Exposure Management
5 Min

Why Should You Detect and Validate Perimeter Misconfigurations Against Ever-Evolving Attacker Tactics?

The recent joint Cybersecurity Advisory from the NSA and CISA Red and Blue Teams highlights the critical necessity of misconfiguration management in cybersecurity. These misconfigurations, such as inadequate internal network monitoring, lack of network segmentation, and inadequate patch management, can result in undetected compromises and significant vulnerabilities. To defend against evolving cyber threats, organizations must prioritize proactive configuration practices, regular monitoring, and timely upgrading. In addition, software developers are strongly encouraged to implement secure-by-design principles to mitigate these risks. Effective misconfiguration management is not just a best practice in today's dynamic threat landscape; it is a fundamental requirement for robust cybersecurity.

Here is a summary of the Top 10 misconfigurations listed in the NSA-CISA joint advisory:

Default configurations of software and applications: Failure to change default credentials in software and devices, exposing them to unauthorized access.

  • Improper separation of user/administrator privilege: Granting excessive account privileges, increasing the risk of unauthorized data access.
  • Insufficient internal network monitoring: Inadequate sensor configurations hindering detection of adversarial activity.
  • Lack of network segmentation: Failing to create security boundaries between network segments, enabling lateral movement for adversaries.
  • Poor patch management: Neglecting regular patching and using unsupported or outdated systems, expanding the attack surface.
  • Bypass of system access controls: Allowing threat actors to compromise alternate authentication methods like pass-the-hash.
  • Weak or misconfigured MFA methods: Vulnerable multi-factor authentication methods, potentially granting access to MFA-protected systems.
  • Insufficient ACLs on network shares and services: Improper ACL settings on network shares, enabling unauthorized data access.
  • Poor credential hygiene: Weak passwords and storing passwords in cleartext facilitating unauthorized access and lateral movement.
  • Unrestricted code execution: Allowing unverified programs to run on hosts, posing a risk of compromise and persistence.  

Common Misconfiguration Scenarios and Tactics

We've crafted the table below to offer security researchers and blue teams a structured overview of common misconfigurations, complete with common scenarios, tactic IDs, and concise descriptions, facilitating rapid identification and comprehension of these vulnerabilities and threat actor tactics.

Role of CTEM in proactive Misconfiguration Management

It is interesting to note that external attackers can exploit a wide range of misconfigurations, including software defaults, insufficient network monitoring, inadequate segmentation, patch management gaps, ineffective multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods, and improper ACL configurations that facilitate arbitrary code execution. Scanners used by remote threat actors frequently look for default passwords and unpatched systems. It's also possible for hackers to get access to a network and move laterally within it if there are gaps in the network's segmentation and access rules. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to fix these misconfigurations, not only to strengthen internal security but also to reduce their susceptibility to external attacks. Protecting against external attacks requires detecting and fixing such configuration errors, and Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) plays a vital role in doing just that.

NST Assure CTEM goes beyond identifying misconfigurations; it continuously detects and assesses their exploitability by potential attackers, including those listed below among others.

Software and application default configurations: Identify devices with unaltered default credentials, which are potential entry points for remote attackers.

Insufficient monitoring of external networks: Improve external vulnerability exploitation monitoring and early threat detection.

Inadequate network segmentation: Evaluate network segmentation and reinforce perimeters against external threats.

Poor patch management: Detect systems with absent patches and thwart remote exploitation attempts.

Weak or incorrectly configured MFA methods: Evaluate MFA's vulnerabilities and prevent their remote exploitation.

Inadequate ACLs on network shares and services: Evaluate ACL configurations and restrict access to sensitive data from the outside.

Unrestricted code execution: Detect code execution-related vulnerabilities and protect systems from remote code exploitation.

It provides organizations with an ongoing assessment of vulnerability exploitability, offering a proactive and adaptive defense against evolving external threats. Our solution empowers you to stay ahead of attackers by evaluating not only the presence but also the potential impact and exploitability of misconfigurations.

Discover firsthand how NST Assure CTEM can assist you in efficiently identifying, evaluating, and resolving misconfigurations, thereby ensuring a proactive approach to defending against external threats.

Get in touch with us Today for a free trial of NST Assure Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM).

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