What Is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

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If you’re a business today, no matter the industry, part of your operations exist on the cloud.

Many organizations are now cloud-first, meaning the majority of their digital operations and servers are accessed remotely via the internet. The servers are not on-premises and are not accessed through an intranet, but rather through internet-enabled software. 69% of businesses are already using the cloud but only 19% of them are paying attention to Cloud Security.  

While the rise in cloud operations allows organizations of all sizes to operate in a way that’s more efficient, cost-effective, and flexible, opening your data, assets, and networks to the internet creates risk — particularly risks involving misconfiguration and compliance. In addition, 44% of security threats exploit the cloud

What Is CSPM? 

CPSM solutions automate the identification and remediation of risks across cloud infrastructures, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS). These solutions also offer continuous monitoring to identify security gaps. CSPM is one of the newer sectors of cybersecurity and the term was coined by Gartner. 

How Does CSPM Work? 

CSPM solutions operate by comparing the cloud environment against a set of known security risks to identify risks. While some solutions are rules-based, operating in accordance with defined rules, others utilize machine learning, adjusting the comparisons and interpretations as technologies and user behavior changes.  

Key capabilities include: 

  • Monitoring across cloud services 
  • Mapping configurations to security framework 
  • Detecting misconfigurations in real time 
  • Alerting users to suspicious activity 

Why is Utilizing CSPM Important? 

With physical, in-house servers, an organization’s most critical data is protected by digital and literal walls. There’s centralization in visibility, limited operations, and most importantly, a perimeter that can be protected. That cloud lacks all those components.  

Visibility is a crucial component here, because if you’re a large organization with thousands of instances and accounts, keeping track of every action in a complex environment is almost impossible without serious automation and technological help.  

In addition, new technologies and services are being implemented faster than human expertise, creating a talent gap that can lead to security issues across organizations and industries. However, only 19% of organizations have invested in Cloud Security. 

There’s also the issue of misconfiguration. Misconfigurations, meaning errors, glitches, gaps, or using security groups default settings, could pose a risk to data, causing 80% of security incidents.   

Common Misconfigurations 

Common cloud misconfigurations include: 

  • Unrestricted inbound and outbound ports. 
  • Failing to manage the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) properly. 
  • Poor identity management and access controls. 
  • Improper API management and documentation. 

Because cloud environments are complex, vast, and can be versatile depending on an organization’s business needs, monitoring for misconfigurations can be difficult to do manually, which is why the automation of CSPM solutions are critical for cloud security. 

Benefits of Employing CSPM 

Both intentional and unintentional risks can be reduced by using CSPM. While hackers are working to take advantage of the cloud, organizations can accidentally create risk through lack of monitoring, visibility, or configuration.  

Benefits include: 

  • Increased visibility across multi-cloud environments 
  • The ability to monitor the cloud environment 
  • A reduction in alert fatigue or potential false positives 
  • Threat hunting and cyber risk reduction 

Benefits of cloud security posture management (CSPM) as listed in the bullet points.

The Risk of Not Utilizing CSPM Solutions 

In 2021, 80 US municipalities had their data exposed due to misconfigurations within AWS. The misconfigured bucket included 1,000GB of data and more than 1.6 million files — full of personal identifying information of New England residents. The misconfiguration was through an organization called mapsonline.net. 

With a proper CSPM solution, that misconfiguration would’ve been detected, and the organization would’ve been able to patch the security gap before that data was leaked. If the organization didn’t patch the leak, it would’ve alerted them to the data leak as soon as it was occurring. CSPM acts as both a proactive tool and an in-the-moment tool, working to mitigate future and current cyber threats. 

Arctic Wolf’s CSPM Solutions 

Arctic Wolf® Cloud Security Posture Management security operations identifies cloud resources at risk and provides guidance on hardening their posture. By working with organizations to explore their environment, harden, and simplify their cloud environment, Arctic Wolf reduces cyber risk for organizations.

Organizations often face policy complexity, configuration overload, and a cloud skills gap. All three of those problems can be solved with Arctic Wolf’s solution, which combines the latest technology with the human element to help reduce risk and protect the cloud. 

There’s much more to learn about CSPM and why they’re critical for your organization’s security posture. 

Learn more SaaS Cloud security with our How-To guide and explore our buyer’s guide to better understand why your organization needs a CSPM solution. 

Sule Tatar

Sule Tatar

Sule Tatar is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Arctic Wolf, where she does research on security trends and brings groundbreaking cybersecurity products and services to market. She has extensive experience in the B2B cybersecurity space and holds a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and an MBA.
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