The cloud can help your business grow in a number of ways. It's a great tool to help you service a higher number of clients at a much cheaper cost. It also allows you to better allocate your resources. Instead of having employees focus on managing your IT infrastructure, as they normally would if a cloud  was not in use, they're free to work on other revenue-generating projects.

However, with reward comes risk, and IT professionals who don't understand these dangers instantly put their companies in peril. Many of these problems could have been avoided.

According to Cloud Security Alliance, the top three threats with cloud commuting involve data breaches, data loss and traffic hijacking. Signing on with a top IT company can help you help manage these risks.

1. Breaching

A network breach is a nightmare scenario for companies. Information is stolen and falls into the hands of the public, competitors or worse, hackers. In 2011 the United States lost $48 billion alone because of data breaches. Cloud breaches have also risen dramatically from 2009 to 2010 after falling the three years prior.

In November 2012 researchers from the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin and RSA Corporation detailed a new way hackers, using a virtual machine, could use the same server to steal cryptographic keys that were used in other virtual machines.

These incidents could have been avoided in a number of ways including better data access control, more secured data backup and source encryption.

2. Service Traffic Hijacking

Similar to breaching, phishing and fraud remain a top threat to IT professionals and their companies. It's important that a company establish a plan to stay protected if its cloud network is compromised. Unlike breaching, phishing is more of an indirect way to gain access to a company's cloud infrastructure. It involves someone posing as a legitimate business and persuading the the victim to click on a malicious link. 

Remember in 2010 when Amazon faced a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) bug that allowed hackers to steal session IDs? By doing so, the thieves could then gain access to accounts after users entered their password. After gaining access, the users would then be presented with a certain link which, when clicked, would expose their credentials.

Because Amazon had an incredible security team, it was able to quickly identify the problem.

3. Data Loss

A breach or hack can cause a company to lose its data, which may be even more devastating than letting it fall into the hands of the wrong individual. In 2003, data loss in the U.S. hit an estimated $18 billion. With the rise and improvements of computers and cloud networks, that number has surely increased.

According to Cengage Learning, there are a few common ways to prevent data loss:

  1. Write a plan that consists of detailed steps on how to recover data and prevent the loss of data in the future.
  2. Back up all important files.
  3. Never upgrade software without first backing up the system.

Prior to using the cloud, it's important to understand both what it does and the risks it holds. While these risks are certainly not reasons to abandon the idea of using the cloud, they serve as lessons which you can use to prepare better.

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