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What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Posted on June 23rd, 2022

Businesses are moving their data to the cloud to reduce costs and increase their agility. As more applications and data migrate to the cloud, the risk of sensitive data and applications being exposed dramatically increases. In addition, as organizations deploy applications and services in different cloud environments, maintaining security and compliance across the board is becoming more complex than ever before.

This is where cloud security posture management (CSPM) comes into play. This emerging technology cleans the cloud environment and helps inform organizations about security issues and possible risks. This blog will discuss what cloud security posture management (CSPM) is, how it works, why it’s important, and the benefits of CSPM. Let’s get started.

What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a collection of tools and practices for risk visualization and assessment, compliance monitoring, incident response, and DevOps integration in the cloud. It supports the uniform application of security best practices for cloud, hybrid, multi-cloud, and container environments.

CSPM responds to the growing need for organizations to reconfigure cloud environments and services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (Saas), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Why is CSPM important?

Many organizations have been adopting cloud services at a rapid pace. Much of the recent uptick is a direct result of having to shift to distributed work environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the panicked speed with which this happened often meant security was an afterthought.

Unfortunately, security in the cloud is much more difficult and complex than on-prem. In the cloud, there is no well-defined perimeter along which to place protections. Cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments are often sprawling and unwieldy, making manual processes for security remediation unfeasible since they can’t achieve the scale and speed of deployment needed.

In addition, these environments often lack visibility. After all, it’s difficult to protect what you can’t see. And even when there is visibility, it is often disparate, requiring multiple systems that aren’t managed under the same controls.

Additionally, there is still a pronounced cybersecurity skills gap when it comes to cloud security. Organizations who work with a cloud vendor often don’t have a clear understanding of which parts of security are covered by the vendor and which are their responsibility, which leads to further holes in security. Cloud environments also tend to shift and evolve rapidly, so even if security is up to par today, it can slip out of alignment tomorrow.

All of these factors — the recent speed with which cloud environments are being adopted, the lack of visibility and control, the lack of understanding and technical know-how — combine to reinforce the importance of CSPM as a way to overcome these challenges.

How does CSPM work?

CSPM tools provide real-time visibility into applications, configurations, workloads, and other assets. CSPM automatically discovers changes in cloud environments and analyzes their risk on a continuous basis. It also enables security management and enforcement across the entire environment from a single console.

Discovery and visibility

One of the biggest things CSPM does is provide discovery and visibility into all cloud assets and configurations. By having a single source of truth across the expanded environment, it becomes much easier to detect and mediate threats and problems. Automation is used to discover misconfigurations, networking, metadata, security, and changes. And by consolidating everything, users can manage security group policies through a single pane of glass.

Misconfiguration management and mitigation

CSPM also tackles the widespread problem of misconfigurations in the cloud. It does this by comparing cloud application configurations to industry and organizational standards, enabling the identification and remediation of violations in real-time. You can even automate how misconfigurations are handled so that remediation happens continuously. In addition, guardrails help prevent developer mistakes, preventing vulnerable code from making it through to production, and storage monitoring ensures proper permissions and cloud data security.

Ongoing threat detection

CSPMs continuously monitor the cloud environment for suspicious or unauthorized activity with real-time threat detection. By focusing on those areas most commonly exploited, the CSPM also prioritizes vulnerabilities and targets its threat detection and remediation approach where it’s needed most.

Benefits of CSPM

Adoption of CSPM comes with a multitude of benefits. Obviously, the improved security posture is the primary benefit, but the following additional benefits are also realized:

Reduced alert fatigue

If the security team receives alerts for everything, including false positives and multiple redundant alerts for each cloud environment, not only does it become tiresome, but the alerts lose their meaning. In addition, it increases the likelihood that something important gets overlooked. With CSPM, all alerts come through one system and are triaged via artificial intelligence.

Increased visibility across multi-cloud environments

Instead of having to check multiple consoles, data from the entire distributed environment is aggregated into a single location for improved visibility and control. This helps eliminate vulnerabilities hiding in different environments.

Continuous monitoring and assessment of environments

CSPMs continuously monitor and assess cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid environments to ensure compliance to policies. Automation catches and prevents misconfigurations and corrective action occurs much faster.

Highlighted threats

By scanning the entire infrastructure, hidden threats are found sooner rather than later, allowing for much faster threat remediation.

How SecurityScorecard Can Help

By 2025, there will be over 100 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud. As organizations move more workloads to the cloud, there are growing concerns around data security. And with so many moving parts to consider, managing your data in the cloud can be a daunting task. SecurityScorecard Security Ratings empower organizations to continuously monitor the security of their cloud solutions. Organizations can get easy-to-read A-F ratings of their network environment and cloud services, allowing them to manage their cloud security efforts and make informed decisions with confidence. Interested to see your rating? Get your free score today.

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