Cloud computing provides a flexible and cost-effective way to access almost limitless compute power and data storage, ensuring that organizations can process and store data more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

Thirty percent of all IT budgets are allocated to cloud computing. As many as 91% of businesses rely on the public cloud, and more than 70% of companies have deployed a private cloud. Due to the volume and complexity of cloud infrastructure, 66% of organizations have a central cloud computing team (or similar) to manage cloud-based resources.

However, as an increasing number of organizations grow accustomed to cloud-based resources, an increasing number of organizations are likely to experience minor meltdowns and cloud computing catastrophes, including cyber attacks.

Cloud security misconfigurations

Through 2025, over 90% of cloud computing disruptions will occur due to human error. Many of these errors take the form of cloud misconfiguration or cloud security misconfigurations. Broadly speaking, cloud misconfigurations serve as the launch point for 15% of cyber security breaches.

But you can avoid misconfigurations. Let’s dive into the most common cloud security misconfigurations and ensure that your and your management team can successfully maneuver around them without a hitch.

Why do misconfigurations occur?

Misconfigurations occur for a number of different reasons, especially within the cloud. For instance, in many cases, there’s a misunderstanding regarding who is responsible for protecting the cloud server. Is the cloud service provider (CSP) responsible for security or does it fall on the shoulders of the client/consumer?

The primary cloud service providers -Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure- guard physical data centers and the hardware that their services run on. But, the responsibility for securing the actual data, applications and machines belongs to the end user.

Security breaches commonly occur because a hacker has attempted to exploit a customer’s system or database that has been left open or misconfigured. Subsequent cyber attacks are simply opportunistic. Organizations may want to invest in tools that can help detect and locate misconfigured cloud servers.

As organizations continue to pursue multi-cloud environments, the probability of a misconfiguration will increase. Leverage the following 7 step checklist to help your team avoid cloud security misconfigurations.

7 step checklist to avoid common cloud security misconfigurations

1. Determine responsibility. Identify who in your business is responsible for implementing cloud security controls. DevOps teams are known for agility and increased efficiency through automation, but generally lack cyber security awareness.

In contrast, SecOps is inherently risk-averse and liable to slow development speed. In turn, working collaboratively to understand cloud needs and to integrate security that works for your enterprise is a critical step, helping to avoid security ambiguities and security gaps.

2. Control for cloud visibility. The rapid adoption of cloud technologies, combined with ultra-fast scaling and increased complexities within the shared responsibility model has translated to security blind spots, including cloud sprawl and supply chain risks. Protect your critical assets by ensuring that you have unified multi-cloud visibility across your entire environment.

3. Protect your workloads. Workloads in and out of cloud remain your responsibility. Ensure that your cloud workloads are protected when passing through public cloud IaaS by leveraging Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) with integrated vulnerability management. This will enable you to continuously detect rogue workloads, including malware, crypto mining, and data leakage, which can otherwise cost organizations time and money to resolve.

4. Secure DevOps. Your security needs to keep pace with your agile DevOps workflow and to be fully integrated into your CI/CD pipeline, ensuring that vulnerabilities can be remediated expeditiously ahead of accidental inclusion in final products.

The introduction of continuous application security testing and container inspection tools into your software development lifecycle will ensure that security flaws are identified early, that developers continue working with minimal interruption, and that your organization remains compliant.

5. Solidify cloud configurations. Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) offers organizations enhanced visibility and automated hardening of public cloud environments. And given the complexity of the cloud, issues can easily arise and can be overlooked.

CSPM automatically examines all elements against the CIS security benchmark. In turn, your employees no longer need to conduct manual checks and your business will remain secure. In addition or alternatively, consider a Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP).

6. Minimize access. Access to cloud servers where data lives should be restricted. Use multi-factor authentication and secure privileged access. Anomalous and suspicious activity must be continuously monitored in order for professionals to identify and log irregular behavior.

Experts advise implementing conditional access via a zero trust approach. Providing users with global permissions can increase risk of a cyber intrusion, potentially resulting in data leakage, exposure and fines.

7. Simplify multi-cloud security management. Every cloud service provider offers a unique set of security and access controls. If running multiple public clouds for different workloads, it’s nearly impossible for the security team to recall the details of all controls on every occasion, without error. Pursue a unified approach to multi-cloud security. This will translate to fewer unintentional insider threats, greater visibility and simplified security overall.

Further thoughts

A single cloud misconfiguration represents a viable target for a cyber criminal. Within minutes of adding a new endpoint to the internet, a hacker may have scanned it and assessed how to exploit it. In some cases, misconfigured services can be exploited in under 30 seconds.

Don’t place your data at risk. Make sure that your organization correctly configures and secures resources, preventing hackers from inflicting damage on your cloud, your company and on your consumers.

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