What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) encompasses the methods, tools, and practices by which an organization protects data in cloud storage from security threats. As more and more companies use the cloud for their business operations and become the target of cyberattacks, it’s important now more than ever to prioritize cloud 

Common Security Threats & How to Avoid Them

The more apps that your organization uses and plugs into, the more opportunities there are for hackers to intervene. However, there are several steps your company can take to prevent cybersecurity threats. 

APIs

The first set of recommendations involves setting parameters for how your users engage with all third-party apps. Clearly define your authorization and authentication policies. This means employing multiple layers of access control security to mitigate cyber attacks, such as two- or multi-point authentication to block unauthorized users. 

Read more at CIO Insight: Access Control Security Best Practices

As an additional measure, enforce higher standards for identity and access management (IAM). This means requiring users to create strong passwords or tokens. In fact, the Nobelium hackers are using phishing and password spray techniques that involve trying common passwords to gain access to accounts.

Another tip is to strongly encourage users to only access and transmit data over a secure, encrypted internet connection. Alternatively, make sure APIs themselves are encrypted so that communications between apps remain secure. 

Cloud Storage

Nobelium is specifically targeting cloud service providers, so don’t just go with the default cloud security settings and credentials. Be sure to configure them accordingly and routinely audit your security configuration. Some cloud service providers have automated security auditing tools built in. 

How CSPM Solutions Address Security Threats

Employing strong CSPM solutions mitigate the potential for a cyber attack. Here are some ways that CSPM addresses security threats:

  • Automatic and routine monitoring of security configurations
  • Automatic and regular audit of compliance regulations
  • Swift detection of and action on cybersecurity threats and attacks
  • Visibility into infrastructure and its data storage configurations

CSPM Solutions as Proactive Partner in Security Management

CSPM is not a “nice to have” accessory. Rather, it’s a necessary partner in security management. It takes on several functions on its own that make your life as a cloud administrator or engineer easier and prevents serious data protection violations on your company’s part: 

  • Routine audits for least-used apps that can be removed to save money and storage space
  • Mapping out security teams in your organization to understand chains of command and who is responsible for what
  • Identification of security weaknesses as opportunities for training and improvement

Important Factors in CSPM

There are some important factors to take into consideration when strategizing your CSPM, such as in-house vs. outsourcing CSPM, the degree of shared responsibility with the vendor, owning your infrastructure code, and how to remain compliant in your industry.

Completely outsource or self-manage security with in-house software

The decision of whether to approach your CSPM as something to be done in-house or outsourced to a managed security source provider (MSSP) will raise different challenges in terms of training, support, and cost, as just a few examples.

If you choose to outsource, that will save you the time, upfront costs, and resources necessary to hire and train someone in-house. Building up your own internal infrastructure is also an endeavor that you can avoid by simply outsourcing to experts. At the same time, an MSSP may not provide the level of protection your organization needs, as many only provide a Level 1 analysis of cybersecurity operations. In the same vein, outsourcing to an MSSP does not mean relinquishing all control over CSPM. It’s still necessary to have an internal security analysis team to handle some alerts and incidents that an MSSP cannot clear. 

There are several advantages to building an internal team dedicated to CSPM:

  • Complete control over security operations
  • Customizable CSPM for your organization’s unique needs
  • Quick incident response time 
  • Good foundation to scale up to a more comprehensive CSPM model 

The downsides to opting for in-house CSPM, however, are the time and upfront costs. Your organization will need time to plan and implement its internal CSPM, identify and hire the right people for the job, and purchase costly AI-based security tools. 

In light of these factors, consider your business’s stage of maturity, its current personnel assets, and its budget.   

Shared responsibility model between vendor and user

As mentioned before, your organization will still play a part in CSPM whether outsourcing security operations to an MSSP or creating an in-house security operations team. However, another relationship to take into account is the one between the cloud vendor — such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) — and the user, such as your company.

Your cloud vendor is responsible for securing its infrastructure in the cloud stack and offering limited security features to customers, while users are charged with configuring cloud security, user access, and application settings. Keep in mind that the user’s share of responsibility for CSPM is greater if you use IaaS instead of SaaS.

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of compliance 

Depending on where and how you store and access information, respectively, different regulations will apply. Make sure that your cloud vendor is compliance certified. Some well-known accreditation programs include PCI 3.2, NIST 800-53, HIPAA and GDPR. An option to consider is a hybrid model whereby your organization restricts sensitive data to its own on-site servers while relegating unregulated data to the cloud. 

Also read: Simplifying Data Management with Hybrid Networks

CSPM Best Practices 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to CSPM. Your company’s particular CSPM model will depend on company size, budget, on-site personnel, and many other factors. However, we do have some tips to keep in mind for best practices in CSPM. 

  • Blend cloud-native and third-party security apps, as cloud providers offer limited security features
  • Approach IAM in terms of groups/roles rather than individuals and tighten it up with session timeouts and strong password requirements
  • Take the Zero Trust approach by segmenting the cloud. Everyone in your organization shouldn’t have (nor do they need) access to every part of the cloud.

As more and more companies store data in the cloud, and as hackers get more sophisticated in their techniques, it is important now more than ever to implement CSPM. As you strategize and carry out your CSPM according to your organization’s needs, take the above factors and best practices into account. 


Read next: Managing Security Across MultiCloud Environments

Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen is a content writer covering IT strategy and trends, enterprise networking, and PM software for CIOInsight.com, enterprisenetworkingplanet.com, project-management.com, and technologyadvice.com. When she's not writing about technology trends, she's working out or spending time with family.

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