Cloud security posture management (CSPM) definition
CSPM (cloud security posture management) is equal parts a methodology and a technology. It attempts to identify and remediate risks that may surface with various types of cloud environments or infrastructure, such as with IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS.
Unfortunately, some of the most common causes of cloud security breaches are due to human errors or misconfigured settings. Additionally, the cloud threat-landscape has grown and evolved as the expansion to cloud environments continues. A robust cloud security posture management (CSPM) allows organizations to mitigate the possibility of human-risk, to maintain visibility over their cloud environments, and to rectify possible misconfigurations. By doing so, it helps organizations limit the risks associated with accidental, compliance-related, or even intentional security compromises, thus hardening an organization’s overall security stance.
What are the key components and objectives of CSPM?
The key objectives of CSPM are to:
Automate visibility over an organizations entire cloud environment or infrastructure, even when new instances or storage spaces are created.
Detect misconfigurations and/or improper settings that could be exploited by malicious actors, and automatically remedy them or provide immediate solutions.
Monitor permissions and encryption across cloud services and ensure regulatory compliance with: HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR, for example.
Maintain an inventory of the best practices for each cloud service and/or configuration, as well as a list of all cloud assets and inventory.
A critical and key component of CSPM is that it can use automatic capabilities to immediately rectify cloud misconfigurations without human involvement. It is compatible with IaaS, SaaS and PaaS cloud services in various types of cloud environments (for example: in containerized, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud ecosystems).
How does CSPM help organizations detect and mitigate threats within cloud environments?
CSPM’s provide a centralized point of full visibility over an organization’s entire cloud environment. Each CSPM solution is different – some offer periodic snapshots, while others provide continuous real-time visibility of each cloud environment. This high-level visibility provided by CSPM solutions could be critical for immediate mitigation and detection of threats.
Furthermore, by ensuring that cloud instances are compliant with industry standards and regulations, and that all human-errors and misconfigurations are identified and resolved, organizations can minimize potentially exploitable vulnerabilities in their cloud infrastructure. Depending on the CPSM tool used, an organization may also be able to obtain relevant and in-depth threat analysis.
What are specific tools, solutions, or features of CSPM?
CSPM is both a methodology and a technology. An organization can develop its own unique CSPM standard and utilize a CSPM technology solution. Usually, all CSPM tools offer the following common features:
- Cloud-environment visibility
- Compliance monitoring
- Proactive analysis and risk assessment of misconfigurations
All CSPM solutions are unique in their own way, and some may provide additional features (such as: DevSecOps workflows, risk visualization, incident response, SIEM integrations, etc.). Each organization should evaluate their current cloud infrastructure or environment, and asses their needs to properly select a suitable CSPM tool. Some of the most common types of CSPM tools and solutions include:
Cloud Security Management Platforms
These provide an overall visibility of an organization’s infrastructure, and some additional features.
Cloud Infrastructure Security Scanners
These tools scan an organization’s cloud environment for possible vulnerabilities.
Cloud Security Configuration Management Tools
These solutions assist in cloud security configuration management.
Cloud Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)
Cloud SIEM, such as regular SIEMs, may provide real-time visibility and assist in incident detection and response.
How does CSPM differ from traditional security practices and tools?
CPSM mostly focuses on prevention, while other security tools may focus on threat detection and response. CSPM solutions stand out because of their emphasis on continuous cloud security posture monitoring.
What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and what is the role of CSPM in managing it?
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) refers to the management of infrastructure through code instead of through manual processes. It allows for the declarative definitions of infrastructure elements, such as virtual machines, networks, security rules, etc, while also assisting in the implementation of DevOps or SecDevOps operations.
Just as with cloud environments, CPSM solutions can integrate with IaC pipelines and provide continuous monitoring of IaC templates. CSPM solutions can work in tandem with IaCs to enforce security policies, and assess the compliance status of cloud environments, etc.
Furthermore, CSPM tools can also provide remediation of misconfigurations detected in IaC templates. The most notable benefit of an IaC and CSPM cross-collaboration has to do with an organization’s DevSecOps or DevOps operations – by integrating CSPM into IaC development pipelines, organizations can ensure that cloud security becomes a fundamental aspect of an organization development lifecycle.
Best practices for using CSPM solutions?
Organizations can leverage CSPM solutions in a myriad of ways to improve their cloud security posture. Most notably, CPSM solutions will harden an organization’s security stance by augmenting the security team’s visibility over cloud environments, by assessing in the detection and rectification of misconfigurations, and by assessing the cloud’s current governance and compliance status. Furthermore, organizations can ensure that CSPMs are implemented efficiently by:
- Prioritizing cloud security
- Integrating CPSM solutions into a SIEM and security stack
- Understanding key concepts and how each security tool should be utilized
- Establishing clear and proper communication channels to mitigate response time
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