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Cloud Security Posture Management Guide

by John Cirelly - Last Updated: August 8, 2023

Cloud Security Posture Management Guide

Due to the increase in Cloud Computing Infrastructure adaptation and moving toward application deployment in the cloud computing environments, cloud security has become more challenging day by day. CSPM is a security solution designed for cloud computing environments that helps identify security risks.

The CSPM solution provides support for dealing with security issues for entire Cloud Platform Services, which includes Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). The services offered by CSPM include security risk visualization, risk intensity assessment, security threat incident response, DevOps integration services, and Compliance and monitoring services for cloud computing infrastructure.

The best part of a CSPM solution is its deployment for all types of Cloud infrastructure like Hybrid Cloud, Private Cloud, Multi-Cloud, and Cloud Services deployed in a containerized environment. This article will touch on CSPM, its definition, importance, functionality, and advantages over conventional security solutions and compare it with other cloud infrastructure security solutions.

Cloud Security Posture Management Importance

Cloud network infrastructure provides connectivity to users from diversely connected networks for availing the services related to Software, Infrastructure, and platforms; unlimited users frequently make and tear connections with cloud networks daily. In such a scenario, the cloud network’s security becomes a more vulnerable and challenging task, and conventional security solutions are no more viable for securing the dynamic nature of cloud computing infrastructure.

Furthermore, Cloud computing infrastructure offers operational and management cost reduction benefits for users with additional enhanced features such as support for micro-services, Kubernetes, Containerization, and deployment of serverless functionality. The rapid revolution in technology caused a lack of cybersecurity skills and professionals to manage the security issues concerned with cloud computing infrastructure.

The traditional security practices are considered incapable of dealing with cloud infrastructure due to its dynamic nature and integration of advanced technologies in cloud computing because of various reasons such as the unavailability of perimeters for protection in traditional security solutions.

Other constraints of legacy security solutions include the limitation of manual security procedures that cannot perform with required scalability, speed, and scarcity of centralization considered restriction for making visibility difficult and achieving the security objectives more difficult.

The tools incorporated with CSPM play a vital role in provisioning high-level security for cloud environments by eliminating the possible data breaches and vulnerabilities detected in cloud infrastructure. The misconfiguration of Cloud Computing systems is considered a major cause of vulnerabilities and data breaches that can be eliminated by using the CSPM Tool up to 80% and helps enhance the security of cloud-based computing platforms.

The integration of new technologies with Cloud Computing infrastructure also introduced a new concept known as Infrastructure as a Code (IaaC), and Machine Readable configuration files used those definitions and configuration parameters for auto-configuration of cloud infrastructure.

For this purpose, Application Program Interface (API) based approach was used and integrated with Cloud Infrastructure for modifying Cloud Infrastructure configuration on the fly, and most importantly, helps for programming Cloud Infrastructure to deal with the misconfiguration issues that leave the Cloud Computing Platform as vulnerable and open for security threats to target cloud infrastructure.

A survey conducted by Gartner depicted that almost 95% of security breaches identified in IT systems are caused by misconfiguration. This misconfiguration caused increased operation and maintenance costs of about $5 Trillion for managing the Cloud Computing Infrastructure during 2018 and 2019.

Thousands of instances start and stop in Cloud Computing Infrastructure and unlimited accounts that connect and disconnect with Cloud Infrastructure frequently, so the monitoring of activities of these accounts and instances is only possible by using some refined automation procedures and sophisticated tools and applications.

Without support, vulnerabilities caused by the system misconfiguration remained identified for a prolonged time and even turned into security breaches. CSPM facilitates regular observation of Cloud Infrastructure and provides prevention, detection, prediction, and mitigation of possible vulnerabilities identified in the Cloud Infrastructure using the CSPM security tools.

How Cloud Security Posture Management Functions

The services offered by CSPM security solutions include monitoring, identification, mitigation, and continuous vulnerability detection in Cloud Infrastructure due to the misconfiguration of the system. The following valuable services are offered by the CSPM:

  1. Discovery and Visibility
  2. Misconfiguration Management and Remediation
  3. Continuous Threat Detection
  4. DevSecOps Integration

Discovery and Visibility

A CSPM security system allows discovery and visualization of equipment assets and security configurations performed in Cloud Infrastructure. In a cloud-computing environment, users are capable of accessing a single source of truth across multi-cloud computing environments and accounts. The CSPM tools can learn and gain information about the system misconfigurations, metadata, networking vulnerabilities, and any change that occurred in security activities. Furthermore, CSPM security tools also support the deployment of security group policies across the user’s accounts defined in regions, projects, and a single console used to manage virtual networks and accounts as mentioned above.

Misconfiguration Management and its Remediation

The industrial and organizational standards are adopted to compare the configuration of applications installed in the cloud so that vulnerabilities can be identified and eliminated in real-time. For this purpose, the CSPM system helps identify and eliminate security threats and vulnerabilities. CSPM also facilitates the monitoring of applications misconfiguration, Open IP Ports, unauthorized changes, and other relevant issues that can cause the exposure of Cloud Infrastructure resources as security risks and can deal with the guided remediation process offered by the CSPM security solution.

Furthermore, guidelines are also provided to help developers avoid mistakes concerning preventing the misconfiguration of cloud infrastructure applications. Cloud infrastructure storage permissions are also monitored to keep up to date and prevent data from being accessible to the public without authorization and authentication. As for concerns with database instances, they are also observed to ensure the maximum availability, execution of database backups, and ensuring the encryption for data protection is enabled.

Continuous Threat Detection

A CSPM security system proactively strives to detect the security risks and vulnerabilities throughout the application development life cycle by deploying a threat identification and management approach for the identification of threats in a multi-cloud environment and generating security alerts for notifications.

The vulnerabilities in cloud infrastructure applications are prioritized depending on the environment, and vulnerabilities in code are eliminated before reaching the production level. In such a way, alerts are decreased because the CSPM security system focuses on areas most likely to target security threats. The CSPM security system also helps for constant observation of malevolent activities in the environment, identification of unauthorized activities, and illegitimate access toward the cloud infrastructure resources also identified in real-time.

DevSecOps Integration

CSPM also supports decreasing the overheads and facilitates removing the friction and complexity across multi-cloud services providers and accounts. For efficient and effective deployment of the CSPM system, its integration with DevOps tools is also deployed and considered mandatory to facilitate swift mitigation and response in deployed DevOps Tools set. Cloud-Native, particularly agentless posture Management, helps enhance centralized visualization, monitoring, and observation of entire cloud infrastructure resources.

The DevOps Team and security operation both utilized a single source of truth. It becomes the duty of the security monitoring teams to stop and isolate the compromised assets and prevent their progression during the application development lifecycle.

The CSPM security tools are also required to assimilate with SIEM with the intent to streamline visualization and capture insights and content related to the application misconfiguration and deployed policies violations. Reporting mechanisms and dashboards of the CSPM security system facilitate shared understanding throughout the security operations and activities, Infrastructure, and DevOps teams.

Advantages of Cloud Security Posture Management

Security threats and risks associated with Cloud Infrastructure can be classified into two major categories: intentional security risks and unintentional security risks. Most of the security solutions designed for Cloud Infrastructure security focus on intentional security threats that can commence from the external side of the Cloud infrastructure and malicious activities that can perform from inside the Cloud Infrastructure environment and internal security threats.

On the other hand, unintentional security risks are considered unintentional mistakes that occurred, like leaving sensitive data without securing, and can be used as data exploitations by public users and can cause severe security threats and data breaches. For instance, recently, in November 2020, 10 Million Files that contained highly sensitive information regarding travelers and travel agents were exploited due to the inappropriate configuration of S3 buckets.

CSPM is considered a robust and effective solution for blocking such unintentional security vulnerabilities incurred by providing unified visualization across the multi-cloud infrastructure.

CSPM also works for automated prevention of misconfigurations of cloud applications and is also effective for reducing alert fatigue because all alerts generate and are acknowledged through a single system instead of more than one. False-positive alerts also decreased through the deployment and integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.

This integration of Artificial Intelligence and using a single system for alert generation enhanced Security Operations Center (SOC) productivity. CSPM system automatically takes corrective measures and actions once the security risk is identified. This happened due to the continuous monitoring and assessment of the Cloud Infrastructure and its resources.

CPSM is also capable of identifying and uncovering hidden security threats and vulnerabilities using constant scanning of the entire cloud infrastructure. The faster security risks and vulnerabilities detection improves the system and takes a shorter time for remediation of security threats.

Key Capabilities of Cloud Security Posture Management

CSPM takes advantage of its automation proficiencies for correcting the security threats without the involvement of humans in a swift manner using continuous monitoring. The following are some key capabilities of CSPM Security Solutions:

  • Identification of Cloud Environment footprints.
  • Continuous monitoring and creation of storage resources and new instances like S3 buckets.
  • Provisioning of policies visualization and making sure constant and reliable implementation of policies across entire providers in a multi-cloud environment.
  • Scanning of computational instances for the elimination of misconfigurations and inappropriate configuration settings can cause vulnerabilities and exploitation in a cloud infrastructure.
  • Provisioning of automated remediation and performing security risks mitigation with just a click of a button.
  • Verification of operation activities such as key rotations is planned and performed as required.
  • Scanning of system storage buckets concerning misconfiguration and preventing data from unauthorized access to public accounts.
  • Performing security risks assessment by following the external standards such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the predefined frameworks.

Cloud Security Posture Management FAQs

What types of cloud resources can CSPM tools manage?

CSPM tools can manage a wide range of cloud resources, including virtual machines, containers, storage, databases, and network configurations.

What types of security risks can CSPM tools identify?

CSPM tools can identify a wide range of security risks, including misconfigured security groups, unsecured storage buckets, open ports, and non-compliant network configurations.

What are some common CSPM use cases?

Common CSPM use cases include identifying and remediating misconfigurations, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations and standards.

How does CSPM help with cloud governance?

CSPM helps with cloud governance by providing visibility and control over cloud resources, ensuring that they are properly configured and secured, and that they meet organizational and regulatory requirements.

What types of remediation actions can CSPM tools perform?

CSPM tools can perform a wide range of remediation actions, such as applying patches, changing security settings, and revoking access to cloud resources.