The cloud has truly changed the way businesses of all sizes operate. Gone are the days of needing to be in the office to get work done. With cloud applications from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Google, employees can work anywhere at anytime as long as they have an internet connection, their device and the right credentials.
Undoubtedly, the cloud is great for organizations, boosting productivity, supercharging innovation and, for the most part, being much cheaper than on-premises servers. However, for all the benefits of the cloud, it also raises a lot of security concerns, especially when it comes to cloud misconfigurations.
What is a Cloud Configuration Mistake?
A cloud configuration mistake is a misconfiguration that occurs in a cloud environment when an employee fails to implement secure or correct access controls, privileges and authorization rights.
To put this in context, imagine you’ve created a Google Doc that contains a lot of customer information. This document needs to be private. Only you and certain employees within your organization should be able to access it. However, you accidentally leave the document set to ‘public’, meaning it is exposed and accessible to the wider internet.
This is just one example of a cloud misconfiguration mistake; any incident that puts your organization’s data in the cloud at risk of exposure, compromise, deletion or theft.
How Do Cloud Misconfigurations Happen?
Cloud misconfigurations are shockingly common. Gartner predicts that, by 2025, 99% of all cloud security failures will be the customer’s responsibility, meaning misconfigurations are to blame. Yes, you read that right. Misconfigurations are always the fault of the customer, not the cloud provider.
This is because the cloud works on a shared responsibility model. The cloud provider is responsible for securing the underlying infrastructure of the services they provide, while businesses have the responsibility of securely configuring these services. This involves checking things like permissions, access controls, securely installing third-party configurations, using strong passwords and so on.
Types of Cloud Misconfigurations
To discover, remediate and protect against cloud misconfigurations, it’s helpful to have a foundational idea of the most common forms of cloud misconfiguration that wreak havoc in companies. These include:
- Lax access controls: If you don’t take a cautious approach to access permissions in the cloud, you will unintentionally put data security at risk. This is because too many employees will be able to access different data, and cloud modify, delete or share it without you knowing. Moreover, should an employee account become compromised, lax access controls intensify the likelihood of an attacker stealing sensitive information.
- Forgetting to privatize cloud instances: When you first start using a new cloud tool, it will probably be set to ‘public’ by default to enable your employees to easily start interacting with it. Trouble arises when organizations forget to switch the service from public to private, as this leaves their data public on the internet, where hackers could easily find it and use it for their own bidding.
- Open inbound and outbound ports: Any port that is open to the internet presents a potential cybersecurity vulnerability that hackers can exploit. When you start using cloud services, you must review your ports and restrict them accordingly to essential systems only.
- A lack of monitoring and logging in the cloud: As well as combating the sources of cloud misconfigurations, organizations must also use tools that help to discover and remediate cloud misconfigurations in near real-time. This is where monitoring and logging becomes vital. However, many organizations don’t think to use these tools, meaning the number of unknown misconfigurations quickly builds up.
- Using default credentials: Too often, organizations use the default passwords that are delivered with a new cloud service. This is really dangerous. Often, hackers know about these default credentials as they are the same across the board. Luckily, tackling this issue is a quick fix. Change the default credentials quickly after starting to use a new cloud service, and then change these details intermittently every month or two for enhanced security.
How to Reduce Cloud Configuration Errors
Reducing cloud configuration errors is a complex, ongoing process. Firstly, you need to find the misconfigurations that already exist within your cloud environment and correct them. From there, you need to put in place an end-to-end security strategy to discover and fix cloud misconfigurations as they happen.
For small organizations without an IT team, doing this can seem impossible. Cloud environments are undeniably technical and many SMBs don’t have the expertise or resources needed to dedicate time to combating misconfigurations.
Your Partner For All Things Cloud
That’s where we come in. We’ll help you with the cloud’s shared responsibility by professionally configuring your platform security, and putting monitoring systems in place that defend against things like misconfigurations, unauthorized access and ransomware. Contact us for your free consultation today!