Improper cloud IAM leaving organizations at risk

There is an industry-wide cloud permissions gap crisis, leaving countless organizations at risk due to improper identity and access management (IAM), a CloudKnox Security report reveals.

improper cloud IAM

The report findings underscore the fact that attackers can leverage over-privileged identities to traverse laterally, elevate permissions and cause extensive data exfiltration.

“The focus on digital transformation over the last few years—and accelerated throughout 2020—has led to a significant delta between permissions granted and permissions used in the cloud. This cloud permissions gap is a massive contributing factor to the rise of both accidental and malicious threats for organizations of all sizes,” said Raj Mallempati, COO of CloudKnox.

“Permissions misuse or abuse can allow both human and machine identities to create and destroy portions of the cloud infrastructure; and without right-sizing these permissions, enforcing least privilege and zero trust access, these identities have the potential to become CISOs’ worst nightmares.”

Many contributor roles inactive or over permissioned

Among the findings, the data underscores this cause for concern. More than 40% of AWS roles were reported as inactive or over permissioned, putting these organizations at risk of a costly breach should a bad actor breach one of these roles.

More than 70% of Azure subscriptions have identities with over-permissive contributor roles, giving hackers the opportunity to control IAM should they gain access as a contributor.

Further, more than 75% of enterprises using GCP have identities’ permission creep ranging from viewer to owner. Also, 90% of enterprises using vSphere have misconfigurations that can lead to critical level one failures.

Key cloud provider risks

Amazon Web Services
  • More than 95% of identities are using less than 2% of permissions granted.
  • Two-thirds of most enterprises have Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances with access to all Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.
  • More than 50% of enterprises have identities with privilege escalations ability to elevate to super admin roles.
  • More than 90% of identities are using less than 2% of permissions granted.
  • More than 85% of enterprises have over-permissive identities left orphaned after projects are terminated.
  • 65% of all enterprises have anonymous public read access enabled for blob containers in production environments.
Google Cloud Platform
  • More than 90% of identities are using less than 5% of permissions granted.
  • More than 80% of projects have service accounts (including Google managed) with over-permissive Owner/Editor roles either directly attached or inherited from a folder or organization.
  • More than 85% of enterprises have user managed keys for service accounts that are not rotated.
  • More than 50% of enterprises have project-wide Secure Shell (SSH) keys enabled for virtual machine (VM) instances.
VMware vSphere
  • More than 95% of identities are using less than 5% of permissions granted.
  • More than 60% of groups and identities accessing the vSphere infrastructure are inactive and have high-risk permissions.
  • Highly over-provisioned “Destroy,” “Remove” and “Reset” functions for compute, storage and network across poorly defined roles.

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