8354614496?profile=RESIZE_400xRegarding cybersecurity, misconfigurations can create exploitable issues that can cause vulnerabilities later.  The following are some common-sense security misconfigurations that can easily be avoided.[1]

Development permissions that do not get changed when something goes live.  For example, AWS S3 buckets are often assigned permissive access while development is going on.  The issues arise when security reviews are not carefully performed prior to pushing the code live, no matter if that push is for the initial launch of a platform or for updates.  The result is straight-forward; a bucket goes live with the ability for anyone to read and write to and from it.  This misconfiguration is dangerous.  Since the application is working and the site is loading for users, there is no visible indication that something is wrong until a threat actor hunting for open buckets stumbles upon it.

Careful security reviews of all applications and sites before they get pushed to the live environment both for initial launch and for update cycles are critical in catching this type of misconfiguration.  Each bucket should be checked to ensure that it has the least viable permissions set on it to allow the platform to work, and nothing more.

For non-cloud issues, one of the most common misconfigurations is not enforcing Group Policy, anti-malware, and other centralized management rules and updates.  Laptops that rarely ever connect directly to a company network may go for months without getting these critical changes, leaving them undefended as the security landscape changes.   One common example is a laptop that has been roaming for an extended period.  Such a laptop may not be permitted to receive Active Directory Group Policy updates when it is not on a VPN or other secured connection, which would lead to its GPO's becoming out of date over time.  This means that prohibited actions or operations may be possible on such a laptop, leaving the protected network exposed when that device finally does connect in such a way that it once more has access to protected resources.

The fix for this is to ensure that devices with access to organizational resources must accept organizational management changes.  Tools like AzureAD and de-centralized anti-malware platforms can allow remote devices to receive updates securely.  HTTPS connectivity is generally enough for these tools to push updates and enforce policy changes.  Using distributed device management ensures that they are kept in-line with policy, even devices that are only used to access cloud-available resources, like Office365, and do not directly connect to the organization's protected networks regularly.

Many such tools, especially anti-malware systems do not even require that the device be managed by Mobile Device Management platforms.  This means that even if the device is not otherwise "owned" by the organization, it can still be kept up to date and protected.

Remote workers provide more security issues to address, there is another misconfiguration that occurs with regularity.  VPN systems allow remote workers to access company data safely, but many VPN clients default to an insecure configuration out-of-the-box. Split-tunnel VPN configurations route user traffic over the secure network only when protected systems are being accessed but send all other traffic directly to the Internet.  This means that when a user attempts to reach a file server, they do so over the VPN, but a call to Salesforce goes over the unprotected Internet.  While this benefits performance, the problem it creates is that a user's device may create a bridge between the outside world and the internal network.  With a bit of social engineering, a threat actor can create a persistent connection to the user's device and then leverage that user's VPN tunnel to break into the protected network.

The vast majority of VPN clients support single-tunnel configurations.  This means that while the VPN is active, all traffic will route through organizational networks, including traffic destined for external sources.  It also means that all traffic will also be subject to the same controls as traffic that is originating from users directly connected to the protected networks.

While misconfigurations can happen very easily, they pose a clear threat to the organization's security.  Taking the time to review security when tools are pushed to live or updated can catch such misconfigurations.   In addition, companies can deploy continuous security validation tools that continuously challenge and assess digital environments in much the same way as a threat actor does to discover misconfigurations rapidly. Combining these two approaches of reviews and continuous security validation adds some complexity to projects but is worth every moment spent on ensuring that things are configured adequately at every step of the way. 

Red Sky Alliance has been analyzing and documenting cyber threats and vulnerabilities for over 9 years and maintains a resource library of malware and cyber actor reports. Specifically, our analysts are currently collecting and analyzing the supply chains inside the transportation sector.  For many years we have believed the supply chain is the Achilles Heel to the over-all cyber network.     

Red Sky Alliance is a   Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization.  For questions, comments, or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or feedback@wapacklabs.com  

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[1] https://thehackernews.com/2020/12/common-security-misconfigurations-and.html

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