How safe are your cloud accounts right now? With companies moving most of their data and business processes to the cloud, especially during the pandemic, hackers have been following that trend and ramping up their attacks on cloud infrastructure.

In 2020, attacks on cloud accounts skyrocketed 630%

Companies without proper IT security safeguarding their business email, cloud storage, CRM, online accounting software, and other cloud platforms are at a high risk of cloud jacking.

What is Cloud Jacking?

Cloud jacking is when a hacker takes over a user’s cloud account. This can be a single user account, or it can mean control of the entire account if they happen to breach the account of an administrator.

Having a cloud account hijacked is the most common type of cloud account attack because it allows a hacker to avoid the strong security protections that companies like Google, Microsoft, and other SaaS providers have in place.

If an attacker can log in with a user credential, the system sees them as a legitimate user, and they can do significant damage to your business.

One of the most recent and most famous examples of cloud jacking is the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline in May of 2021 that caused widespread gas shortages across the East Coast.

The hacker was able to get in through an unused and unprotected cloud account with a VPN provider. The account was not protected with multi-factor authentication (MFA), which could’ve prevented the attack. 

With cyberattacks at an all-time high, especially those involving cloud accounts, companies must take cloud security seriously and put safeguards in place to prevent cloud jacking.

What Can Happen When a Cloud Account Is Compromised?

Attackers can often gain more than just data when breaching a cloud account. This is because many companies use “all-in-one” cloud productivity platforms that can do multiple things.

Here are some examples of what can happen if your cloud accounts are compromised:

  • Infection of your cloud environment and any syncing devices with ransomware or another type of malware
  • Phishing emails being sent from one of your user accounts
  • Data being deleted or stolen and resold
  • Users being added without your permission
  • Monetary theft if the account is for online banking or has a stored credit card
  • Access to internal emails and team chats
  • Extortion where the attacker threatens to release sensitive data publicly 

Use These Tactics to Prevent Hijacking of Your Company Cloud Accounts

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (also known as two-factor authentication) is one of the strongest protections you can put in place for your cloud accounts. MFA can stop approximately 99.9% of all nefarious sign-in attempts.

But many users push back against it because they find it inconvenient. One study of Microsoft 365 administrators found that 78% of them don’t protect those high-level accounts with MFA.

MFA can be made more convenient for users by using it with a single sign-on (SSO) solution that allows a single user login for multiple cloud accounts.

Have Employees Use a Password Manager

77% of all cloud account takeovers involve password compromise. Users often use weak and easy-to-guess passwords, store passwords in an unsecured manner, and reuse the same passwords across personal and work accounts.

A business password manager gives users a password vault that will securely store all their passwords. Users only need to remember a single strong password to access all the others. Password managers will also suggest strong passwords for users as they’re creating and updating accounts.

Work With an IT Profession to Configure Your Cloud Security Settings

One of the biggest causes of cloud account breaches is a misconfiguration. This means that users haven’t properly configured cloud settings to properly protect their accounts.

When you first sign up for a new Microsoft 365, Slack, Salesforce, or other SaaS account, the security will not generally be set on the most protective levels. It’s up to users to configure them to meet their needs.

To avoid misconfiguration, it’s best to have a professional, like Unbound Digital, customize the settings in your cloud tools.

Keep Cloud Accounts Backed Up in a Separate Application

Ransomware attacks don’t only impact computers and servers. They can also destroy data that is stored in a cloud storage account.

Microsoft states in its Services Agreement, “We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

You mustn’t leave your cloud accounts out of your data backup and recovery strategy. You should back up your cloud data in a separate application designed for this purpose, so you can recover it anytime in the case of ransomware or another data loss incident.

Get Your Cloud Security Checked & Strengthened 

Unbound Digital can help your Johnson City, Tennessee business reduce your risk of being cloud jacked by assessing your current cloud security and providing helpful feedback to address any vulnerabilities. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.


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