Sunday, February 25

How to mitigate misconfigurations in the cloud

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By Iñaki Zárate, sales engineer at Trend Micro Iberia
By Iñaki Zárate, sales engineer at Trend Micro Iberia

Misconfigurations can be seen as part of the growth pains when an organization moves to the cloud during its digital transformation. Cloud misconfigurations tend to be discovered the hard way, that is, when a cyberattack or data breach has already occurred, leaving organizations to bear the consequences. How do misconfigurations affect businesses and the cloud security? And what can organizations do to mitigate these effects?

Cloud misconfigurations are costly

According to a report As of 2020, cloud misconfigurations cost organizations $5 billion between 2018 and 2019. Most of this figure is due to data breaches caused by misconfigurations. In addition to gaps, these misconfigurations can also lead to other costs for businesses such as: idle instances (when the service doesn’t need to be up, but you’re still paying for it), unused storage, and over-provisioning caused by customer mindset. “data center” or “on-premises”. These costs can add up and create a catastrophic impact on any business.

Misconfigurations in the cloud increase risks

Encrypting online storage is as easy as flipping a switch. Conversely, not pressing it (since it is usually not activated by default) can lead to a complete exposure of the stored data. Therefore, a simple act can avoid a complex problem. Threat actors know this and are on the lookout for these overlooked security holes. They program their scripts and bots to look for exactly this type of opening so that when they find it, they can extract as much data as they can.

Misconfigurations can become vulnerabilities

An unaddressed misconfiguration, such as a vulnerability, is an open invitation for threat actors, who actively seek out these types of opportunities.

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Cloud configuration errors cost organizations $5 billion

What to do to mitigate cloud misconfigurations? We recommend the following:

Automate security: automation and visibility are the main problem we see today in cloud environments. Although there is talent in the technology to safely handle the move to the cloud, there is a shortage of employees. DevOps teams are building at a record pace and releasing apps on a daily or hourly basis, but security teams can’t always keep up. One way to do this is to automate and augment your work. Having software-defined infrastructure (SDI), infrastructure as code (IaC), and up-to-date templates and containers helps with automation and hardening.

Automate compliance: Incorporating compliance into the automation cycle used by the organization is key. This is an important standard set by cloud providers. When it comes to the cloud, security must go beyond the various global standards to include those referenced by cloud providers, as well as best practices for an organization’s specific industry.

Improve the level of training of workers: the cloud and DevOps are developing rapidly. However, cybersecurity is not ingrained in students or future programmers. They do not have an inherent security-oriented approach to their work, so security-impacting bugs are constantly occurring. In short, training people can ensure safety from the design stage.

In general, it is important to understand that the cloud is fallible. Your security is a shared responsibility between the cloud service provider (CSP) and the organization. Therefore, organizations must do their part and live up to their role to keep their cloud environments secure.

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This can be a daunting task, especially when organizations have had to quickly cope with the demands of a global pandemic. Still, security must be prioritized to avoid even more serious consequences and build more trust in cloud environments.

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