Top 10 Misconfigurations Revealed: Crucial Insights into Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
In a joint effort to bolster cybersecurity across the nation, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have disclosed their findings on the ten most common misconfigurations plaguing the networks of major organizations. These revelations come alongside an advisory detailing the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) exploited by threat actors to capitalize on these vulnerabilities, underlining the pressing need for enhanced cybersecurity measures.
The report, which combines insights gleaned from the assessments and incident response activities of the agencies’ Red and Blue teams, assesses the security posture of networks spanning the Department of Defense (DoD), Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB), state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, as well as private sector entities. Eric Goldstein, Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity at CISA, emphasized the significance of these assessments, asserting that “common misconfigurations, such as default credentials, service permissions, and software/application configurations; inadequate user/administrator privilege segregation; insufficient internal network monitoring; subpar patch management, put every citizen at risk.”
The top ten prevalent network misconfigurations discovered encompass:
- Default configurations of software and applications
- Improper separation of user/administrator privilege
- Insufficient internal network monitoring
- Lack of network segmentation
- Poor patch management
- Bypass of system access controls
- Weak or misconfigured multifactor authentication (MFA) methods
- Insufficient access control lists (ACLs) on network shares and services
- Poor credential hygiene
- Unrestricted code execution
The report underscores the systemic vulnerabilities within the networks of numerous large organizations, emphasizing the need for secure-by-design principles to mitigate the risk of compromise. Software manufacturers are urged to adopt proactive practices, embedding security controls into product architecture from the inception of development and throughout the software development lifecycle. Steps should include abandoning default passwords, safeguarding single security controls from jeopardizing the entire system’s integrity, and eliminating vulnerabilities by utilizing memory-safe coding languages and implementing parameterized queries.
Furthermore, the report calls for the mandate of multifactor authentication (MFA) for privileged users and the establishment of MFA as a default feature, making it a standard practice rather than an optional choice.
NSA and CISA encourage network defenders to implement the recommended mitigation measures, which include:
- Eliminating default credentials and hardening configurations
- Deactivating unused services and imposing strict access controls
- Ensuring regular updates and automating patching, with priority on known vulnerabilities
- Reducing, restricting, auditing, and closely monitoring administrative accounts and privileges
In addition to these mitigations, NSA and CISA advocate the evaluation of security programs against the threat behaviors aligned with the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework. The advisory also advises testing existing security controls to assess their performance against the ATT&CK techniques described in the report. By adhering to these recommendations, organizations can bolster their cybersecurity defenses and reduce the risk of exploitation by malicious actors.
Penetration testing to combat cybersecurity threats
One of the best ways to combat cybersecurity threats in today’s modern time is by conducting regular penetration testing. Remember, if you suffered a data breach under the PDPA, you could be liable for up to a financial penalty of S$1,000,000. Luckily, Privacy Ninja is here to help you check if there are any vulnerabilities in your system.
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