SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

The top four cloud IT security misconfigurations and how to fix them

By Contributor
Fri 27 Mar 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by ExtraHop A/NZ regional sales manager Glen Maloney.

In recent years, reports of large-scale data breaches have become depressingly common. Banks, healthcare providers, retailers and governments have all become targets of cybercriminals looking to extract data or cause disruption.

At the dawn of a new decade, this situation is likely only to get worse. With the value of data increasing by the day, its appeal to criminals will continue to grow. 

Another contributing factor is the increasing usage by organisations of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms. In recent years, research by security firm McAfee shows almost 70% of data record breaches (a total of 5.4 billion) were caused by unintentional internet exposure due to the misconfiguration of services and portals. 

As the research found, the vast majority of these misconfigurations go unreported and often even unnoticed. This means the problem is likely to be even larger than people might think. Thankfully, there are some effective steps that can be taken to overcome four of the most common security issues, thereby reducing the attack surface. The top four misconfigurations issues are:

1.    No restrictions on outbound access

To ensure effective IT security, outbound data traffic from a cloud platform should always be configured using the principle of ‘minimalist authority’. Many users of cloud platforms tend to only configure inbound ports in security groups and don’t pay the same attention to outbound ports. However, limiting outbound traffic can ensure data is only made available to the applications and users that are authorised to use it. By doing this, the security team can reduce the risk of internal network scans and lateral movement.

2.    Failure to restrict access to non-HTTP and HTTPS ports

While web servers are primarily designed to host websites and web services exposed to the internet, they are also able to handle services such as SSH or RDP for management or databases. However, if this is the case, it becomes vital to block access to them from the public internet.

If the ports are left incorrectly or improperly configured, an organisation can find itself open to attackers prepared to use brute force to gain access to systems. If, for some reason, these ports are opened to the internet, it’s vital to ensure they are configured to only accept traffic from particular, pre-determined IP addresses.

3.    Not placing restrictions on inbound access on seldom-used ports

It’s often said that ‘security through obscurity’ never really works. Some services running within an IT infrastructure use high-numbered TCP or UDP ports to obfuscate what is running, but it doesn’t do much to improve security. It certainly won’t offer any protection from a determined cybercriminal looking for access. The use of high-level ports should always be carefully restricted so that only necessary systems have access.

4.    Having unrestricted ICMP Access

Experience shows that ICMP is a useful networking protocol, however if it is left open to the internet it can open an organisation to some rather straightforward attacks.

One of the most common uses of ICMP is to use ICMP Echo to verify that servers are online and responsive. While ICMP Echo is an excellent diagnostic tool for security teams, it's also a popular tool among cybercriminals. A simple ping scan of the internet, using Nmap or Fping, can alert criminals to the fact that there is a server online with the potential to be attacked.

Attackers can also use ICMP in other ways. For example, a ping flood can be created that overwhelms a server with too many ICMP messages and creates an effective Denial of Service (DoS) attack. It’s best to make blocking ICMP part of regular security activity.

The increasing role of Network Detection and Response (NDR)
As more organisations take advantage of cloud services and resources, the complexity of their infrastructures will continue to increase. As this complexity rises, so too does the challenge of keeping it secure.

Indeed, while the ability to quickly build servers and services on a cloud platform delivers significant operational advantages, it also brings with it some big security risks. In a complex environment, it’s easy to miss a single setting or configuration option that can open the entire infrastructure to attack.

One of the biggest reasons that security for cloud platforms has lagged behind that of more traditional on-premise infrastructures has been that it has been very difficult to capture and parse network traffic in the cloud. Thankfully, this situation is now changing.

Increasing numbers of organisations are discovering that it’s possible to monitor network communications in real time by using a Network Detection and Response (NDR) tool. They find it’s the is the easiest way to stay on top of complex and dynamic IT environments that include cloud-based components.

Consider whether putting a NDR tool to work within your infrastructure might allow you to enjoy the advantages of the cloud without having to contend with complex and unwieldy security requirements.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cloud
QuSecure partners with DataBridge Sites to showcase platform
QuSecure has partnered with DataBridge Sites to showcase its Quantum-as-a-Service (QaaS) orchestration platform, QuProtect.
Story image
INTERPOL
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Zscaler
Securonix partners with Snowflake, Zscaler in joint venture
Securonix is embarking on a joint technology integration with Snowflake and Zscaler to speed up threat detection and response at cloud scale.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Ransomware
Rapid7 report examines use of double extortion ransomware attacks
New insight into how attackers think when carrying out cyber attacks, along with further analysis of the disclosure layer of double extortion ransomware attacks, has come to light.
Story image
DDoS
Flashpoint unveils security offering for school boards
Flashpoint has released its K-12 risk management and security offering to provide school boards and education security practitioners with tools to recognise, prevent and manage cyber and physical threats.
Story image
Data Protection
Thales solution supports DevSecOps teams with data protection
Thales' CipherTrust Platform Community Edition enables DevSecOps teams to deploy data protection controls into multi-cloud applications faster.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
SaaS
Varonis strengthens security capabilities for AWS and S3
Varonis has strengthened and expanded its cloud and security capabilities, with a critical aim of improving safety and boosting data visibility in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Story image
Cybersecurity
Trend Micro unveils dedicated security for electric vehicles
The cybersecurity company has announced VicOne - dedicated security for the electric vehicles and connected cars of today and tomorrow.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Yubico
New research shows global drive for passwordless authentication
A new study has shown there has been a significant shift towards wanting a passwordless future, but adoption is still in its infancy.
Story image
Cybersecurity
New survey uncovers critical OT security challenges
While industrial control environments continue to be a target for cyber criminals, there are widespread gaps in industrial security.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks named Google Cloud technology partner of the year for security
Palo Alto Networks was recognised for helping organisations rapidly transform security operations for future success.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Unknown connections: How safe is public WiFi in Aotearoa?
If it's not your own household WiFi, then who has control of your data and is your connection actually safe?
Story image
10 Minute IT Jams
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Rimini Street
Today we welcome back Daniel Benad, who is the GVP & regional GM for Oceania at Rimini Street.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Schneider Electric and Claroty launch building security solution
Schneider Electric has announced the launch of Cybersecurity Solutions for Buildings, a solution designed to help buildings customers secure BMS.
Story image
Phishing
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
PagerDuty
Ready for anything with the PagerDuty Operations Cloud
In a world of digital everything, teams face increasing complexity. Ever-growing dependencies across systems and processes put customer and employee experience, not to mention revenue, at risk.
Story image
Apple
LastPass announces new capability for iPhones and iPads
LastPass has announced its new save and fill experience, allowing customers to fill in, create and save their credentials directly within the site's form field.
Story image
Microsoft
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
APAC
Aqua Security launches cloud native security SaaS in APAC
Aqua Security has announced the general availability of cloud native security SaaS in Singapore, serving the broader APAC region.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
DDoS
Q1 DDoS and application attack activity reveals surprise result
The cybersecurity threat landscape in the first quarter of 2022 represented a mixed bag of old enemies and new foes. New actors dominated the DDoS threat landscape while application security faced tried-and-true attack vectors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.