Common Security Threats

In the last post, I talked about some of the design areas one needs to consider when designing an application for Cloud. Here I will talk about some of the very common threats that an architect one should consider when designing the system.

Physical Layer Access: At the lowest level of security, one needs to consider the fact that physical machines can be accessed and tampered with. This is more possible when we have on-premise hardware infrastructure than on the cloud. But even when one is choosing a cloud platform, it makes sense to understand and question the level of physical security implemented by the cloud service provider to avoid any unauthorized access.

Virtual Access: The next level of access is someone gaining virtual access to the machines manually, programmatically or through malware. Basic techniques like using a Virtual Network to isolate data and code machines, using Identity Management and Role-based access to make sure only authorized personals or code can access data, having security groups and firewalls in place and making sure security patches and antivirus definitions are always updated can help mitigate this threat.

Manual Errors: A misconfiguration causing a VM exposed through unwanted open ports can be another problem. Implementing infrastructure as a code where automated scripts are responsible for creating and maintaining infrastructure can be helpful in avoiding manual errors.

Weak Encryption: Though most cloud service providers give us options to encrypt our data, filesystems, and disks, it is the responsibility of the architect to make sure strong encryption is implemented. Tools like Key Vault services can help to store encryption keys to avoid manual handling. Also, all your APIs and pages dealing with important data should use HTTPS (Secured) protocol.

Application Layer Attacks: Common attacks like Code Injections, SQL Injections and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) can be targeted towards the application. It is the responsibility of the architect and development team to make sure best practices are followed while writing the code to tackle these attacks.

Perimeter Layer Attacks: DDOS or Distributed Denial Of Service is a common attack used by hackers to bring an application down. Most cloud service provider gives you out of the box solutions which can help manage these threats.