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What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

The rapid expansion of various cloud services along with cloud-based applications is on the rise as every business is slowly shifting its system to the cloud environment. As the cloud ecosystem is growing, more and more businesses are integrating cloud services to enhance their productivity. However, the widespread availability of these services has also given rise to various cybersecurity threats.

Despite constant security monitoring, period security audits, and the use of modern security protocols, the security of sensitive data remains a concern. The best solution for businesses to address security concerns and misconfigured cloud services is cloud security posture management or CSPM. This technology has been instrumental in detecting and preventing threats that lead to protocol violations and sensitive data thefts. 

In this guide, I will discuss What is CSPM, role, importance and other things about CSPM so you will have a proper idea of this practice before you adopt it in your business. 

Let’s dive in!

What is CSPM? 

Cloud security posture management, or CSPM, is a revolutionary technology or practice that is designed for detecting and rectifying misconfiguration, compliance issues, and security threats in the cloud. It is a vital part of modern IT security tools that continuously look for loopholes in the cloud infrastructure and implement security protocols whenever it detects threats.

CSPM automates the cloud security management that helps in automated visibility and constant ramification of threats by scanning all the cloud services associated with it. Businesses that have adopted cloud infrastructures like Infrastructure as a Service (IaC), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) have highly benefited from integrated cloud security posture management.

When organizations migrate their business applications to cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, utilize CSPM to secure the cloud configuration and prevent any data breach. Most CSPM tools primarily examine and compare a given cloud ecosystem against a defined set of security practices and risks and find out the gap.

Standard tools generally highlight the risks to security management, whereas some advanced tools use artificial intelligence and machine learning to mitigate the issue automatically. As the demand for cloud computing is increasing, CSPM tools continue to evolve by harnessing the power of modern security technology and enhancing its security detection capabilities.  

What is Cloud Misconfiguration? 

Cloud misconfiguration is a significant error in the cloud infrastructure that makes the cloud system vulnerable to attackers and exposes sensitive data. These misconfigurations are generally default settings or mistakes that occur during adoption and expose your whole cloud infrastructure to cyber threats. These threats come in different forms where hackers, malicious users, ransomware, and insider threats find these vulnerabilities and access all the vital data.

When you deploy your application in the cloud, different configurations come into play. And with so many options, many times, you might select the default configurations, which ultimately weaken the security posture of your cloud infrastructure. Even though these risks are relatively easy to resolve, the number of occurrences is so high that it gets daunting for security management to solve them manually.

According to IDC surveys, cloud misconfiguration serves as the primary reason for most of the security breaches in the world. The Gartner survey has even stated that most of the vulnerabilities in cloud environments will result from human errors. 

Why Do Cloud Misconfigurations Occur? 

Cloud misconfiguration is a common occurrence, and it mostly happens during the deployment of business applications on the cloud. However, misconfiguration doesn’t occur due to a single cause, many causes give rise to this issue. Here are a few common reasons that lead to cause;

Complexity Due to Multiple Connected Resources: During the deployment, multiple connected resources like lambda functions, containers, and Kubernetes are involved, and when they aren’t appropriately configured, misconfiguration occurs. Cloud-based services involve a lot of factors, so it becomes difficult to monitor and manage everything, which often leads to misconfiguration.

API Key Usage: Cloud infrastructures are generally accessed by API keys only. Many organizations store API keys in poorly configured cloud buckets or GitHub repositories. The API keys and passwords can be easily accessed by threat actors and leave the whole system vulnerable. Since most organizations have multi-cloud deployment, a compromise in the API key of one platform will jeopardize the infrastructure and ultimately put the organization at risk. 

Not Changing The Default Settings: When you start integrating your business application into a new cloud infrastructure, it comes with its default security settings. When you don’t reconfigure these default settings to secure settings according to your organization’s security, it leaves glitches and loopholes in the cloud. 

Lack of Skills: Multi-cloud infrastructure is still a new concept for many businesses, even though many of them have adopted it. Securing the infrastructure is not a straightforward task as it requires both knowledge and experience. If the security management isn’t sure how various cloud resources interact with each other, security misconfiguration occurs more often.

Granting Public Access: Organizations often mistakenly grant public access to storage containers like S3 buckets within their cloud infrastructure, and it happens when organizations aren’t adequately aware of all security settings. When S3 buckets containing millions of sensitive company data are left open without authorization control, it leaves the whole infrastructure exposed to security breaches. S3 buckets without proper side encryption, disabling the logging of S3 buckets and public access by ACLs are some common causes of misconfiguration.  

Why Is CSPM Important?

CSPM tools have a huge impact on the security of cloud environments by greatly reducing the likelihood of data breaches. Gartner reports that a substantial number of data breaches in the cloud result from misconfigurations. 

Including a CSPM tool in your security arsenal allows you to mitigate cloud-based security incidents arising from misconfigurations, offering an impressive 80% reduction in cloud-based security incidents, according to Gartner’s findings.

Benefits of Cloud Security Posture Management

Benefits of Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud security posture management has become a pivotal tool in securing the cloud infrastructure of an organization. When CSPM is integrated into cloud infrastructure, you can benefit from it in a lot of ways; 

Security automation: One of the primary benefits of CSPM is the automation of security, as it automatically enforces the security policies required to protect the infrastructure. From day one of implementation, it integrates all the security settings so that there is no occurrence of misconfiguration.

Secured scalability: CSPM through automation offers more efficiency than manual checking of security risks. This gives the organization the boost to scale its business while maintaining all the security measures to protect the growing resources in the cloud. 

Automate rectification of threats: As cloud security posture management automates the security, it also automates the rectification of simple and complex threats. It uses predefined security policies to solve the issues while optimizing the security resources.

Consistency: Consistency is one of the key reasons organizations integrate CSPM as a security measure for their cloud workload. Whatever the size of the cloud workload, it consistently looks for security glitches without any limitation.  

Shift-left security: Another primary reason many organizations integrate CSPM is that it helps security shift left by identifying risks at the beginning of the development. This early detection alerts the security management about the risks and helps it rectify them before they are exposed. 

Proper security assessments: CSPM performs security assessments against external security standards and frameworks to ensure there is no backdoor for security breaches. It follows standards set by CIS benchmarks, ISO, and NIST frameworks, which are highly useful. 

Adopts policies with best security practices:  CSPM tools help in adopting the best security policies when integrated into a multi-cloud environment to mitigate all the risks. It chooses the best security practices from a ton of security libraries and makes sure there is no theft of personal information, card details, organization workflow, etc. 

Proper visibility of the infrastructure: When it comes to gaining insight into the cloud configuration, security parameters of the cloud workload, and resource utilization, CSPM is really useful. This technology provides assessments and recommendations based on the best industry practices, which help address risks. 

Resource Monitoring: Helping organizations review and manage critical cloud resources (crown jewels) is one of the vital reasons organizations consider CSPM as the primary security tool. CSPM tools can automatically find and inventory all the cloud resources and assist security management. 

Role of CSPM For Businesses

Cloud security posture management plays a crucial role in securing the cloud infrastructure of a business. Not only, does it help assess the security configuration of your multi-cloud environment, but it also helps in strengthening it through automated monitoring and remediation. 

Whether it is multi-cloud applications or the resources of your business, CSPM makes sure they are appropriately protected from all security threats.

Since it constantly monitors the multi-cloud and hybrid environment, businesses benefit a lot because they can get an overview of their infrastructure’s security in real-time. 

As your business grows CSPM will continue to ensure the best security practices for your cloud infrastructure. 

Importantly, CSPM is one of the crucial security tools that provide recommendations regarding security settings to security management and help in averting issues well in advance.

How Cloud Security Posture Management Works?

Cloud security posture management, or CSPM, protects your cloud infrastructure and mitigates all future risks by providing. 

Visibility: CSPM provides a broad view of your cloud infrastructure through a user-friendly console.  From this console, you can discover all the misconfigurations and changes in metadata or networking. You can find out about security settings and changes in the pattern of activity.

Offering continuous threat detection: Cloud security posture management actively looks for threats throughout the application development lifecycle. It also prioritizes vulnerabilities depending on the cloud environment and can auto-remediate them automatically. Unauthorized access to cloud resources and malicious activity are also detected during continuous threat detection.   

Remediation of misconfiguration: To discover any misconfiguration and remediate it in real-time, CSPM compares the cloud configuration against set rules by the organization and also industry standards. It eliminates all the security and human risks that can lead to security breaches causing theft of personal information and the organization’s sensitive data. 

Discovering new threats: Real-time monitoring of the multi-cloud environment allows CSPM to discover new threats that can lead to a severe breach. From discovering anomalies, incorrect permission, and unauthorized activity to inappropriate access to data, CSPM is highly capable of finding threats in real-time. 

Integration With DevSecOps: CSPM has been instrumental in cutting down the complexity across all multi-cloud environments and provides centralized control over all the resources. It can be integrated with DevOps tools so that it can accelerate the remediation and response within the environment. 

Threat Detection With CSPM 

CSPM serves as one of the primary security tools in a multi-cloud environment when it comes to detecting internal and external threats in the infrastructure. It is highly proactive in monitoring and continuously looks for threats that can seriously breach the infrastructure.

From malware attacks, hacking attempts, and crypto mining to using stolen credentials, CSPM is effective in detecting all types of threats and protecting the infrastructure. It utilizes all the updated security policies and industry standards to help in finding threats that may not be detectable through manual security auditing. There are some advanced CSPM tools, such as the one offered by CloudDefense.AI, that can correlate suspicious events and activity and take action accordingly. 

CSPM vs. Other Cloud Security Solutions

There are a number of other cloud-specific security solutions that you can use to protect different components of the cloud. We have compared each one of them with CSPM to help you decide which ones you are going to need for a strong security infrastructure. 

CSPM analyzes the security posture of live cloud environments, focusing on configurations and compliance to prevent security issues resulting from misconfigurations.

CSPM vs. CNAPP

CNAPP concentrates on protecting cloud-native applications and providing security for containerized, serverless, and microservices-based applications. CNAPP addresses unique challenges related to the dynamic nature of cloud-native architectures.

CSPM vs. CWPP

CWPP specializes in securing individual workloads and applications within the cloud, offering features like runtime protection, vulnerability management, and threat detection specific to workloads.

CSPM vs. CASB

CASB focuses on securing data as it moves between on-premises and cloud environments, enforcing security policies related to data access, and providing visibility into user activities and data usage.

CSPM vs. CIEM  

CIEM concentrates on managing entitlements, permissions, and access controls within cloud environments, ensuring that users have appropriate access levels and reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

CSPM vs. IaC Security

IaC Security ensures the security of infrastructure deployment scripts, validating the security of Infrastructure as Code templates before deployment to prevent insecure configurations.

Does Your Company Need a CSPM Tool?

As a startup in the early stages, especially at the series A or series B level, you might not immediately need a CSPM tool. Instead, consider using Infrastructure as Code templates and relying on native cloud tools, mainly if your development team already prioritizes security. 

Small teams should be cautious about investing time in tools that could overwhelm them with alerts, potentially diverting focus from core product development. On the other hand, if you’re a larger organization moving to hybrid or multi-cloud systems with diverse cloud footprints, a CSPM tool becomes essential. 

These tools smoothen out security practices across platforms, making them invaluable as you scale and diversify your cloud architecture. Adopting a CSPM tool depends on factors like your organization’s size, cloud complexity, and the expertise within your development teams. While startups may initially focus on fundamental security measures, larger enterprises stand to gain from the centralized security management provided by CSPM tools.

How Can CloudDefense.AI help?

Shield yourself against threats with CloudDefense.AI’s CSPM Tool. Discover and rectify misconfigurations effortlessly with this state-of-the-art tool, tailor policies to align with your unique needs, and benefit from AI-driven remediation. Have a unified console for holistic CSPM at your disposal, offering real-time anomaly detection and automated remediations. 

Time for you to say goodbye to alert overload with the Contextual Alert Graph, providing instant context for incidents that demand your attention. Customize policies, ensure seamless compliance, and simplify risk management. With 360° risk insights, prioritize your focus on high-risk paths and gain a visual representation of potential attack paths. 

Enjoy real-time threat detection, anomaly-based policies, and UEBA to keep a vigilant eye on user activities. Achieve multi-cloud compatibility, continuous misconfiguration scans, and AI-driven remediation for round-the-clock security and compliance. Your personalized CSPM solution awaits you – book a free demo with CloudDefense.AI right now.

FAQs

What is security friction?

Security friction is the level up to which cloud security limits the operation workflow of the organization. It is a massive concern of the modern cloud system that has been affecting the growth and scalability of an organization. However, with the adaption of DevSecOps principles and the shift-left security option, security friction has been reduced by a large margin.

What is a cloud security posture management audit log?

Cloud security posture management audit log can be defined as a process that executes all the configuration checks in cloud accounts, containers, and hosts. It is an integral part of security management that collects all the information in a datalog and looks for suspicious events.

Are both CSPM and CNAPP the same?

CSPM and CNAPP may be correlated as CSPM serves as one of the modules of the CNAPP, but they are pretty different. CSPM is more inclined toward detecting misconfiguration and rectifying those threats in the cloud environment. At the same time, CNAPP helps in a completely integrated approach to cloud security through a single platform. 

How can I improve my cloud security posture?

Enhancing cloud security posture involves a comprehensive approach that begins with identifying the specific cloud environment requiring protection and establishing a tailored cloud monitoring program.

Once implemented, diligent system monitoring and event logging become essential practices. It is advisable to maintain backups of critical data to mitigate potential incidents effectively. By leveraging a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solution, organizations can adopt a proactive approach to strengthen security configurations and settings, further fortifying their overall security measures.

Conclusion

Misconfigurations in the cloud environment pose a significant challenge and have resulted in numerous data breaches across organizations. This emphasizes the crucial role of cloud security posture management as a vital security tool in modern enterprises. By effectively detecting and remediating threats, it has become an essential solution for organizations that have migrated their systems to the cloud. Cloud security posture management enables the protection of sensitive data, customer information, and other valuable resources, making it a widely adopted practice among organizations.

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Abhishek Arora
Abhishek Arora
Abhishek Arora, a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at CloudDefense.AI, is a serial entrepreneur and investor. With a background in Computer Science, Agile Software Development, and Agile Product Development, Abhishek has been a driving force behind CloudDefense.AI’s mission to rapidly identify and mitigate critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code.
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