How is Cloud Misconfiguration a Major Security Threat?

What is Cloud Misconfiguration?

When a business has improperly set up its cloud-based system, which invites hackers in, this is referred to as cloud misconfiguration. This serious compliance risk might appear in a variety of ways, including −

Deliberately disseminating unencrypted data over the open internet without the necessary authentication in place −

  • Allowing access to storage containers by the public

  • Improper network functionality generation

  • Granting open cloud storage data access to all system users

  • Putting encryption keys and passwords in public repositories

According to this Security Boulevard article, the most typical reasons for cloud misconfiguration are −

  • Insufficient knowledge about cloud security and policies

  • Inadequate oversight and controls

  • There are too many cloud APIs and interfaces for the system to be properly governed.

  • Careless insider conduct.

Any flaws, holes, or faults in the cloud that could put your environment in danger when you use the cloud are referred to as cloud misconfiguration. These cyberthreats take the shape of network intrusions, ransomware, malware, external hackers, insider threats, and security breaches.

A leading vulnerability in a cloud system, according to the NSA, is cloud misconfiguration. Although these dangers are frequently less complex, the frequency of the problems is typically through the roof.

Because multi-cloud settings can be fairly complex and faults can be challenging to find and manually fix, misconfiguration is a concern in cloud computing. According to a Gartner survey, these problems account for 80% of all data security breaches, and until 2025, human error may be to blame for up to 99% of cloud environment failures.

What May Happen in the Event of a Cloud Misconfiguration?

Cases of cloud misconfiguration problems have increased dramatically in recent years as more enterprises store data in the cloud. In this Business Insights article, it is stated that from January 2019 to June 2020, eight out of ten data breaches were attributable to cloud misconfiguration.

But what might take place if this does? Cybercriminals can easily access cloud-based data through cloud misconfiguration, steal it, hold it for ransom, and occasionally even embed digital skimming malware.

Attacks known as digital skimming include inserting malicious code into a website's scripts, which are loaded when a user accesses the site in their browser. When a visitor enters confidential data (e.g., credit card numbers, account numbers, social security numbers, etc.), It is intercepted by the skimmer malware and sent to a server under the control of hackers. The data is then gathered, sold, or otherwise illegally exploited.

There are innumerable instances of data breaches caused by cloud misconfiguration, but one worth highlighting happened in 2018 when FedEx accidentally exposed thousands of scanned documents as a result of the company's failure to secure an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud storage server. Passports, licenses, and mail delivery application forms that contained customers' names, home addresses, phone numbers, and zip codes were among the compromised papers.

Misconfigurations in Cloud Security − Common Root Causes

Cloud clients are in charge of protecting their own cloud-based resources under the shared responsibility model of cloud security. However, securing their cloud-based infrastructure is a challenge for many enterprises.

These security configuration errors that put businesses at risk may result from a variety of factors, including −

Multi-Cloud Complexity

The majority of businesses use platforms from many cloud providers in their multi-cloud installations. It can be challenging to correctly establish and monitor these settings across environments because each of these platforms has a unique set of security settings. Additionally, any inconsistency among the different security settings will raise the organization's risk.

Unchanged Defaults

A company's new cloud infrastructure has default values for its security configuration settings for deploying new apps or extending to new cloud environments. In the event that these settings are not secure by default, the organization may become exposed if these settings are not changed.

Unsafe DevOps

One of the key benefits of cloud infrastructure is its agility. During testing, administrators may set up "temporary" security configurations in an effort to quickly deploy new features. These configurations put the organization at risk if they are not updated after release.

Skills Gaps

Many firms have just recently adopted sophisticated, multi-cloud setups after making the switch to the cloud. It takes extensive knowledge of each platform's security settings to secure these environments, which, as a result of the current cybersecurity skills gap, might be challenging to acquire.

Shadow IT

Applications, data storage, and other cloud services are simple to launch on cloud platforms because of their user-friendly design. Employees might deploy cloud assets as a result without the requisite authorization and security measures established correctly.

How to Prevent Cloud Misconfigurations and Protect Your Data?

You may configure your cloud environment safely and keep it secure by following the advice of experts.

  • Observe omitted services − The majority of the time, development and operations teams build new cloud servers and applications, configure them, and then forget to double-check the settings. Make sure you are aware of the location and status of your cloud services and assets.

  • Create policies and templates − IT executives must propagate effective security settings into the base configuration settings of their environments to enable future instances of a cloud infrastructure or application to profit from previous experiences.

  • Automate configuration and security checks − For the creation and deployment of secure code, agile development methodologies make considerable use of automation. Check the security and compliance of your currently functioning infrastructure and applications. Here, automation can be useful.

  • Utilize provider tools − You must be aware of the degree to which the cloud provider and you are jointly responsible for security. Infrastructure-as-a-service clouds place more responsibility on the customer's shoulders, whereas the cloud service provider mostly manages SaaS services.

  • Conduct risk analyses − When moving your data and operations to the cloud, cybersecurity risk analyses assist you in detecting potential dangers in your cloud storage and other infrastructure components.