Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a category of cybersecurity tools that enhance cloud data security. CSPM is a relatively new concept, emerging from the ongoing rise of organizations moving their legacy workflows to the cloud.
How Does CSPM Work?
These environments span across all cloud architecture, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions.
CSPM tools effectively manage and mitigate risk across an organization’s entire cloud attack surface. They achieve this through their main functionalities – visibility, continuous monitoring, threat detection, and remediation workflows.
CSPM solutions provide clear visibility into all cloud assets, cloud applications, and cloud configurations.
Security teams can easily view all deployments across multi-cloud environments – such as AWS, Azure, Microsoft 365, and Google Cloud Platform – through a unified inventory on the platform.
Organizations can also configure CSPM tools to perform continuous compliance monitoring against regulatory frameworks and recognized security standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOC 2, ISO 27001, and NIST CSF.
CSPM tools assess cloud application configurations against internal and external benchmarks, like CIS Foundations Benchmarks. This assessment enables real-time identification of any cloud security policy violations.
Many CSPM solutions offer automated remediation workflows to ensure such issues do not escalate to security incidents. Automation allows organizations to quickly resolve security issues, like open ports and other vulnerabilities that could expose sensitive data through cloud leaks.
Why is CSPM Important?
- 90% of the organizations that fail to control public cloud use will inappropriately share sensitive data, and
- 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.
From these predictions, it’s clear that organizations should not rely solely on cloud providers to manage cloud resources and enforce security policies. Security teams must take a proactive approach and gain complete visibility of the cloud environment to maintain a healthy security posture.
CSPM provides organizations with the visibility they need to identify misconfigured network connectivity and other data security risks.
How to Improve Your Security Posture
The best way for your organization to improve and maintain a healthy security posture is to develop a robust cybersecurity risk management strategy. It should help your organization proactively identify risks and the necessary security tools and techniques to prevent or mitigate security incidents.
Performing a cybersecurity risk assessment is crucial to forming a practical risk management strategy. Risk assessments help organizations understand, control, and mitigate all forms of cyber risk by providing transparency into information security practices.
Security assessments usually cover detail about how your organization’s data is collected, stored, documented, accessed, and secured.
How Do Misconfigurations Occur?
Driven by cloud applications and APIs, cloud infrastructure is easily scaled up and down by developers using Infrastructure as Code (IAC). The simplicity of this process is a double-edged sword as it also becomes much easier for misconfigurations to occur.
Multi-cloud environments also restrict visibility as organizations struggle to identify and manage large numbers of accounts, their configuration, assigned permissions, and resources.
This lack of visibility means that misconfigurations and other cloud security issues could go undetected for long periods, leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Shared Responsibility Model
Cloud environments differ from traditional data centers, where an organization is entirely responsible for the security of its infrastructure. Instead, this responsibility is shared between the organization and the cloud service provider.
Shared responsibility models are unique to each cloud service provider, but all should define each party’s roles and responsibilities.
For example, below are the shared responsibility models of Microsoft Azure and AWS.
AWS Shared Responsibility Model
In AWS’ Cloud Security shared responsibility model, the customer’s responsibility is determined by which cloud service they are using, how the service integrates into the IT environment, and applicable laws and regulations.
AWS is responsible for securing the infrastructure that runs all AWS Cloud services.
AWS’ shared responsibility model. Source: amazon.com
Microsoft Azure’s shared responsibility model is determined by the type of cloud service used to host the customer’s workload – SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS. The customer is always responsible for data, endpoints, accounts, and access management.
Microsoft Azure’s shared responsibility model. Source: microsoft.com
They remain wholly responsible for any security incidents that occur, even at the hands of a third-party vendor.
CSPM Capabilities & Uses
Gartner has identified trends surrounding CSPM’s development, including its capabilities and use cases.
CSPM’s key market capabilities include:
- Compliance Assessment
- Risk Identification
- Operational Monitoring
- DevSecOps Integration
- Policy Enforcement
- Threat Protection
Its typical use cases include:
- Ensuring continuous compliance with regulatory requirements and security frameworks by providing visibility of the cloud environment’s security posture.
- Preventing configuration drift through identification and alerting of configurations that are deployed outside of security policy.
Evolving use cases include:
- Developing DevOps guardrails to ensure all asset deployments align with policy expectations.
- Supporting the Security Operations Center (SOC) by providing cloud security logs and other data to SOC tools, such as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).
Other Cloud Security Solutions
CSPM can be used in conjunction with other cloud security solutions which complement its functionality, including:
- Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP): CWPP solutions provide protection against exploits, application safe listing, system integrity, network segmentation, system monitoring, and workload configuration.
- Cloud Access Service Broker (CASB): Part of the emerging Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) model, CASB solutions provide data loss prevention, adaptive access control, threat prevention, UEBA, and policy enforcement.
CSPM solutions provide greater transparency and visibility of the security posture of multi-cloud environments.
Some of their other benefits include:
- Single Source of Truth: CPSM dashboards provide unified risk visualization across multi-cloud environments. This consolidation makes it easier for security teams to quickly identify and remediate system vulnerabilities and misconfigurations before threat actors exploit them.
- Real-Time Threat Detection: CSPM tools instantly detect threats across all cloud-native deployments. They use continuous monitoring to uncover unauthorized access and activities, allowing organizations to tackle insider threats and attempted cyber attacks.
- Maintaining Compliance: CPSM solutions can be configured to monitor an organization’s compliance with regulatory standards and security frameworks across the cloud environment. Security teams can use this information to identify any gaps in compliance and adjust their cybersecurity strategies accordingly.
- Automated Remediation: Many CSPM tools not only detect threats but also have incident response capabilities. Real-time remediation workflows help prevent security issues, such as policy violations, from escalating to more serious security incidents.
- DevSecOps Optimization: CPSM dashboards provide a single source of truth, which enables faster threat detection and remediation. These workflows help reduce friction between DevOps and security teams, allowing great accessibility and transparency.
CSPM solutions integrate with DevOps tools and SIEM solutions, streamlining the incident response process.
Top CSPM Vendors
The following vendors provide organizations with effective CSPM solutions.
1. Check Point
Check Point’s CloudGuard platform provides cloud-native security, with advanced threat prevention for assets and workloads – across public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud environments.
2. Orca Security
Orca Security’s Agentless Scanning™ delivers a single agentless platform that detects and prioritizes the most important security risks at every layer of the cloud estate for AWS, Azure, and GCP.
3. Palo Alto Networks
Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks provides visibility across public cloud infrastructure, with continuous, automated monitoring that provides insights into new and existing assets, anomalous behaviors, and potential threats.
4. TrendMicro (Cloud Conformity)
Trend Micro Cloud One™ provides real-time monitoring and auto-remediation for the security, compliance, and governance of cloud infrastructure.
Zscaler’s CSPM collects real-time configurations, identifies and fixes cloud misconfigurations, and governs security and compliance.