Understanding Cloud Misconfiguration: Causes, Corrections, and Prevention

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Cloud misconfigurations leave systems vulnerable to a wide range of problems such as unauthorized access, malicious code insertions, data theft, and ransomware attacks. To detect, correct, and prevent cloud system misconfigurations, a proper understanding of the problem itself is essential. In this post, the focus will be on the most common mistakes that generally lead to misconfigurations and how to prevent them.

What are Cloud Misconfigurations?

Cloud misconfigurations are mistakes in the system settings that jeopardize the security, reliability, and performance of the concerned cloud system. When mistakes made in the system’s configuration negatively affect system performance and/or security, they qualify as system misconfigurations.

A single misconfiguration can open an entire cloud environment to system bugs, error messages, security gaps, unauthorized access, unrecorded access, external hacks, data breaches and a long list of other potential problems.

Indiscriminate System Access

Indiscriminate system access, more commonly known as overly permissive system access refers to system vulnerabilities that originate from excessively accessible and open system settings. Critical system access permissions must be strictly controlled and monitored by admins to prevent insider attacks and sensitive data breaches.

Disable legacy protocols and communication lines between public and private resources within the cloud system. Also, hide external-facing ports and critical APIs, while ensuring that only people with valid reasons and active permissions from the right admin are allowed access to vulnerable system configurations.

Storage Access Confusion

Storage access confusion is a cloud misconfiguration that’s typically associated with the AWS cloud computing platform. When someone misconfigures the system to grant storage access exclusively to Authenticated Users, they open an easily exploitable vulnerability which could allow unauthorized access to numerous external parties.

The problem is that each client of AWS in general is registered as an Authenticated User. The storage is supposed to be configured in such a way that it only grants exclusive access to Authorized Users instead. The misconfiguration indicates that someone confused Authorized with Authenticated.

Unrestricted Ports

Security admins should have dynamic knowledge of all active inbound and outbound ports. This will ensure that they will be able to quickly close all open but inactive ports. Additionally, access to all open and active ports are to be closely monitored and kept restricted with limited access.

The complexity of the task heavily increases potential for human error. The good news is that CSPM security systems can considerably decrease the risks associated with unrestricted port misconfigurations. Powered by intelligent automation tools, CSPM augments the security admin’s ability to detect, correct, and prevent not just port misconfigurations, but all cloud misconfigurations in general.

Ignored Logs

Cloud systems will constantly generate logs that are full of real time information. If detected, the logs will also include information about the system’s blind spots, potential security gaps, unauthorized access & suspicious activities, internal security breaches, and more. If these logs are not acknowledged in time and acted upon immediately, correcting the problems becomes increasingly more difficult.

A (CPSM) system that’s capable of automatically reading the logs, acknowledging the warnings, correcting the misconfigurations, and informing the admins in quick succession is a game changer for cloud system security.

Unchanged Defaults

One of the most elementary mistakes that can be made by professionals working with IT systems is that of not changing the default usernames and passwords. It may seem unlikely, but this happens even today, especially when it involves smaller enterprises. Lack of attention to essential details and general negligence is to be blamed here, and not ignorance. It’s 2023 and every employee working with a cloud-based system should know that it’s important to change default usernames and passwords.

If they fail to do so, it will create a point of vulnerability. At the very least, it will allow easy, unauthorized access to confidential data. In the worst-case scenario, unauthorized access can allow external parties to successfully infiltrate the system and hack into the company’s most sensitive and crucial data.

Such probabilities can be avoided to a great extent by implementing the aforementioned, restricted access policy. No one without the right credentials and relevant admin permissions should be allowed to access anything deemed sensitive or confidential. This will ensure that if an employee account gets hacked because they forgot to change their default login info, the hacker won’t be able to access anything that can be used to harm or extort the company.

It should be clear from the discussion so far, most cloud system configuration mistakes can be prevented, or its chances at least mitigated. To achieve best results in that regard, augment the skills of talented IT admins with automated cloud security posture management and security systems.

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