Understanding Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): An Essential Guide

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is a critical component of secure cloud computing practices. It is a complex tool meant to help IT professionals secure all the crevices of a cloud environment. Unlike traditional approaches to cloud security, which typically involve a lot of manual work and plenty of time spent putting together information about multiple tools and consoles, a CSPM offers: 

  • Real-time visibility into cloud infrastructure, 
  • A comprehensive view of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, 
  • An overview of the compliance stage and ongoing efforts, 
  • Remediation solutions for findings, and many others. 

A CSPM is a solution that modern security teams use to proactively identify and fix security issues in their cloud infrastructure to ensure a strong security posture in the cloud. 

A day in the life with CSPM 

What does a day in the life of a cloud security professional using a CSPM look like? First of all, we must see what it was like before adopting a CSPM tool

From manual security checks that take hours, to identifying and fixing compliance gaps, professionals may experience pressure in trying to secure the entire cloud environment. 

With a CSPM, a cloud security team member can be more efficient. They may follow this workflow: 

  1. The day starts by looking at open alerts and prioritizing the most important and impactful fixes. Using the remediation guidelines provided by the CSPM solution, they would solve some of the issues; 
  2. The next step would be researching and understanding how to solve more complex problems identified by the CSPM: by looking at diagrams and dashboards, the user would gain enhanced visibility on how cloud resources are configured and relate to one another; 
  3. If the company is going through an audit for a standard, such as ISO 27001 or PCI-DSS, they would assist their compliance colleagues with proper reporting and fixing any existing gaps; a low compliance score highlighted by the CSPM would indicate on which specific area they and the compliance team should focus on to improve the score. 

Now, using a comprehensive CSPM solution, confidence and control are gained. Notice how the cloud security professional is no longer spending time on security checks, but rather on actions that have an impact over the company’s cloud security posture. 

A CSPM tool has the following capabilities: 

1. Misconfigurations checks automation 

A CSPM performs scans at repeated time intervals, automating cloud configuration checks and triggering alerts for findings. 

One common way in which scans are performed is controls. Security controls are based on recommendations and best practices; through them, a CSPM tool automatically checks the cloud infrastructure for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.  

Some examples of common misconfigurations a CSPM looks for are: 

  • An S3 bucket that should not be publicly accessible is, and anyone has READ or WRITE permissions on it, 
  • The RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) port for a VM is open and can be accessed from the Internet, 
  • Logging is disabled for cloud resources, thus unauthorized access cannot be detected. 

Controls are among the most significant features you can find in a CSPM solution. Controls are based on security recommendations and best practices; using them, a CSPM tool automatically checks the cloud infrastructure for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations: from databases to buckets, from security groups to web applications, they cover a wide range of configurations and the result of using them surpasses any manual work that could be done. 

2. A robust alert system  

A CSPM performs scans at repeated time intervals, automating cloud configuration checks and triggering alerts for findings. 

A good alert system can make a difference by reducing or eliminating false positives, prioritizing critical vulnerabilities, and enabling understanding by adding context to findings. In this way, detected security issues are solved quickly, and alert fatigue is avoided.  

Moreover, a CSPM solution has integration with notification channels and ticketing systems to notify its users of findings. This feature is very useful for security teams because it streamlines the process and allows them to view urgent problems directly in the apps they use, such as Slack or Jira. 

3. Contextual visibility 

Without proper visibility, a cloud security professional that intends to apply security best practices might do so in places with low impact, while higher risk items remain unaddressed. 

For example, a company may have a VM running an application with a Log4Shell vulnerability, and multiple Internet-facing cloud resources that have less critical vulnerabilities. The VM may be prioritized because this type of vulnerability is severe and well-known. However, if that VM runs on a private network and is not accessible from the Internet, then the prioritization is not ideal, and Internet-facing applications and devices are neglected. 

4. Remediation steps 

A good CSPM solution aids security teams in their process of securing a cloud environment. 

Detailed remediation steps do not miss from CSPM software. Recommendations on how to fix findings include: 

  • A series of actions a cloud security professional must execute in order to solve the identified problem, 
  • A set of commands that fix the found issue, that can be used in a command line, 
  • Recommended reading materials that could help the cloud security professional understand the problem on a deeper level and avoid it in the future. 

5. Compliance aid 

A company that seeks to achieve compliance with a certain standard or regulation must face a long and tedious journey, because this usually entails reviewing organizational, as well as technology-related practices, producing a lot of documentation in the form of policies and procedures, and ultimately ensuring that any system that comes in contact with customer data has appropriate security controls in place.  

A CSPM tool eases this process by measuring the cloud security posture against the required state and providing compliance scoring. Moreover, after passing an audit, CSPMs can help companies stay compliant and ensure they’re following all security recommendations. 

6. Multi-cloud coverage 

With CSPMs, you don’t need to monitor your infrastructure in a different place for each cloud service provider you’re using; CSPM tools are multi-cloud! By covering Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, your entire technology stack in the cloud is secured by CSPMs. You can monitor and secure all of your cloud environments in one single platform. Moreover, you can define security policies in your CSPM tool and apply them across all cloud infrastructures. 

In addition to analyzing security for cloud providers, some CSPMs offer additional types of integrations, such as those with identity providers. 

By taking a proactive stance on cloud security posture, IT professionals can benefit from the power of a CSPM solution and ensure that their organization’s cloud infrastructure is resilient against emerging threats. 

CSPM in Action - Real Life Case Studies 

Cyscale is a CSPM solution that brings together multi-cloud infrastructures and automatically highlights misconfigurations and vulnerabilities using powerful dashboards and security controls, saving teams considerable time on remediation. Cyscale also supports companies in their journey to compliance. 

To see real-life examples of how a powerful CSPM tool works, you can read our case studies and learn how we’ve helped a company gain IAM visibility and ensure cloud security and compliance, or how we’ve identified blind spots in the infrastructure of another one of our customers, increasing their productivity by 50%. 

By implementing a robust CSPM solution, the companies gained comprehensive visibility into their cloud infrastructure, identified compliance gaps, and remediated them accordingly. Their security team was equipped with actionable insights, enabling them to quickly identify and address issues, preventing potential security incidents.  

With Cyscale, the companies achieved greater control and confidence in their cloud security posture, safeguarding sensitive customer data and maintaining regulatory compliance.  

The Future of Cloud Security Posture Management 

The future of CSPM holds immense promise, driven by emerging technologies and an evolving security landscape. As cloud adoption continues to accelerate, CSPM will play a pivotal role in ensuring secure cloud deployments.  

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are already making their mark in CSPM, enabling intelligent automation and anomaly detection. These advancements will empower organizations to stay ahead of threats by identifying and remediating risks in real time, reducing manual effort, and enhancing the overall efficiency of cloud security operations. 

The next step after CSPM is CNAPP: Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform. A CNAPP is a solution that incorporates multiple modules, among which is CSPM. Beside CSPM, you also find CIEM, Container Security, CWPP (Cloud Workload Protection Platform), and other components. 

With this in mind, you can either use CSPM as a standalone solution, or integrate CNAPP with your cloud environment for more coverage in different areas in cloud security.

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