Closing The Gap: Resolving Human Error in Cloud Security
Patrick PocalykoPatrick Pocalyko

Closing The Gap: Resolving Human Error in Cloud Security

By Patrick Pocalyko, GM North America, CYREBRO

Cybersecurity technology is critical to securing the cloud but it’s easy to forget that people also play an important role. And the fact is that the vast majority of security and cloud security incidents are still caused – directly or indirectly – not by technology, but by people. Here are some of the most common human errors that leave cloud deployments vulnerable, and how to rectify them.

Amendable Human Error #1 – Misunderstanding Shared Security Responsibility

It’s a common misperception that once you migrate data, apps or any type of computing resources to the cloud, the cloud provider is then responsible for security. In fact, the exact opposite is true. All major cloud providers operate on what’s referred to as a shared security responsibility model.

The term “shared” is somewhat misleading. It’s more like “divided.” The cloud provider’s responsibility ends with their infrastructure. Everything you bring into their environment is your responsibility. This means that upwards of 90% of the cloud security burden rests with the users. And that’s likely why Gartner concluded that 99% of cloud security failures are the customer’s fault.

Knowledge is power. Understand the extent of protection your cloud provider offers, and make sure you have the in-house or outsourced skillset to make up the difference.

Amendable Human Error #2 – Misconfigurations

The good news is that security professionals know that a properly configured cloud environment is actually rarely breached. The bad news is that the vast majority of cloud environments are not properly configured, to say the least.

A great example of this is a recently exposed breach at automaker Toyota. Resulting from a cloud misconfiguration, this breach went on for over a decade and affected over two million customers.
Why does this happen? Under the shared security responsibility model, your IT teams need to do a lot of manual security configuring. But IT teams are not always cloud security experts (or even cloud experts, for that matter). Frequently, these teams rely on default provider settings – settings which threat actors love, of course. These settings leave, for example, 55% of companies with one or more databases that are publicly exposed to the internet due to misconfigured routes or authentication requirements. What’s worse, the sheer scalability of cloud deployments magnifies the ramifications of even a single misconfigured setting.

The under-skilled cloud admins deploying your sensitive data and proprietary applications to the cloud may not be aware of the intricacies of integration, prioritization, segmentation and permissions. It’s possible they don’t know they should conform with industry best practices and maintain separate cloud accounts for CI/CD, production, development, customer service, and more. They may not know how to handle the flood of cloud security issues raised by Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) systems.

Hire skilled resources. It’s true that skilled cybersecurity professionals are hard to come by. In fact, there was an estimated cybersecurity workforce gap of over 3 million people in 2022 – and that number is still growing. To mitigate this, many organizations are outsourcing cloud security to MSSPs or other security solution providers.

Amendable Human Error #3 – Lack of Training

Sit a roomful of sales pros down and ask them to answer this question honestly: how many of you have ever copied a document with sensitive business data from an enterprise cloud database onto your laptop, so you can work on it on a flight? The majority of them will inevitably answer in the affirmative. And they are, of course, inadvertently guilty of both violating data security and creating shadow data. In doing so, their actions pose serious risks to your data security, compliance, and governance.


This is a training issue, cut and dry. Because you can create all the policies you want and deploy all the security tools on the market – but if data can be seen on a screen, it can become unsecured shadow data. Create in-house training regimes that help cloud users better understand the implications of their everyday actions on organizational security.

The Bottom Line

As security professionals, it’s easy to focus on the technological aspects of cloud security. Yet human error can be a major cause of vulnerabilities in the cloud – and is addressable. By spotlighting rectifiable human errors—understanding shared security responsibility, tackling misconfigurations, and providing proper training—we can enhance cloud security and keep our data and our businesses safer.

About the Author

Closing The Gap: Resolving Human Error in Cloud SecurityPatrick leads client engagements in North America for CYREBRO, and is responsible for regional growth, business development and partnerships. Patrick brings Fortune 500 management experience in addition to 10 years in Navy military service with expertise in Intelligence and Reconnaissance, including multiple international combat tours. Patrick can be reached online at LinkedIn and at

October 25, 2023

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