It seems that you can’t read anything on the subject of information technology these days without some mention of the cloud. Whether we like it or not, cloud computing has definitely changed the tech landscape in a big way. Has it changed for the better or for the worse? The honest answer is…a little bit of both. While the cloud offers unprecedented levels of connectivity and collaboration between distant parties, that same interconnectedness makes it vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Cloud jacking has emerged as one of the main methods by which malicious actors can infiltrate a cloud network, so you probably need to know a little more about how it works.
What Is Cloud Jacking?
For once, we have a cloud-related topic that is very simple. Cloud jacking is the stealing of sensitive login credentials so that the hacker can enter the cloud. By jacking a set of legit credentials, they can easily masquerade as an authorized user. It makes sense that hackers would use this method because it represents the easiest way to gain access. Once in the system, they can steal data, destroy data, or install all sorts of malware.
Why Is Cloud Jacking The Easiest Method For Hacking A Cloud Network?
Any good cloud network will be protected with some degree of network encryption. This might be anything from simple SSL (normal website encryption protocol) to a full-on encrypted tunnel (like those used by VPN services). Is it possible for a hacker to get through those encryptions? Yes, in theory. However, strong encryptions can take days, months, or even years to breakthrough. Thus, many cybercriminals do not opt for that path.
In most instances, it is far easier to trick the user than to circumvent all those encryption layers. This is usually done through the use of “phishing” tactics. Phishing is the use of impersonation and disguise to trick someone into revealing their credentials (or other sensitive information).
How Does Phishing Work?
Phishing usually begins with an email containing a link. The email will claim to be from a legitimate source and will prompt you to click a link and take some action or another. Of course, this action will involve you signing in to your account. Here’s the problem: That link didn’t actually take you to your account page. Instead, it took you to a fake page created by the hacker. They will probably take the time and effort to make it look a lot like the official site that they impersonate.
When this page is created, any number of scripts can be added. Scripts are just simple commands that perform simple things, and most of them are harmless. However, in this case, we are talking about keylogger scripts that capture everything you type. Thus, as soon as you input your credentials, that info is captured. If the characters are visible on the screen, they might use a screen capture program instead of the keylogger.
How To Prevent Cloud Jacking
Because this is a relatively simple type of attack, it can be prevented with relatively simple methods. Of course, these solutions are not just tech solutions. Having the right hardware or software matters a lot, but having a good security-minded attitude is even better. A cautious attitude and an informed mind are the best defenses against cloud jacking, phishing, and anything of the sort.
For instance, you should refrain from clicking email links unless you can verify both the source and the destination. If the email claims to be from your bank, call your bank and verify that they sent such a message. If the link claims that it will take you to an official corporate website, hover your pointer over that link and check the data displayed. This will tell you if the link redirects to anything else. For example, if you see a link that looks like an official corporate site, but it redirects to an unknown site, that is a big red flag.
Multi-factor authentication can also be of great help here. The hacker might have login credentials, but they may not have enough information to pass multiple verification methods. For instance, phone verification would force the hacker to gain control of your phone, adding an extra step and making things excessively difficult. A lot of cloud managers fail to enable MFA because of the slight inconvenience it causes, but that inconvenience is well worth the gain.
Some cloud providers will also let you restrict your network to a certain IP range. That means you can limit access to just one other network, using it as a secure gateway. Obviously, that other network should be secured with strong network encryption and should be stored on-site.
The Importance Of Data Backup
In spite of all your precautions, there is always the chance that someone could jack your cloud account. You can (and should) make things as difficult as possible for them, but you can’t really make it impossible. Because of this, you must always maintain good cloud backups. Any important file that is stored in the cloud must also be stored elsewhere.
When making backups of important data, it’s a good idea to have three of them. It’s also a good idea to use multiple storage mediums. Finally, at least one backup should be stored off-site. This off-site backup should be stored on a drive or device that is incapable of accessing the internet. As for the format, we would recommend system image files. These can preserve the entire target drive in a compressed format, so they are your most complete option.
With new technology comes new risks, and the cloud is no exception. That being said, the cloud is still one of the most versatile and useful technologies out there. You just need to be careful that you aren’t using it in a foolish way. Go into the situation with your eyes wide open, knowing that perfect security is an impossibility. If you would like to know more about this, we would encourage you to call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.