Many companies are moving their operations to the cloud today as it is a flexible, scalable, hassle-free, and cost-effective way to deploy and run applications. However, the cloud also has some drawbacks, especially in terms of security.
According to Checkpoint's 2022 Cloud Security Report, about 94% of organizations who were surveyed saw security as a moderate to high threat to their operations.
Some of the biggest threats that came up in the survey are:
- Misconfiguration 68% of respondents saw this as the biggest threat
- Unauthorized access 58%
- Poorly-designed interfaces 52%
- Account takeovers 50%
A closely related outcome of the above security threats is loss of data and reputation, especially in the event of a cyberattack. Further, compliance with industry standards can impact your operations as well.
Now, comes the question of how you can stave off these security pitfalls? In reality, there is no single magic pill that will solve all the problems. Rather, you will have to use multiple strategies/tools to handle different security problems.
One such tool is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM). In this article, let's explore what CSPM is, how it addresses security shortcomings, and how you can implement it within your organization.
What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a security tool designed to specifically handle misconfigurations and compliance risks in your cloud environment. This tool automates the monitoring process, identifies the misconfigurations and gaps in compliance, and notifies the same.
Based on this information, you can take the necessary steps to remediate these risks. This tool works well across Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms.
Now that you have an idea of what CSPM is, let's see how it works.
How does CSPM work?
CSPM continuously monitors the cloud and compares it against a set of best practices. Also, it constantly looks out for patterns that depict impending security risks. These best practices and security threats are constantly updated in its inventory by the provider. You can also update its best practices based on your organization's needs.
While monitoring, if the tool notices any of these issues and shortcomings, it immediately sends an alert to the concerned team/person, based on your setup. It also provides the necessary information that can help with quick remediation.
The broad areas that a CSPM can identify and alert are:
- No encryption for sensitive data
- Misconfigured accounts and parameters
- Presence of old or stale keys
- Privileged accounts that don't use multifactor authentication
- Improper IAM policies
- Permissive access policies
- Poor or no logging
Some CSPM tools even use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI to automatically fix the issues.
Should CSPM be a part of your security toolset?
Yes, CSPM should be an integral part of your cloud security tools and practices because it can provide a whole new perspective on some of the aspects that are often overlooked.
Here are some compelling reasons to include CSPM in your infrastructure:
- Unknown errors While most tools will catch the known vulnerabilities, it's the unknown ones that cause the most damage. Let's take, for example, access to sensitive data stored in your AWS S3 buckets. What if someone who has access to this data accidentally shares it with another employee or simply leaves it open by mistake? CSPM identifies these unknown vulnerabilities by constantly monitoring your environment against the formulated best practices. In the above example, it will send an alert immediately, so the damage is limited. In this sense, CSPM comes in handy to catch unknown and unforeseen errors that are often overlooked.
- Complete visibility Another advantage of CSPM is the complete visibility it offers across all your cloud environments. This way, you don't have to check the consoles of individual cloud providers, but can find all information related to them in CSPM's dashboards. Such unified visibility also makes it easy to compare against many cloud environments to understand their performance and utilization rate, and accordingly, you can tweak or make rapid changes that suit your requirements.
- Streamlines alerts Often, people tend to miss alerts, especially if their inboxes are flooded with them. Also, when they get alerts from multiple cloud environments, it's hard to prioritize one over the other. CSPM resolves all these issues for you. It streamlines alerts and sends them to your inbox. So, the chances for individual alerts and the resultant fatigue or overlook don't exist. Also, CSPM can prioritize the alerts for you based on the possible levels of impact, so you know what needs your attention right away.
- Quickly identifies misconfigurations CSPM continuously scans your infrastructure and as a result, quickly identifies any misconfigurations in your cloud environment. It brings these errors to your notice before they impact your operations or end customers. Likewise, it scans your system continuously and identifies any hidden threats and vulnerabilities, so the same can be fixed right away.
In all, CSPM adds a comprehensive layer of security to your cloud environments. In particular, it identifies, alerts, and even remediates misconfigurations in your cloud assets. Besides, it also prevents accidental access, identifies unknown threats, and provides a unified view of your entire cloud infrastructure. With such rich features, there's no doubt that you will always meet the compliance standards of regulatory bodies in your market space.
Due to all these benefits, CSPM can be an important part of your security infrastructure, especially if you have a big presence in the cloud environment.
Choosing a CSPM
Choosing an appropriate CSPM tool is critical for your business. But, it is not easy given the many options available today. To narrow down your choices, we have come up with a bunch of criteria that can be used to select an appropriate CPSM.
- Remediation capabilities It's always good to have a tool that comes with automatic remediation capabilities, so many basic and simple mistakes are handled by the tool. Undoubtedly, it saves a lot of time and effort for your organization and your employees can focus on the more important tasks.
- Custom rules engine The best practices and security policies must be easily configurable. The CSPM must be able to check these rules across all cloud environments, without any exceptions. The interface for adding these rules must be simple and intuitive as well.
- Extensive reporting Can come in handy for internal audits and compliance with standards. Such reports also give you a comprehensive understanding of the state of your cloud environments.
- Sensible alerting The CSPM you choose must be sensible and prudent in its alerts to avoid employees from getting a fatigue alert. This means the tool must alert employees only for the most important and highly sensitive issues.
- Budget Needless to say, you must adhere to budgets and the tool you choose must be well-within your allocated amount. That said, make sure the budget is not too low if you want to get a CSPM that adds value to your security infrastructure.
Thus, these are some of the important factors you can consider while choosing a CSPM.
In all, a CSPM can be the much-needed security layer for your cloud infrastructure, especially if you want to avoid the consequences of misconfigurations. Further, it can also ensure compliance with many industry standards such as HIPAA, DLP, and more.
But choosing a CSPM may not be easy and we hope the above aspects make this choice easier for you.