With Great Keys Comes Great Responsibility: How to Master Your Secrets Management Sane and Secure

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, managing secrets and credentials presents a formidable challenge. API keys, passwords, and tokens are crucial for accessing critical data in your cloud environments. Without proper management, these secrets can become a significant vulnerability, leading to unauthorized access, data breaches, and compliance issues. While AWS Secrets Manager offers robust solutions for managing secrets, it also presents unique challenges that need careful consideration.

In this blog post, we will delve into common configuration mistakes related to secrets, explore effective detection strategies, and outline best practices for securely managing secrets. We’ll also highlight the importance of continuous monitoring to proactively mitigate potential risks.

Scenario 1: Overprivileged access

Over-privileged access to secrets can lead to severe security breaches, allowing unauthorized users or other identities to access sensitive information and potentially compromise the entire system. It’s crucial to gain visibility into the human and non-human identities who have access to secrets to prevent such incidents.

By enforcing the principle of least privilege, you ensure that only authorized individuals have access to secrets, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. Regularly auditing IAM policies and access logs helps in identifying and rectifying any potential vulnerabilities. Implementing AWS CloudTrail can provide valuable insights into secrets usage, enhancing overall security measures.

Solvo leverages its contextual view to make it easy to identify over privileged permissions, and access to exploiting secrets in particular. Below is a graph view that simplifies the process of gaining deep insights into each secret, including access paths, granted permissions, and specific actions required to ensure the secrets are least privileged. This option offers a convenient and efficient way to enhance security measures without the need for complex procedures or extensive manual effort.

Scenario 2: Outdated secrets

When secrets are not rotated regularly, your environment becomes more vulnerable to unauthorized access and exploitation. Over time, attackers can discover and exploit these secrets, potentially leading to data breaches, system compromises, and loss of sensitive information. And that’s before mentioning unfortunate incidents like hard coding credentials in code-repositories and other methodologies of accidently exposing valid credentials to unauthorized parties. Regular rotation of secrets is essential to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and ensure that compromised secrets do not remain a security threat.

Secrets Manager services provide automated rotation capabilities, ensuring that secrets are periodically updated. Additionally, implementing periodic checks to verify adherence to rotation policies can help maintain a secure environment.

Despite the known risks, many organizations struggle with implementing regular rotation practices due to various challenges, including the complexity of managing numerous secrets across different systems, the lack of awareness about the importance of rotation, and concerns about potential disruptions to operational environments. To address these challenges, Solvo gathers all rotation rules and recommendations in one place, based on industry best practices or the user’s preference, providing a centralized view of the rotation policies status and making it easy to manage and enforce them effectively. Once the guardrails were set up, there was no need to run an additional scan. Solvo will notify about new or existing violations, and will make it easy on the user to automate a notification with a remediation suggestion to the relevant team members.

Scenario 3: Unused secrets

Unused secrets pose a significant security risk if left unmanaged. These secrets, if compromised, can be exploited by attackers. The longer unused secrets remain active, the greater the risk of them being discovered and exploited by the attacker, while the activity will remain under the radar, as it looks legitimate.

Best practices for managing unused secrets include regular auditing and revocation of unused credentials. By regularly reviewing access logs and usage patterns, organizations can identify and revoke unused secrets, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Solvo provides a comprehensive view of usage patterns, including all unused secrets and specifically providing details on when the credentials were last used. You can easily identify and revoke unused secrets, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and enhancing overall security posture. Additionally, Solvo offers automated alerts for unused secrets, ensuring that organizations stay proactive in managing their credentials and reducing security risks.

Scenario 4: Vulnerable resource with access to a Secret

When a resource with access to secrets is found to have a vulnerability, it poses a significant security risk to the organization. Attackers can exploit this vulnerability, use the privileges of that NHI (non-human identity) to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, potentially leading to data breaches and other security incidents.

To mitigate this risk, organizations should prioritize patching and securing vulnerable assets, and start with resources that have high privileges with a potentially wide blast radius. This includes identifying and remediating vulnerabilities in a timely manner, ensuring that impose a higher risk to the organization, like assets with access to secrets are secured first and not exposed to potential exploits.

Solvo provides visibility into assets with access to secrets and their vulnerabilities. But it’s not just that, we provide the remediation for each vulnerability. You can prioritize remediation efforts and ensure that resources with access to secrets are secure and protected from potential threats.

Managing secrets in cloud environments is a complex but critical task. This blog post highlighted key scenarios that are, unfortunately, often found even with organizations with a mature security program. This demonstrates the importance of visibility, usage monitoring, rotation policies, and contextual analysis in secrets management. By implementing these best practices, organizations can significantly enhance their cloud security posture and protect against potential threats.

If you want to have a better understanding about your organization’s current secrets status and quickly take action on critical findings, Solvo offers a 14 days free trial. Click here to learn more.

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