On any given day, clouds connect and disconnect from hundreds if not thousands of networks. The ability to interact with so many different networks is powerful, but it can make clouds difficult to secure if you do not do so correctly. As more industries adopt cloud-based technologies, cloud security posture management has become critical.
Since there is not always an explicit perimeter to keep safe in the cloud, standard security measures aren’t always suitable. Furthermore, you cannot always accomplish manual security processes at the necessary scale or speed at which clouds operate. The lack of centralization can make visibility difficult. In complex environments with hundreds of accounts, strong security management can help you keep track of what processes are running and what they are doing.
Without cloud security posture management tools, misconfigurations can lead to disastrous data breaches. For example, IT research firm DivvyCloud, states that 95 % of security breaches are due to misconfigurations, costing $5 trillion between 2018 and 2019.
What is Cloud Security Posture Management?
Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is a subsection of IT security tools specifically designed to target compliance risks and misconfiguration in clouds. CSPM constantly monitors cloud infrastructure, looking for gaps in security policy enforcement. It is a collection of security products that assist in automating security and providing compliance assurance in cloud environments, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (Saas), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Cloud security posture management is often used for risk visualization and assessment, compliance monitoring, DevSecOps integration, and incidence response. It can address misconfiguration issues by continuously monitoring the cloud through detection, response, prevention, and prediction of risks.
Causes of Misconfigurations
Misconfigurations often result from poor management of multiple connected platforms. Especially in cloud-based environments, there are a lot of dynamic aspects to keep track of. All it takes is a couple of misconfigurations in the cloud to leave an organization vulnerable to data breaches.
Often, misconfigurations occur due to lack of automation, change management, and poor visibility. If an organization is not aware of which resources interact with one another, the risk of misconfiguration rises.
One of the more common misconfigurations occurs when public access is granted to containers or storage buckets within the cloud that can be assigned individually to storage classes. With open access, buckets are left vulnerable for individuals to find them.
How Does CSPM Work?
Cloud security posture management tools work by comparing a given cloud environment with a defined set of rules and known security risks. Advanced CSPM tools use robotic process automation (RPA) to address the issues automatically. Less advanced tools will alert IT administrators.
CSPM consists of a collection of tools, with each specific tool working in a given environment or service. Some CSPM tools solve issues by combining automation features with continuous monitoring, such as improper account permissions.
Benefits and Capabilities of CSPM Tools
Strong CSPM tools should have the ability to maintain an inventory of best practices for various cloud services and configurations. They should also monitor storage buckets, account permissions, and the encryption of potential risks and misconfigurations. CSPM tools should work with SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS platforms, whether they be hybrid clouds or multi-cloud environments.
CSPM tools can monitor for compliance. They can also perform risk visualization and incident response. Finally, they more easily automate provisioning and simplify DevSecOps integration by increasing visibility across various cloud partners.
CSPM and Risk Management
We can split the risks that a cloud-based environment experiences into two categories:
Intentional risks, such as outside attacks.
Unintentional risks, such as exposure of sensitive data to outsiders.
CSPM focuses on mitigating these accidental vulnerabilities by increasing visibility across multi-cloud environments. As a result, users won’t have to check and cross-examine data from multiple consoles. This process prevents misconfigurations and increases security. CSPM can utilize artificial intelligence to reduce the number of false positives. Since all security alerts come through a single console as opposed to a collection, alert fatigue decreases, increasing productivity.
By continuously monitoring the environment for adherence to compliance, cloud security posture management tools can detect drift and take corrective actions automatically. CSPM tools can uncover hidden threats through this continuous scanning, leading to faster detection times and remediation.
Synopsys, EDA, and the Cloud
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About The Author
Wagner Nascimento is vice president and chief information security officer at Synopsys. As the CISO, Wagner is responsible for developing and implementing the Information Security Program for the enterprise . Wagner has over 20 years of experience in the cybersecurity space, leading security efforts in other larger organizations such as VISA, Cisco, and Albertsons. A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Wagner is adept in security architecture/analysis, cyber threat detection, risk management, incident response, and contingency planning. He has a B.S. in Information Technology from American Intercontinental University and an MBA (Finance, Strategic Management) from California State University, East Bay.