What Are CSPM Tools and Why Are They Becoming a Necessity?
Learn what CSPM is and how CSPM tools are the very answers organizations are searching for to enhance their security in the cloud against threats.
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As more and more organizations are resorting to cloud-based platforms and services, it is important for companies to understand the risks associated with the same. Although the scope of maintenance and regular repairs in a cloud-based infrastructure is much lesser as compared to on-premise platforms, it is never advisable to take chances with the security and privacy of data managed.
Looking at the rising concerns over ensuring the smooth functioning of cloud-based platforms, organizations have been implementing CSPM tools to ensure the utmost security of their systems and rectifying any issues with the same.
What Do You Mean by CSPM?
CSPM stands for Cloud Security Posture Management. It is the activity that involves monitoring a cloud-based system to identify configuration issues and risks pertaining to data compliance within the system. It is similar to carrying out a full system audit of your platforms to get rid of all potential threats and work on a seamless infrastructure.
CSPM is a fairly new entrant in the category of cloud security and compliance products that provide an automated functionality to the users. CSPM tools monitor the health of your systems by comparing their cloud environments with a set of standard best practices called “security risks.” Once these risks are identified, the tools would notify the users in real-time about the same. Some CSPM tools would also help the users eradicate the issue with the help of machine learning or robotic process automation (RPA).
Key Features Of CSPM Tools
Some of the most important features of CSPM tools include:
Identifying and remediating cloud configuration issues
Mapping the current configuration state of the system to a definite security control framework (or a set regulatory standard)
Maintaining an inventory of best cloud configuration practices for users
Ensuring that authentication and access control within the system meet cloud compliance policies
Making sure that all controls over cloud services and resources are in line with the clearly-defined policies
Ensuring that the compliance standards are met via policy-based definition and enforcement over the users who can access specific datasets
Tracking and enforcing cloud-based network configurations
Managing cloud-based VM operating systems and storage solutions to ensure compliance with the company policies
Managing container-based workloads to ensure utmost cloud compliance
Integrating with SaaS, Paas, and IaaS platforms in multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, or containerized environments
Keeping a track of storage buckets, account permissions, and encryption to identify misconfigurations and data compliance risks
The Vulnerabilities Dealt With by CSPM Tools
Here are some of the major vulnerabilities that a CSPM tool allows users to deal with:
Poor structure of administrative accounts
Misunderstanding of the number of resources used or controlled by the organization
Improper configuration of access controls on the resources allowing public access
Poor controlling of the sections where data is stored and workflows are run
Controlled or sensitive data shared (or copied) with third parties for testing purposes
Vulnerabilities in the company’s technical stack from the operating system, through middleware, poor configuration, or insufficient patching
How Do CSPM Tools Work?
The CSPM tools are designed to help users identify and remediate misconfigurations and other compliance issues that pose a threat to the security of their systems.
An individual CSPM tool is able to use clearly defined best practices in accordance with a particular organization or cloud environment. This makes it important for an organization to ascertain which tools are best suited for a specific cloud environment.
Some CSPM tools are designed to resolve misconfigurations automatically with a combination of real-time continuous cloud monitoring and automation features. These features allow users to detect and rectify issues like faulty account permissions and many more.
Moreover, some CSPM tools work in collaboration with CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) tools. These tools are designed to safeguard the flow of data between on-premise and cloud-based infrastructures.
Major Reasons Behind Cloud Misconfigurations
Along with understanding the role of CSPM tools in helping you deal with misconfigurations, it is important to understand why those misconfigurations occur within your systems.
Here are some of the major reasons why cloud misconfigurations may occur within your organization:
1. The Programmable Nature of Cloud Infrastructure
The cloud infrastructure is highly programmable and customizable, allowing developers to scale the infrastructure up and down using code. While this serves as an advantage to users, it also increases the chances of misconfigurations being introduced within your system.
2. Introduction of a Plethora of New Technologies
The advent of the cloud infrastructure has resulted in concepts like microservices to combine with newer technologies such as Kubernetes, Lambda functions, containers, and many more. This makes a system handle several resources and technologies at the same time, increasing the chances of misconfigurations.
3. The Difference Between Cloud-Based and Traditional Infrastructure
Cloud-based platforms provide users with technologies that are significantly different from the ones offered by traditional on-premise platforms. If the users do not undergo a smooth transition between the two approaches, the chances of cloud misconfigurations would increase.
4. Large Size and High Complexity of Enterprise Environments
In 2021, cloud-based enterprise environments handle a wide range of resources spanning multiple regions and accounts. This is likely to result in a developer creating an incorrect resource or be too lenient with the permissions.
Why Are CSPM Tools Becoming a Necessity?
Over time, the relevance and prominence of CSPM have only increased. As more and more organizations implement cloud-based infrastructures, the need to maintain data security and privacy increases. This makes it necessary for companies to implement CSPM tools to help them deal with incongruencies and misconfigurations within their systems.
Here are some of the key reasons why these tools are becoming a necessity for organizations across the board:
1. Ascertaining Misconfigured Network Connectivity
When you have your cloud portals or services misconfigured, it may result in your records getting exposed unintended. While most cloud users concentrate on configuring inbound ports, it is important to note that outbound ports can also pose a threat to your system.
CSPM tools help you limit the outbound traffic and restrict the communication of your servers to apps and servers that are essential for the functioning of your cloud-based system. The tools help you identify and remediate S3 misconfigurations, thereby reducing the risk of data exfiltration, internal scans, and lateral movement.
Also, suitable CSPM tools help you monitor HTTPS or Non-HTTPS ports, look for misconfigurations in the same, and make sure that the ports are not exploited by hackers.
2. Identifying Security Policy Violations
CSPM tools keep monitoring your systems to ascertain violations of your security policies, making sure that your database is secure and private. They detect all violations from users when it comes to accessing cloud resources and notify them about the same in real-time. Also, the tools make use of multi-factor authentications to prevent unauthorized access to records.
3. Detecting Liberal Account Permissions
In case the developer has been too liberal with providing account permissions to the users, the CSPM tools scan your system in detecting the same and notifying the users in real-time. They also detect dormant identities, cross-account access, super identities, and an array of strange behaviors that need immediate rectification.
The Final Word
In the age of digitization, it is advisable for an organization (regardless of its scale) to implement suitable CSPM tools to ensure complete data security, privacy, and compliance.
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