CSPM-The-Ultimate-Guide

CSPM – The Ultimate Guide

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) solutions continuously monitor cloud environments to identify and help remediate misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and other security-related issues.

CSPM tools identify misconfigurations in cloud infrastructure across IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS—and help resolve them. 

They automatically check cloud environment to identify and mitigate security and compliance risks. 

Furthermore, CSPM solutions continuously monitor gaps in security policy enforcement. 

Therefore, a CSPM tool gives you assurance that your cloud services are implemented/configured according to industry best practices.

Recently, the importance of CSPM tools has grown multifold due to their increased adoption. New organizations are moving to the cloud and others that were already using the cloud are increasing their usage of cloud services.  

Why do you need CSPM?

The recent rise in cloud adoption has created new security challenges for most organizations today. Unlike the on-prem world, the nature of the cloud environment is different. 

  • There is a lack of a definite perimeter to protect
  • Cloud is dynamic and periodic checks are not sufficient
  • Due to the lack of centralization, it is difficult to know what is happening inside the cloud 

Two key challenges unique to cloud security are:

  • Complexity: The majority of cloud providers offer a diverse range of services including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, security, and much more. There are dozens of unique settings and granular configurations in each of them, making it difficult to ensure that organizations meet compliance and security requirements.
  • Lack of Visibility: Developers can now deploy new servers in the cloud without dealing with the complications associated with on-premise deployments, such as provisioning and budgeting. InfoSec teams, on the other hand, might be unaware of all the instances that are being spun up. 

The result of both these challenges is misconfigurations in the cloud. A cloud misconfiguration occurs when proper controls for applications, containers, infrastructure, and other software components are not implemented.

Misconfigurations are common in cloud environments and happen often by accident. According to a report by Synk.io, cloud misconfigurations account for almost half (45%) of data breaches in the cloud. 

Furthermore, the share of data breaches due to misconfiguration will only increase in the future. According to a Gartner estimate, by 2025, more than 99% of cloud breaches will be due to misconfigurations.

Capital One was a high-profile example of cloud misconfigurations that resulted in real-world losses. A hacker exploited a flaw in the company’s cloud-based firewall to steal information from 100 million credit applicants and active cardholders. 

Since eliminating misconfigurations is not possible entirely, organizations retort to finding them once they occur. CSPM solutions help cloud users identify and resolve these misconfigurations. 

Which Organizations Would Benefit Most From CSPM Solutions

Now that we have discussed what CSPM tools are and why they are important, let’s find out who would benefit from these tools.

Any organization using cloud services can benefit, but CSPM is best suited for:

  • Organizations with huge amounts of data in the cloud – The more data you have in your cloud, it becomes a more important asset for you. Simultaneously, it also becomes a lucrative target for attackers. Furthermore, this growth in data—and consequently growth in users—implies higher fines in case of data breaches. 

Hence, organizations with a huge amount of data in the cloud can get significant gains by using a CSPM solution. CSPM tool can ensure that all of your resources are protected and that extra security efforts are focused on critical workloads.

  • Organizations that operate in a multi-cloud setup – Nowadays, organizations are adopting a multi-cloud strategy. This strategy is becoming common for several reasons, such as to avoid vendor lock-ins and for leveraging the unique and cost-efficient services offered by different cloud service providers. However, multiple-cloud accounts increase the likelihood of misconfigurations.

This is due to a lack of standardization in cloud services across different providers, making these cloud environments very complex. And consequently difficult to track.

Additionally, cloud services and security best practices are constantly evolving, making it difficult to comply with the security guidelines from the security providers. 

CSPM solutions solve these issues by monitoring cloud services across thousands of services automatically, no matter how complex the cloud environment is.

According to Gartner, 81% of the organizations are using more than one cloud provider. This means, majority of the organizations using cloud services will benefit from CSPM solutions.

  • Organizations that need to comply with infosec frameworks – CSPM solutions help in ensuring compliance with security and privacy frameworks by assisting you in auditing your cloud resources and demonstrating compliance with the required frameworks. 

These frameworks may be in the form of laws and regulations like CCPA, HIPAA, and GDPR or voluntary standards like SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

These tools also alert you if there are any deviations from compliance requirements.

Suppose your company operates in a regulated industry, such as healthcare or finance. In that case, you must adhere to specific regulatory standards such as HIPAA/HITECH and PCI DSS, as well as infosec frameworks such as SOC 2 and ISO 27001. You may consider implementing a CSPM system to ensure that your cloud security standards and security posture meet regulatory compliance.

Benefits of CSPM Solutions

Let’s now discuss the key benefits of CSPM tools.

A Gartner research found that CSPM implementations can reduce cloud security incidents caused by misconfigurations by up to 80%. CSPM solutions allow you to continuously monitor dynamic cloud environments and identify discrepancies between your security posture and policies.

  1. One place for visibility of cloud security. With CSPM tools, you get centralized visibility across a multi-cloud environment. They help you identify, assess, and manage risks across all your cloud resources. This is a more efficient approach than conducting assessments separately for each cloud account or resource. 

A comprehensive CSPM solution provides visibility into many aspects of your environment. 

This visibility includes:

  • Inventory across all your cloud environments
  • Cloud resources not adhering to the security policies 
  • Accounts’ permissions
  • Accounts with no multi-factor authentication
  • Unencrypted databases
  1. Helps you comply with security and privacy frameworks: As we discussed in the previous section, companies need to comply with different regulations and standards depending on the geographies they operate in and their industry type. This helps your customers, employees, partners, and government authorities know that you will keep their data secure. 

CSPM tools help you maintain a strong compliance posture. As CSPM solution continuously monitors your cloud environment, they will notify you if there are any deviations from the compliance requirements.

  1. Helps you manage risks in your cloud environment. CSPM tools use real-time risk detection to identify risks in an organization’s security posture. Some cloud security tools like Scrut classify them according to their severity. This helps you significantly alleviate the pain of alert fatigue.

Security teams already receive thousands of alerts that make it impossible to work on all the issues. A CSPM tool gives context on the risks to prioritize which issues to work on first. 

For example, a public Amazon S3 bucket (logical container) is considered as a high priority because it could result in a major data leak. 

Meanwhile, an S3 bucket that can be accessed by multiple users but is not accessible to the public via the Internet would be categorized as a lower priority. It’s a risk that the team should look into because it could be a case where the least privilege isn’t being followed, but it’s not as serious as a risk that could expose data to anyone on the Internet. 

How Does a CSPM Tool Work? 

CSPM solutions basically solve the issue of visibility in cloud environment.

At a high level, CSPM scans and analyzes cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS on a regular basis. The scan frequency depends on the CSPM solution used, and often is configurable.

CSPM provides visibility into cloud assets and configurations — knowing what assets exist and where they are located — which is a significant challenge for many cloud-based companies. It assists organizations in automatically detecting activity related to metadata, misconfigurations, network, security changes, and the extent of the attack surface.

A CSPM tool is capable of comparing cloud application configurations to industry compliance frameworks like HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc., allowing violations to be quickly identified and remedied.

Though we can’t speak on behalf of all the CSPM tools, we can explain how Scrut CSPM works. 

  • Connect cloud platform: Scrut CSPM integrates cloud security with your cloud platforms using pre-built integrations, which takes less than 10 minutes to integrate.
  • Customize controls: You can use the preconfigured CIS benchmarks or add custom controls. These controls are mapped to the compliance frameworks you want to adhere to, through pre-built mapping.
  • Monitor cloud security: Scrut’s user-friendly dashboard allows you keep track of your cloud security posture, misconfigurations, and the status of corrective actions.
  • Remediation tasks: You can create, assign, and track remediation tasks.

Through real-time risk detection, Scrut continuously monitors cloud environments for potentially malicious activity and unauthorized access events.

Scrut CSPM tool integrate with DevSecOps, DevOps or SecOps tools like Crowdstrike and Synk, making it easier to adopt new cloud security archetypes. 

CSPM tools, as an agentless solution based on Software as a Service, implement the CSPM concepts discussed above regarding visibility, configuration, compliance, and ongoing cloud environment management. In doing so, they essentially provide cloud governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) capabilities.

How to Choose a CSPM Tool?

There are many CSPM tools available in the market today. So it’s easy to get confused. You must focus on key capabilities and your requirements to arrive at the best tool. 

We have written a detailed post on how to choose CSPM software. In the post, we show how asking yourself these questions will help:

  1. Does it has any limitation on the number of services it covers?
  2. How good is the cloud security monitoring capability?
  3. How actionable are the insights from the CSPM tool?
  4. How does it help you with the remediation of non-compliant resources?
  5. Does it help you stay compliant with required security and privacy frameworks?

How do CSPM Tools Stack up against Other Cloud Security Tools?

With so many cloud security tools available in the market today, it can be confusing to know where the CSPM fits in the overall cloud security tech stack.

We will focus on three major cloud security tools—CASB, CWPP, CIEM, and CNAPP.

  • CASB: A Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) acts as a firewall and works across IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. It monitors all the incoming and outgoing network traffic and acts as a security policy enforcement gateway to ensure users actions are authorized and follow company security policies. 
  • CWPP: A Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) provides workload-centric security protection for all workload types: physical machines, virtual machines, containers, serverless, Kubernetes, etc.  It works for on-prem infrastructure as well. 

Unlike CSPM, it’s deployed via an agent and its capability includes workload hardening and vulnerability management. 

  • CIEM: Due to the dynamic nature of cloud, assigning and tracking entitlements in cloud is difficult. Organizations use Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM) platform to manage identities and maintain the least privilege access in their cloud environment. 
  • CNAPP: A cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) has the capability of all the tools we discussed above: Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP), and Cloud Infrastructure Entitlements Management (CIEM). 

Many features of these tools overlap. Depending on the requirements, you can choose what suits you best. The following points will help you make the decision:

  • If your primary purpose is to monitor application usage, you can go with a CASB.
  • If your primary purpose is to protect cloud workload and reinforce app security, then a CWPP may better suit your needs.
  • If your primary purpose is to ensure proper cloud configuration according to your security policies and compliance requirements, go with a CSPM tool.

Scrut Cloud Security

Scrut Cloud Security is more than a traditional cloud security posture management tool. It scans and monitors misconfigurations in your public cloud accounts—AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and more.

  • Continuously monitor against CIS benchmarks: Scrut Cloud Security automatically tests your cloud configurations against 200+ cloud controls to maintain a strong InfoSec posture. 

At Scrut, we take a different approach to security and compliance. We believe that if you have run your groundwork for cloud security, you are better prepared to get compliant. Compliance is a byproduct of being secure.

  • Fix cloud misconfigurations preemptively: Scrut Cloud Security ensures that your public cloud accounts are always compliant and secure.

When misconfigurations occur, Scrut gives you alerts with actionable recommendations for remediation.

Moreover, you can delegate tasks to team members for misconfiguration fixes.

Furthermore, you get notifications directly on your existing tools, like Slack.

Unlike other CSPM platforms, Scrut doesn’t just bombard your security teams with alerts. During an internal research study, we found that one of the key reasons customers preferred us over other CSPM platforms was our contextual and accurate alerts. So, we developed Scrut Cloud Security in such a way that it is easy to act on them.

With their previous CSPM tool, one of our current customers was getting many false positives that wasted their security team’s time.

The issues were resolved as soon as they moved to Scrut resolved. Through a unified dashboard for all the risks and automated classification of status, you know what to work on first.

Status

  • Danger – Most critical issues. Work on these first. 
  • Warning – After you’ve addressed the issues marked as “danger”, you can move on to these.
  • Low – These are low-priority risks that can be addressed last.
  • Compliant – Everything is fine. You don’t need to do anything.
  • Strengthen your cloud-native security: Scrut Cloud Security helps you establish full-stack security for all your cloud-native deployments, across compute instances, databases, containers, and serverless, by implementing best-practice security policies consistently across your hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure.

Now, let’s see a case study on how Scrut Cloud Security helped Typesense improve their cloud security posture and get SOC 2 Type 2 compliant 5x faster?

One of our customers, Typesense, wanted to build a secure cloud posture to get compliant with SOC 2 Type 2 but needed more visibility into their cloud risks. So, they turned to Scrut Automation.

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

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

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

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