Misconfigured Cloud Applications Are Putting Your Data At Risk

As more and more organisations continue to move their systems and applications to the cloud in 2023, cybercriminals everywhere hear the sound of opportunity knocking. They know that as they hunt for vulnerable systems, this increases their chances of coming across a cloud application that has been left exposed inadvertently due to misconfiguration.

The result: an open door to valuable company data including client and employee personal information, financial data, supplier agreements, et cetera. 

With cloud misconfiguration still being considered one of the biggest threats to cloud security, if not the biggest, organisations need to revisit their cloud adoption strategies and ensure their sensitive information is properly protected by prioritising cloud security.

Time To Ditch The Default

So, how do these misconfigurations occur in the first place?

There are all kinds of reasons. Some of these cloud applications are being rolled out to serve the needs of a specific department or team. Therefore, the priority is more on the business issue it is trying to resolve than the need to integrate and interact with internal systems and endpoints securely. So, to speed up the adoption and solve the issue for that department or team, the application is rolled-out with default settings which may seem sufficient at that time.

However, default settings tend to be too open and could be easily exploited by attackers. For instance, leaving a system account with a default password.

Another issue is the inconsistent approach to configuring cloud applications. Changes are made on an ad-hoc basis and not necessarily replicated across all applications and systems. This makes it more complicated when trying to fix configuration issues, and can expose data stored in these systems to breaches.

The lesson here? IT should be brought in early, even before any new cloud application is selected, to ensure the application is tested and meets the requirements of the configuration checklist defined by the organisation. A centralised approach is also necessary to ensure changes to configurations are carried out consistently across all cloud systems and properly documented.

Cloud Security Is A Shared Responsibility

The tendency to opt for default settings is closely intertwined with another important factor that can cause security gaps in cloud services: a lack of awareness that security is a responsibility shared by many parties - including the customer themselves. 

When it comes to cloud applications, there’s no such thing as “security that is 100% handled by the vendor.”

The service provider that provides the infrastructure - think here of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud - is responsible for delivering a certain foundational level of security. On top of that service provider, the cloud vendor who delivers the specific application that the organisation is using, is responsible for another layer of security. But the final piece of the security puzzle is the customer.

Assuming that “it’s in the cloud, it must be protected”, it’s the wrong assumption. In fact, the customer needs to play a big part by determining which users get to access which data, what level of privileges should they have, and so on – the vendor can’t handle that aspect.

That’s why it’s critical for organisations to understand the Shared Responsibility Model, and for all key internal and external stakeholders to be clear about their roles and responsibilities.

Avoid The Gaps

Cloud adoption will only continue to gain momentum in the year ahead, which is all the more reason to ensure that cyber criminals aren’t provided with any low hanging fruit due to misconfigured cloud systems. Unfortunately, it is a matter of “when” and not “if” an organisation will be targeted by cyber criminals. So, preparation is key.

Auditing cloud applications and their configurations, as well as confirming that all parties are clear about their shared responsibilities can make a world of difference in ensuring that organisations are able to keep their sensitive data safe and out of the hands of bad actors.

Manuel Sanchez is an Information Security & Compliance Specialist at iManage

You Might Also Read: 

DMS Alerts Should Be Key To Organisations’ Security Orchestration:

 

« US Defense Contractors Don't Meet Basic Cyber Security Standards
Remote Work: Three Top Trends In 2023 »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

ZenGRC

ZenGRC

ZenGRC - the first, easy-to-use, enterprise-grade information security solution for compliance and risk management - offers businesses efficient control tracking, testing, and enforcement.

CYRIN

CYRIN

CYRIN® Cyber Range. Real Tools, Real Attacks, Real Scenarios. See why leading educational institutions and companies in the U.S. have begun to adopt the CYRIN® system.

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout enables cyber security professionals to reduce cyber risk to their organization with proactive security solutions, providing immediate improvement in security posture and ROI.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins is an international law firm. Practice areas include Data Privacy, Security and Cybercrime.

Axiomatics

Axiomatics

Axiomatics provides dynamic authorization and access control solutions to protect critical data assets.

PETRAS IoT Hub

PETRAS IoT Hub

PETRAS is a consortium of 12 research institutions and the world’s largest socio-technical research centre focused on the future implementation of the IoT.

VivoSecurity

VivoSecurity

VivoSecurity is a pioneer in cyber risk quantification based on data science. Our products and services help organizations achieve optimal information security and GRC programs.

Bright Machines

Bright Machines

Bright Machines delivers intelligent, software-defined manufacturing by bringing together our flexible factory robots with intelligent software, production data and machine learning.

InnoValor

InnoValor

InnoValor realises value from digital innovation for organisations and government. We provide advisory services and develop innovative software solutions, based on our background in research.

NewGens

NewGens

NewGens is a solution and service provider to banking institutions in the APAC region. Areas of expertise include cybersecurity, AML, fruad prevention, compliance and risk management.

Munich Re

Munich Re

Munich Re is a leading global provider of reinsurance, primary insurance and insurance-related risk solutions including Cyber.

DataViper

DataViper

Data viper is a threat intelligence platform designed for organizations, investigators, and law enforcement.

SecurityGate

SecurityGate

SecurityGate.io is the only Integrated Risk Management platform built for OT/ICS cybersecurity.

RevBits

RevBits

RevBits provides high-performance cybersecurity solutions including email security, endpoint security, deception technology and PAM solution to enterprise companies and public sector organizations.

Data Storage Corp (DSC)

Data Storage Corp (DSC)

Data Storage Corporation is a provider of data recovery and business continuity services that help organizations protect their data, minimize downtime and recover and restore data.

Cyber Command - Romania

Cyber Command - Romania

Cyber Command represents the military authority responsible for the development, protection and resilience of military IT networks and services that support the Romanian Force Structure.

Ciphertex Data Security

Ciphertex Data Security

Ciphertex is a leading data security company that specializes in portable data encryption and privacy protection storage systems.

Execweb

Execweb

Execweb are a cybersecurity executive network, comprised of 400+ security practitioners who work at Fortune 500 and SME companies.

InfoSec Brigade

InfoSec Brigade

InfoSec Brigade offers a suite of specialized solutions that help businesses to mitigate risk by integrating cyber and IT security protocols with business goals.