Misconfiguration of cloud solutions is often overlooked when companies plan their cybersecurity strategy. Cloud apps are typically quick and easy to sign up for and access, and the user often assumes that they don’t need to worry about security because it’s handled by the provider.

This is an incorrect assumption because cloud security operates under shared model, regardless of provider. The provider of the solution handles securing the backend infrastructure of course, but the user is responsible for configuring security settings in their account properly, due to the liability and expenses a Cloud provider would incur by having to manage it all.

Problems stemming from misconfiguration can be existential in nature. It’s the number one cause of cloud data breaches to start, and more importantly, it’s simply an unforced error. Misconfiguration means that a company has made a mistake. It hasn’t adequately secured its cloud application. They left their keys in the ignition, house unlocked, and went on vacation.

Perhaps they gave too many employees administrative privileges, or they neglected to turn on a security function; like one that prevented the downloading of cloud files by an unauthorized user.

Misconfiguration covers a wide range of negligent behavior. It all revolves around key cloud security settings and practices. A finding in The State of Cloud Security 2021 report shed light on how common this issue is: 45% of organizations experience between 1 and 50 cloud misconfigurations per day.

Some of the main causes of misconfiguration include:

  • Too many cloud APIs to manage
  • Lack of adequate oversight and controls
  • Negligent insider behaviour
  • A team lacking security awareness or training
  • No adequate cloud environment monitoring
  • Not enough expertise in cloud security, or the cloud in general

Use the tips below to reduce your risk of a cloud data breach and improve cloud security!

Enable Visibility into Your Cloud Infrastructure

Do you know all the different cloud apps your employees are using in your business? If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that shadow IT use is approximately 10x the size of known cloud use.

When an employee uses a cloud app without authorization, it’s considered “shadow IT.” This is because the app is in the shadows so to speak, outside the purview of the company’s IT team.

How can you protect something you don’t know about? This is why shadow cloud applications are so dangerous. And why they often result in breaches due to misconfiguration.

Gain visibility into your entire cloud environment using a cloud management tool, so you know what you need to protect. One way you can do this is through a cloud access security application.

Restrict Privileged Accounts

The more privileged accounts you have, the higher the risk of a cloud misconfiguration. There should be very few users that can change security configurations. Restricting user access and ability to make critical changes to only the employees that absolutely need access to it is known as the Principle of Least Privilege, and is a best-practice for securing your cloud environment. You don’t want someone that doesn’t know better to accidentally open a vulnerability, such as removing a cloud storage sharing restriction. It could leave your entire environment a sitting duck for hackers.

Audit privileged accounts in all cloud tools. Then, reduce the number of administrative accounts to the minimum needed to operate.

Put in Place Automated Security Policies

Automation helps mitigate any human error. Automating as many security policies as possible helps prevent cloud security breaches, and patches up any holes inadvertently opened during normal business processes.

For example, if you use a feature like sensitivity labels in Microsoft 365, you can set a “do not copy” policy. The policy will follow the file through each supported cloud application, and users don’t need to do anything to enable it once you put the policy in place.

Use a Cloud Security Audit Tool (Like Microsoft Secure Score)

How secure is your cloud environment? How many misconfigurations might there be at this very moment? It’s important to know this information so you can correct issues and reduce risk.

Use an auditing tool like Microsoft Secure Score. You want a tool that can scan your cloud environment, and let you know where problems exist. From there, it should also be able to provide recommended remediation steps.

Set Up Alerts for When Configurations Change

Once you get your cloud security settings right, they won’t necessarily stay that way. Several things can cause security settings to change without you noticing. These include:

  • A change caused by an integrated 3rd party plug-in
  • A hacker that has compromised a privileged user credential
  • An employee with elevated permissions accidentally changing them
  • even Software updates can do it

Be proactive by setting up alerts. You should have an alert for any significant change in your cloud environment. For example, you probably want to know immediately if forced multi-factor authentication (MFA) gets turned off for users.

If an alert is set up, then your team knows right away when a change occurs to an important security setting. This allows them to take immediate steps to identify and rectify the situation before it becomes a Situation.

Have a Cloud Specialist Check Your Cloud Settings

Business owners, executives, and office managers aren’t cybersecurity experts. Even competent cloud users who know their way around the settings panels can’t be expected to know everything. No one should expect them to know how to configure the best security for your organization’s needs.

It’s best to have a cloud security specialist from a trusted IT company check over your cloud settings. We can help ensure that they’re set up to keep your data protected, without restricting your team’s ability to work.

Improve Cloud Security & Lower Your Risk of a Data Breach

Most work these days at least touches the cloud, if not done directly in the cloud to begin with, and companies store critical data in these online environments. Don’t leave your company exposed through neglecting misconfiguration issues. Give us a call today to set up a cloud security assessment!

Featured Image Credit

Similar Posts