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Google Cloud's 2024 report highlights key cyber threats & defences

Mon, 12th Feb 2024

Google Cloud's Threat Horizons Report for 2024 has forecasted key risks to cloud security and suggested strategies for bolstering defences. Authored by Google's security experts, the report serves as a valuable resource for cloud customers seeking to anticipate and combat evolving cybersecurity threats.

The report emphasises the prevalence of credential abuse, cryptomining, ransomware, and data theft as the top cloud security concerns in the forthcoming year. Attackers are increasingly targeting cloud infrastructure, exploiting weak passwords and misconfigurations to gain unauthorised access. Cryptomining remains a profitable pursuit for threat actors, who utilise compromised cloud resources for their own financial gain. Concurrently, ransomware and data theft continue to pose risks across all IT environments, underpinning the need for robust data loss prevention strategies.

The document also discusses emerging cyber threats including, notably, the rise of espionage threats associated with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Threat actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated, manipulating and erasing security event logs to avoid detection while simultaneously leveraging cloud services for malicious operations. To counter these risks, organisations are advised to prioritise security event logging, implement rigorous access controls and, crucially, take proactive measures that ensure effective risk mitigation.

High-profile global events in 2024, such as Federal elections in the US and the Summer Olympics, present enticing targets for cyber criminals. Threat actors are expected to exploit weaknesses within cloud projects to further their malicious agendas. The report urges all organisations to remain vigilant and bolster their cloud security to nullify such threats.

The report outlines several strategies to counteract these threats. It recommends organisations prioritise security measures such as two-factor authentication (2FA), strong password policies, IAM policies, Cloud Audit Logs, and Security Command Centre, all offered by Google Cloud. By doing so, organisations can monitor for suspicious activity, enforce access controls, and respond promptly to security incidents.

Ransomware attacks and data theft incidents repeatedly target unprotected cloud storage services and misconfigured networks. The report emphasises the importance of strengthening cloud asset management and data protection to mitigate these ongoing threats. Weak credentials, misconfigurations, application vulnerabilities, and third-party issues all contribute to system compromises, underlining the need for comprehensive security measures.

The report highlights recent real-world incidents, shedding light on the consequences of inadequate cloud security practices. An incident where suspected ransomware actors breached Slovenia's largest power provider by exploiting unprotected cloud storage instances, and another case where a data centre migration led to a ransomware attack on cloud-hosting firms, resulting in lost client data, serve as sobering examples of the potential fallout.

As cloud adoption accelerates, maintaining robust security measures is paramount. The report advises organisations to prioritise proactive measures, including regular security assessments, staff training, and adherence to best practices. It ends with the note that implementing proactive security measures and staying informed about emerging threats can significantly enhance an organisation's resilience to the burgeoning range of cyber threats.

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