Cloud storage has revolutionized how organizations collaborate internally, allowing them to store data conveniently and cheaper than ever.
According to a recent survey of technology leaders, 93% of respondents said their company was “mostly cloud,” reflecting the hold that this technology has on all industries.
The auto industry has recently integrated cloud storage at all levels of their operations primarily to give a better experience to their customers. From phone connectivity to in-car software updates, cloud storage has dramatically improved how people interact with their cars.
Unfortunately, this rapid expansion and the large amount of stored data also means that cloud storage is a prime target for hackers.
This article will review a recent cloud storage breach at Toyota and explain how to prevent this situation from happening within your organization.
Details Of the Toyota Breach
In 2023, Toyota announced that vehicle IDs and map data had been potentially exposed on the web between February 2015 and May 2023.
The company says the breach resulted from an “insufficient dissemination and enforcement of data handling rules,” pointing to a cyber security awareness issue.
Ultimately, the breach was minor, and the carmaker noted that they didn’t find any evidence of the potentially exposed data being traded or offered on the internet.
However, it showed the world that even prominent players need to train their users to handle and keep data safe.
The collaborative nature of cloud storage allows thousands of people to work together, but users must be well-trained to make this investment worth it.
Understanding Cloud Storage
To get the right context, it’s important to understand the technology well. Cloud storage refers to a data management model that allows companies to host data on a remote server so that clients and employees worldwide can access it via the internet.
Companies can rely on an external party like Google or Amazon to host the server or launch their own proprietary cloud. Many companies rely on the former option to maintain full control over their data.
However, 3rd party hosting is also very popular due to its more affordable nature with no upfront investment required.
Why are businesses relying on the cloud?
Cloud storage allows a tremendous amount of versatility and instant communication. When properly managed, this technology can save millions of dollars and dramatically improve operational efficiency.
It’s also a significant driver of the recent rise of remote working. Since workers are no longer influenced by the limitations of data stored in a physical server in the office, they can now work from anywhere efficiently.
Even for companies still operating on a traditional office model, cloud storage allows a revolutionary work style by enabling employees to collaborate from different offices worldwide.
What Is a Cloud Breach?
A cloud data breach is when an individual gains illicit access to a company’s servers.
While this is often the result of direct cyber attacks, the most common reason for these breaches is simple human error. For example, a misconfigured data bucket was inadvertently left open to the public, which is what ultimately happened in the case of Toyota.
Most common attack vectors
Breaches can happen for a variety of reasons, but the main reasons are poor infrastructure management and cyber attacks like phishing. Since cloud storage is accessed by hundreds or even thousands of people at a time, vigilance is crucial.
If data management rules aren’t properly communicated and enforced, human error can become the most dangerous cause of cloud breaches. These situations are especially tricky since they can go unnoticed for months, if not years, before they are fixed.
Consequences Of a Cloud Breach
Like any other data breach, a cloud breach can have lasting consequences far beyond the initial event. In the case of Toyota, the situation was handled swiftly and decisively, which mitigated the ramifications.
Loss of trust
Depending on the nature of the business, a cloud breach can lead to lost revenue due to a loss of trust from customers. A breach in banking, for example, could drive people to move their funds elsewhere.
An incident in the car industry could have the same results, especially with cars becoming more connected and able to self-drive.
Leaked customer data
In some cyber attacks, this is the goal of hackers. Customer data is always a universal currency in the dark web since it can either allow illegitimate access directly or be used to answer security questions.
Financial Ramifications and Lost Business
Cloud breaches don’t just pose immediate threats; they also ring alarm bells for a company’s finances. Stern fines levied by regulatory bodies and lost business translate into financial setbacks.
The immediate financial toll is evident, but the lasting effects on future business opportunities can be even more detrimental.
Best Practices to Prevent Cloud Breaches
Cloud storage isn’t going anywhere, and more companies will be driven to rely on it in the coming years. Like any other cyber security initiative, it’s crucial to have proper planning and analysis to be ready for any type of nefarious event. Here are some cloud storage best practices:
Zero trust network
This compartmentalized server architecture means that even if a hacker gained access to your server, they’d be limited to a minimal zone of your network. The main logic behind this philosophy is only to give employees access to the portion of the network they require to work, adding on as needed.
This approach makes cloud storage much safer by diminishing the importance of each node of the network while allowing for extremely efficient and precise data traceability in the event of a breach.
Cyber Security Awareness
Most cloud storage breaches are due to cyber attacks like phishing, spoofing, or malware. The only reliable way to stay protected against these methods is to ensure that your workforce has fresh training on recent cyber security trends.
The signs of these attacks are easily recognized once workers are aware of them, and every second counts during a cyber attack.
Third-Party Risk Management
Every company that gains access to your cloud storage must be thoroughly audited to assess their security measures. This is especially true for companies relying upon external partners to host their data servers, but it’s still important to keep in mind even if you host your own data.
This step will help you trace the source of a cyber attack quickly.
Safely Leveraging Cloud Infrastructure
What Toyota experienced is a tale all too common. They relied on cloud storage to make tremendous innovations in the car industry, but without stringent data management rules, this type of investment is quickly not worth it.
Thankfully, they showed excellent incident management by announcing the breach to the world immediately after discovering it and terminating all services associated with this data.
Incidents like these drive home the point: it’s important to remain vigilant, anticipate challenges, and prioritize robust cyber security at every turn.
Want to see cyber security awareness training in action?
Check out this case study of how a worldwide manufacturer created a cyber-aware culture and prevented phishing attacks with fun and effective training modules.