The Top 6 Strategies to Safeguard Your Cloud Against Misconfiguration

Many companies overlook the potential risks of misconfiguring cloud solutions when planning cybersecurity strategies. Although cloud applications are quick and easy to sign up for, assuming that security is automatically handled is a common misconception.

In reality, cloud security follows a shared model, with the provider responsible for securing the backend infrastructure and the user responsible for adequately configuring security settings in their account. Misconfigurations can be a huge problem and are the leading cause of cloud data breaches.

Misconfiguration errors are often self-inflicted, resulting from inadequate security measures taken by a company. This could include giving too many employees administrative privileges or neglecting to enable essential security functions to prevent unauthorized access to cloud files.

Misconfigurations can result from various negligent behaviour related to cloud security settings and practices. The State of Cloud Security 2021 report revealed that this issue is quite common, with 45% of organizations experiencing between 1 and 50 cloud misconfigurations daily.

Misconfiguration of cloud solutions can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Inadequate oversight and controls
  • Lack of security awareness within the team
  • Difficulty managing multiple cloud APIs
  • Inadequate monitoring of the cloud environment
  • Negligent insider behaviour
  • Insufficient expertise in cloud security

To minimize the risk of a cloud data breach and improve overall cloud security, consider implementing the following tips:

Enable Visibility into Your Cloud Infrastructure

Are you aware of all your employees’ cloud applications for your business? If not, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that unauthorized cloud applications, also known as shadow IT, are approximately ten times larger than known cloud use.

Shadow IT refers to the use of cloud applications by employees without proper authorization, making them “in the shadows” and outside the jurisdiction of the company’s IT team. Since these applications are unknown to the IT team, protecting them becomes a challenge, and they often lead to breaches due to misconfiguration.

To protect your organization from the risks of shadow cloud applications, gaining visibility into your entire cloud environment is crucial. One effective way of doing this is by implementing a cloud access security application. This approach will provide you with a comprehensive view of all the cloud applications used in your organization, enabling you to identify potential vulnerabilities and take proactive measures to mitigate any risks.

Restrict Privileged Accounts

The greater the number of privileged accounts, the greater the risk of misconfiguration. To reduce this risk, limiting the number of users authorized to modify security configurations is critical. Allowing someone without the necessary knowledge to accidentally remove a security restriction, such as a cloud storage sharing restriction, could make your entire environment vulnerable to hackers.

To mitigate the risks associated with privileged accounts, audit them across all cloud tools used in your organization. Then, minimize the number of administrative accounts to only those required for essential operations. By doing so, only authorized users with the requisite expertise can access sensitive security configurations. This approach will minimize the risk of accidental or intentional security breaches, safeguarding your environment from unauthorized access or data loss.

Put in Place Automated Security Policies

Automation can be an effective way to minimize the risk of human error in cloud security. Automating as many security policies as possible can help prevent cloud security breaches.

One example of automated security features is the sensitivity labels in Microsoft 365. By setting a “do not copy” policy, the feature will follow the file through each supported cloud application without requiring users to take any action to enable it. This approach can help ensure that sensitive files are not inadvertently copied or shared, reducing the risk of data breaches.

By automating security policies, you can create a more robust security posture, minimizing the likelihood of errors and breaches caused by human error. This approach can save time and effort by reducing the need for manual interventions while enhancing your organization’s overall security.

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

It’s crucial to understand the level of security in your cloud environment and identify any potential misconfigurations to minimize the potential risk. To achieve this, employing an auditing tool like Microsoft Secure Score is recommended. This tool can effectively scan your cloud environment and provide detailed reports of existing problems while offering suggested remediation steps to address these issues.

Set Up Alerts for When Configurations Change

It’s important to note that getting your cloud security settings right is not a one-time task. Several factors can cause changes to security settings without your knowledge, such as an employee with elevated permissions inadvertently altering them, software updates, or a hacker compromising a privileged user’s credentials. Additionally, changes caused by third-party plugins can also affect security settings.

To proactively manage these risks, you should set up alerts for any significant changes in your cloud environment. For example, when the setting for multi-factor authentication is turned off. With alerts in place, your team can be notified immediately of any changes to critical security settings, enabling them to research and address the situation promptly.

Have a Cloud Specialist Check Your Cloud Settings

Understandably, business owners, executives, and office managers may not possess the technical knowledge to configure the best cybersecurity measures for their organization’s needs. As such, it’s recommended to engage the services of a cloud security specialist from a reputable IT company to review your security settings. Their expertise can help ensure that your settings are optimized to safeguard your data while allowing your team to work efficiently without any unnecessary restrictions.

Improve Cloud Security & Lower Your Chances for a Data Breach

With the majority of work now being conducted in the cloud, it’s imperative to prioritize the security of your company’s online environment and data. Neglecting misconfigurations can leave your organization vulnerable to potential threats. Therefore, Qamba recommends scheduling a cloud security assessment with us today to ensure your cloud environment is appropriately configured and secure.

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