Cloud Security Posture Management – What It Means for Organizations

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What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Cloud security posture management, or CSPM is a security product which identifies cloud misconfiguration issues and compliances threat. Further, it scans cloud provider systems and warns personnel of software configuration vulnerabilities and compliance issues, the majority of which are the result of human error.

Gartner, the information technology research and advisory group that invented the term, defines CSPM as a new category of security technologies that can automate cloud security and provide continuous compliance monitoring assurance in the cloud. CSPM tools operate by inspecting and comparing a secure cloud environment to a predefined set of best practices and known security threats. Specific CSPM systems will notify the cloud client when necessary to remedy a security risk, while more complex CSPM technologies will automatically correct vulnerabilities via robotic process automation (RPA).

CSPM is often utilized by enterprises that have taken a cloud-first approach and wish to extend their cloud security best practices to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud settings. While CSPM is frequently linked with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud services, it can also be used to eliminate configuration errors and continuous compliance risks in Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud environments.

How Does Cloud Security Posture Management Work?

Cloud Security Posture Management delivers the following capabilities: discovery and visibility, configuration management and remediation, continuous threat detection, and integration with DevSecOps:

1. Discovering and Making Visible 

CSPM enables the discovery of cloud infrastructure assets and cloud security configurations. Users can connect to a centralized source of truth across several cloud environments and accounts. In addition to misconfigurations, metadata, networking, and security, automatic detection of a cloud’s resources and details occurs during deployment. A single console is used to administer security group settings across accounts, regions, projects, and virtual networks.

2. Management and Correction of Configuration Errors

By comparing secure cloud application configurations to industry and organizational benchmarks, CSPM lowers cloud security risks and accelerates the delivery process, allowing violations to be discovered and remedied in real-time. Misconfigurations, open IP ports, illegal alterations, and other issues that expose cloud resources can be resolved through guided remediation, and guardrails are offered to assist developers in avoiding errors. Storage is monitored to ensure that the appropriate permissions are always in place and that sensitive data is never unintentionally made public. Additionally, database instances are monitored to ensure that they maintain a high level of availability, and backups and encryption are enabled.

3. Threat Detection continuously

CSPM proactively detects vulnerabilities throughout the application development lifecycle by filtering out the noise of multi-cloud environment security alerts through targeted threat detection and management approach. The number of alerts is decreased because the CSPM concentrates on regions where attackers are most likely to exploit them, prioritizes vulnerabilities according to the environment, and prevents vulnerable code from reaching production. Additionally, the CSPM will use real-time threat detection to continuously monitor the environment for malicious activity, unauthorized activity, and unauthorized access to cloud services.

4. Integration of DevSecOps

CSPM lowers costs and eliminates friction and complexity associated with managing multiple cloud providers and accounts. Agentless posture management on the cloud enables centralized visibility and control of all cloud resources. Security operations and DevOps teams get access to a single source of truth, and cloud security teams may halt the movement of compromised assets throughout the application lifecycle.

The CSPM and SIEM should be connected to improve visibility and capture insights and context concerning misconfigurations and policy violations.

Additionally, the CSPM should interact with existing DevOps toolsets, enabling faster remediation and reaction inside the DevOps toolset. Reporting and dashboards ensure that security operations, DevOps, and cloud infrastructure teams all have the same understanding.

How CSPM Helps Organizations Protect Sensitive Information?

It is necessary that organizations track and safeguard sensitive information against misconfigurations to prevent breaches. CSPM can be leveraged for establishing a transparent environment for relaying information, along with compliance to regulations such as CIS and HIPAA. This further helps them strengthen their cloud security and boost customer confidence in their business.

According to Gartner, the growth of cloud access security brokers (CASBs) was over 30% in 2020 and the status quo is expected to prevail and rise further in the upcoming years. As the differentiation within cloud vendors grows difficult, organizations must look for branching data protection and governance by leveraging CSPM and analysis of customer behavior. CASBs help organizations protect the in-house data flow while reinforcing their security policies.

Why do misconfigurations occur, and how can they be prevented?

The most common cause of misconfigurations is client mishandling of many connected resources. There might be a plethora of moving parts to track and manage when it comes to cloud-based services. Misconfigurations of the environment are common, even more so with API-driven integration methodologies. Misconfiguration exposes a business to the risk of a data breaches, as it only takes a few cloud misconfigurations to make an enterprise exposed to attack.

Often, a misconfiguration occurs as a result of a lack of visibility. If a company does not understand how its resources interact, cloud infrastructure misconfiguration becomes more likely.

One of the more typical configuration errors is mistakenly providing public access to cloud storage buckets or containers assigned to storage classes. When access to storage buckets is left open, the buckets become subject to assault by anyone with the necessary skills.

Why Is CSPM So Important?

A cloud may connect to and disconnect from hundreds, if not thousands, of other networks throughout a single day. This dynamic character endows clouds with strength but also makes them difficult to hold. And as a cloud-first attitude becomes more prevalent, the issue of cloud-based system security becomes more pressing.

Traditional security measures do not operate in the cloud-native for the following reasons:

  • There is no border to safeguard manual processes;
  • They cannot occur at the scale or speed required;
  • And the absence of centralization makes achieving visibility extremely difficult.

Benefits of CSPM

1. Locating Incorrectly Configured Network Connections

CSPM solutions identify network connectivity misconfigurations that could result in a data breaches or leak. They accomplish this by comparing cloud networks to company benchmarks and best practices, allowing them to identify and correct any problems quickly. These include industry-recognized benchmarks such as the Center for Internet Security’s (CIS) Benchmarks. Using these benchmarks as a starting point, CSPM can discover infrastructure misconfigurations, alert security incidents personnel to the issue, and offer a remedy.

2. Risk Assessment of Data

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) enables enterprises to identify potentially sensitive data hazards that may arise from human error or that are missed by their cloud-native vendor. This could include vulnerabilities introduced due to developers rushing to launch a new application or virtual machine, exposing the organization’s network. In cloud environments, CSPM proactively discovers and mitigates these data vulnerabilities.

4. Detecting Abnormally Generous Account Permissions

CSPMs watch for events that result in account privileges being breached or exceeded by an organization’s security policies and best practices.

5. Monitoring the Cloud Environment continuously

CSPMs help with examination and continuous monitoring of cloud infrastructures constantly to ensure enterprises adhere to their compliance requirements. It detects any deviation from these policies promptly, ensuring that the error or danger is automatically remedied and mitigated.

6. Automatically Resolve Misconfigurations

CSPM solutions generate reports and provide recommendations for resolving an identified misconfiguration. However, they can automatically correct the configuration error in other situations, ensuring that any potential vulnerability is patched quickly and any chance of exploitation is eliminated.

CSPM – The Future of Cloud Security

Organizations of all sizes and types are resorting to cloud environments for greater flexibility and agility of their operations. This has led security to become an important area of emphasis, wherein partnering with the right security partner, such as Cloudlytics, for posture management is the key. This will help them continuously monitor their infrastructure cloud stack for risks and maintain a robust compliance posture with throughput security.

Through right configurations and automation, the cloud security problems are easier to resolve. Cloud security posture management facilitates organizations to identify obsolete or unused resources, verify the system’s integrity, This enables them to save costs and pinpoint imperative opportunities for disruption.

To Sum Up

The right CSPM solution will help organizations automate their security assessment processes while enabling early cloud security risk identification and mitigation across environments. Combining newer approaches and technologies along with the right tools will help organizations manage risks effectively. This will also benefit them in developing a resilient security posture of their cloud environment.

Further reading: 

  1. Our e-book on CSPM called ‘A to Z of CSPM’ 
  2. 7 Best Practices for Cloud Security Monitoring in 2021

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Varoon Rajani

Varoon Rajani

Varoon Rajani is the co-founder & CEO at Blazeclan and Cloudlytics. Varoon spotted the cloud opportunity early on and since then, built a born-in-the-cloud, global organization that delivers full-stack cloud solutions. He is excited by the dynamism offered by cloud technologies, is obsessed with customer success, and is deeply passionate about innovation.

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