What Is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

What Is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is an automated cloud security solution that identifies security risks in cloud infrastructure. It is like an automated auditor that reviews software deployed in the cloud and identifies security misconfigurations. CSPM is fully automated—instead of requiring security teams to manually check the cloud’s security risks, it runs in the background and analyzes compliance risks and configuration vulnerabilities.

Cloud infrastructure monitored by CSPM may include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), containers, and serverless functions. Most CSPM tools can scan multi-cloud environments and provide a consolidated view of security posture across all cloud services. This feature is important because a majority of organizations leveraging the cloud use multiple cloud providers. Multi-cloud environments increase the risk of misconfiguration and are too complex to manage manually.

In this article:

Why Is Cloud Security Posture Management Important?

Industry research shows that a vast majority of cloud security incidents are a result of failure by the cloud customer to properly secure their workloads, not failure by the cloud provider. Public cloud providers use the shared responsibility model, in which proper configuration of security for workloads and data is the responsibility of the cloud customer.

Therefore, organizations cannot rely solely on cloud providers to manage cloud resources and enforce security policies. Security teams must take a proactive approach and have a comprehensive view of their cloud environment to maintain a healthy security posture. CSPM gives organizations the visibility they need to identify exposure to public networks, missing authentication, and many other data security risks.

Key Benefits of CSPM

Security Automation and Efficiency

CSPM helps automate security workflows. Instead of manually assessing cloud configurations and then manually investigating and fixing each risk, the CSPM tool allows teams to automatically and continuously analyze all cloud configurations. Security issues can be discovered as soon as they occur, minimizing the time and effort by cloud operations and security teams.

In some cases, the CSPM tool can also automatically remediate issues, for example by updating access control rules to increase security or disable outdated user accounts.

Centralized Security Visibility

Risk Prioritization

CSPM tools can not only identify security risks, but can also classify them according to severity. Risk prioritization is critical to helping teams manage high volumes of security alerts while focusing on and fixing the most severe risks.

Here is an example of how CSPM platforms might classify risks in a cloud environment:

  • S3 buckets that are publicly accessible, or a cloud database service with weak or no authentication, would be classified as a high priority risk because it can lead to a serious data breach.
  • S3 buckets that can be accessed by multiple users, or databases that have too many administrative users, would be classified as a low priority risk. These are issues the team should continue to investigate as it may not enforce least privileges, but is a much less serious risk than public exposure of sensitive data.

CSPM Best Practices
Here are best practices that will help your organization make the best use of CSPM.

Automate Benchmarking for New Cloud Resources

When using CSPM, make sure that the platform uses service discovery to identify new resources created in the cloud, and automatically audits them for security issues. This will ensure watertight discovery of security issues in any existing or new assets.

Ensure Auditing is Based on Recognized Benchmarks

Most cloud providers publish benchmarks to help you evaluate cloud configurations. These vendor-specific guidelines should be used in conjunction with third-party industry benchmarks such as those published by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) or regulatory bodies. CSPM should perform auditing of assets according to these recognized benchmarks.

Prioritize Efforts According to Risk

When dealing with security issues and vulnerabilities, you may want to address them as soon as you discover them. However, the order in which problems are found often does not match the level of risk presented by the problems. Avoid spending too much time on low-priority issues and focus on higher-priority ones that can have a major business impact.

When reviewing alerts, investigating them, and managing vulnerabilities, focus on issues that could affect critical applications and workloads or potentially expose data or assets. Leverage the CSPM platform’s prioritization capabilities to help identify the most critical vulnerabilities. Once the higher-priority risks are managed, you can start working on the lower-risk ones.

Enforce Security Checks in Development Pipelines

When developing software using a DevOps pipeline, you must incorporate security checks into the development lifecycle. New cloud environments and software deployments, due to their dynamic nature, can quickly become subject to vulnerabilities.

Integrating CSPM policies and vulnerability checks throughout the DevOps pipeline helps prevent misconfiguration in development tools, which can lead to devastating supply chain attacks. In addition, it ensures that software has proper security configuration before it goes into production. CSPM can also help development teams identify required fixes and easily incorporate them into future releases.

Considerations for Evaluating CSPM Vendors

When choosing a CSPM vendor, consider the following:

  • Automated continuous discovery of all assets across all environments to identify high-risk assets and minimize blind spots (i.e., full, frequent asset scanning).
  • Context-aware visualizations of all assets and resources and their relationships.
  • Pre-deployment repository evaluation to prevent the propagation of IaC template vulnerabilities.
  • Real-time visibility across all environments to provide actionable data flow insights and support audits.
  • Continuous compliance to manage frequent CI/CD pipelines and ephemeral workloads.
  • Compliance support for all frameworks, including SOX, HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI, and compliance best practices.
  • Customizability and flexibility to adjust cloud systems to changing business demands.
  • Dynamic governance to translate requirements into clear, automatically applied rules.
  • Rule creation
  • Audit readiness to ensure reports and audit queries are always available.
  • Proactive security to detect intrusions immediately and remediate issues automatically.

Cloud vendors provide compliance management and threat detection tools, although these tend to be vendor-specific. Managing the disparate tools of different vendors in a multi-cloud environment is challenging, so a CSPM must be able to integrate with these cloud native tools and display all the outputs via a centralized platform.

CSPM with Spot by NetApp

Spot Security is a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tool providing threat protection to customers with their infrastructure and applications resources in the cloud against risk, threats and vulnerabilities in the cloud. Spot Security also enables customers to gain a 360° visibility into their cloud estates, with detailed and visual information about how their cloud assets are configured, connected, Shared and consumed and helps customers with defining the security scope to their teams to maximize their efficiency with visualization of threats and helps security teams understand the impact of each risk and take informed decisions on prioritization and mitigations of tasks.

Learn more about Spot Security