Top 3 Largest Threats for Cloud Shadow Data

Assaf Miron
Aug 8, 2022

In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of cloud services across companies. This increase has made it harder for security teams to fully understand where and what data exists when so many applications and third parties exist.

According to Gartner forecasts, spending on the cloud is estimated to reach $500 billion in 2022 and $600 billion in 2023. This rapid growth is due in part to the advantages that the cloud offers, such as increased agility, flexibility, and scalability. However, as the cloud continues to grow in popularity, so does the risk of data breaches and other security threats.

The cloud is a network of servers used to store, manage, and process data. The use of the cloud has increased because it is a more efficient and cost-effective way for companies to store data. However, this increase in cloud usage has made it more difficult for security teams to track where data is stored and how it is processed.

Shadow IT refers to any type of information technology that is not approved or sanctioned by an organization's central IT department. This can include everything from using unapproved software and devices to accessing unapproved cloud services. By 2025, it is estimated that connected IoT devices will grow to 75 billion.

One of the challenges for security teams is that there are now more applications and third parties involved in data storage and processing. This means that there is a greater risk of data breaches and leaks. Another challenge is that data stored in the cloud is often spread across multiple servers, making it more difficult to track and secure.

Shadow cloud data is any data that is stored in the cloud without the knowledge or approval of the organization's central IT department. This can include everything from personal files stored in a cloud-based file sharing service to sensitive company data stored in a public cloud storage service.

What is cloud shadow data?

Where there is data sprawl, there is often cloud shadow data.

Data sprawl is when an organization has data spread across many different systems and locations, making it difficult to protect and manage the data.

Cloud shadow data is data that is stored in the cloud but is not synchronized with the organization’s main data. This can happen when employees use personal accounts to store work data. It can also happen when data is synced to a personal device instead of the organization’s central system. This type of data is a security risk because it is not under the organization’s control.

Cloud shadow data is data that is not accessible to the organization that owns it. It can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • The organization does not have the necessary permissions to access the data.
  • The data is stored in an encrypted format that the organization does not have the key to decrypt.
  • The data is stored in a location that the organization does not have access to.

Top 3 Largest Threats for Cloud Shadow Data

1. Sharing data with the wrong people

When it comes to data security, the cloud has its own unique set of risks and vulnerabilities. One of the biggest threats to cloud data is the sharing of data with the wrong person. This can happen when data is shared without proper security measures in place, or when data is shared without the proper permissions.

According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach has increased by 10.3 percent between 2020 to 2021, with 39 percent of costs occurring more than a year later.

When data is shared without proper security measures, it can be subject to theft or loss. This can happen if data is shared through unsecured channels, or if data is stored in an unsecured location.

Privacy laws are another big concern when it comes to the sharing of data. If data is shared without the proper permissions, it can be considered a violation. This can happen if data is shared with people who do not have the proper permissions to access it, or if data is shared through channels that are not secure. Additionally, if data is shared without the proper security measures in place, it can be subject to theft or loss.

2. Account takeovers

Account takeovers are when an unauthorized user gains access to an account and can use it to their own advantage. There are several different account takeover methods, such as stealing login credentials or using social engineering to trick an individual into giving up their information.

Account takeovers can have many negative impacts on an organization, including financial loss, reputational damage, and a loss of customer trust. In some cases, account takeovers have even led to data breaches. As such, organizations need to be aware of the threat and take steps to protect themselves.

One of the best ways to protect against account takeovers is to use two-factor authentication (2FA). This is an additional layer of security that requires users to provide not only their username and password but also a second piece of information, such as a code from a physical token or a fingerprint. This makes it much more difficult for an attacker to gain access to an account as they would need both the login credentials and the second factor.

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3. Data destruction

As the world increasingly moves towards a reliance on cloud-based solutions for data storage and management, it is important to be aware of the potential threats that can impact this type of data. One of the largest threats to cloud data is data destruction, which can occur due to oversharing credentials or careless handling of sensitive information.

According to Cybint, 95% of breaches are caused by human error.

Data destruction can have a significant impact on a company, as it can lead to the loss of critical data or the exposure of confidential information. The result can be financial losses, reputational damage, and diminished customer trust. To protect against data destruction, companies need to be aware of the risks and take steps to mitigate them.

One of the biggest risks of data destruction is oversharing credentials, and then the credentials are cloned over to the shadow data storage. When credentials are shared too freely, it increases the chances of being compromised. This can lead to unauthorized access to data, which can then be deleted or modified. To protect against this, companies need to be careful about who they give access to their data and only share credentials with those who absolutely need them.

Another risk of data destruction is the careless handling of sensitive information in shadow data. If data is not properly secured, unauthorized individuals can access and delete it. This can include physical access to data storage devices or networks and unauthorized access to data through hacking. To protect against this, companies need to implement security measures to protect their data, such as encryption and access control.

How to keep cloud shadow data secure

When it comes to cloud security, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the importance of controlling access to cloud-based data. This is especially true for cloud shadow data, which is often more sensitive and vulnerable than other types of data.

There are a few different ways to keep cloud shadow data secure. The first is ensuring that only the people who need access to it have access. This can be done through the use of access controls, such as role-based access control (RBAC) or least privilege.

This is where Polar Security comes in.

The Polar Security platform allows data security and compliance teams with an automated and continues solution of discovering, labeling and tracking managed, unmanaged, and shadow data.

Our platform allows your organization and teams to see an automated inventory of your data stores and follow the data flows on a live map.

With this information, you get a much clearer picture of your data sprawl, where the vulnerable points are and where is your data flowing. Additionally, the platform will notify you incase there are any security risks and compliance violations.

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