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InfoQ Homepage News Orca Security Report Finds Critical Assets Vulnerable within Three Steps

Orca Security Report Finds Critical Assets Vulnerable within Three Steps

A recent report from Orca Security found several security gaps within the assessed cloud environments. These vulnerabilities include unencrypted sensitive data, S3 buckets with public READ access set, root accounts without multi-factor authentication enabled, and publically accessible Kubernetes API servers. In addition, they found that the average attack path only requires three steps to reach business-critical data or assets.

The report shared that 78% of identified attack paths will use a known exploit (CVE) as the initial access point. This works as the first of three steps needed, on average, to reach what the report authors call "the crown jewels". This could be personally identifiable information (PII), corporate financials, intellectual property, or production servers.

Once initial access is obtained, typically through the known CVE, the report found that 75% of organizations have at least one asset that enables lateral movement to another asset within their environment. They found that 36% of organizations have unencrypted sensitive data and that 72% have at least one S3 bucket that permits public read access. They note that the top-end goal of most attack paths is data exposure.

Just within the past year, there have been numerous cases of sensitive data being exposed due to misconfigured public cloud storage. John Leyden shared that unencrypted data from Ghana's National Service Secretariate (NSS) was discovered by researchers at vpnMentor. According to Leyden, much of the data was publically accessible and "the AWS S3 bucket itself was neither encrypted nor password protected". A similar incident occurred in July of this year when a misconfigured S3 bucket resulted in over 3TB of airport data, including photos of airline employees and national ID cards, becoming publicly accessible.

Of note within the report is that 10% of organizations still have vulnerabilities present that were disclosed over ten years ago. In addition, most organizations have at least 11% of their assets in a neglected security state where they are running an unsupported operating system or the asset has been unpatched for over 180 days.

The authors conclude that more effort needs to be applied to fixing known vulnerabilities. They concede that "many lack the staff to patch these vulnerabilities, which in more complex, mission critical systems is often not a simple matter of just running an update." They continue by recommending a focused approach:

It is close to impossible for teams to fix all vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is essential to remediate strategically by understanding which vulnerabilities pose the greatest danger to the company’s crown jewels and need to be fixed first.

The report lists several best practices that they feel are not being followed correctly. This includes 99% of organizations using at least one default AWS KMS key. Orca Security recommends the use of customer-managed keys (CMK) instead of AWS managed. They also recommend enabling automatic key rotation, which only 20% of organizations had.

The recommendation to use CMKs comes from the additional level of control that they grant. This includes being able to create key policies, IAM policies, grants, tagging, and aliasing. User semanticist noted another potential use case on Reddit: "If you want to be able to segment your keys (for instance, having one more-locked down and heavily-audited CMK that you use for the most sensitive S3 objects), then you would need to use a customer managed CMK." There are additional costs incurred in using CMKs over the AWS-managed KMS keys.

A recent misconfiguration by AWS to their AWSSupportServiceRolePolicy granted the S3:GetObject permission to AWS support staff. While this was quickly reverted, Victor Grenu, independent cloud architect, shared some key takeaways from the event:

  1. IAM is HARD, even AWS is failing
  2. Changes made to IAM should always be peer-reviewed, manually, and using linting
  3. Encrypt using your own customer-managed keys

In line with the first two points, the report found that 44% of environments have at least one privileged IAM role and that 71% are using the default service account in Google Cloud. They note that this account provides editor permissions by default and therefore violates the principle of least privilege. A similar finding violating least privilege was found in 42% of scanned accounts having more than 50% of the organization's users having administrative permissions.

For more details on the report's findings, readers are directed to the Orca Security 2022 State of the Public Cloud Security report.

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