What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?
What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is an effective security process that helps secure organizations’ computing environment in the cloud.
In the past, enterprises have long protected their critical on-premises infrastructure with layers upon layers of defense. But the cloud is a whole different world. Relying on cloud vendors to protect your precious data is a mistake. IT must be proactive in securing cloud applications and data, guarding them with as much rigor as they apply to on-premises systems.
A key approach and one of the best solutions is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM).
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Definition
Cloud Security Posture Management comprises all the security and compliance management tools an enterprise uses to maintain a secure multi-cloud environment without any misconfigurations or vulnerabilities.
The CSPM approach begins by first analyzing your current cloud security posture and then devising a strategy and set of best practices that improve your cloud security posture and maintain it continuously via management.
These best practices are supported by CSPM solutions that allow IT to identify and remediate risks and reduce misconfigurations in their cloud environments.
According to Gartner, Cloud Security Posture Management or CSPM solutions, “continuously manage IaaS and PaaS security posture through prevention, detection and response to cloud infrastructure risks. The core of CSPM offerings applies common frameworks, regulatory requirements and enterprise policies to proactively and reactively discover and assess risk/trust of cloud services configuration and security settings. If an issue is identified, remediation options (automated or human-driven) are provided.”
A CSPM solution also automates security and compliance across the entire cloud infrastructure. In addition, it provides visibility into cloud security and identifies compliance risks and configuration vulnerabilities.
CSPM supports risk identification and visualization, incident response, operational monitoring, compliance assessments and DevOps integrations. Ideally, CSPM should help you continuously manage your risk in the cloud while facilitating governance, compliance and security. It can also be particularly helpful for managing container-based or multi-cloud environments.
Why do you Need CSPM?
Securing multi-cloud/hybrid environments and maintaining a consistent security posture is challenging for most enterprises. Here are five issues CSPM addresses:
- Simplifies multiple cloud-based services and tools into one
- Makes managing and maintain security and compliance easy
- Makes implementing Cloud Governance more easy
- Reduces vulnerabilities and legal threats associated with misconfigurations
- Ensures continuous compliance for cloud and cloud-native Apps.
In the past, enterprsise have used a multitude of cloud-based services and tools, making it difficult to manage and maintain security. Such a tool sprawl runs the risk of limiting visibility into specific services, making it difficult for IT teams to handle security and compliance continuously — not to mention implementing Cloud Governance. These types of misconfigurations also open sensitive data up to breaches, leaving organizations vulnerable to legal and financial threats.
A strong CSPM avoids all that, reducing the myriad risks of misconfiguration and vulnerabilities, effectively strengthening an organization’s security posture.
What is the Value of CSPM?
If you value your cloud resources, and the data contained therein, the benefits of CSPM in identifying and dealing with risks are incalculable.
“CSPM offerings are typically cloud-native security solutions that leverage the numerous application programming interfaces (APIs) available through public cloud providers to collect data. The data gathered through these APIs is sorted and then analyzed in various ways to identify risks, such as misconfigurations and vulnerabilities. A CSPM solution’s ability to gather public cloud configuration data and workload events allows it to provide detailed visualizations of the cloud architecture. CSPM solutions also enable users to identify relationships among cloud services, workloads, and other various cloud assets,” the GigaOm Radar for Cloud Security Posture Management report said. “Together, these features provide deep visibility into a technology that is often regarded as opaque.”
Other benefits include:
CSPM provides a centralized dashboard that gives actionable metrics. This allows a view of cloud infrastructure security posture across multiple cloud environments and accounts.
Mapping your cloud infrastructure to regulatory standards, security control frameworks and internal security policies can be difficult, but it's vitally necessary to avoid breaches and fines. CSPM also eases the gathering of evidence for security audits.
Reporting & Alerting
CSPM provides an actionable report of your cloud’s risk posture, sending alerts once risks have been identified so that an investigation or remediation action can be performed immediately.
Who doesn't want basic processes safely automated? CSPM reduces the time and effort of security and/or development teams to audit, identify and remediate security risks and misconfigurations.
Securing Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Hybrid
Adaptability and ease of deployment drove the shift to cloud-based services and applications. But this shift has brought its share of vulnerabilities and threats. As a result, securing multi-cloud/hybrid environments and maintaining a consistent security posture is challenging for most enterprises.
And traditional on-premises tool just don't cut it. The on-premises approach can leave enterprises using complicated arrays of cloud-based services and tools, making it hard to maintain security, manage compliance and implement Cloud Governance. Not only is this approach a headache but it often leaves sensitive data exposed, opening enterprises up to legal and financial threats.
A good CSPM, however, maintains compliance and security all in one solution. Furthermore, it automates critical processes and gives companies a 360 view and control over their application and service environment, removing the risk of misconfiguration, vulnerabilities and compromised security.
CSPM and DevOps
CSPM is ideally built into the application development process, ensuring the software is secure, iterations are likewise secure and operating safely and compliantly through continuous monitoring.
“You can integrate CSPM into your development process, to ensure continuous visibility. CSPM is particularly beneficial for DevOps pipelines, which rely heavily on automation. With CSPM you can automate misconfiguration remediation, implement cloud compliance audits and benchmarks, and identify risks across your cloud infrastructure,” argued the Everything You Need to Know About CSPM blog.
Secure apps don’t come as an afterthought, but are designed and written that way from the very beginning. “A core tenet of DevOps is to do things at the point where it costs the least amount of money to fix. The earlier you can identify issues in the process of creating resources, the faster you can give feedback to the people who are creating and consuming resources in the cloud. DevSecOps solutions such as CSPM, IaC scanning and Policy as Code help organizations merge these processes and get people on the same page,” claimed the For Better Security and Efficiency, Add CSPM to DevOps Processes blog.
Cloud Security Posture Monitoring
CSPM relies on deep and continuous monitoring of your critical assets. This monitoring, among many other things, includes:
- Tracking individual applications and cloud infrastructure components
- Showing whether services and other resources are up of down
- Tracking state of resources, such as their level of update
- Detecting misconfigurations
CSPM monitoring creates comprehensive reporting which offers a macro and micro view of your cloud resources and alerts so issues can be addressed.
Kubernetes Security Posture Management
Container solutions such as Kubernetes provide organizations with the means to deliver applications in a way that’s lightweight, immutable and portable. This helps the creation of highly efficient, distributed architectures for enterprise environments. But while Kubernetes has improved how organizations schedule and orchestrate containers, it doesn’t address security challenges related to creation and maintenance including:
- Opaque Containers: Inspecting and determining what exactly is running in a live container can be difficult.
- Security & Compliance: Detecting which containers and/or pods are affected by new regulatory requirements or threats and then planning remediation is not straightforward.
- Non-Cloud Native Apps: Migrating older apps using a “lift and shift” approach moves the app and everything else running along with the app, resulting in bloated, hard-to-manage containers.
A CSPM solution can deliver simplicity to Kubernetes by abstracting an application from the underlying operating system and bundling it with the dependencies it needs to run. By abstracting the application from both the internal (library) and external (service) dependencies, an immutable build artifact is created that is guaranteed to run the same in any environment. This not only creates a minimal build artifact, but one that can be easily inspected and audited, whether you’re building a new cloud-native application or migrating existing applications into modern environments.
Cloud Security Posture Configuration
Did you know that the cloud is the root of many breaches — in all likelihood most breaches?
“Gartner predicts that through 2025, more than 99% of cloud breaches will be traced back to preventable misconfigurations or mistakes by end users,” Venturebeat reports.
A key cloud security requirement is ensuring that misconfigurations are avoided and, if not, quickly remediated. If not found and corrected, misconfigurations leave cloud infrastructure and applications exposed and vulnerable. Scanning for these misconfigurations is the mission of Cloud Security Posture Management.
“CSPM solutions shed light on the current state of resources that live in the cloud. But how did those resources get there? Where did the holes come from? Many organizations use IaC to provision and spin up resources in the cloud. The benefits of automation are tremendous. The drawback to this automation is that without proper security policy, IaC can potentially increase the attack surface and cause misconfigurations to multiply,” the For Better Security and Efficiency, Add CSPM to DevOps Processes claimed. “Proactive scanning with CSPM makes it possible to identify misconfigurations for remediation. However, the upstream pipelines and provisioning process that created the resource should also be addressed. IaC templates and resources should be scanned for misconfigurations in the pipeline, and appropriate policies should be set so developers are made aware of a misconfiguration even before they provision a given resource in the cloud. This is often referred to as Policy as Code.”
How to Automate Compliance with CSPM Tools
Compliance scanning is critical to defining your state of regulatory compliance, detecting and detailing security concerns that threaten that compliance and creating and enforcing compliance standards that fit your organizations and industry’s needs. Reports from your CSPM solution or set of solutions show these security risks and deeply define compliance issues such as outdated or unpatched software.
“You should include CSPM solutions and practices that support automated benchmarking and auditing of your resources. Ideally, this functionality should incorporate service discovery features to enable you to benchmark components as soon as they are created,” argued the Everything You Need to Know About CSPM blog.
A Compliance Case in Point
SAP currently scans for public cloud infrastructure compliance as part of its cloud security posture management processes.
“The breadth of the SAP portfolio of solutions offered in the public cloud alone means there are many organizations within the company involved with a variety of development tooling, pipelines and various ways of operating. The company needed to accommodate and approach this in different ways and make it easy to avoid security misconfigurations. If such issues occur, then a quick resolution needs to be ensured,” explained the Public Cloud Infrastructure Compliance Scanning at SAP case study.
CSPM has revolutioned how SAP monitors, detects, alerts on and remediates cloud issues that impact compliance. “SAP has built up a support structure within SAP at multiple levels – from notifications to account owners, to direct interaction during weekly office hours with security experts and stakeholders within the business units, to executive reporting and weekly follow-up meetings with board area representatives to ensure any outstanding misconfigurations are responded to with the appropriate urgency. Scanning alerts are enriched with account metadata and organizational structure to facilitate security analytics and assignment of responsibility to the appropriate teams. This is already in place with SAP’s existing toolset and has proved very effective in ensuring accountability throughout the organization,” the case study concluded.
CSPM and Infrastructure as Code (IaC)s
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) brings CSPM to a whole new level, experts believe.
“IT professionals don’t always associate cloud security posture management with Infrastructure as Code, because CSPM and IaC typically involve different teams. The staffers responsible for securing resources in the cloud and maintaining compliance aren’t the same people who create those resources originally. That disconnect can be a missed opportunity,” the For Better Security and Efficiency, Add CSPM to DevOps Processes blog stated. “I like the analogy of a leaky boat when thinking about cloud security. You can make a series of quick fixes, plugging holes whenever you find them. But it’s better to take the boat out of the water and figure out how the holes got there in the first place. Bringing CSPM and IaC together can help an organizations spot potential security issues, such as misconfigurations, before they have a chance to multiply.”
How Chef CSPM Solutions Standout
Progress Chef is a family of solutions that address CSPM. Here are three keyways:
Audit, Monitor, and Detect Vulnerabilities
CSPM identifies misconfigurations and policy changes through constant auditing, reducing the risk of unresolved vulnerabilities that lead to costly breaches.
Visibility into Cloud Configurations
CSPM consolidates data threats from misconfigurations in multiple cloud environments into a single central console giving you end-to-end visibility.
Continuous Security Posture Management
CSPM ensures cloud environments are always secure and compliant through continuous auditing for policy changes, enforcement and risk assessment.
The Progress Chef CSPM Solutions:
- Provide policy visibility and ensure consistent enforcement across all providers in multi-cloud environments.
- Scan your compute instances for misconfigurations and improper settings that could leave them vulnerable to exploitation.
- Monitor cloud environment, new instances, and storage resources like S3 buckets.
- Audit HIPAA, SOC2, and PCI DSS compliance.
- Conduct risk assessments against internal frameworks and CIS Benchmarks, DISA, and STIG frameworks.
- Verify the performance of operational activities such as critical rotations.
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