Cloud security monitoring best practices

Cloud security is not just a one-time implementation. You must continuously monitor your cloud environment to keep your data secure and stay compliant. It helps you find any misconfigurations and proactively rectify them before these vulnerabilities can be exploited by malicious agents.

The increase in cloud infrastructure usage has brought new challenges for organizations, such as complexity, the manual effort to manage resources, limited security coverage, and difficulty tracking cloud workspaces.

Furthermore, these issues must be addressed on the organizations’ end, not the cloud vendors’ end. For example,​​ access management and access controls are essential for a secure environment, and both of them should be taken care of by organizations, not cloud providers.

Gartner recently estimated that over 99% of cloud breaches by 2025 will be due to misconfigurations.

Some common misconfigurations issues in the cloud are:

  • leaving S3 buckets’ (with customers’ data exposed to the internet) default encryption status as disabled
  • failing to apply the principle of least privilege
  • forgetting to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)

For example, a simple misconfiguration of an open API led to a ransom attack on the Australian telecommunications company, Optus. As a result, over 11 million records of the company were exposed. 

To simplify, this was a case of bad access control. 

In another separate incident, AWS misconfiguration caused the data breach of the Indian government and universities, including Banaras Hindu University. 

The consequence was the leakage of 3.5 TB of sensitive data.

4 best practices for cloud security monitoring

Cloud security monitoring best practices help you build a cybersecurity strategy, gain visibility into your environment, and provide a layer of protection that protects against cloud threats.

1. Use cloud security monitoring solutions, like CSPM

The good news is that most cloud misconfigurations can be identified in real-time using cloud security monitoring solutions, and proper remediation can be worked upon ahead of time. 

Cloud security monitoring solutions scan and provide updates on your cloud security posture and assessments in real time. They alert security teams in real-time about vulnerabilities and identify patterns that point to risky behaviors. 

A cloud security monitoring tool increases your cloud risk visibility and help you detect and take action against anomalies. It audits and reports across different types of cyber assets, whether database, log files, and server health.

Additionally, they help you comply with standards like ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.

While popular cloud service providers like AWS,GCP and Azure provide native solutions for cloud monitoring, it is up to the security teams to use them properly. 

For example, AWS has a native solution, AWS Security Hub, to help you with cloud security posture monitoring. 

Security Command Center is the native cloud security monitoring solution from Google Cloud.

Similarly, Microsoft Azure offers Defender for cloud

But here are some major limitations with these native cloud security monitoring solutions. Let’s take Amazon Security Hub, for instance.

  • It requires configuration based and often gives you limited coverage with its predefined rules.
  • It is a point solution and needs to be used with other security solutions like Amazon Inspector, Macie, and Config, which necessarily do not add up functionality when combined. Furthermore, they drive up complexity and costs.
  • You cannot use it to monitor assets in your hybrid cloud environment; it only supports AWS. According to a PwC report, almost half (48%) of organizations have a multi-cloud environment. 

As your cloud environment gets complex, these native solutions are usually not enough—and you need third-party solutions, like cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools, to mitigate the cloud risks. 

A cloud security posture management (CSPM) tool, like Scrut CSPM solves the following security problems in your cloud environment:

  • Find misconfigurations across cloud accounts and alert security teams about the same
  • Detect accounts with over privileges 
  • Help you stay compliant with standards like SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.
  • Traditionally, CSPM tools were used to identify issues, but modern CSPM tools are capable of auto-remediation if permitted to make the changes

Thus, CSPM helps you establish a comprehensive security configuration baseline across your cloud environment

Before moving ahead, we would like to discuss the benefits of our CSPM tool.

Scrut Cloud Security – A New Generation CSPM

Scrut is an agentless CSPM tool that makes it simple for your team to manage cloud security posture and governance requirements. 

It gives you the power to pull information across your entire cloud infrastructure, and easy to understand reports to act on that data. No other platform is so efficient in these functionalities.

With Scrut, you get a comprehensive view of your risk and compliance posture across cloud accounts. Scrut continuously audits your cloud accounts across hundreds of configuration settings and compliance best practices to proactively identify security risks and misconfigurations. It enables consistent and unified security in your multi-cloud environment.

One of our clients, Typesense, wanted to build a secure cloud posture to get SOC 2 Type 2 certified but were limited by incomplete visibility into their cloud risks. So, they turned to Scrut Automation.

During our initial discussion with them, we found that they had thousands of EC2 instances, which were difficult to monitor. Scrut solved that issues with automated monitoring across their cloud environment. 

As a result, they successfully completed their SOC 2 audit at 5x speed.

Here is what Jason Bosco, founder, and CEO of Typesense has to say about Scrut. 

2. Prioritize your cloud risks with context

Monitoring your cloud infrastructure gives you observability into your cloud risks. But just monitoring is not enough. 

Often organizations receive misconfiguration alerts in the tens of thousands per month from cloud security monitoring tools, but it’s not practical for security teams to stay on top of all the alerts. There are good chances that you will miss taking action on the most important notifications. 

Most cloud monitoring tools are noisy and lack the context to prioritize notifications. Without the context into these alerts, you won’t be able to prioritize those risks and fix them. With so many notifications, security teams face alert fatigue issues.

Scrut solves this problem by providing context on these misconfiguration notifications and prioritizing them. This helps you fix critical issues faster. 

Scrut alerts are categorized into the following buckets: Low, Warning, and Danger

If there are no misconfigurations, then the status is Compliant

You can also mark any issue as Ignored. Note that there are no alerts for ignored. 

These risks are prioritized based on the risk score automatically given by the platform based on the likelihood of a data breach taking place due to the particular misconfiguration and its impact in case the event takes place.

Further, Scrut maps the risks, threats, and controls to different compliance standards. You get continuous and real-time risk score updates.

Another way Scrut classifies the risks is based on the type of risk: governance, people, customer, regulatory, resilience, technology, and vendor management.

You can select your treatment plan: Accept, Transfer, Mitigate, and Avoid for each risk.

3. There should be an owner for every resource for risk remediation

Every control should have an owner responsible for all the misconfigurations associated with the control. This practice ensures that if any security or compliance issues arise, it gets resolved within time. 

Scrut Cloud Security helps drive accountability for remediation. It has automated workflows to solve issues when they arise. 

Each control can be assigned to a team or person. 

Further, the team leads can sub-assign these tasks to different team members. 

You can create Jira tickets directly from the platform for smooth workflows. Moreover, Scrut Cloud Security provides actionable steps to remediate the issue.  

4. Monitor all controls against CIS benchmarks to stay secure, not just for compliance standards

Center for Internet Security (CIS) Foundations Benchmarks are globally recognized best practices to help organizations implement and manage cybersecurity defenses. They are developed by a global community of security experts.

Source

CIS benchmarks help cybersecurity professionals safeguard systems, software, and networks against cyber threats. These benchmarks cover identity and access management, logging and monitoring, networking, etc. and are available for most of the cloud providers, like AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle Cloud, and IBM Cloud.

Most of the CSPM tools monitor up to 50 controls from CIS benchmarks. This is because they are focussed on letting you stay compliant with required standards/regulations. 

At Scrut, we take a different approach to security and compliance. We believe that if you take proper measures for security, you automatically become compliant. Compliance is a byproduct of being secure.

Therefore, we go beyond the basic controls to actually keep you secure. Scrut monitors 200+ controls to ensure that you’re not just compliant but also always aware of your cloud risks.

Cybersecurity Goes Beyond Cloud Assets 

Most organizations have over tens of thousands of cyber assets and these assets are intricately related to each other. Thus, in today’s connected IT environment, it is not possible to be secure by only securing a certain type of assets (like cloud instances) in isolation. You need a holistic view into all your cyber assets risks. 

Scrut cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) empowers IT and security teams to overcome cyber asset vulnerability challenges. First, it discovers, consolidates and normalizes data across all your cyber assets. 

Then, it connects the cloud assets to your entire cyber universe by establishing relationships between the cloud assets, users, and endpoints. 

Your threat landscape is bound to expand as your cloud expands. With the help of our interactive visual asset map, you can drill into asset details, identify the blast radius for threats, and drastically reduce your cyber attack surface.

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