An Introduction To Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

Emily Heaslip
May 29, 2021
An Introduction To Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)An Introduction To Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
Emily Heaslip
May 29, 2021
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Many organizations are equipped to handle insider threat and external, common well-known challenges (like malware, for instance). These so-called “intentional” threats can be addressed through proactive security measures and best practices. 

But what about the unintentional risks that come with operating in a cloud-first environment? Unintentional mistakes, such as misconfiguring cloud infrastructure, can be equally devastating. Take, for instance, the November 2020 incident in which at least 10 million files with data from the travel industry were exposed after being stored in a misconfigured AWS S3 bucket. 

These types of “unintentional” security risks are what cloud security posture management (CSPM) aims to reduce. Here’s what goes into CSPM and how your organization can benefit from this practice. 

What is Cloud Security Posture Management?

Cloud security posture management automates the process of identifying and addressing risks across cloud systems, including IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS tools. CSPM can cover everything from risk assessment to incident response and DevOps integration. 

The more companies shift to cloud-based work environments, the more important CSPM will become. Employees may connect with dozens, if not hundreds, of different networks through the cloud every day. This opens a company up to a high level of risk that traditional security approaches and protocols can’t address.

Cloud security posture management creates a way to monitor, identify, and remedy threats to cloud programs with visibility, scale, and speed. 

How does CSPM work?

One of the biggest benefits of CSPM solutions is that they can automatically and regularly check for holes, vulnerabilities, or misconfigurations that may lead to data breaches. This automated detection allows organizations to make necessary changes on a continuous, ongoing basis.

CSPM tools provide the ability for IT security teams to achieve four outcomes: discovery and visibility, misconfiguration management and remediation, continuous threat detection, and DevSecOps integration.

First, CSPM tools create a single, unified view of cloud environments. Users can access data on everything from networking, metadata, security and platform misconfigurations, and change activity. A single console can be set up to provide security group policies across accounts, regions, and projects. Visibility is key. 

Next, CSPM compares cloud applications and configurations to industry or organizational benchmarks. “Misconfigurations, open IP ports, unauthorized modifications, and other issues that leave cloud resources exposed can be fixed with guided remediation, and guardrails are provided to help developers avoid mistakes. Storage is monitored so the proper permissions are always in place and data is never accidentally made accessible to the public,” wrote one expert

CSPM programs constantly monitor cloud environments for threats, looking for unauthorized or careless activity. Not only will CSPM provide insight into potential incursions, but it will also reduce the number of alerts by monitoring the most vulnerable points where malware will target. 

And finally, CSPM can reduce overhead and manual effort required to oversee multi-cloud environments. The DevOps and security teams can work in tandem, accessing a single view to streamline escalated threat responses and save resources. Ideally, CSPM integrates easily with DevOps tools already in use. 

How to get started with cloud security posture management

If your organization, like most, plans to continue to use cloud-based platforms and software for the foreseeable future, CSPM is a valuable tool necessary to maintain data security. CSPM tools are an important layer in the security ecosystem: while these tools do not apply security at the data or OS level, they will enforce native data and application controls. 

For teams that wish to implement CSPM, Nightfall is a good place to start. 

Nightfall provides a native GitHub integration that scans push events for API keys, credentials, and PII in order to remove them from your GitHub Organization. In addition, Nightfall’s GitHub Action and CircleCI Orb can be used at different parts of the software development lifecycle to prevent the issue of secrets proliferation within your code. Nightfall also works in other common SaaS environments like Slack, GitHub, and Confluence, allowing for security teams to scan files and messages for PII, PHI, and other types of tokens that violate security best practices.

To get started with Nightfall, schedule a demo at the link below. 

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