Misconfiguration

In computing, misconfiguration occurs when an IT system, asset, or tool is set up incorrectly, leaving it vulnerable to malicious activity and jeopardizing the security of data. This is a leading cause of data breaches, chiefly when leveraged in critical application and data assets.

With the growing use of hybrid data centers and cloud environments and complexity of applications, operating systems and frameworks, misconfiguration is more prevalent and harder to prevent.

Examples of misconfiguration include:

  • VPC flow logs are disabled
  • Unused security groups are discovered 
  • EC2 security group port or inbound access is misconfigured
  • Access to resources is not equipped using IAM roles
  • Outbound access is unrestricted
  • EBS data encryption is not turned on
  • S3 bucket encryption is not turned on
  • A server that exposes too much information to users, particularly on the web

Preventing misconfigurations

Ways to prevent security misconfigurations include keeping software up to date, disabling default accounts, encrypting data, enforcing strong access controls, running security scanners, and performing regular system audits.

It’s important to prevent or fix a misconfiguration because it’s one of the most common ways hackers gain access to an environment. They do this by stealing or using weak credentials to enter as a legitimate user or exploiting an unpatched vulnerability that’s deployed in the environment. From there, malicious parties can target other parts of the system.

Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

Top Articles

The Complete List of 1500+ Common Text Abbreviations & Acronyms

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 SMS, online chat, and text abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top...

Windows Operating System History & Versions

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

Generations of Computers (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that...

Pardot

What is Pardot? Pardot is a B2B marketing automation (MA) solution by Salesforce that...

Veeam

Veeam Software is a global vendor...

Akamai

Akamai Technologies is a global web technology company specializing in content...