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6 Ways to Prevent Misconfiguration (the Main Cause of Cloud Breaches)

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When companies develop cybersecurity strategies, they often forget about the potential misconfiguration of cloud solutions. Cloud applications are usually simple and speedy to sign up for. However, many users believe that the provider takes care of all security aspects, leading to an inaccurate assumption.

In reality, cloud security is a shared responsibility model. While the provider handles securing the backend infrastructure, the user must configure their account’s security settings properly. Therefore, overlooking cloud misconfigurations can lead to significant security risks.

The problem with misconfiguration is huge. It’s the number one cause of cloud data breaches. It’s also an unforced error. Misconfiguration means that a company has made a mistake. It hasn’t adequately secured its cloud application.

Perhaps they gave too many employees administrative privileges. Or, they may have neglected to turn on a security function. One that prevented the downloading of cloud files by an unauthorized user.

Misconfiguration covers a wide range of negligent behavior. It all has to do with cloud security settings and practices. A finding in The State of Cloud Security 2021 report shed light on how common this issue is. 45% of organizations experience between 1 and 50 cloud misconfigurations per day.

Some of the main causes of misconfiguration are:

  • Insufficient oversight and controls in place
  • Team members with low levels of security awareness
  • Difficulty managing a large number of cloud APIs
  • Lack of proper monitoring of the cloud environment
  • Careless behavior by insiders
  • Inadequate expertise in the area of cloud security


Use the tips below to reduce your risk of a cloud data breach and improve cloud security.

Enable Visibility into Your Cloud Infrastructure

Do you know all the different cloud apps employees are using at your business? If not, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that shadow IT use is approximately 10x the size of known cloud use.

When an employee uses a cloud application without authorization, it is commonly known as ‘shadow IT.’ This means that the application operates under the radar of the company’s IT team, making it challenging to secure.

The danger of shadow cloud applications lies in their lack of visibility, which often leads to misconfiguration and subsequent breaches. It’s challenging to protect something that you don’t know exists.

To address this issue, gaining visibility of your entire cloud environment is crucial to identify potential vulnerabilities and areas that require protection. One effective method to achieve this is by using a cloud access security application.

Restrict Privileged Accounts

Reducing the number of privileged accounts is essential in preventing misconfigurations that could compromise your cloud environment’s security. The more privileged accounts you have, the greater the risk of a misconfiguration occurring, increasing the vulnerability of your system.

Limit the number of users authorized to change security configurations, ensuring that only a select few with proper knowledge can perform this task. Accidentally opening a vulnerability, such as removing a cloud storage sharing restriction, could leave your entire environment exposed to hackers.

To mitigate this risk, audit all privileged accounts in your cloud tools and reduce the number of administrative accounts to the minimum necessary to operate effectively. This proactive approach will minimize the likelihood of misconfigurations, strengthening your overall security posture.

Put in Place Automated Security Policies

Mitigating human error is essential in preventing cloud security breaches, and automation can play a significant role in achieving this goal. Automating as many security policies as possible minimizes the risk of a breach occurring due to human error.

For instance, utilizing the sensitivity labels feature in Microsoft 365 allows you to implement a “do not copy” policy that follows the file through each supported cloud application. Once you put the policy in place, users don’t need to take any further action to enable it, reducing the likelihood of a breach.

By leveraging automation tools to support your security policies, you can proactively protect your cloud environment and minimize the risk of a security incident. This approach can improve your overall security posture and ensure your sensitive data remains protected.

Use a Cloud Security Audit Tool (Like Microsoft Secure Score)

How secure is your cloud environment? How many misconfigurations might there be right now? It’s important to know this information so you can correct issues to reduce risk.

Use an auditing tool, like Microsoft Secure Score. You want a tool that can scan your cloud environment and let you know where problems exist. It should also be able to provide recommended remediation steps.

Set Up Alerts for When Configurations Change

Maintaining cloud security settings can be a challenging task, as several factors can cause changes in these settings without your knowledge. These include:

  • An employee with elevated permissions accidentally changes them
  • A change caused by an integrated 3rd party plug-in Software updates
  • A hacker that has compromised a privileged user credential


To address this issue, proactive measures such as setting up alerts can help. It’s essential to have an alert system in place for any significant change in your cloud environment, such as the disabling of multi-factor authentication.

By setting up alerts, your team can stay informed about any changes to crucial security settings, enabling them to take immediate action to investigate and rectify the situation. This proactive approach can help prevent potential security breaches and improve your overall security posture in the cloud.

Have a Cloud Specialist Check Your Cloud Settings

Business owners, executives, and office managers aren’t cybersecurity experts. No one should expect them to know how to configure the best security for your organization’s needs.

It’s best to have a cloud security specialist from a trusted IT company or MSP check your settings. We can help ensure that they’re set up to keep your data protected without restricting your team.

Improve Cloud Security & Lower Your Chances for a Data Breach

With most work now being done in the cloud, businesses are increasingly storing sensitive data in these online environments. Neglecting to properly configure your cloud environment can leave your company vulnerable to security risks and potential breaches.

To protect your business and ensure your cloud security posture is strong, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive cloud security assessment. Our team can provide expert guidance and support to assess your cloud security measures and identify potential vulnerabilities.

Don’t leave your business at risk of a security breach. Contact 917 today to schedule a cloud security assessment and take proactive steps to secure your valuable data in the cloud.

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