Security leaders need more data and context to conduct cloud investigations

89% of companies have experienced a negative outcome in the time between detection and investigation of a cyber-attack on their cloud environments, an ESG research reveals.

investigations cloud environments

The research further revealed that it takes an average of 3.1 days to begin an investigation of a known cloud breach after data capture and processing.

The challenges of forensics investigations in cloud environments

Based on a survey of 150 security professionals, the research examined the challenges and current maturity level of digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) of cyber-attacks on cloud environments. It found that organizations are approximately 4x more likely to say both their cloud DFIR capabilities are less mature and cloud investigations are harder to conduct relative to traditional environments. As a result:

  • 74% of security professionals say their organizations need additional data and context to conduct forensics investigations in cloud environments
  • 64% say it takes too much time to collect and process data to perform a timely investigation, and
  • 35% of cloud security alerts are not investigated.

“The rapid move to the cloud is clearly outpacing security teams’ ability to adapt their capabilities to respond to attacks within cloud-native environments,” said Doug Cahill, VP and senior analyst at ESG.

“In particular, this research reveals that digital forensics capabilities in cloud environments are more nascent, and investigations are more difficult compared to traditional environments. Because of this challenge, 85% of organizations we surveyed plan to increase spending on cloud-native digital forensics solutions over the next 12 months.”

Further complicating the challenge of investigating cloud security incidents is the accelerating use of containers. 91% of organizations currently use or plan to use containers for production applications in the next 12 months, but 50% believe post-mortem analysis of container-based incidents is impossible. These resources spin up and down continuously. If malicious activity occurs between the time one is spun up and down, that data is lost forever.

Top priorities for security teams to better enable digital forensics investigations

The research also examined the top priorities for security teams to better enable digital forensics investigations in their organizations’ cloud environments. Sixty-five percent of respondents cited the need to develop cloud skills within security operations teams, while 60% stated the need to develop a better understanding of the threats targeting cloud environments.

“Detection platforms help ensure security teams are quickly alerted of malicious activity in the cloud, but when it comes to incident response, this is only the tip of the iceberg,” said James Campbell, CEO of Cado Security.

“This research provides clear evidence of a huge gap in the market, as 79% of organizations recognize the need for cloud-specific digital forensics controls, yet they rely on legacy forensic tools not optimized for the cloud. This is driving strong demand for our Cado Response platform.”

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