Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is a critical element in protecting your cloud-native workloads and applications. It can help you ensure that your security practices are effective and applied uniformly. Considering that 95% of cloud security failures are due to user organizations, according to Gartner, confirming your security posture is key.
In this article, you’ll learn what CSPM is, what sort of challenges it can help you tackle, some considerations for implementing CSPM and some best practices to ensure your assets remain secure.
What Is Cloud Security Posture Management?
CSPM is a set of tools and practices that you can use to continuously manage your cloud security risks. You can use CSPM to assess compliance, incident response processes, DevOps integrations, operational monitoring effectiveness and risk assessment and visualization.
When implemented correctly, CSPM offers risk detection, logging and reporting. It also includes automation to help address the issues found. This includes matters related to governance, compliance, cloud resource security and cloud service configurations.
CSPM is an evolution of cloud infrastructure security posture assessment (CISPA). The difference is that CSPM accounts for advancements in tooling, moving from tools designed only for reporting to those incorporating automation. This combination of monitoring and automation enables greater visibility and control of cloud environments and vulnerabilities.
Cloud-Native Security Challenges
Security professionals should focus on a few common challenges when it comes to securing cloud-native applications. These are core areas of attention for CSPM implementations.
Many vulnerable entities: Cloud-native applications are built on microservices. These services are generally based on containerized workloads, typically orchestrated with Kubernetes.
Applications may also incorporate serverless functions, eliminating the need for DevOps teams to focus on the development of backends. Regardless of which you use, endpoints are created for each service and all need to be secured.
Environments are dynamic: DevOps teams’ rapid release cycles and the need to scale resources to meet traffic demands create a highly dynamic environment. Containers and instances are frequently created, killed or replaced. This turnover creates a moving target for monitoring and protection.
Diverse architectures: Cloud-native applications are often used and hosted in a variety of environments, including hybrid and multi-cloud environments. These environments require security teams to be able to monitor events and connections across hosts. To sufficiently protect resources and users, this requires centralized visibility and control.
CSPM for Cloud-Native: Key Considerations
Successful CSPM implementations require teams to accurately assess vulnerabilities and protective actions, including against intentional threats. It also requires teams to adapt or replace existing policies and procedures suited to on-premises environments but not cloud-native deployments.
To accurately evaluate your systems and plan your implementation, consider the following. These aspects can give you a better idea of where you stand and what improvements you can make.
Choosing and integrating tools
Any tools you include should integrate with your existing solutions. Your goal is to create a centralized hub of solutions that provide both high- and low-level visibility from as few interfaces as possible. This means tools should be able to provide insight into what policies apply to each resource and how effectively those policies are being enforced.
Using cloud-native solutions
Another consideration is whether your tools and practices are cloud-native. While on-premises tools can be adapted to cover cloud resources, a cloud-native tool may offer more features.
Viewing results in context
With proper tooling in place, you should be able to view system events in the context of the whole. You should group and prioritize alerts and automate correlations between data sources. With centralized tooling, your teams should be able to investigate alerts directly, with attached or readily available context for the alert and systems affected.
Cloud Security Posture Management Best Practices
As you implement or review your CSPM procedures, keep the following best practices in mind. These practices can help you ensure smooth automation, proper prioritization, and effective auditing.
Automate compliance and benchmarking: Automating your compliance procedures helps ensure that policies are applied uniformly and that you do not overlook resources. When creating this automation, ensure that your scripts align with existing cloud standards and the dynamic nature of cloud-native applications.
One way to ensure this is to measure your practices against the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks. You can continuously compare your operations to these and other benchmarks with automation. This way, any changes that occur to either benchmarks or policies are flagged and can be addressed.
Prioritize security measures and responses: It is impossible to address all vulnerabilities or alerts at all times, so you need to prioritize your resources and efforts. Assign alerts or violations that impact critical assets and data with the highest priority. These include alerts related to breaches of sensitive information or the functioning of mission-critical applications.
This prioritization is particularly important when rolling out new procedures, tooling or automation. You want to ensure that your processes are reliable and effective and do not overwhelm teams with many system changes. As your CSPM implementation matures, you can begin expanding focus to less critical issues.
Audit your DevOps pipelines: The center of operations for most cloud-native applications and environments is a DevOps pipeline. These pipelines are where code is incorporated, environments are spun up and configurations are defined.
Any vulnerabilities in the pipeline itself or built into its procedures are often duplicated in your resources. Because of this, auditing and ensuring the security of your pipeline is critical.
You should build misconfiguration checks directly into your pipeline whenever possible. You should also include remediation steps. These help ensure that audits are performed consistently and that issues are addressed immediately.
CSPM is part of a larger security strategy that you should develop and maintain for your cloud assets and resources. The distribution of cloud services and the consistent threat of cyberattacks make lax cloud security both irresponsible and costly.
By implementing CSPM, your team can ensure that any current vulnerabilities in your cloud security are discovered as soon as possible. It can also help reduce the chance of future vulnerabilities and reduce your overall resources required for maintaining security.