enabled them to stay afloat during that period.

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So how can we leverage cloud to protect company data?

Firstly, one of the primary concerns around cloud technology is unauthorised access from malicious outside parties. Its accessible nature means it can inherently feel like data is being left in a vulnerable position, but data in the cloud, when stored under the correct conditions, can be incredibly secure. 

Data stored in the cloud can be stored in an encrypted format, which is a process of converting it into code to avoid authorised access. If you’re working with a service provider, they’ll often implement a variety of encryption techniques and ensure it is secure in both storage and transmission too. 

Cyber-attacks are not always focused on those outside the organisation however, as malicious insider attacks are also becoming commonplace. 

A recent report found that 58% of incidents that negatively impact sensitive data are a result of insider threats, with 61% of those being linked to abuse or malicious intent. These types of attacks typically stem from disgruntled employees who seek to put organisations at risk by wiping data, taking down critical systems and steal sensitive data or intellectual property. By utilising cloud technology, these types of threats can be significantly minimised, as cloud offers the ability to monitor both internal and external users, as well as create a set of permissions to ensure data is being accessed by only a specific set of people. 

Finally, data from cloud activity can be leveraged for user behaviour analysis. The development of sophisticated automation and AI programs can make this a speedy process, quickly producing insights to enhance authentication systems and produce alerts from suspicious activity. These alerts can provide another layer of protection over encryption and set permissions, providing peace of mind when it comes to detecting and tracking both internal and external perpetrators. 

Final thoughts

It can seem like a scary time for businesses as the threat of cybercrime grows, all against the backdrop of rising costs and rapidly advancing technology. Hackers and malicious threat actors are always looking to be one step ahead, so it is essential for businesses to make sure they are using the best technology, such as cloud, and leveraging it as efficiently as they can to protect themselves. 

 

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