Purdue University Graduate School
T. Richard Stroupe dissertation (FINAL).pdf (1.23 MB)

A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Data Breaches at Companies with Air-Gap Cloud Security and Multi-Cloud Environments

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posted on 2023-11-20, 22:31 authored by T Richard Stroupe Jr.T Richard Stroupe Jr.

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe how multi-cloud and cloud-based air gapped system security breaches occurred, how organizations responded, the kinds of data that were breached, and what security measures were implemented after the breach to prevent and repel future attacks. Qualitative research methods and secondary survey data were combined to answer the research questions. Due to the limited information available on successful unauthorized breaches to multi-cloud and cloud-based air gapped systems and corresponding data, the study was focused on the discovery of variables from several trustworthily sources of secondary data, including breach reports, press releases, public interviews, and news articles from the last five years and qualitative survey data. The sample included highly trained cloud professionals with air-gapped cloud experience from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google and Oracle. The study utilized unstructured interviews with open-ended questions and observations to record and document data and analyze results.

By describing instances of multi-cloud and cloud-based air gapped system breaches in the last five years this study could add to the body of literature related to best practices for securing cloud-based data, preventing data breach on such systems, and for recovering from breach once it has occurred. This study would have significance to companies aiming to protect secure data from cyber attackers. It would also be significant to individuals who have provided their confidential data to companies who utilize such systems. In the primary data, 12 themes emerged. The themes were Air Gap Weaknesses Same as Other Systems, Misconfiguration of Cloud Settings, Insider Threat as Attack Vector, Phishing as Attack Vector, Software as Attack Vector, and Physical Media as Attack Vector, Lack of Reaction to Breaches, Better Authentication to Prevent Breaches, Communications, and Training in Response to Breach, Specific Responses to Specific Problems, Greater Separation of Risk from User End, and Greater Separation of Risk from Service End. For secondary data, AWS had four themes, Microsoft Azure had two, and both Google Cloud and Oracle had three.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Technology


  • Computer and Information Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Marcus Rogers

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Linda Naimi

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. John Springer

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Baijian Yang