Imminent Cloud Security Threats Organizations Must Prepare For

Cloud migration introduces organizations to unprecedented changes in the way they apply and measure cloud security. One of the general issues observed is that organizations use a single security environment for both the cloud and on-premise infrastructure. This leads to failure of security controls. Another key issue facing security teams of organizations is the use of multiple technologies, which needs them to be skilled in best practices of all technologies.

It is unfortunate and yet a fact that problems occur even after measures are taken to prevent them. As a response, organizations must prepare themselves to be ready to recover as fast as threats compromise their systems. Having backups and systems that recover in real-time by leveraging on-going testing and maintenance helps organizations be on par with the evolving cloud security landscape.

Most Prevalent Cloud Security Threats

Storage Misconfigurations

Storage misconfigurations lead to insecure data. Reasons behind this include obsolete security measures governing storage and data storage in huge, complex structures where files often remain unprotected. Cloud vulnerabilities arising from storage misconfigurations are aggravated by proliferation of systems connected to the storage environment. This further makes data management challenging even for experienced professionals.

Vulnerable APIs

APIs, primary tools for interaction with storage systems, have security vulnerabilities such as undue levels of data accessibility to CSPs. Additionally, it has been observed that the majority of users reuse their passcodes across multiple platforms, which becomes prone to attacks.

Loss of Data

Data loss emerged like a plague in cloud systems in the recent past, as remote data storage plunges and renders backups to be expensive and complex. Traditional security measures aren’t compatible with cloud environments and organizations tend to expose one storage service at the least. Without periodic and thorough backups leads to ransomware attacks, where hackers encrypt data stored in the cloud and ask for payments for returning an organization’s own data.

Data Leaks and Breaches

Data leaks and data breaches are a more common cloud security issue compared to on-premise environments. Hackers never miss the chance to intercept the flow of data between the cloud systems and users. They also leverage the instances of expiration of security services before even organizations have renewed the services.

Improper Access Management

Not managing the accessibility of cloud systems properly is a primary reason for compromised data. The increasing volumes of cloud services and service providers with their comprehensive free service schemes of cost optimization have encouraged several organizations, even SMEs, to embrace cloud migration. However, most of the time, this process is carried out without caution in access policies.

How Can Organizations Stave Off These Threats

Organizations must resort to following approaches by reinforcing the fundamentals which include

  • Utilizing the least privilege accessibility for all systems.
  • Instilling change control practices and policies.
  • Ensuring turning on data encryption wherever possible.
  • Ensuring turning on logs and capturing data to analyse for security breaches.
  • Adopting automation and leveraging technologies for continuous scanning of misconfigured resources and  real-time remediation of issues.
  • Conducting configuration reviews and security audits to prevent misconfiguration issues in the security environment.

To Sum Up

Gartner estimates that cloud access security brokers will remain a preferable choice among organizations, with a 33% growth rate estimated through 2020. 

As organizations grow aware of the benefits involved in migrating their data to the cloud, they are embracing different solutions for empowering cloud security. It is necessary that organizations partner with leading security solutions providers, such as Cloudlytics, for enhancing their security and administration capabilities.

What do you need to make your cloud 100% secure? Book a free demo here

What Must Organizations Do To Strengthen Container Security?

Considerations of container security in the public cloud comprises several layers. It is crucial for organizations to understand the capabilities of the cloud service providers to gauge whether they can fulfil their compliance and security needs. Organizations are in dire need for resources that help them in continuous monitoring and management of their containers with a smooth control.

Implementation of container security involves proactive monitoring of events in real-time. This is to navigate, detect, and prevent any malicious activity, which is time-intensive without a robust process in place for analysis. Container security prevents system compromisations by securing applications and CI/CD pipelines while enabling improvements in security policies.

The Importance of Container Security

Containerization is an approach for facilitating the creation, deployment, and running of applications by consolidating dependencies, such as data files, into a single solution. On the other hand, containers do not comprise operating system images, which creates the need for orchestrating mediums, for example, Kubernetes. These orchestrators play the vital role of interacting with other system applications for the creation or distribution of containers. This further provides users with the authority to control these containers

Providing users with the authority, however, leads to the possibility of containers becoming a potential target for attackers. The cloud is evolving faster but so are the attackers. The level of sophistication in cyberattacks can render the whole cloud environment to be compromised, if security is improperly maintained. This has further led organizations to prioritize cloud API protection. 

Key Responsibilities of Container Security

Container security falls under the responsibility of organizations, following the shared responsibility paradigm. Key areas where protection is critical include runtime containers, container registries, and container images. In the case of a Kubernetes-based PaaS deployment, for example, security of the IaaS components, namely, storage, network, and compute, fall under the responsibility of the cloud service provider.

Organizations are responsible for the deployment, operations, and security of their applications. Key container security responsibilities of organizations include

Safeguarding Workloads Under Application Containers: It is important for organizations to come up with robust policies to secure activities that deflect from their normal behavior for preventing configuration glitches. The security policies of organizations must be on par with the dynamics of their applications. A strong management framework will help organizations estimate changes in applications, enabling the security team to work proactively for keeping applications from functioning improperly.

Managing Vulnerability: The belief that the process of identifying vulnerabilities must be carried out in the CI/CD phase is a misconception. It is critical for organizations that they focus on identifying vulnerabilities all through the lifecycle of containers, including container registries and runtime containers. Organizations must leverage skilled resources for the identification, analysis, and prioritization of vulnerabilities prior to their remediation. 

To Sum Up

The responsibility of organizations in container security grows as strong as their efforts in enforcing security measures. They must look to blend security best practices all throughout the lifecycle of containers. This will help them ensure the integrity and confidentiality of their applications’ sensitive information in the cloud.

Recommended Reading!

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HIPAA Compliance Checklist for 2021

What is HIPAA Compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes the criteria for the security of confidential patient information. Businesses that handle protected health information (PHI) should have real-world, digital, and procedural protection measures and adhere to the standards to guarantee HIPAA compliance. HIPAA compliance is required for insurance companies or anyone who offers treatment, compensation, or administration in healthcare.  

And company associates that have access to patient information and offer support in hospitalization, payment, or operational processes. Other businesses, including subcontractors as well as other connected business connections, should be in conformance as well. Compliance with HIPAA security risk assessment checklist entails meeting the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, its later revisions, as well as any other associated laws, including HITECH.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule, or Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, established federal guidelines regarding the safeguarding of sensitive patient data, according to the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Furthermore, the Security Rule provides a nationwide list of security requirements for securing sensitive health information kept or transferred electronically.

The Security Rule puts the Privacy Rule’s precautions into action by handling the technical and management precautions authorized businesses must use to secure persons’ electronic PHI (e-PHI). In addition, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) under HHS implements the Privacy and Security Rules through cooperative conformity efforts and financial penalties.

Need for HIPAA Compliance

HHS emphasizes that HIPAA compliance is extra essential now than before as the health care providers as well as other organizations dealing with PHI transition to automated operations, such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, radiology, electronic health records (EHR), pharmacy, and laboratory systems. Similarly, healthcare plans offer members accessibility to claims, patient care, including self-service tools. 

While some of the digital means improve efficiency and accessibility, they also significantly raise the security concerns related to healthcare information. The Security Rule was established to secure people’s health records whilst still enabling insured businesses to embrace innovative technology to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of patient treatment. 

By definition, the Security Rule is adaptable enough to enable a protected entity to establish policies, processes, and solutions that are appropriate for the entity’s scale, management structure, and threats to patients’ and customers’ e-PHI.

What is required for HIPAA Compliance?

Despite the purposely comprehensive HIPAA security risk assessment checklist, each Covered Entity and Business Associate having accessibility to PHI should verify that technological, organizational. Administrative protections are in existence and being followed, ensuring organizations follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule in accordance with sustaining the confidentiality of PHI. Additionally, organizations comply with the protocol under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule when a violation of PHI occurs.

All risk management activities, HIPAA security risk assessment checklist, and grounds why responsive measures were never properly adopted should be documented in the event of a PHI breach. An inquiry is conducted to determine how the problem occurred. Therefore, let us see all the necessary HIPAA requirements that an organization needs to comply with. 

The HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy Rule governs the use and sharing of protected health information (PHI) by authorized companies and associated partners. PHI, when considered generally, might encompass whatever data about a patient’s medical status, healthcare service, or expenditure for healthcare.

The Privacy Rule requires that adequate measures be established in place to ensure the confidentiality of Personal Health Information. It also places restrictions and requirements on utilizing and disseminating such personal data even without the patient’s permission. 

The Rule also grants patients or a respective authorized representative the rights to access personal health information, such as the opportunity to acquire a copy of personal health records, examine them, and seek modifications if required.

The Security Rule

The Security Rule focuses on Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) and defines three kinds of safety protections that must be in place to ensure compliance: managerial, physical, as well as technological. The Rule defines several security requirements for these categories, and for every norm, it specifies both necessary and optional implementation requirements.

  • Technical: The Technical Safeguards are concerned with the technology utilized to preserve ePHI as well as allow data accessibility. Therefore, the essential requirement would be that ePHI remain secured to NIST standards after leaving a company’s inner firewalled systems, either at transit or at rest. This is performed to ensure that any compromise of private patient information leaves the untraceable, undecipherable, and useless.
  • Physical: Physical accessibility to ePHI, regardless of its position, is the subject of Physical Safeguards. ePHI may be kept in a distant data centre, the cloud, or on computers on the grounds of the HIPAA Covered Entity. Guidelines also detail the ways in which workstations and smart applications should be protected against illegal access.
  • Administrative: Administrative safeguards comprise the rules and processes that link the Privacy Rule with the Security Rule. They are critical components of a HIPAA compliance checklist. They need the assignment of a Security Officer and a Privacy Officer to implement steps to secure ePHI even while governing worker behaviour.

The Breach Notification Rule

The Breach Notification Rule mandates HIPAA-covered organizations and their professional colleagues to notify HIPAA-covered organizations and their company associates due to a breakdown of unauthorized protected health information. In addition, according to the HITECH Act, the same incident reporting rules established and implemented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) extend to suppliers of personal health information and associated third-party network operators.

HIPAA Compliance Checklist for 2021

1. Recognize the HIPAA Privacy Rule 

The HIPAA Privacy Rule is the essential element that every relevant company must get acquainted with. The Privacy rule specifies how and when the authorized workers can have access to PHI. Further, this involves healthcare providers, administrators, attorneys, and everyone else involved with the patient data network.

2. Determine if the Privacy Rule applies to you 

You must analyze and validate that the Privacy Rule applies to the company, service, or healthcare institution. It is indispensable to keep in mind that the Privacy Rule safeguards personal PHI. Also, this is done by controlling the practices among all covered organizations, from health care professionals to attorneys, including insurance providers.

3. Safeguard the Correct Patient Data Types

Another activity to add to your HIPAA compliance checklist is to determine what categories of patient information businesses must safeguard and to start implementing appropriate privacy and security safeguards.

According to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, PHI is defined as “individually identifiable health information” maintained or transferred by registered organizations or business partners. Moreover, you can do it through any medium, from written and computer to vocal communication.

4. Avoid Possible HIPAA Violations

HIPAA breaches may arise in a variety of situations, so it’s essential to comprehend what a breach is and how it occurs so that you can undertake preventive actions. The most prevalent form of the breach is generally internal rather than the consequence of an external hacking or security breach. In most cases, breaches are the result of carelessness or only minimal compliance with the Privacy Rule.

5. Breach of HIPAA-Required Data

As previously stated, a security breach does not always seem to result from an external intrusion. The HIPAA security risk assessment checklist defines a security vulnerability as unauthorized persons or individuals obtaining PHI while they must not. Therefore, while it might be a malicious cyberattack meant to acquire PHI, it could also be a covered entity receiving or reading PHI at an inappropriate time or using a difficult way.

What is an OCR HIPAA Audit?

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services performs regular inspections to verify that covered organizations and associated business partners comply with HIPAA laws. In 2001, OCR launched a prototype annual audit where it assessed covered businesses’ activities using a list of guidelines defined as the audit program protocol. In 2016, the standard was modified.

OCR intends to undertake both office and on-site inspections. Entities chosen for the inspection would be automatically notified and required to produce records and relevant information according to a document-request notice. 

OCR requires audited covered businesses to provide required evidence through OCR’s secure platform within ten working days from the official request day. Documents will be submitted electronically by audited companies using a secure audit platform on OCR’s portal. Auditors will next evaluate the supplied documents and create and communicate draft conclusions with the organization. Finally, internal auditors will react to such draft conclusions in writing, and the written replies will be published in the official audit report.


Why is it important to comply with HIPAA?

HIPAA compliance is critical for the following reasons:

  • Eliminate job-lock caused by pre-existing health problems to ensure health insurance availability.
  • Reduce the incidence of healthcare malpractice and exploitation.
  • Implement health information norms.
  • Ensure the safety and confidentiality of medical information.

Is HIPAA Compliance mandatory for healthcare firms?

HIPAA and its security rule include insurance providers and other related organizations as covered entities, implying that it does extend to medical insurance. HIPAA compliance is required for any firm that provides health coverage to pay the expenses of healthcare.

What entities have to comply with HIPAA?

HIPAA compliance is required for any firm that provides health coverage to pay the expenses of healthcare. These entities include health insurance agencies, HMOs, employer health plans, and some government services that fund healthcare, including Medicaid and Medicare, which are examples of health plans.

How do I ensure that my MySQL Database is HIPAA Compliance?

You can ensure if your MYSQL Database is HIPAA Compliance in three ways:

  • Encryption of disks
  • Virtual Partition Encryption in Real-Time
  • Cell-Level Encryption

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