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Tech Misconfigurations vs. Vulnerabilities: How Different Are They?

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Tech Misconfigurations vs. Vulnerabilities: How Totally different Are They?

By Aaron Ansari

As a DevOps skilled engaged on a public cloud undertaking, “Sri” is liable for constructing, configuring, and deploying the environments her group must construct, creating check environments, activating key companies, and making use of related knowledge.

Historically, her function would deal with improvement and utility constructing, not on organising an setting as an infrastructure administrator. Given the comfort and velocity of the general public clouds at present, Sri can now serve each roles.

However assigning a DevOps useful resource to construct, configure, and preserve the setting can result in threats like vulnerabilities and misconfigurations—and each varieties of risk pose critical threat to your group. Placing collectively the right combination of sources, each human and technological, is paramount to scale back the danger.

Vulnerabilities and Misconfigurations

A vulnerability is something an attacker can exploit to entry an utility or setting. If Sri had spun up the setting and had an outdated hosting framework appearing because the entrance finish or loaded the information with an unpatched model of the software program or container, this may be a vulnerability.

A misconfiguration is something incorrectly arrange in a system or setting. If Sri encrypts the database and storage containers however doesn’t comply with firm coverage to take action when spinning up a cloud-hosted utility, she has misconfigured the setting. Her construct doesn’t essentially require a repair, as a vulnerability would, however the best way she constructed the system exposes it to threat: with the “entrance door” left open, an attacker would have a better alternative to entry the information and setting while not having to use a vulnerability.

Cybercriminals are like all burglars: they use totally different strategies of entry. With a misconfiguration, they’d go proper by way of the open entrance door. Within the case of a vulnerability, they would want to choose the lock. Both approach, they are going to achieve entry.

The distinction between a misconfiguration and a vulnerability is certainly one of malice, or its absence. A misconfiguration doesn’t require a patch as a treatment, the best way a vulnerability does, simply as an open door utilized by a burglar doesn’t must be changed, whereas a door damaged into by a burglar would. Whereas each threats may end up in exploits and exposures, misconfigurations are incorrect settings made by the setting’s creator, not flaws within the system or code.

Breaches brought on by misconfigurations have resulted in a whole lot of hundreds of uncovered data. In 2020, misconfigurations prompted 10% of all breaches, in keeping with Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report, and greater than 39% of internet functions have been breached on this method. Misconfigurations will trigger 99% of all firewall breaches by way of 2023, in keeping with Gartner.

Suppose Sri briefly populated her setting with manufacturing buyer knowledge that she examined after which deleted, however she didn’t construct out her setting with the choice to encrypt and shield it, as that will have added time and expense. Even throughout the few hours she had the setting uncovered, an attacker may have discovered and accessed the uncovered knowledge. And if nobody checked any logs (and even knew to verify them), the breach may by no means come to mild. This might trigger critical hurt to companies, damaging their infrastructure and fame, and compromise the information of staff, distributors, and shoppers.

At Development, we’ve seen this situation play out many instances. The Privacy Rights Clearing House, monitoring breaches since 2005, is a repository stuffed with organizations now not in enterprise on account of a breach. A breach prices the typical firm $1.5 million, in keeping with a Ponemon examine, and organizations that endure breaches are unlikely to stay in enterprise by the next monetary 12 months.

Avoiding Threat

Many DevOps groups, protecting their deal with constructing their organizations’ environments, select to not allow their cloud suppliers’ or different third-party instruments to configure and safe these environments: a conventional accountability of the positioning reliability engineer or infrastructure supervisor. However when an infrastructure group doesn’t know the configuration it wants for constructing the app setting, a DevOps group may configure the setting in the best way it believes the applying will greatest carry out.

Regardless of these challenges, a correctly constructed and resourced configuration is significant to lowering the chance of misconfigurations and breaches. Even small steps can have a big impression. Listed here are 5 methods to forestall misconfigurations and vulnerabilities:

  • Verify the “encrypt this storage” perform as an IT safety group member. This selection is all the time obtainable throughout the creation and working of an setting.
  • Allow logging and all the time assessment the logs. Having alerts reviewed by both a machine or human course of is key.
  • Automate solely the nice processes. No matter you’re doing nicely, and repeatedly, automate it to advertise effectivity.
  • Shift left—initially of the pipeline, search for violations and vulnerabilities. Then have your DevOps groups personal their code and securely preserve it.
  • Do frequent releases—patch and repair as quickly as attainable and automate the place you’ll be able to.

Organizations have to be vigilant in taking steps to keep away from misconfigurations and vulnerabilities and the dangers they pose. They share a accountability with their cloud supplier, inside groups, and companions to make sure the setting is as safe and accurately configured. However no group grappling with misconfiguration or vulnerabilities is alone. With the proper sources and group help, the danger of those threats can lower and change into simpler to keep away from.


See how Trend Micro may help your group decrease the danger related to misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.

Aaron Ansari is Vice President of Cloud Safety at Development Micro.

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