5min. read

What is Cloud Security Posture Management?

Organizations all over the world are embracing cloud computing and storage to reduce costs and increase their agility. As more applications and data move to the cloud, the risk of systems or data being exposed increases. Furthermore, as organizations deploy services in different public clouds, maintaining security and compliance across environments becomes more complex.

The Risks and Challenges of Cloud Environments

While public clouds offer many advantages, their success has opened organizations to security risks. Rapid adoption of cloud services has led to a proliferation of dynamic and distributed environments. The scale, pace of change, and “sprawl” across multiple public clouds makes it difficult for security teams to keep pace. At the same time, cloud skills are in short supply. According to Gartner research, in 2021, 50% of organizations will mistakenly have infrastructure as a service (IaaS) storage services, network segments, applications or APIs directly exposed to the public internet, and almost all of them will be the result of misconfigurations.

These risks and challenges are spurring organizations to adopt a CSPM strategy. Let’s explore some of the capabilities CSPM tools have to offer.

Visibility

Unlike in data centers, it’s very difficult to get visibility into all resources, applications and data distributed across cloud environments, including their real-time security and compliance posture. CSPM offerings provide centralized, real-time visibility across cloud environments by analyzing and normalizing different data sources and creating a detailed asset inventory. CSPMs continuously discover new resources in real time, monitor existing resources, and evaluate and display security posture in one place, using graphics and tables that improve understanding. Offering visibility into several clouds in one place is not only convenient, but also extremely valuable for security teams since members rarely have expertise in more than one public cloud environment.

Governance

Organizations are usually very clear on their data security policies. However, development teams often lack security expertise, which can make it difficult to implement and consistently enforce their policies in the cloud. Security operations center (SOC) teams often receive hundreds or thousands of security alerts a day from multiple tools across multiple clouds, without the context to help them prioritize or remediate issues.

CSPM tools help organizations build a robust security posture in the cloud across the entire development lifecycle without requiring deep expertise in each environment. Once overall cloud security posture is defined, CSPM tools help enforce it across multiple public clouds. CSPM visibility and monitoring quickly discovers security violations, such as misconfigurations, and can often help with remediation by suggesting actions security teams should take or even resolving policy violations automatically.

Compliance

Data in the cloud is subject to the same privacy, security and integrity regulations as in the data center, yet it is much more difficult to demonstrate compliance. Many organizations cannot demonstrate compliance or pass an audit of cloud environments without enduring slow, manual and costly processes, including generating and stitching together multiple reports. Fortunately, there is a way to simplify the compliance process. CSPM offerings can:

  • Evaluate your cloud security posture against common compliance frameworks and provide insight into potential compliance risks

  • Quickly generate audit-ready reports that span multiple data sources

  • Allow SOC teams to investigate audit data for unusual user behavior or potential account compromise

Threat Detection

Threats to cloud data security can come from many vectors, both internal and external. While we’ve discussed the common threat of misconfigurations, organizations must also guard against valid users misusing data, not to mention malicious insider threats. External threats include bad actors attempting to use stolen credentials, as well as cryptomining, ransomware, and other malware and hacking tools. 

Insider threats or threats with stolen credentials are usually not discovered until a breach happens. At that point, SOC teams must manually sift through logs, trying to find the attacker. Creating a baseline of analytics on user behavior – and then continually monitoring behavior – can help identify potential anomalies and alert SOC teams before any damage is done.

Compounding the threat detection problem, organizations use many cloud security tools to discover and protect against malware and other threats. The multitude of tools can overwhelm the SOC with alerts while providing insufficient context on the severity of each one. CSPM tools take multiple threat intelligence sources and stitch them together so SOC teams can see threat intelligence data across every cloud environment. Often, CSPM tools have their own threat intelligence sources, enhancing the ability to prioritize threats that pose the highest risk to the organization. 

Implementing Cloud Security Posture Management

CSPM is a valuable discipline that helps organizations discover and automatically remediate threats, misconfigurations, misuse and compliance violations in public clouds. CSPM tools can be stand-alone or part of a cloud native security platform. For more information on a comprehensive cloud native security platform, click here.