AWS Misconfigurations and How to Prevent Them

AWS Misconfigurations and How to Prevent Them

AWS Misconfigurations and How to Prevent Them  – Organizations use cloud infrastructure to deploy, store, and run applications and services – which may result in misconfigurations that expose private information (PII or IP) to unauthorised third parties.

Adopting sound security practices such as restricting root account usage and using IAM roles to access cloud environments are crucial, yet finding and correcting misconfigurations may not always be straightforward.

1. Misconfigured Amazon S3 Buckets

Misconfigured Amazon S3 Buckets are one of the biggest security risks to AWS environments. While these cloud object storage services may seem simple to use, misconfigurations may expose data that exposes personal or corporate data to public view allowing attackers to gain entry and steal sensitive information or introduce malware into systems or even hold companies ransom. No wonder S3 buckets have become such a tempting target for hackers!

S3 misconfigurations are completely preventable with just a few best practices to safeguard against these potentially devastating errors.

First and foremost, never make your S3 buckets publicly accessible – this exposes your data to hackers and could cost you dearly. In addition, only store data you actually need – saving both money and helping to ensure it only comes into contact with authorized users.

Root user privileges must not be given out lightly; many organizations overlook this crucial step that could expose all resources and services within your AWS environment to attackers who gain entry through compromised root account credentials. Use IAM users and roles to limit root account use while MFA can further minimize risk.

S3 auditing and logging should also be enabled as it’s an absolute must for AWS environments to protect data against accidental or intentional deletion, and meet regulatory or industry requirements.

Developers frequently make the mistake of setting S3 bucket permissions unsecurely, which exposes data to the public. One such instance was when education publisher McGraw Hill misconfigured their S3 bucket to expose over 3 million student records and source code from over 50k student accounts to anyone attempting to gain entry to them.

An effective solution for S3 misconfigurations is implementing an AWS misconfiguration management (MSM) tool like Cycode that can identify and address these issues. By monitoring your buckets for security configuration issues and automatically correcting them, an MSM solution like Cycode ensures misconfigurations are caught before having an impactful effect on production environments.

2. Misconfigured Amazon RDS Snapshots

Misconfigured Amazon RDS Snapshots can be an easy source of data breaches. A public accessible snapshot presents a real threat, granting anyone access to confidential data that could lead to security lapses, service level agreement (SLA) violations and violations against compliance standards such as GDPR, NIST PCI DSS ARPA MAS etc.

An improperly configured snapshot can provide threat actors with the means to exfiltrate data from systems, avoid detection and carry out other malicious activities. Furthermore, it offers unauthorised parties an avenue to gather personal data for financial or other personal decisions.

To combat this issue, Amazon RDS database instance snapshots should be encrypted using a secret key only known to their owner – an easy step that will reduce the chances of public snapshots being misused by hackers or data thieves.

Snapshots present an even more serious risk when considering that they can contain sensitive data like email addresses, password hashes, birth dates, links to private images and messages, personal details and more. An RDS snapshot which was exposed for four hours contained user tables which contained emails, password hashes and other personal details from an abandoned dating app.

Threat actors are continually searching for ways to exploit the cloud and gain access to critical data. Misconfigurations often form the core of these vulnerabilities and go undetected until it’s too late; that’s why it is imperative that AWS environments undergo regular reviews, audits and remediations exercises in order to maintain security postures that protect all critical assets.

Use an AWS posture management solution like Sonrai Security that detects risks and offers automated mitigation to decrease misconfigurations in your environment and detect issues before it’s too late. We would be more than happy to show you how we can reduce AWS misconfigurations, improve security posture and safeguard data against attacks or breaches. Request a demo now – our team would love to show how Sonrai Security can reduce misconfigurations, strengthen security posture and keep data safe!

3. Misconfigured Amazon Lambda Functions

Misconfigured Lambda functions can expose an organization to serious threats that can result in loss of data, regulatory non-compliance and reputational damage. Therefore, identifying and rectifying errors as soon as they arise is of the utmost importance – understanding common AWS misconfigurations as well as applying best practices to avoid future missteps is imperative in this respect.

Misconfiguring Amazon Lambda functions, or execution environments for code that runs on AWS cloud servers, can have serious security implications. A misconfiguration such as improper permission management could allow anyone accessing any action on the server without authorization; this would provide attackers with the means to gain entry and potentially access data or even execute code. To prevent such scenarios from arising efficiently manage permissions efficiently with IAM policies or groups and roles to efficiently distribute permissions across identities.

An additional risky misconfiguration involves failing to use the appropriate type of security policy when protecting a Lambda function, which allows any access from anyone and makes it easier for attackers to exploit its functionality. To reduce this risk, always implement custom policies for each Lambda function rather than global defaults.

Consider configuring the root user account as an IAM user with MFA as this can allow malicious actors to gain entry to your AWS account, potentially compromising data and applications that could cause harm. To prevent this misconfiguration from happening again, implement either AWS Identity Center federation or create an IAM group with MFA for all your human users to protect them against this mishap.

AWS provides an expansive and secure platform, but hackers may use common misconfigurations as entryways into your data or expose critical applications in your organization. To mitigate these risks, follow best practices for cloud security configuration and implement a solution like Sonrai Security’s advanced Cloud Security Posture Management to proactively prevent issues from emerging in the first place – like their Posture Management feature. Solution combines identity and permission analytic insight, which provides context and prioritize CSPM alerts while giving visibility into security misconfigurations that need resolving. To gain more knowledge on which security flaws to avoid, download our free guide AWS Misconfigurations: Five Biggest Threats to Your Cloud Security.

4. Misconfigured Amazon Cloud Trail

Cloud computing provides businesses with a powerful tool to scale, innovate and reach their goals efficiently. However, its agility relies upon best practices, controls and configurations being in place – any deviation from these could put environments at risk; such cases are known as misconfigurations.

News reports on data breaches have brought home just how common misconfigurations are, as well as their risk to enterprise security posture. While it’s easy to blame infrastructure misalignments for misconfigurations, they may also result from oversights and mistakes during cloud adoption and migration processes.

Misconfigurations on AWS can make sensitive information vulnerable to hackers and open attack paths to sensitive data, potentially jeopardizing a business’s reputation, finances and competitive edge. Therefore it’s crucial that DevSecOps teams know about and utilize best practices for monitoring cloud infrastructure and ensure all configurations are safe and secure.

Infrastructure as Code can help define and deploy consistent infrastructure, while AWS CloudTrail allows for monitoring changes to the environment, multi-factor authentication, limiting root account use to only essential tasks, and using tools such as Sonrai’s Cloud Posture Management are all excellent steps towards making sure your cloud environment is properly configured. These measures should all work hand-in-hand.

Real-world scenario #1 above highlights how misconfigurations can leave sensitive data vulnerable to attackers and open attack paths to critical assets. An attacker gained entry to an Amazon S3 database containing customer credit card numbers stored by mistake after its administrator left its default security setting open and public.

To protect themselves against AWS-specific vulnerabilities and common misconfigurations, organizations should research cloud vulnerabilities specific to their service provider(s). In addition to following general security best practices, this research should include reviewing configuration settings of AWS Config and iam:CreatePolicyVersion controls as well as reviewing general best practices such as these.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.