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Insider Threats to Cloud Computing: Directions for New Research Challenges

July 2012 White Paper
William R. Claycomb, Alex Nicoll

In this paper, the authors explain how cloud computing related insider threats are a serious concern, but that this threat has not been thoroughly explored.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

Abstract

Cloud computing related insider threats are often listed as a serious concern by security researchers, but to date this threat has not been thoroughly explored. We believe the fundamental nature of current insider threats will remain relatively unchanged in a cloud environment, but the paradigm does reveal new exploit possibilities. The common notion of a cloud insider as a rogue administrator of a service provider is discussed, but we also present two additional cloud-related insider risks: the insider who exploits a cloud-related vulnerability to steal information from a cloud system, and the insider who uses cloud systems to carry out an attack on an employer's local resources. We also characterize a hierarchy of administrators within cloud service providers, give examples of attacks from real insider threat cases, and show how the nature of cloud systems architectures enables attacks to succeed. Finally, we discuss our position on future cloud research.