Apr 18, 2023 - Technology

Most cloud accounts need security upgrades, report finds

Illustration of eyes floating in the clouds looking from side to side

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The majority of cloud accounts are riddled with improper security controls, exposed sensitive databases and high-risk vulnerabilities, according to new research from Palo Alto Networks.

Driving the news: Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 threat intelligence team analyzed 210,000 cloud accounts across 1,300 organizations in its annual cloud threat report released Tuesday.

  • 76% of organizations that store data in the cloud don't enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) for their users, per the report, while 58% of organizations also don't require MFA for network administrators either.
  • Researchers also found sensitive data in 66% of cloud storage buckets associated with these accounts.
  • 60% of organizations took longer than four days to resolve security alerts tied to their cloud systems.

The big picture: Malicious hackers have only been getting better at breaking into companies' cloud infrastructure, despite perceptions that cloud data storage would be ironclad against cyberattacks.

  • A CrowdStrike report earlier this year found that attacks exploiting cloud systems nearly doubled in 2022, while the number of hacking groups targeting the cloud tripled.

Details: Nearly two-thirds of source code found in cloud networks had unpatched vulnerabilities considered either high risk or critically severe.

  • "In a cloud environment, a single vulnerability in the source code can be replicated to multiple workloads, posing risks to the entire cloud infrastructure," the report notes.

Be smart: The report suggests organizations enable MFA for all network users, turn on audit logs to monitor potentially suspicious activity, and set up automated backups for critical cloud systems in case they go offline.

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