Strategies to Address Misconfigurations – The Biggest Threat to Cloud Security

Strategies to Address Misconfigurations – The Biggest Threat to Cloud Security

Misconfigurations are to blame for the vast majority of data breaches involving cloud services. As more cloud-based applications and services gain popularity among organizations adopting a DevOps workflow, this trend will accelerate in 2021.

The pandemic necessitated the quick deployment of virtual workforces and cloud resources to support them at scale, propelling public cloud adoption to new heights in 2020, with momentum expected to continue this year. According to a 2021 report from Gartner, global end-user spending on public cloud services will climb 23.1 percent in 2021, to US$332.3 billion, up from US$270 billion in 2020.

Despite the economic downturn, offerings that support or supply public cloud services are booming. According to Gartner, CIOs are under increasing pressure to scale infrastructure in order to accommodate the migration of complex workloads to the cloud as well as the requirements of a hybrid workforce.

There are numerous benefits to moving to the cloud. Many security teams, however, still regard the cloud as an exception, or at the very least, not a primary use case. Attackers are fully aware that enterprise information security in the cloud lags behind, and they take advantage of the lack of security knowledge in new cloud environments.

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Misconfiguration at the User Level

Many systems administrators, CISOs and IT directors are satisfied with the security of their data since cloud providers offer built-in security features. Customers frequently believe that the cloud provider is responsible for security and that they do not need to take any additional steps.

This approach disregards the cloud security model of shared responsibility. While cloud providers safeguard the platform as a whole, businesses are responsible for the data stored on those platforms. The biggest security risk connected with the cloud is misconfiguration, which is caused by a lack of knowledge of the shared responsibility model.

Trend Micro Research recently analyzed cloud-specific cyber-attacks to better comprehend the situation of cloud misconfigurations. It identified an average of 230 million misconfigurations on a daily basis. A substantial number of websites were discovered to be partially hosted in world-writable cloud-based storage systems, according to the report.

Despite the fact that these environments are secure by default, settings can be altered manually to grant greater access than is required. These misconfigurations are often made without thinking about the repercussions, but once they are in place, it’s easy to identify them on the internet, and cybercriminals are profiting from them.

In theory, the risk of misconfigurations may appear evident, but in fact, overburdened IT professionals are frequently simply trying to optimize procedures to make internal operations easier. As a result, the settings are updated to give anyone in the company with the proper credentials read and/or write access. What they don’t comprehend is that cybercriminals can detect and exploit this level of exposure.

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Securing the Cloud Environment against Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations can be easily avoided by practicing good cyber hygiene and monitoring on a regular basis. Businesses can secure cloud applications and data right now, especially knowing that threat actors are already cloud-aware and offering vulnerabilities as a service.

Here are a few ideas for keeping the cloud environment secure:

  • The principle of least privilege: Instead of making permits open to everybody, access should only be offered to those who need it.
  • Shared responsibility model: Although cloud service providers offer built-in security, it is the responsibility of the companies who use their services to keep their data secure.
  • Monitoring cloud infrastructure: Misconfigurations and exposures in the cloud environments can be detected using tools which are readily available in the market.
  • Data and applications in the cloud: Today, there are enough solutions available to ensure the cloud environment (and the majority of the IT spend) is as secure as any non-cloud legacy systems.

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