Protecting Your Atlassian Confluence Deployment from CVE-2023-22515 and More

Bill Church Miniature
Bill Church
Published October 18, 2023

In an era where digital collaboration is paramount, tools like Atlassian Confluence have become essential for organizations to streamline communication and collaboration. However, with great utility comes great responsibility, as vulnerabilities can expose your Confluence instance to unauthorized access. In this blog post, we'll explore a critical security issue concerning Confluence and discuss powerful solutions offered by F5 that can help mitigate your related vulnerabilities.

The Vulnerability

Unsecured Atlassian Confluence, a popular collaboration and documentation tool, is currently being targeted by Threat Actors due to a critical zero-day security flaw. This vulnerability essentially allows malicious actors to add users to the system without authentication. This poses a serious threat to data integrity and security, as unauthorized users could potentially gain access to sensitive information, wreaking havoc within your organization.

Mitigating the Vulnerability

Of course, the best method is to patch your Confluence instances immediately. But the main issue here is that this vulnerability was leveraged by threat actors before a fix was available. To mitigate this and other unknown vulnerabilities and enhance the security of your Atlassian Confluence instance, its best to rely on sophisticated solutions with a proven track record. F5 can help with BIG-IP AWAF and BIG-IP APM.

BIG-IP Advanced Web Application Firewall (AWAF)

BIG-IP AWAF is a security powerhouse designed to protect your web applications from a wide range of threats, including those unknown vulnerabilities that attackers often exploit. Here's how it can help secure your Confluence instance:

BIG-IP AWAF leverages machine learning to understand how users interact with your application. It builds a positive security policy around these interactions, distinguishing between legitimate and malicious activities. This proactive approach helps prevent attacks even when the specific vulnerability is not yet known.

By monitoring and analyzing user interactions, BIG-IP AWAF can identify and block suspicious activities, including those currently in use by threat actors. It provides real-time threat detection and response, ensuring your Confluence instance remains secure.

In addition to a positive security model, AWAF can also leverage signatures to block known attacks (several are available for this and other Confluence vulnerabilities).

BIG-IP Access Policy Manager (APM)

BIG-IP APM is another essential component in securing your Confluence instance. It focuses on access control and authentication, ensuring that only authorized users gain entry. Most notably Smart Card (CAC/PIV) Multi-Factor authentication and integration with Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC)

BIG-IP APM enables you to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) and multi-level authentication, significantly increasing your security posture. This means users must provide multiple forms of authentication, such as something they know (password), something they have (smart card), and possibly something they are (biometrics).

Smart Card Authentication (CAC/PIV) is a must for government organizations and high-security environments, and smart card authentication (Common Access Card - CAC or Personal Identity Verification - PIV) is the gold standard. BIG-IP APM fully supports smart card authentication, ensuring that only individuals with the appropriate credentials can access Confluence. More importantly F5’s solution can do this for applications which have no concept of Smart Card authentication or are too difficult or rigid to configure for your needs.

Other F5 offerings that can be key to protecting your Atlassian Confluence deployment:

  • NGINX App Protect

    Alongside BIG-IP AWAF and BIG-IP APM solutions, NGINX App Protect is another formidable option to consider for safeguarding your Atlassian Confluence instance. NGINX App Protect, often deployed as a web application firewall (WAF), offers a unique set of features to bolster your application's security.

  • Advanced Threat Protection

    NGINX App Protect brings advanced threat protection to the forefront. By inspecting and filtering incoming HTTP and HTTPS traffic, it can thwart a wide range of application layer attacks, including those that might target vulnerabilities in Atlassian Confluence.

  • Zero-Day Vulnerability Mitigation

    NGINX App Protect uses a combination of signature-based and behavior-based detection to identify attacks even when specific vulnerabilities are unknown. This approach ensures that your application remains protected against emerging threats.

  • Web Application Security Policies

    NGINX App Protect allows you to define and enforce custom security policies for your application. You can tailor these policies to protect against unauthorized user additions and other common threats.

  • BIG-IP iRules

    While I won’t go into specifics here as the iRule fix gives away the vulnerability, iRules give you the flexibility to modify or influence traffic even if you aren’t currently licensed for or using APM or AWAF, although it’s a more manual process.

Securing your Atlassian Confluence instance is paramount in the age of digital collaboration. F5's sophisticated solutions offer comprehensive and consistent security to protect your Confluence instance from unauthorized user additions and a host of other potential threats. By utilizing the positive security policy capabilities of BIG-IP AWAF and the multi-factor and multi-level authentication features of BIG-IP APM, you can safeguard your Confluence environment and ensure that only authorized personnel can access it, especially in government and high-security contexts. Don't leave your Confluence deployment exposed – take proactive steps to enhance its security with F5's solutions. Learn more about BIG-IP Services.