Are you utilizing your cloud services to their fullest? In other words, do you have a comprehensive picture of what’s in your cloud, who put it there, and whether or not it’s safe?
If yes, then you have extreme cloud maturity in your organization and you’re way ahead of the pack — and this article is not for you. But if you’re not 100% confident that you and your teams have a single source of truth for the state of your cloud, or even just a handle on your cloud risks, then keep reading.
Many organizations feel confident that their cloud security situation is under control, but when pressed, they admit that they lack a centralized way to understand exactly what they have. Usually this means they don’t know where the organization stands in terms of best practices and compliance, they have no idea whether simple misconfigurations or other errors are leaving them vulnerable to attack, and there’s generally no agreed-upon performance metrics.
What’s worse is that by not having a proactive security posture, organizations are hindering their ability to grow and expand their services in the cloud. That’s where Cloud Security Posture Management, or CSPM, comes in. CSPM provides a single pane of glass for seeing your cloud vulnerabilities and security posture in real time.
Here are some of the common mistakes I see when it comes to cloud posture:
1. They think they can do it all on their own
Organizations may think that they can implement their own processes and checks to protect their cloud and pipelines themselves — which isn’t a bad approach on an individual project basis. But what happens when you now have tens or hundreds of projects, pipelines, tools, or users? Scale is what the cloud is all about and it’s where cloud security often breaks if not done right.
Leveraging open source and/or third-party tools takes the burden off your internal teams to develop and maintain the centralized visibility and control you need. Companies need to avoid putting all their eggs into one basket, like looking to one team only (like a security team) or relying completely on the efficacy of a DevOps pipeline. In reality, organizations need comprehensive and centralized visibility, security, and compliance, and a CSPM is the perfect tool to both improve and scale cloud security.
2. Not having a multi-cloud CSPM
Another mistake is choosing CSPM tools, like those offered by the public cloud providers, that are one-size-fits-all and don’t provide a unified view across multiple clouds. Each cloud has its own approach to management plane, control plane, and governance structure. Relying on these tools at scale and across multiple clouds can lead to lack of visibility, missed insights, inconsistencies, and higher risk. Robust CSPM solutions offer multi-cloud monitoring and protection, so why not utilize it?
3. Too narrow a focus
Some organizations think that CSPM is just a security matter, or they’ll buy a CSPM solution but only train a few security-oriented people to use it. The reality is that multiple teams across the cloud process should be security minded. And because security vigilance doesn’t start when a product is deployed to the cloud, but as that product is being developed, DevOps teams have a stake in CSPM as well. It can give them insights into their applications and validate the outcomes of their deployments. Organizations lose benefits and opportunity when they silo cloud operations, so isolating CSPM to just security isn’t the right way to go.
4. Assume they aren’t mature enough
An organization thinking they’re too small or not mature enough to think about security will always put that organization at risk, and too often they only think about it after a breach, or an issue arises. Securing assets should be front-of-mind from day one and across teams and putting a robust CSPM approach into place shouldn’t wait.
Best practices for CSPM
No organization is going to be perfect when it comes to cloud security management, but there are ways that you can be more successful with managing your cloud today.
Create a plan
A good cloud security posture comes from having a strategy first. Identify your aspirational cloud posture, determine what you need to know and track, and — critically — who will take ownership of the tool first. Don’t just buy a CSPM thinking they’re all alike or rely on the vendor defaults to determine what you need to look for.
Align operations and teams
Cloud security responsibility is shifting from security teams to DevOps teams, but that doesn’t mean that teams should keep themselves siloed. The technology and the teams work together to ensure best practice and to keep everyone safe. All teams should be security-minded when it comes to creating and deploying assets to the cloud and enabling collaboration between these stakeholders is key.
Know the standards and stay compliant
When it comes to cloud security, you may know you need to be in compliance — but in compliance to what? Do your due diligence to understand what standards your organization should adhere to, so you can ensure your architecture and configurations align with industry best practices. Using guidelines like CIS and NIST, with their cloud-specific benchmarks, can help you remediate any compliance issues quickly. This should be easy if you’re using a comprehensive CSPM solution which will automate it for you.
Leverage visibility and security baselines
Your CSPM solution should give you visibility into all of your multi-cloud environments in a single view or dashboard and should be able to grow and evolve with your cloud presence as well. It should also catch any changes that happen outside pipelines, and catch any sprawl and unnoticed misconfigurations.
While CSPM will do a lot for your organization, you can’t be passive. Create a plan for excellence with your cloud strategy by staying attentive to vulnerabilities throughout the software lifecycle, being aware of inherent configuration drift, and having a strategy for growing your cloud environments that relies on visibility and security. Again, stay proactive with securing your data and workloads before a breach forces you to.
CSPM: Looking forward
Cloud Security Posture Management doesn’t have to be a major challenge or a puzzle, but it does take some deliberate planning, and buy-in from the organization. If you avoid costly mistakes and put these best practices into place, you’ll find that CSPM can provide a foundation of security and compliance across teams, applications, and environments that can help your organization scale and get the most out of the cloud.