The fact that Computerworld's Jeremy Kirk just reported that data breaches are often caused by configuration errors (as noted in Verizon's latest data breach report) should come as no surprise, yet I'm left shaking my head in continued disbelief at this issue's prevalence.
Per Jeremy, as summarized from the report:
"Verizon said it found that a surprising and "even shocking" trend is continuing: There are fewer attacks that focus on a software vulnerabilities than attacks that focus on configuration weaknesses or sloppy coding of an application."
Now we now why security misconfiguration is new to the OWASP Top 10 as of 2010, holding the #6 position.
Consider Figure 1 as ripped right from the OWASP Top 10 doc.
Can we agree that data breach qualifies as a "business impact"?
A recent example of classic security misconfiguration includes the design flaw in WordPress that, by default, allowed users to set up permissions that let anyone read their blog's wp-config.php configuration file; WordPress stores the bloggers' credentials in plain text (also OWASP Top 10 A9).
An attacker could create a scanner to locate all configuration files containing incorrect permissions, read database credentials, and compromise all found.
So easily avoided.
OWASP's recommendations include:
1. A repeatable hardening process that makes it fast and easy to deploy another environment that is properly locked down. Dev, QA, and production environments should all be configured the same. This process should be automated to minimize the effort required to setup a new secure environment.
2. A process for keeping abreast of and deploying all new software updates and patches in a timely manner to each deployed environment.
3. A strong network architecture that provides good separation and security between components. Consider running automated scans periodically to help you detect future misconfiguration or missing patches.
Make it so!
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