How to identify malicious content on the cloud?

Malicious content and code is unfortunately everywhere in the digital world. For every piece of genuine content, there are at least double the number of false or illegal content. Though there are many privacy and anti-spam laws, they are not as useful as they are expected to be.

This puts the onus right back on users like us. We have to learn to navigate the digital world by identifying malicious content from the genuine ones.

This becomes all the more imperative for companies that host their data and applications in the cloud, as they have much to lose from malware content. Though cloud offers a ton of benefits like increased productivity and reduce operational overheads, it has also opened up more chances for hackers and malware specialists to insert unwanted code into our applications.

In fact, this problem is more pervasive than what most people think. A study by Georgia Institute of Technology showed that 10 percent of cloud storage repositories were hacked in one way or another. Surprisingly, many of these cloud repositories act as distribution centers for malicious content, without the awareness of the owners.

This study is an important revelation as it helps businesses to understand the threat landscape in which they operate. Secondly, it can help companies to come up with appropriate solutions that’ll help to prevent these attacks or negate them, in the worst case. This way, the organization can prevent such malicious activities from impacting their organization, and more importantly, can curb their repositories from being the distribution centers.

The next big question is how can you identify good content from malicious one?

The same study compared two sets of data – a good set and a bad set, using which they were able to identify the features of a bad set. One of the first things they noticed is the presence of redirection. If a piece of code or data evaded discovery by a scanner or if it was used as proxy, then there’s a high possibility for such content to be spam. This is simple because any good content can be accessed legitimately.

Another big differentiator is the lifetime of the content. In general, malicious content had a short lifespan when compared to genuine content because it takes only a certain amount of time for the malicious content to get distributed across systems. Also, if the same content is present for a longer time, there’s a chance for it to be found out. So, malicious content have only a small lifespan as opposed to genuine content, which can remain in the cloud for many years.

So, what can client organizations do to prevent this malicious code? The answer depends on a host of factors. Firstly, organizations should talk with cloud providers to come up with basic protection mechanism on the infrastructure side to reduce the chances for malicious code to enter into the network. Organizations should also take similar steps to ensure that their network is not compromised either.

Alongside, organizations have to come up with some strategies to control access to unauthorized repositories, constant monitoring of assets and other strategies that it deems essential.

About The Author
Lavanya Rathnam is a professional writer of tech and financial blogs. Creative thinker, out of the boxer, content builder and tenacious researcher who specializes in explaining complex ideas to different audiences.
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