Cloud computing is a significant part of our corporate lives. With so much of our activities taking place digitally, the cloud has revolutionised the way businesses operate and employees collaborate. The cloud offers unparalleled scalability and flexibility while also being cost-effective. Therefore, it is no surprise it is a crucial part of business nowadays.

As companies entrust their critical data, applications, and operations to remote servers and virtual environments, the question of how to safeguard these digital assets has never been more pressing.

This is where cloud infrastructure security comes in. Protecting data and mitigating risks have become increasingly important as cloud computing started to be part of businesses. In this article, we will discuss what cloud infrastructure security is, what are the most common threats your business may face, and how to prevent risks and protect your data.

By arming yourself with the knowledge and strategies detailed in this article, you're equipping your organisation to embrace the cloud with confidence, harnessing its transformative potential while standing vigilant against the challenges it presents.

What is cloud infrastructure security?

Cloud infrastructure security refers to the set of practices, tools, and strategies designed to protect the underlying components and resources that make up a cloud computing environment. This includes safeguarding the physical hardware, networking components, virtualisation layers, and software services that collectively constitute the cloud infrastructure.

The primary goal of cloud infrastructure security is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and applications hosted within the cloud environment.

Cloud infrastructure security is a multi-faceted approach that requires a combination of technical controls, best practices, and continuous monitoring to protect the cloud environment and the assets it contains from a wide range of threats and vulnerabilities. It typically involves multiple layers, each of which presents its own security challenges:

Physical Security

This involves securing the physical data centres where the cloud servers, storage devices, and networking equipment are located. Measures such as access controls, video surveillance, intrusion detection systems, and guards help prevent unauthorised physical access.

Network Security

Network security focuses on protecting the communication channels between different components of the cloud infrastructure. This involves implementing firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), virtual private networks (VPNs), and network segmentation to prevent unauthorised access and data breaches.

Hypervisor and virtualisation security

In virtualised environments, hypervisors manage the creation and operation of virtual machines (VMs). Securing the hypervisor is crucial to prevent VM escape attacks, where a malicious actor tries to break out of a VM to compromise the host system. Regular updates, access controls, and isolation mechanisms are used to enhance hypervisor security.

Identity and access management (IAM)

IAM involves controlling and managing user identities, roles, and permissions to access cloud resources. Proper IAM practices prevent unauthorised access by enforcing the principle of least privilege and implementing strong authentication mechanisms like multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Data security

Protecting data is critical in cloud environments. Encryption techniques, both in transit and at rest, ensure that data remains confidential. Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions help prevent unauthorised sharing of sensitive information.

Application security

This focuses on securing applications hosted within the cloud. Secure coding practices, regular vulnerability assessments, and web application firewalls (WAFs) are used to defend against application-level attacks.

Compliance and auditing

Cloud infrastructure must adhere to various regulatory standards and industry-specific requirements. Regular audits and compliance checks help ensure that security controls are in place and operational.

Incident response and monitoring

Having mechanisms in place to detect and respond to security incidents is crucial. Intrusion detection systems, security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, and incident response plans are integral to cloud infrastructure security.

Patch management

Regularly updating and patching operating systems, software, and applications helps mitigate known vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.

Backup and disaster recovery

Regular data backups and well-defined disaster recovery plans ensure that data can be restored in case of data loss or a security breach.

Common threats that can impact cloud infrastructure security

Before learning how to protect your cloud infrastructure from potential risks, it is important to know what the most common threats are. This will help you be aware of what could potentially impact your business and guide you through a security strategy.

Here are some of the most common threats you may face:

Data breaches

Data breaches involve unauthorised access to sensitive information stored in the cloud. Weak access controls, insufficient encryption, and inadequate monitoring can lead to data leaks and privacy violations.

Insecure interfaces and APIs

Cloud services are often accessed via application programming interfaces (APIs). If these APIs have vulnerabilities or are improperly configured, attackers can exploit them to gain unauthorised access, manipulate data, or perform other malicious actions.

Insider threats

Insider threats involve individuals within an organisation misusing their access to cloud resources. This can be intentional (malicious insiders) or unintentional (negligent insiders), leading to data exposure, breaches, or unauthorised actions.

Inadequate identity and access management (IAM)

Poor IAM practices can lead to unauthorised access. Weak password policies, lack of multi-factor authentication (MFA), and improper access controls can result in unauthorised users gaining entry to cloud resources.

Data loss and leakage

This occurs when sensitive data is unintentionally exposed or lost due to misconfigurations, unauthorised sharing, or data deletion. Proper data classification, encryption, and access controls are essential to prevent data loss and leakage.

Account hijacking

Attackers can compromise user accounts through tactics like phishing or credential stuffing. Once an account is compromised, attackers can gain unauthorised access to cloud resources and potentially control entire environments.

Denial of service (DoS) attacks 

In a DoS attack, cloud services are overwhelmed with excessive traffic, causing them to become unavailable. This can disrupt business operations and negatively impact user experience.

Malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs)

Malicious software can infect cloud instances, spreading malware or enabling attackers to maintain persistence. APTs involve prolonged, targeted attacks that aim to infiltrate and control cloud infrastructure.

Shared technology vulnerabilities

Cloud environments often share underlying infrastructure. If a vulnerability is discovered in the underlying hypervisor, operating system, or other shared components, attackers can potentially exploit it to compromise multiple tenants' resources.

Lack of visibility and control

Insufficient visibility into cloud infrastructure and security controls can lead to blind spots where threats go unnoticed. Additionally, improper configuration management and monitoring can hinder effective incident response.

The importance of preventing threats

Protecting cloud infrastructure is essential for maintaining data confidentiality, business continuity, legal compliance, and customer trust. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud services, the importance of robust security practices cannot be overstated.

With a better understanding of common threats and how they can affect your business, you should also look into why having a strategy for cloud infrastructure security is essential:

Data security

Cloud infrastructure often hosts sensitive and valuable data, including customer information, intellectual property, financial data, and more. Failing to protect this data can lead to breaches, identity theft, financial losses, and reputational damage.

Business continuity

Cloud services are integral to many businesses operations. A security breach or downtime in the cloud infrastructure can disrupt business operations, causing financial losses, missed opportunities, and customer dissatisfaction.

Compliance and legal requirements

Many industries and regions have specific data protection and privacy regulations. Failing to secure cloud infrastructure properly can lead to legal repercussions, fines, and loss of business licenses.


A security breach or data leak can tarnish a company's reputation. Customer trust is hard to regain once lost, and negative publicity can drive customers away and affect long-term business prospects.

Intellectual property protection

Companies often store proprietary software, algorithms, trade secrets, and other intellectual property in the cloud. Inadequate security could expose these valuable assets to competitors and malicious actors.

Financial impact

Recovering from security incidents can be expensive. Costs can include legal fees, investigations, notification of affected parties, potential lawsuits, and compensation for affected customers.

Operational disruption

Attacks like distributed denial of service (DDoS) can disrupt cloud services, causing operational downtime and making services temporarily unavailable to users.

Daya loss prevention

Safeguarding cloud infrastructure helps prevent accidental or intentional data loss due to misconfiguration, deletion, or other actions that could lead to the permanent loss of important data.

Shared responsibility

Cloud service providers offer security measures at different levels of the infrastructure, but customers are also responsible for securing their applications, data, and configurations. Neglecting this responsibility could lead to vulnerabilities.

Rapid scalability and deployment

The cloud allows for rapid scaling of resources and quick deployment of applications. While this is beneficial, it also requires careful security consideration to prevent misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.

Adaptive threat landscape

Cyber threats are continuously evolving. Cloud infrastructure security must adapt to new attack vectors and techniques to ensure that defences remain effective.

Supply chain risk

If you rely on third-party vendors or services in your cloud infrastructure, their security practices can impact your own security. A breach at one point in the supply chain can have cascading effects.

The importance of protecting sensitive data for small businesses

As discussed, one of the reasons why cloud infrastructure security is so important is data security. Protecting sensitive data is of the utmost importance, especially for small businesses.

In this blog, we have already discussed the importance of cyber security for small businesses. The impact of a breach in these companies can be particularly severe due to limited resources and the critical role of trust in their success. Prioritising sensitive data protection is essential for maintaining financial stability, customer trust, legal compliance, and long-term growth prospects.

A data breach can lead to significant financial losses, including expenses related to breach response, legal actions, regulatory fines, and potential compensation to affected customers. Such financial setbacks can be devastating for a small business's bottom line.

If customer data is compromised due to inadequate security measures, it can erode the trust that has been established. Customer loyalty is harder to regain once lost, and negative word-of-mouth can harm the business's reputation. For this reason, demonstrating a commitment to data security can provide a competitive advantage. Customers are more likely to choose businesses that prioritise their data protection, especially as data breaches become more common and consumers become more conscious of their privacy.

For small businesses to thrive and grow, they need a solid foundation of trust and credibility. Protecting sensitive data contributes to their long-term viability and ability to attract investors, partners, and customers.

Best practices in cloud infrastructure security

Cloud security is an ongoing effort that requires continuous monitoring, assessment, and adaptation to emerging threats and technologies. For this reason, it is recommended that companies consult with experts in cyber security and set strategies to protect their infrastructure.

Following best practices can also significantly enhance the security posture and minimise the risk of falling victim to threats.

Here are some ways you can avoid cloud infrastructure threats:

Strong identity and access management (IAM)

Implement robust IAM policies and controls. Enforce the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users have only the necessary permissions to perform their tasks. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security to user accounts.

Regular security audits and assessments

Conduct regular security audits and assessments of your cloud environment. This includes vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and configuration reviews to identify and address potential weaknesses.


Encrypt data at rest and in transit. Use encryption mechanisms provided by the cloud service provider to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorised access.

Secure API usage

When using APIs to interact with cloud services, ensure that proper authentication and authorisation mechanisms are in place. Follow the security guidelines provided by the API documentation.

Monitor and detect

Implement continuous monitoring and logging for your cloud infrastructure. Use security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to identify and respond to suspicious activities and potential threats in real time.

Patch and update

Regularly apply security patches and updates to your cloud resources, including virtual machines, operating systems, and software applications, to mitigate known vulnerabilities.

Implement network security controls

Use firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), and virtual private networks (VPNs) to protect network traffic and prevent unauthorised access.

Implement least privilege

Assign permissions based on the principle of least privilege. Users and applications should only have access to the resources they absolutely require, reducing the potential impact of a compromise.

Cloud security groups and network segmentation

Leverage cloud security groups or equivalent mechanisms to define and restrict network communication between different components. Implement network segmentation to limit lateral movement of attackers.

Backup and disaster recovery

Regularly back up your data and create well-defined disaster recovery plans. Test these plans periodically to ensure that data can be restored in case of data loss or a security incident.

Security training and awareness

Educate your employees about security best practices, phishing threats, and the importance of maintaining security hygiene in the cloud environment.

Implement web application firewalls (WAFs)

If hosting web applications in the cloud, deploy WAFs to protect against common web application vulnerabilities and attacks.

Regularly review and update policies

Continuously review and update your security policies and procedures to account for evolving threats and new technologies.

Vendor security assessment

If using third-party services or solutions, assess the security practices of your vendors to ensure they meet your security standards.

Incident response plan

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in case of a security breach. Regularly test and update this plan to ensure its effectiveness.

Cloud service provider security

Understand the shared responsibility model with your cloud service provider. While they may handle certain aspects of security, you are still responsible for securing your data and applications.

Final thoughts

Safeguarding data and protecting your business requires a proactive and multi-faceted approach. With each layer of protection meticulously laid, organisations can mitigate risks, shield sensitive data, and foster an environment where innovation flourishes securely.

By embracing best practices that encompass robust identity management, rigorous access controls, continuous monitoring, and dynamic threat response, organisations can strike the delicate balance between advancement and protection. This equilibrium ensures that the cloud becomes a strategic advantage.