Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

A Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solution is one that identifies and remediates threats in an enterprise cloud environment. It uses automation to handle security risks as quickly as possible, working in concert with developers and IT security teams. Other critical functions of CSPM include security risk assessment, incident response, and DevOps integration. CSPM solutions are compatible with multi-cloud, hybrid, and containerized cloud environments.

Why is CSPM important?

Cloud environments are highly dynamic, with more users deploying resources and services through self-service access. Unsurprisingly, protecting a cloud infrastructure from cybercriminals is a highly complex process. This complexity continues to increase as enterprises now leverage a mix of public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud architectures.

Needless to say, old cybersecurity paradigms largely don’t apply to the cloud. For instance, because cloud environments don’t have a defined perimeter like older network designs, identity and access management (IAM) is infinitely more challenging. Additionally, manual SecOps processes become inefficient at scale. Also, the decentralized nature of classic networks provides little visibility for administrators to monitor activity and potential threats.

Simply put, complex cloud architectures remain difficult to configure and manage. In fact, Gartner notes that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by configuration errors. So, properly configuring any cloud environment plays a key role in protecting it from a broad range of threats, whether in the form of deliberate attacks or unintended mistakes.

CSPM tools provide the necessary cloud visibility to detect and prevent configuration errors before they cause a breach. Automated features ensure threats are identified and handled as quickly as possible. In the future, some CSPM solutions may even leverage AI to predict where risks are likely to arise. Ultimately, CSPM tools offer organizations visibility, protection, and remediation as part of an overarching cloud security strategy.

What are the benefits of CSPM?

CSPM helps companies protect their cloud environments from the configuration mistakes that lead to security breaches. For example, many highly publicized data leaks have been attributed to fairly straightforward misconfigurations — for example, misconfigured cloud storage services have exposed sensitive data to the public. CSPM platforms provide unified visibility across multi-cloud environments, so configuration errors are detected and remediated automatically.

Additionally, CSPM tools provide a single source of truth for administrators monitoring enterprise cloud infrastructure. Alerts get transmitted using one common system, as opposed to separate ones for each cloud service provider. Automated remediation also helps reduce the likelihood of false-positive alerts. This feature helps administrators work more efficiently and effectively.

Continuous monitoring of the cloud with a CSPM tool ensures that all company security policies are followed. Simultaneously, these tools remediate any detected issues without user intervention. This includes those hidden threats that often lead to the loss of company or customer data.

How does CSPM work?

CSPM tools bring a wide variety of benefits to the companies using them. By learning how the technology actually works, users and organizations can gain a deeper understanding of where it fits among other cybersecurity platforms. Ultimately, this is critical knowledge for IT, cloud, SecOps, and compliance and risk management teams. 

As noted earlier, CSPM tools provide a comprehensive view of a company’s entire cloud infrastructure. This real-time visibility includes configuration of applications and workloads, as well as other assets and configurations. As new cloud deployments and connections are implemented, the CSPM tool automatically discovers them and analyzes their potential threat level. Importantly, security policies for all cloud assets are managed and enforced from a single console, which makes this tool an effective and efficient choice for many enterprises. 

Of course, automation plays a key role in boosting the efficiency of SecOps teams, cloud or not. CSPM leverages automation to identify and remediate threats before any adverse impact. These potential threats include those dangerous configuration errors, open IP ports, unauthorized activity, and more. It’s a proactive approach that operates on a 24/7 basis, ensuring a company’s cloud infrastructure is always protected.  

Companies successfully adopting DevSecOps understand the importance of seamlessly integrating tools from different vendors. CSPM definitely helps in this process, providing both IT teams and DevSecOps teams one source of the truth on their current cloud security posture. Security policies for all cloud assets are managed and enforced from a single console, which makes this tool an effective and efficient choice for many enterprises.

Key capabilities of CSPM

CSPM tools can provide a comprehensive view of a company's entire cloud infrastructure. This real-time visibility includes configuration of applications and workloads, as well as other assets and configurations. 

As new cloud deployments and connections are implemented, the CSPM tool automatically discovers them and analyzes their potential threat level. It should be able to offer detection, logging, reports, and automation that addresses security as it relates to compliance and regulatory standards. 

Organizations deploying cloud architectures in heavily regulated sectors - like healthcare, energy, and finance - should find that a CSPM solution is capable of continuous real-time monitoring that helps to solve security concerns relating to misconfigurations, as well as multi-cloud governance issues across the sectors mentioned above.

Differences between CSPM and other cloud solutions

The cloud infrastructure security posture assessment (CISPA) provided an earlier option for cloud security. However, it focused more on reporting functionality as opposed to the automated proactive approach ushered in by CSPM. As such, it’s an obsolete solution not suitable for complex cloud architectures.

Cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) possess a singular goal of identifying and analyzing workloads in a cloud environment. Obviously, this approach differs from CSPM solutions, which are tasked with analyzing all security aspects of cloud-based infrastructures. Using the two tools in tandem provides an integrated solution, which takes full advantage of CSPM’s automation.

Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) provide a security layer between cloud service providers and their customers. They analyze all incoming traffic, verifying policy compliance before permitting access to the network. The feature set of a typical CASB includes firewalls, malware protection, and data security. Because CSPM solutions feature automated policy compliance monitoring among their other capabilities, integrating both tools as part of a common cloud security strategy is a wise choice. 

Best practices for adopting CSPM

Integrating CSPM with a SIEM platform provides administrators with a single view of all activity across the company’s cloud assets. This approach makes it easier to identify and remediate incorrectly configured assets and other potential vulnerabilities in the cloud environment.

Proper integration of any CSPM solution with other DevOps tools plays a critical role in the successful adoption of the new cloud security archetype. All SecOps, DevOps, and technical infrastructure teams benefit from a common approach to reporting and real-time dashboards.

The cloud benchmarks from the Center of Internet Security serve as a valuable goal for any company’s CSPM adoption. This approach helps ensure organizational policies continue to meet the evolving standards of the constantly changing global cloud environment.

Focus on analyzing the variety of cloud security risks with a goal of prioritizing the most critical ones. Let the CSPM automatically remediate lower-priority issues, only sending alerts when critical threats are detected. This approach prevents alert fatigue from degrading the efficiency of the cloud administration team and allows them to focus on the problems that can’t be solved with automation.

Learn more about InsightCloudSec by Rapid7 for Cloud Security Posture Management