Cloud security breaches are commonplace today due to most violations or errors involving misconfigurations of the cloud. Cloud providers are responsible for the infrastructure cloud stack’s security. On the other hand, users are responsible for configuring the cloud and ensuring the security of applications and data.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a product category for IT security tools that detect cloud misconfiguration and compliance risks. In addition, an essential purpose of CSPMs is to continuously monitor the cloud infrastructure for gaps in security policy implementation.
Gartner, the IT research and consulting firm that coined CSPM, defines CSPM as a new security product category that can help automate security and provide compliance assurance in the cloud.
CSPM tools examine and compare a cloud environment to a predefined set of best practices and known security risks. Some CSPM mechanisms alert the cloud client when a security risk needs fixing, while other more sophisticated CSPM tools use robotic process automation (RPA) to resolve issues automatically.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is commonly used by organizations that have adopted a cloud-first strategy and want to extend security best practices to hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
While CSPM is frequently associated with infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud services, it can also be used to reduce configuration errors and compliance risks in Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud environments.
What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?
CSPMs provide continuous compliance monitoring, configuration drift prevention, and security operations center (SOC) investigations. In addition to monitoring the current state of the infrastructure, CSPM develops a policy that defines the desired and secure state of the infrastructure and then ensures that all network activity is consistent with this policy.
CSPM is used for risk visualization, assessment, incident response, compliance monitoring, and DevOps integration and can uniformly apply cloud security best practices to hybrid, multi-cloud, and container environments.
CSPM supports cloud types such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS) and simplifies IT processes by automating risk identification and remediation in cloud infrastructures.
CSPMs are explicitly built for cloud environments and evaluate the entire environment, not just workloads. CSPMs also include advanced automation and artificial intelligence, and guided correction. This way, users not only know there’s a problem, but they also have an idea of how to fix it.
Why is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Important?
Hundreds or even thousands of applications on the cloud can connect and disconnect from other networks. This dynamic nature makes clouds powerful but also makes them harder to secure. That’s why you need to make a cloud-first philosophy the norm.
The reasons why traditional security methods do not work effectively in the cloud can be listed as the lack of a specific environment to protect, the inability to perform manual processes at the required speed, and the lack of centralization, making visibility extremely difficult.
While cloud-based computing provides overall cost benefits, the security piece of this puzzle can impact ROI as there are so many pieces to manage, such as microservices, containers, Kubernetes, and serverless functions.
With new technologies comes the idea of Infrastructure as Code (IaC), where infrastructure is managed and provided by machine-readable definition files. This API-driven approach is an integral part of cloud-first environments as it makes it easy to change infrastructure on the fly.
But it also simplifies programming in misconfigurations, which leaves the environment open to security vulnerabilities. According to the research, it is known that incorrect configurations cause most security breaches, and these mistakes are very costly to companies.
The most significant vulnerability underlying all these problems is the lack of visibility. There are hundreds of thousands of accounts in environments as complex and fluid as the typical enterprise cloud, and knowing what or who is working where and doing what is only possible with advanced automation. Without this assistance, vulnerabilities from misconfigurations may go undetected for days, weeks, or until a breach occurs.
Cloud security posture management (CSPM) continuously monitors and addresses cloud risk by preventing, detecting, responding, and predicting where the subsequent risk may occur.
What Are the Benefits of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?
There are two types of risks in IT security, intentional and unintentional. Most cloud security solutions focus on calculated threats, such as outside attacks and insider hacks. However, accidental mistakes like leaving sensitive data publicly in S3 folders can cause significant damage.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) stops these accidental vulnerabilities by providing unified visibility into multi-cloud environments rather than controlling multiple consoles and normalizing data from various vendors. In this way, misconfigurations are automatically prevented.
Cloud Security Attitude Management (CSPM) employs artificial intelligence to evaluate abnormal or increased occurrences of alerts and reduce alert fatigue through the reduction of false positives. In addition, reduced false positives increase security operations center (SOC) productivity.
Additionally, CSPMs continually monitor and evaluate the environment for adherence to compliance policies. When any problem is detected, corrective actions can take place automatically. In addition, CSPM continuously scans the entire infrastructure, revealing hidden threats, and faster detection means shorter remediation times.
Key features of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools include:
- Detects and perhaps automatically corrects cloud misconfigurations.
- Maintains an inventory of best practices for different cloud configurations and services.
- Can map existing configuration states to a security control framework or regulatory standard.
- You can continuously monitor and evaluate compliance policies.
- Provides visibility into what assets are in the cloud and how they are configured.
- Works with IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS platforms in containerized, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud environments.
- They can identify threats that negatively impact the cloud security posture.
- It can monitor storage packages, encryption, and account permissions for misconfigurations and compliance risks.
How Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Works
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools are intended to detect and resolve issues caused by cloud misconfigurations. However, a particular CSPM tool may only use best practices defined for a specific cloud environment or service. As a result, knowing which tools can be used in each environment is critical. For example, some devices may be limited to detecting misconfigurations in an AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure environment.
Some CSPM tools can automatically fix issues by combining continuous real-time monitoring with automation features to detect and resolve inappropriate account permissions. Continuous compliance can also be configured to several standards, including PCI DSS, GDPR, or HIPAA.
Other CSPM tools can be used with Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) tools. A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) is a service or software tool that enables and manages data flow between on-premises IT infrastructure and a cloud provider’s infrastructure.
Cloud Security Posture Management includes discovery and visibility, misconfiguration management and remediation, continuous threat detection, and DevSecOps integration.
- Discovery and Visibility: CSPM enables the discovery and visibility of cloud infrastructure assets and security configurations. Users can access a centralized source of truth across multiple cloud environments and accounts. During deployment, cloud resources and details such as misconfigurations, metadata, networking, security, and change activity are automatically discovered. A single console manages security group policies across accounts, regions, projects, and virtual networks.
- Misconfiguration Management and Remediation: Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) eliminates security risks by comparing cloud application configurations with industry and organizational benchmarks so that breaches can be detected and remedied in real-time. Misconfigurations, open IP ports, unauthorized changes, and other issues that expose cloud resources can be resolved with improvement suggestions, and various safeguards are provided to assist developers in avoiding errors. For example, storage is constantly monitored to ensure that the appropriate permissions are always in place and that data is never accidentally made public. In addition, database instances are observed to ensure high availability, backup, and encryption are enabled.
- Continuous Threat Detection: Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) proactively detects threats throughout the application development lifecycle by cutting the noise of multi-cloud security alerts with targeted threat identification and management approach. The number of alerts is reduced as CSPM focuses on areas where enemies can benefit most, prioritizes vulnerabilities over the environment, and prevents vulnerable code from reaching production. CSPM will also use real-time threat detection to monitor the environment for malicious, unauthorized, and unauthorized access to cloud resources.
- DevSecOps Integration: Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) reduces overhead and eliminates friction and complexity between multiple cloud providers and accounts. Cloud-native, agentless downtime management provides centralized visibility and control over all cloud resources. As a result, security operations and DevOps teams gain a single source of truth, and security teams can stop compromised assets from advancing through the application lifecycle.
CSPM should be integrated with SIEM to facilitate visibility and capture insights and context regarding misconfigurations and policy violations. CSPM should also integrate with DevOps toolkits already in use. The integration will enable faster remediation and response within the DevOps toolkit. In addition, reporting and dashboards provide shared understanding across security operations, DevOps, and infrastructure teams.
What are the Differences Between CSPM and Other Cloud Security Solutions?
Organizations, financial institutions, and healthcare providers in different industries use cloud infrastructure for their operations. As more businesses move sensitive data to the cloud, security becomes more critical than ever.
Using a cloud security posture management solution is the best way for any industry to secure cloud configurations and keep private data safe. CSPM tools will even monitor risks in the infrastructure cloud stack. Using CSPM tools and other cloud security solutions together will increase your security level.
Cloud Infrastructure Security Posture Assessment (CISPA) is the name of the first generation of CSPMs. Some organizations may also have a cloud infrastructure security posture assessment (CISPA), a first-generation CSPM. While CISPAs mainly focus on reporting, CSPMs involve varying levels of automation, from simple task execution to the use of complex artificial intelligence.
Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPPs) offer unified cloud workload protection across multiple providers, protecting any workload in any location. CWPPs are based on vulnerability management, anti-malware, and application security tailored to meet modern infrastructure needs.
CSPMs are explicitly built for cloud environments and evaluate the entire environment, not just workloads. CSPMs also include guided correction and more complex automation and artificial intelligence. So users know that there is a problem and have an idea of how to fix it.
Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) are security application points placed between cloud service providers and customers. They ensure that traffic complies with policies before allowing it to access the network. Typically, CASBs provide firewalls, authentication, malware detection, and data loss prevention, whereas CSPMs provide critical data for continuous compliance monitoring, configuration issue prevention, and security operations center investigations.
CSPMs monitor the current state of the infrastructure, develop a policy that defines the desired state of the infrastructure, and then ensure that all network activity is consistent with that policy.