What is Cloud Security Posture Management?
More and more organizations all over the world are embracing cloud storage and computing in order to reduce costs and improve their agility. By doing this, the organizations are also increasing the risk of systems or data being exposed. Moreover, while organizations are deploying services in different public clouds, it makes it more complex to maintain security and compliance between the different environments.
Cloud Security Posture Management also known as CSPM for its initials, is an automated process throughout the cloud infrastructure of organizations, which allows the identification of threats and security issues, and automatically fixes them across the cloud, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). In short, CSPM is used for incident response, risk visualization and assessment, compliance monitoring, and DevOps integration; it can also uniformly apply the best practices for cloud security to container environments, multi-cloud, and hybrid.
Why is CSPM Important?
A cloud may connect and disconnect from hundreds, and even thousands of different networks during the course of a day. The nature of this dynamic is what makes the cloud so powerful, but it’s also what makes it hard to secure, and while a cloud-first philosophy grows and becomes the norm, the problem of securing all cloud-based systems becomes more acute with the number of unmanaged risks growing every day.
90% of organizations that fail to control their public cloud use will incorrectly share sensitive data with the public.
It’s important to highlight that traditional security doesn’t work in the cloud, this is because:
There is no perimeter to protect
Manual processes cannot occur with the necessary speed or scale.
The absence of centralization makes visibility extremely difficult to reach.
While using the cloud lays down overall cost benefits, the part of that puzzle that can eat into the ROI is security. This is because there are so many pieces that need to be managed; microservices, Kubernetes, containers, serverless functions, etc. The cybersecurity skills gap is highly relevant, as there are new technologies rolling out faster than organizations can find security experts with the necessary experience to work with them.
These new technologies bring alongside them the idea of Infrastructure as Code (IaC), in which the infrastructure is provisioned and managed by machine-readable definition files. This approach driven by APIs is essential to cloud-first environments as it makes it easy to change the infrastructure on the fly, although it also makes it easy to program in misconfigurations that can leave the environment open to vulnerabilities.
According to Gartner, 95% of all security breaches happen due to misconfigurations, and these mistakes cost companies almost $5 trillion dollars between 2018 and 2019.
The greatest vulnerability of all: lack of visibility is lying under all these issues. In environments that are as complex and fluid as the cloud for enterprises, there are hundreds of thousands of accounts and cases, and knowing things like what or who is running where and doing what can only be done through sophisticated automation. Without that visibility, vulnerabilities that arise from misconfigurations can remain undetected for days, weeks, or even until there is a breach.
Cloud Security Posture Management addresses these issues by monitoring continuously the risks in the cloud through prevention detection, response, and even prediction of where the risk may appear next.
Benefits of CSPM
When talking about risks in cybersecurity, there are two types: intentional and unintentional. Most programs for cloud security focus on the former, outside attacks and malicious insiders are the main focus. Nonetheless, unintentional mistakes can — and will — cause massive damage.
A perfect example of an unintentional risk happened in November 2020, to some of the most popular travel websites like Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com and more, when at least 10 million files with sensitive data of travelers and travel agents were exposed while stored in an improperly configured S3 bucket.
Cloud Security Posture Management serves to stop those accidental vulnerabilities by:
Locating Misconfigured Network Connectivity: This feature locates misconfigurations within the network connectivity that could lead to a data breach or leak. They achieve this by comparing cloud networks against organizational standards and best practices, which enables them to spot any error. Using the benchmarks as a basis allows CSPM to identify any misconfiguration in the infrastructure, alert the security teams to the problem and provide a recommendation for a solution.
Assessing Data Risk: CSPM allows organizations to detect data risks caused by human error, or that don’t get spotted by their cloud vendor. This
Detecting Extremely Liberal Account Permissions: To do this, CSPM uses the organizations’ security policies and best practices in order to monitor for events and take notice if the account privileges breach or overstep them. This way, if a user accesses a resource that is not permitted in their job role or department, it will be immediately detected and prevented.
Uninterrupted Monitoring of the Cloud Environment: by continuously monitoring and assessing the cloud environments to guarantee organizations are adhering to their compliance policies. CSPM immediately spots any divergence from these policies, which ensures the risk or error can be corrected and remediated automatically.
Automatically Correct the Misconfiguration in Certain Cases: CSPM sends reports and recommended solutions to fix a detected misconfiguration. However, in some cases, it can automatically fix these misconfigurations, which assures that potential vulnerabilities are immediately patched up and the exploitation risk is eliminated.
Acceptance of Common Standards for Best Practices: CSPM solutions approach the task of identifying the security misconfigurations by using a set of benchmarks and best practices, such as HIPAA, SOC2, PIC, GDPR, etc.