The Biggest Cloud Security Challenges in 2021

According to the 2020 Cloud Security Report, the highest ranking threat was misconfiguration, with 68% of companies citing this as their greatest concern (up from 62% from the previous year). Misconfiguration takes place when a cloud-related system, tool, or asset is not configured properly, thus endangering the system and exposing it to a potential attack or data leak. This threat was followed by unauthorized access (58%), insecure interfaces (52%), and account hijacking (50%). As powerful and innovative as the cloud is, it’s also complex and ever changing. From a security standpoint, this creates lots of challenges, and loopholes.

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Why Should You Care About Cloud Security?

There’s no doubt that the cloud has the potential to be more secure than traditional on-premise solutions. The key word here is potential. Just because the cloud can be more secure, doesn’t mean businesses always enjoy greater protection when they make the shift. 

This has less to do with the cloud and more to do with how businesses and organizations approach security, management, and oversight. In other words, it’s what you do with the cloud that matters. The infrastructure itself won’t insulate you from the dangers that exist in the cyber landscape.

The average cost of a data breach in today’s world amounts to $3.86 million (or $148 per compromised record). And that’s an international figure. The average cost in the United States is closer to $7.9 million. 

But guess what happens when organizations address a breach within 30 days or less? They tend to save around $1 million. And if the threat is thwarted altogether – well, that’s a multi-million dollar saving.

Cloud security can seem resource-intensive and expensive, but not when you view it through the lens of these data points. It’s a cost-effective investment with astronomical ROI. 

The Biggest Cloud Security Challenges in 2021

As threats have evolved and sophisticated new attacks emerge, it’s become more important than ever for businesses to embrace security-first mentalities. Having said that, here are some of the biggest challenges we’re facing this year – and how cloud security solutions can help your organization overcome them.

1. Data Breaches

There is no concern more palpable than a data breach.  It’s something every organization is focused on. However, few have the resources and strategies in place to truly tackle it in a worthy manner. This makes it a critical concern (and something that has to be dealt with in a proactive and preventative way). 

Failure to deal with data properly (through deliberate encryption) opens your business up to huge compliance risks – not to mention data breach penalties, fines, and serious violations of customer trust. The onus is on you to protect your customer and employee data, regardless of what any Service-Level Agreement (SLA) says.

2. Compliance With Regulatory Mandates

It’s commonplace for organizations – particularly smaller and mid-size companies – to assume that they’re getting maximum protection simply by working with a cloud solutions provider. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Compliance goes beyond international and federal regulations. There are also additional industry mandates that must be addressed. Examples include EU data protection, PCI DSS, FISMA, GLBA, HIPAA, and FERPA – to name a few. 

The right cloud security solutions provide the technical capacity to abide by regulatory mandates, but there has to be regular oversight and granular attention to detail. Under the responsibility model, the cloud provider offers security of the cloud, while the end user provides security in the cloud.

3. Lack of IT Expertise

According to the Cloud Security Alliance “Cloud Adoption Practices & Priorities Survey Report,” 34 percent of companies are currently avoiding the cloud because they don’t believe their IT and business managers have the knowledge and experience to handle the demands of cloud computing. This makes it one of the top-four concerns businesses have in regards to cloud security. 

The average enterprise now has between three and four clouds. This creates added layers of complexity that require technical competence and relevant experience.


This speaks to a larger trend that we’ll expect to see emerge in the coming months and years. Rather than just having managerial experience and financial literacy, IT and business managers will be required to bring technical cloud competency to the table. This doesn’t mean they’ll have to be cloud experts, but basic understanding and the ability to lead targeted initiatives becomes integral. 

4. Cloud Migration Issues

Cloud migration is happening in droves, but it has to be handled properly (otherwise, it exposes the business to unnecessary risk). According to one report, the four biggest challenges facing businesses are visibility into infrastructure security (43 percent), compliance (38 percent), setting security policies (35 percent), and security failing to keep up with the pace of change in applications (35 percent). As a result, security professionals and IT pros are feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s asked of them.

Simpler and more straight forward migration strategies will help businesses manage this transition flawlessly. Trying to accomplish everything at once is a major mistake. The migration process should be broken down into stages to reduce the risk of critical errors that could corrupt data and/or lead to vulnerabilities.

5. Unsecured APIs

The difficult thing about the cloud is that there are so many different possible entry points for attacks. So while the surface attack area may be smaller in totality, it’s much more fragmented. Perhaps this can be seen most clearly when it comes to micro-service architecture and the increasing trend around serverless functions.

APIs are great, but you have to consider how they impact the larger system. Even if the cloud is technically safe and sound, intruders can hijack data by hacking into less-secure APIs. This is problematic! The proper cloud security solutions can help you carefully vet each application to protect against weak points like these.

6. Insider Threats

It’s a good business practice to trust your employees. Unfortunately, many businesses take this trust too far – or fail to vet the driving factors behind their trust on the front end.

According to research from Intel, insider threats are responsible for an incredible 43 percent of all breaches. Half are intentional and half are accidental.

 More specifically, businesses need to think about access management and limiting who can access what and when. Access to cloud applications and data sources should be given on an as-required basis. Nobody should have more access than is needed to complete their job-related responsibilities. 

7. Open Source

Use of open source to develop applications. Open source packages are vulnerable. Most often hackers poison the well in the Git repo, waiting for developers to use the packages and later compromise the application through a well prepared attack vector.

Bolster Your Cloud Security With Check Point

Whether it’s a private cloud data center, a public cloud, or SaaS applications, Check Point CloudGuard provides a cloud native and comprehensive cloud security solutions that protect business assets, apps, and data by preventing even the most sophisticated attacks.

If you’re looking for products, solutions, and services that will strengthen your cloud security infrastructure, Check Point has you covered. Contact us today to learn more – or request a CloudGuard demo to see why our advanced threat prevention is considered the best in the industry!

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