What is Cloud Security Posture Management?

As organizations aggressively move to the cloud, Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is the name of a group of cloud security tools and technologies that aim to reduce the added associated risks. Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Cloud Security Posture Management for?

A cloud-native approach is relatively new, but is an increasingly popular option for organizations who want to get the most out of the cloud, including speed, agility, cost-savings, and performance. However, the cloud comes with its own risks, including misconfigurations and vulnerabilities that can open your business up to cyber-attacks and data breaches. Under the Shared Responsibility Model – which is the public cloud infrastructure model, workloads, users, applications and sensitive data are all yours to secure, and Cloud Security Posture Management tools can help you spot errors, exceed compliance, and shore up your defenses. 

Simply put, Cloud Security Posture Management can help organizations to find these errors and misconfigurations, and to notice security or policy violations through threat detection, and then fix and patch any issues before a cyber-attack can occur to cloud services. This is true for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), too.

CSPM Tools Top Benefits 

As well as discovering misconfigurations, there are a few main benefits of this approach to cloud security.

  • Assessing risk

CSPM tools can help you to see how secure your network and cloud infrastructure is in advance, and get visibility into elements such as over-permissive policies that are opening you up to risk.

  • Ongoing and continuous monitoring

As CSPM tools are continuous, they show an accurate view of enterprise cloud environments, including flagging policy violations, often in real-time.

  • Compliance

Many compliance regulations require continuous monitoring tools on the cloud, such as HIPAA, SOC2, and PIC. You can also use CSPM to stay on top of internal governance such as ISO 27001.

  • Mitigation

Many CSPM tools will provide actionable recommendations so that you can fix any vulnerabilities or errors quickly and without adding additional cloud resources or vendor tools.

Common Types of Cloud Misconfigurations

There are many ways that cloud misconfigurations can happen, and the most dangerous part of this problem is that most organizations have limited threat detection for these problems. That means you would often have no idea that your cloud services are putting your organization at risk. 

Here are some of the main categories that cloud misconfigurations fall into when thinking about cloud security risks.

Storage

How many cloud resources do you have held in storage that you don’t even know about? When it comes to storage, you can find problems and challenges that include S3 bucket misconfigurations on AWS, or storage misconfigurations on Azure. For example, the default setting of an Azure storage account is to allow access from anywhere. For AWS, many people make the mistake of assuming that “authenticated users” applies to those who have been given account or application permissions, when in fact it applies to any AWS users, anywhere in the world.

Credentials

Secrets management is often a sore point when it comes to cloud misconfigurations. Credentials are not just admin passwords or access, but also API keys, encryption keys, and more. For example, many users do not utilize server-side encryption for encryption keys, known as improper encryption key management, or fail to rotate keys as often as they should, which is every 90 days. Often your cloud provider will offer secrets management systems for cloud services to help with improper encryption key management challenges, such as AWS Secrets Manager on Amazon Web Services, Hashicorp Vault, and Azure Key Vault for Microsoft Azure Cloud. 

Identity and Access Management

Some of the largest cloud misconfigurations that Cloud Security Posture Management tools look for, are overly permissive access to applications, as well as hosts, containers and VMs. Oftentimes, organizations even have legacy ports and protocols such as FTP or Telnet enabled on cloud hosts.

On a broader scale, organizations regularly have cloud misconfigurations including lack of Multi-factor Authentication, poor password hygiene, attaching policies to specific users instead of using Role-based Access or group access, or ignoring important best practices with their cloud resources, such as least privilege.

CSPM

Cloud Security Posture Management Best Practices

CSPM technologies have evolved a lot over the years, and they’re still changing all the time. Originally, they were mainly focused on compliance, and many still utilize CVE’s (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) from a known-list and other benchmarks in order to say whether enterprise cloud environments are secure. In contrast, the next-generation of CSPM tools look to go further, creating a holistic, and proactive rather than reactive approach to handling misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, or over-permissive policies. Here are the three main pillars to look out for:

Automation

A manual approach to CSPM cannot keep up with today’s dynamic cloud environments, and certainly won’t be able to work at the speed of DevOps. IT and Security teams need to be able to work together as a single team so that security is involved in cloud resources at the earliest stages of creating code. When CSPM is automated, it can be used not only to discover issues after the fact, but also to monitor operations and new deployments inside the DevOps pipeline, classify and stay on top of new critical cloud assets in relation to cloud environments, and identify risks before attackers have a chance to find the gaps.

Visibility

Being able to accurately visualize your entire cloud environment is the first step to becoming secure. This is more than just being able to see all of your critical cloud assets and workloads, it’s also about viewing how these interact with one another, and any dependencies and paths. The best providers will be able to provide visibility in one map from the cloud infrastructure level down to a single microservice. When you can see your environment the way that the attackers do, you suddenly have a whole lot more insight into how they could potentially leverage gaps and misconfigurations.

Context

Another problem with traditional cloud security tools is the sheer amount of noise that you have to sift through to get the right alerts. When relying on tools that utilize CVEs for example, you may get hundreds of alerts, all of which are sent with equal weight. In reality of course, some will be urgent and need immediate attention, while others can likely be ignored. The strongest next-gen CSPM tools can recognize the business context of your cloud security risks and create prioritized recommendations that make sense for your organizational structure and needs.

LightSpin Contextual Cloud Security Posture Management

LightSpin’s graph-based technology hits all three best practices for next-gen CSPM solutions, and is perfect for organizations who want to go further than legacy compliance or benchmark-based technologies when thinking about their cloud security risk posture and cloud resources.

To get an understanding of the actual security posture of your organization, we provide a rapid visual assessment of complete cloud environments from end to end, down to a granular level. Using the latest cloud technology, we then automate continuous discovery of the widest range of misconfigurations, policy errors, and vulnerabilities that could leave sensitive data at risk of data breaches. Then, we align these threats with your unique business context to offer risk-based, prioritized recommendations for mitigation.

Ready to see for yourself? Start now.

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About Lightspin

Lightspin’s context-based cloud security empowers cloud and security teams to eliminate risks and maximize productivity by proactively and automatically detecting all security risks, smartly prioritizing the most critical issues, and easily fixing them. For more information, visit https://www.lightspin.io/