As Misconfiguration Errors Hit Home, CLOUDSEC Can Light the Path to Improved Cloud Security

by Bharat Mistry

British organisations have always been among the first to adopt new technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage. Cloud computing is no different: in fact, with an adoption rate at over two-fifths (41%), it significantly outpaces the EU-wide average. But while it promises more agile, efficient IT and a platform for innovative digital growth, the cloud can introduce extra uncertainty and security gaps. Prime among these are misconfiguration errors which we have warned about in the past. Now these mistakes are really starting to hurt businesses as hackers get smarter about automating attacks.

IT security teams need to lead the fightback through improved technology, policy and processes. But it can be tricky knowing where to start. That’s where CLOUDSEC 2019 can come in handy. Trend Micro’s popular one-day conference is back in London next month and features expert advice to guide you towards more secure cloud deployments.

Human error exposes data
The research community has been flagging misconfigured cloud databases for several years now. Organisations as diverse as Verizon, Dow Jones and the US Department of Defense have been found wanting as sensitive data stores are discovered exposed online without password protection. Millions of customers and records have been left open to the public in this way, residing on popular platforms like MongoDB, Elasticsearch, and Amazon S3.

The bad news is that attackers are now waking up to the opportunities these security gaps offer. Over the past two months alone we’ve seen:
• Choice Hotels held to ransom after hackers stole 700,000 customer records from a MongoDB instance
• Mexican bookstore Libreria Porrua held to ransom after attackers stole 2.1m records from an unsecured MongoDB database
• A new campaign automatically injecting Magecart digital skimming code into S3 buckets linked to over 17,000 websites
The companies managing these systems have been at pains to point out the issues are not their fault, and they’re right. In fact, it is the customer IT department, or their partner’s, that is to blame, according to the shared responsibility model of cloud security.

Managing cloud risk
To ensure your organisation doesn’t suffer by failing to prevent basic configuration mistakes, there must be a concerted effort to properly map and understand cloud infrastructure.

Consider the following as best practice:
– Perform a comprehensive audit of cloud assets: know what is stored where and how sensitive/high risk the data is.
– Run regular checks to see if there are any misconfigurations which could expose the above assets.
– Restrict access permissions to a policy of “least privilege” and consider adding two-factor authentication for extra security.
– Logging tools and network segmentation can further improve visibility and reduce risk.
– Choose third-party cloud security from a reputable provider like Trend Micro.

CLOUDSEC has your back
One final opportunity to improve your cloud security strategy lies with CLOUDSEC: Trend Micro’s annual security conference taking place in London next month. CLOUDSEC features a host of world-renowned experts including a former White House CIO; the UN’s current cybercrime advisor; CISOs from Oxford University, Thomson Reuters and elsewhere; and Trend Micro threat research leads.

This year, we’re also delighted to have Steven Bryen, Senior Technical Evangelist at Amazon Web Services, to share his wisdom with attendees in a keynote entitled: Improving your Security Posture with the Cloud. It will be a great opportunity to hear first-hand how – when configured correctly – the cloud can actually enhance security rather than lead to extra cyber-related risk.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

What: CLOUDSEC 2019
When: 13 September 2019
Where: Old Billingsgate Market, London

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