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Stu LeesJun 20, 2024 4:49:07 AM5 min read

Cloud Disaster Recovery Planning : Assessing Risks in the Cloud

Cloud Disaster Recovery Planning : Assessing Risks in the Cloud in 2024

 

Part Two of a Multi-Part Series on Disaster Recovery in Cloud

 

Table of Contents 

Disaster recovery planning is essential for any organization to ensure business continuity and minimize data loss in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Traditionally, these plans were centered around on-premise infrastructure. With the advent of cloud computing, the landscape of disaster recovery has transformed, bringing both new opportunities and challenges.

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Introduction

When you are moving or have moved your critical business services such as Project Management, IT Service Management or the growing family of use cases prevalent in the Atlassian product ecosystem, understanding and mitigating risks is crucial for building a robust disaster recovery (DR) plan.

This article delves into the specific risks associated with cloud-based systems, ranks them based on potential impact, and seeks to provide strategies for mitigating these risks.

 

Risk Assessment

1. Cyber Security Risks - Security breaches are among the most significant concerns in cloud computing. This includes data breaches, account hijacking, and insider threats. The U.S. Department of the Interior's recent test revealed significant vulnerabilities: “Our tests succeeded because the Department failed to implement security measures capable of either preventing or detecting well-known and widely used techniques employed by malicious actors to steal sensitive data” (TechCrunch, source). This example underscores the necessity of implementing stringent security measures in cloud environments.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Regularly update and patch systems.
  • Conduct regular security audits and penetration tests.
  • Use encryption for data at rest and in transit.
  • Provide regular training updates to all staff

 

2. Insider Threats - Insider threats, whether malicious or accidental, pose a significant risk to cloud environments. A notable case involved a disgruntled former employee causing substantial damage: “Upset that he was fired, a former employee hacked into his company’s computer system and deleted 20 virtual servers, causing the company to lose $918,000” (Channel News Asia, source). This incident highlights the critical need for robust internal controls and monitoring.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Enforce strict access controls and user permissions.
  • Monitor user activities and establish alerts for suspicious behavior.
  • Conduct regular training and awareness programs for employees.
  • Ensure that employee contracts have specific clauses for acceptable computer  

 

3. Service Outages - Cloud service outages can significantly disrupt business operations. "According to InformationWeek’s 2024 Cloud Computing Report, 60% of IT decision-makers use Amazon Web Services (AWS) and half of these respondents have faced disruption due to an outage at AWS in the past 12 months" (DataCenterKnowledge, source). AWS has experienced numerous outages over the years, highlighting the importance of preparing for such events.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Implement multi-region deployments.
  • Use redundancy and failover solutions.
  • Regularly test DR plans to ensure quick recovery during outages.

 

4. Data Loss - Data loss can occur due to accidental deletion, corruption, or ransomware attacks. Ensuring data integrity and availability is critical for cloud-based systems. For instance, Microsoft Azure faced a significant data loss issue due to network and cooling failures in their Japan East region (DataCenterKnowledge, source).

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Regularly back up data to multiple locations.
  • Implement data versioning and snapshots.
  • Use robust access controls to prevent unauthorized data manipulation.

 

5. Compliance and Legal Risks - Compliance with industry regulations and legal standards is essential for cloud computing. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties and damage to reputation. Various industries have strict data protection laws that cloud service providers must adhere to, such as GDPR for European data protection and HIPAA for healthcare information in the United States.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Stay informed about relevant regulations and standards (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA).
  • Ensure that cloud service providers comply with these regulations.
  • Conduct regular compliance audits and risk assessments.

 

Real-World Risks and Examples

Technical Glitches and Configuration Errors: One of the more notable incidents involved an AWS outage caused by a mistyped command during a routine debugging exercise in 2017, which resulted in significant downtime for various services (DataCenterKnowledge, source).

Natural Disasters: Cloud services are not immune to natural disasters. For instance, in 2018, severe weather, including lightning strikes, caused a voltage spike at a Microsoft Azure data center, leading to a cooling failure and a significant outage (DataCenterKnowledge, source).

Power Failures: Power outages can disrupt cloud services, as seen with the Equinix data center outage in 2018 that affected AWS services and took down operations for several companies (DataCenterKnowledge, source).

 

Conclusion

Assessing and mitigating risks is a fundamental component of cloud disaster recovery planning. By understanding the specific risks associated with cloud computing and implementing effective strategies to address them, organizations can enhance their resilience and ensure business continuity. The real-world examples provided underscore the importance of robust DR plans and proactive risk management. In the next article, we will explore how to build a comprehensive cloud disaster recovery plan, detailing the steps and best practices to safeguard your cloud-based systems. Stay tuned for more insights and actionable advice.

 

Jira Cloud Disasters Do Happen

In February, 2024 the Atlassian Jira Cloud suffered a multi-day outage which impacted on all cloud users who specifically used workflows in Jira.  This was covered in an 'emergency'  session of The Jira Life which you can view below;

 

 

Also, on June 4th, 2024, the Jira Cloud was impacted by another outage, this time causing widespread impact with users unable to operate Jira. 

 

 

Useful Links and References

 

 

 

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Stu Lees

Stu is the VP of Marketing and Partnerships at Revyz Inc. With a career spanning over 25 years in IT, Stu runs the global marketing and partnership teams for the Revyz business and is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Stu has worked in a wide variety of arenas that include 15 years in senior leadership roles in enterprise IT as well as running his own technology integration company from 2006-2013. Stu is involved as a leader in the Auckland Atlassian ACE group and speaks frequently in webinars on both cyber security and marketing.