What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

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What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

  Cyvatar | 03/23/2023

Cloud security posture management refers to an organization’s cloud cybersecurity strength, which includes assessing its ability to detect and respond to security threats.

A cloud security posture consists of a variety of tools and tactics used to protect networks, devices, users, and data from various threats, such as:

  • Credentials compromised/stolen
  • Breaches
  • Data erasure
  • Attacks on network performance
  • Malware
  • Spyware
  • Ransomware

The better an organization’s cloud posture management, the more it can minimize its risk profile, defend against threats, and adhere to security compliance regulations.

CSPM is an essential component of cloud data security.

It scans cloud systems and warns staff of compliance risks and configuration vulnerabilities in cloud services, the majority of which are caused by human errors. CSPM is a market category for IT security products meant to detect cloud misconfiguration and compliance problems.

One essential goal of CSPM programming is to continuously check cloud infrastructure for security policy holes.

Gartner, the IT research and advisory group that invented the term, defines CSPM as a new category of security technologies that can aid in the automation of security and compliance assurance in the cloud.

CSPM cloud tools examine and compare a cloud system to a predefined set of best practices and known security threats.

Also, some CSPM tools can alert the cloud customer to take action when there is a security breach, while the more complex and sophisticated CSPM tools will make use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to fix issues on their own automatically.

Organizations typically use CSPM when opting for a cloud-first approach and prefer to extend their security practices to multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud environments.

While CSPM is often related to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the tech that goes behind it is also used to mitigate and reduce configuration errors and minimize compliance risks in Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud environments.

How CSPM works

Recent data breach statistics to be wary of:

  • As per the Risk Based Security’s 2020 study, 15 billion records were exposed in 2019, a considerable increase from previous years. In the fourth quarter of 2019, four breaches triggered by misconfigured databases exposed 6.7 billion records.
  • According to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020 report, records exposed due to misconfigurations increased nearly tenfold year over year, accounting for 86 percent of the overall records compromised in 2019.
  • According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach report in 2019, the average cost of a breach in the United States is $8.2 million, with a global cost of $3.9 million. The most significant components of this average cost assessment are the loss of client trust and the associated loss of revenue.

Why do you need cloud security posture management?

Many businesses assume that their cloud hosting provider is solely responsible for security after migrating to the cloud. This false notion leads to data breaches and other security disasters.

Through security assessments and automated compliance monitoring, CSPM tools enable businesses to discover and remedy issues.

The adoption of cloud services and cloud-based apps has benefited organizations and individuals alike, allowing unprecedented productivity and flexibility.

Because these technologies are open to the internet and easily accessible to everyone, they might expose organizations to a higher risk of cybersecurity concerns, such as data breaches.

Even though organizations put their best efforts to minimize threats and data breaches, business leaders are in a constant struggle to address:

  • Data breaches caused due to misconfigurations in the cloud infrastructure. Misconfiguration can expose enormous amounts of crucial and sensitive data, leading to extensive financial losses and legal liabilities.
  • Continued compliance for cloud apps and workloads is almost impossible to achieve using on-premises tools and traditional processes.
  • The challenge of implementing cloud governance (visibility, permissions, policy enforcement, and no knowledge of cloud-based controls and enforcement among all business units) results from cloud adoption within the organization.

Key Capabilities of CSPM

It’s time we take a look at the capabilities of Cloud Security Posture Management. CSPM tools and services can take advantage of automation to correct human errors without requiring or delaying user input.

With constant monitoring capabilities, security posture management can:

  • Determine the footprint of your cloud environment and keep an eye out for the development of additional instances or storage resources, such as S3 buckets.
  • In multi-cloud setups, give policy visibility and enable consistent enforcement across all providers.
  • Examine your computed instances for misconfigurations and incorrect settings that could expose them to exploitation.
  • Examine your storage buckets for misconfigurations that could expose data to the public.
  • Audit for compliance with regulatory regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR.
  • Conduct risk assessments using frameworks and external standards developed by organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • Check operational tasks (such as essential rotations) are being carried out as intended.
  • Remediation can be automated or performed at the touch of a button.

Misconfigurations and CSPM

Misconfigurations are common and often unintentional. Misconfigurations are frequently caused by the improper administration of various interconnected resources, such as open-source Kubernetes, serverless operations, and containers.

Because public cloud infrastructure is programmable via APIs, misconfigurations pose a significant danger to enterprises.

This is frequently the result of a lack of visibility and a lack of awareness of which resources interact, resulting in permissions being applied from one resource to the other without knowing the least privileged permissions that are truly necessary.

Why do misconfigurations occur?

There are four significant factors that make misconfigurations possible:

  1. The Cloud is Easily Programmable

The cloud infrastructure is what drives the APIs and cloud applications. These applications and APIs enable developers to freely scale up or spin down large infrastructures through the use of code.

Because of how easy it is to scale up or spin down infrastructure within the cloud, it is just as easy for developers to introduce a misconfiguration and have it go unseen.

  1. New Services and Technology

The cloud has recently released a large plethora of new services and technology. Microservices combined with new technologies like containers, Kubernetes, and serverless Lambda functions have led to many more types of resources to be managed than just your traditional servers, databases, and networks.

The increased types of resources to be managed can be a recipe for misconfiguration if not regularly handled and observed.

  1. Fundamentally New Technologies

The cloud employs fundamentally new technologies that differ significantly from traditional data center environments.

IAM (identity and access management) permissions, for example, allow users to access resources in an account regardless of network segmentation.

As a result, IAM can enable a new sort of lateral movement that existing security technologies can not identify. Organizations are learning that their IT teams may be short on cloud security expertise as they expand their cloud footprint.

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  1. Large Size and Complexity of Environments

Because of the breadth and complexity of corporate environments, knowing what is running where is extremely difficult.

A typical public cloud architecture may have hundreds or even tens of thousands of resources, regions, and accounts. It is all too simple for a developer to establish the incorrect resource, grant too many permissions, or lose sight of where key cloud assets are located.

What is saas security posture management?

SaaS security posture management (SSPM) is a set of automated security tools and automation that enables the security and IT departments of organizations to gain visibility into and manage the security posture of their SaaS environments.

While CSPM examines the security posture of public cloud or IaaS settings such as AWS, SSPM delves into services where the servers (or workloads) are not within the organization’s control, such as Salesforce and Slack.

As companies accelerate the migration of workloads and sensitive data to SaaS apps, the danger of unintentional exposure, overly liberal entitlements that result in data leakage, noncompliance, and threats such as malware remains a serious challenge.

SSPM provides enterprises with visibility, control, and compliance management solutions to protect and manage their essential workloads.

With SSPM, you gain visibility into the risks associated with your SaaS stack and the capabilities required to detect misconfigurations quickly, enforce compliance, and protect against insider threats and malware.

SaaS systems store vast volumes of business, personal, and other sensitive data. Providers frequently lack the skills or resources to implement all necessary security standards with their users.

It is complicated to develop and enforce these various security standards uniformly across applications and users.

SSPM streamlines this process by continuously evaluating SaaS application configuration against pre-built policy profiles that map to industry standards like CIS or NIST.

Misconfigurations are promptly detected, and users can even automatically correct problems before they are exploited.

Benefits of SSPM

The top benefits are listed below:

  • Allows easy compliance management

Because of SaaS services’ very dynamic and distributed nature, enterprises have had to reconsider their approach to compliance. SSPM regularly evaluates compliance against internal frameworks as well as statutory norms.

If certain data handling methods or encryption standards are not appropriate, SSPM will notify administrators and can even take corrective action automatically.

  • Evades cloud misconfiguration

Data breaches have increased dramatically in recent years and are frequently the result of cloud service misconfiguration. While resources are often configured appropriately on the first day, they frequently drift over time and fall out of compliance.

Regardless of changes to the application, the data it stores, or the individuals who access it, it is critical to maintain secure setups on a regular basis.

  • Overly permissive settings are detected

Controlling who has access to what actions on which SaaS applications is a critical component of a strong SaaS security posture. SSPM examines each user’s permissions and alerts users with overly permissive roles.

This assures that specific types of data, systems, devices, and assets are only accessible to authorized employees.

Difference between CSPM and SSPM

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) evaluates security posture in the same way that SSPM does, but instead of assessing SaaS applications, this solution monitors services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and other Cloud Service Providers (CSP) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

CSPM monitors the security and compliance posture of the resources that comprise custom cloud applications and workloads deployed by enterprises in public cloud environments.

CSPM tools may also offer features that SSPM tools do not, such as:

  • Detecting vulnerabilities

CSPM identifies vulnerabilities in cloud software that attackers can exploit.

  • Incident Response Management

Some CSPM technologies can take action automatically to mitigate ongoing security problems.

How do CSPM Tools and CSPM Security help your organization?

CSPM tools and CSPM security protect you in three distinct ways:

  1. Provide Visibility

CSPM tools are adept at detecting misconfigurations. CSPM tools and CSPM security can provide clear visibility into all your configurations and cloud assets.

It can also see modifications to the metadata or policy changes and allows the user to manage all these policies via a central console.

  1. Remediate

CSPM security and CSPM tools can remediate and manage misconfigurations within the cloud architecture. It achieves this by comparing your cloud configurations to industry standards and other predefined rules.

CSPM tools reduce the human error aspect, which usually increases the risk of data breaches.

  1. Discover Threats

Thanks to their ability to monitor cloud environments, CSPM tools can detect anomalies or inappropriate access in real-time and act immediately on any malicious activity.

To achieve the maximum benefits, you should choose one of the top cspm vendors.

Cyvatar can provide comprehensive cloud protection for your organization, assets, and people. We provide one of the most affordable cloud protection services.

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