1. Cloud Incident Response Wiki
  2. AWS Forensics and Incident Response

Common AWS Misconfigurations List: A Security Checklist for the Cloud


The cloud offers scalability, agility, and cost-effectiveness for businesses of all sizes. However, the shared responsibility model in cloud platforms like AWS places the burden of securing "in" the cloud on your shoulders. Misconfigurations, unintentional or not, can expose your data and systems to attackers, making security a top priority.
    • Weve built a platform to automate incident response and forensics in AWS, Azure and GCP you cangrab a demo here. You can alsodownload a free playbook weve written on how to respond to security incidents in the cloud.
To help you navigate the complex world of AWS security, we've compiled a list of the most common misconfigurations you need to watch out for:


Identity and Access Management (IAM):
Overly permissive IAM roles and policies: Granting excessive access to resources or users opens the door for unauthorized activity.


Sharing IAM credentials: Never share your access keys or secrets, as they grant full control over your AWS account.

Unused IAM users and roles: Regularly review and remove inactive users and roles to minimize the attack surface.


Lack of multi-factor authentication (MFA): Enable MFA on all IAM accounts for an extra layer of security.


Storage and Databases:
Publicly accessible S3 buckets: Ensure proper bucket permissions are set to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.


Unencrypted databases: Encrypt your databases at rest and in transit to protect against data breaches.


Open database ports: Don't expose database ports to the public internet, restrict access to trusted sources.


Neglecting security groups: Misconfigured security groups can grant unintended access to your resources.


Compute and Networking:
Running instances with excessive privileges: Use least privilege principles to limit user access to the resources they need.


Leaving unnecessary ports open: Only open the ports required for your applications to function.


Ignoring log monitoring and alerting: Actively monitor your logs for suspicious activity and set up alerts for potential threats.


Insecure use of Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance metadata: Sensitive information can be exposed through instance metadata if not properly secured.


Additional Considerations:
Misconfigured security groups and network ACLs: Ensure your security groups and network ACLs restrict access as intended.


Outdated software and dependencies: Vulnerabilities in outdated software can be exploited by attackers. Keep your systems and applications up-to-date.


Lack of visibility and control: Regularly audit your AWS environment to identify and address misconfigurations. Utilize tools like CloudTrail and CloudWatch to monitor activity and enforce security policies.


This list is not exhaustive, but it highlights the most common AWS misconfigurations that can put your cloud security at risk. By proactively addressing these issues, you can strengthen your defenses and protect your valuable data.


Remember, security is an ongoing process. Regularly review your configurations, implement best practices, and leverage available tools to maintain a secure cloud environment. Don't hesitate to seek expert advice if needed. By prioritizing security, you can reap the full benefits of the cloud while mitigating the associated risks.