Following Challenges for Application Security in Cloud

The advantages of cloud infrastructure such as enhanced productivity, efficiency, agility, and cost saving made the cloud influence the IT industries. Though cloud computing comprises the capability to share services and information using the internet without any requirement of physical infrastructure, it includes the vulnerability related to security threats that must be addressed. As services and information are shared over the internet, it is important to understand the security challenges associated with the application.

Regardless of where an application is placed, ensuring application security remains a major concern. It is the security concern that requires a great attention of organizations.

Applications On Cloud Are Exposed To A Broad Range Of Threats

Recently the primary attack surface has transformed to the application layer from the network layer. This is because the service interfaces and operating systems exist in the cloud have been toughened to expose a minimized profile. Therefore, attackers target more on the application framework or application logic than the server exists behind the toughened network perimeter. Though several applications are generated in-house, developers rarely focus on security and it potentially results in the security issues throughout the entire application lifecycle. Moreover, the wider acceptance of cloud technology means that attack routes are enhancing as applications influence external service providers for the platform, infrastructure, and software.

Generating a complete patch management system is essential; however, practically this approach ends up with costly and difficult. Typical applications are developed on the open source components by the 3rd party developers who depend on open web frameworks. While with the shorter development time and interoperability, it results with the expensive patch management to address security vulnerabilities. A mistake in one module of open source program should be patched for every instance it’s involved with. Hence, when it comes to a public cloud environment, with dynamic application frameworks and infrastructure, this can become very hard to handle.  

Application Security In The Cloud: Who Is Responsible?

A common question that several organizations arise is, Who is responsible for application security handling in the cloud? Is the application owner or cloud service provider owning this?

Application owners are responsible for the security of the applications, which resides in the cloud infrastructure. This is because the cloud service provider includes no visibility into the things happening at the application layer.

The following diagram shows which portion of the security relies on whom.

Security Relies

Following Challenges For Application Security In Cloud

In addition to open up a new trend for access, storage, productivity and flexibility, cloud also opened up several new security concerns. Here we listed some application security issues. Being aware of application security issues can support to build the effective cloud security strategy to prevent your business. 

1.  Application Vulnerabilities

Vulnerable applications are applications, which includes errors and faults that can perform malicious actions. It may involve accessing confidential data, stop a legitimate service to affect proper functioning, perform unwanted actions or send malicious applications to the devices. These applications are susceptible to hackers searching to exploit as well as attack. OWASP analyses such kind of weakness and exploits and publish OWASP top 10 list. Generally, entire application vulnerabilities in the traditional environment apply on the cloud computing infrastructure and the most predominant cloud-based application vulnerabilities are as follows:

  • Client-side injection
  • Server-side injection
  • Session Management
  • Logical Mistakes
  • Exposure of valuable data

2. Malware And Spyware

Another notable application security problem that affects several users and must be addressed before deploying an application in cloud infrastructure is the malware. Malware injections are codes or scripts embedded into the cloud services, which serves as valid instances and execute as SaaS to the cloud servers. In other words, the malicious scripts can be inserted into the cloud and appeared as the portion of the service or software, which is functioning within the cloud server themselves. In case the injection is executed successfully, the cloud starts functioning as per the malicious code. Thereby attackers can eavesdrop, influence the confidentiality and integrity of the data and steal data. The malware injection threat has become one of the major security issues in the system of cloud computing.
There is also need to focus on Spyware. It collects and uses the private and personal details like contact list, location, email and photos without any proper permission and uses these details in future for unwanted actions like cash fraud.

3. Bad BOTs

Recently, most visitors of the websites are BOTs. Approximately 30% of traffic results from bad BOTS or non-useful BOTs. While people do not think them as a security issue, yet, non-useful BOTs can have wasted 30% in server resources, leads to huge productivity loss. Bad Bots should be considered as the malware since they can inflict havoc on networks and computers. They can waste valuable resources, flood sites with DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and steal proprietary information. 

4. DDoS Attacks On Application Layer (Protocol Or Volumetric Exploits)

Protection from application layer DDoS attack has become a major consideration for the cloud service provider and application owners. 
Dissimilar to other cyber attacks that are focused on hijacking sensitive information, DoS assaults don’t try to influence the security perimeter. Instead, they try to make the servers and websites unavailable to authentic users. In some worst cases, the DDoS attack can be utilized as a cover up for other unwanted activities and affect the security appliances. 

5. Insecure APIs

Application Programming Interfaces offer users the chance to personalize their cloud experience. Keep in mind that APIs can become a threat to the cloud security because of the distributed in nature. APIs not only involves in offering the companies the capability to personalize features of the cloud service to meet the business requirements but also provide access, authentication and power encryption.  The vulnerability of the application programming interface present in the communication, which occurs between applications. APIs offer programmer and businesses the tools to create their code to incorporate their application with other critical software. While this can support programmers, they also include exploitable security risks. 

The above application security challenges can be hard to find and offer greater harm for the organization and users. It is best to stay ahead of the attackers to ensure that you mitigate them before attackers find & exploit them.

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