4 Ways To Improve Your Cloud Security Posture Management

cloud security posture - bitsight

The cloud can be cost-effective, scalable, flexible and – mostly – secure. So, it’s not surprising that 94 percent of enterprises use cloud services, 67 percent of enterprise infrastructure is cloud-based, and 92 percent of businesses have a multi-cloud strategy in place (source).

But that doesn’t mean that breaches can’t happen. According to recent studies:

  • 81 percent of organizations have experienced a cloud-related security incident in the last 12 months. 45 percent suffered at least four incidents (Venafi).
  • 82 percent of breaches involved data stored in the cloud with 40 percent of breaches resulting in data loss across public, private, and on-premises clouds—showing that attackers are able to compromise multiple environments while avoiding detection (IBM/Ponemon).

After moving to the cloud many organizations assume that their cloud provider is responsible for securing the cloud infrastructure. However, the Shared Responsibility Model dictates that users are responsible for configuring and securing cloud-based applications and data. This can lead to vulnerabilities—such as cloud misconfigurations—and security breaches.

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) stops these vulnerabilities from emerging by continuously monitoring cloud infrastructure for gaps in security policy enforcement.

Let’s take a closer look at what CSPM entails, why it’s important, its benefits, and best practices for improving your cloud security posture.

What is cloud security posture management?

CSPM addresses one of the biggest challenges of cloud security management: a lack of visibility.

Today’s multi-cloud environments are complex, interconnected, and ever-changing. They comprise multiple connected resources and technologies, including networks, servers, software, containers, storage, databases, and more. These assets can be difficult to track and may be improperly configured. The cloud is also home to tens of thousands of user accounts with excessive permissions that may go unnoticed and exploited by attackers.

CSPM can detect and remediate issues caused by cloud misconfigurations, unmanaged privileges, and more—even across multi-cloud environments. CSPM offers many benefits:

  • Continuous monitoring: Rather than rely on point monitoring solutions or periodic security assessments, CSPM automatically and continuously monitors for hidden risk.
  • Less noise: CSPM reduces alert fatigue since all findings are presented via a single interface—in near-real time.
  • Proactive, informed remediation: Many CSPM tools also categorize vulnerabilities according to severity and intelligently inform remediation actions for more rapid risk reduction.
  • Compliance monitoring: CPSM tools can measure adherence to cybersecurity regulations like HIPAA, HITECH, GDPR, FIPS, SOC2, and alignment with cybersecurity frameworks such as CIS Controls, NIST, and ISO.

Best practices to improve your cloud security posture

If your cloud environment is too large and complex to visualize and secure using traditional methods, consider the following CPSM best practices:

1. Robust identity and access management

According to the 2023 Verizon DBIR, poorly selected and protected passwords continue to account for a large percent of data breaches. Bitsight research found that 76 percent of Americans never change their passwords, or only do so when forced to.

Indeed, credentials theft is at the heart of a range of impactful attacks including:

  • Web application attacks: As organizations increasingly deploy their web applications in the cloud, cybercriminals leverage stolen credentials and vulnerabilities to access web servers that contain sensitive assets. Stolen credentials account for 86 percent of these attacks.
  • Mail servers: With access to an email account, attackers can mine a treasure trove of sensitive documents and information (per Verizon, 41% of breaches involve mail servers).

To mitigate the risk of stolen credentials, ensure your CSPM program includes a robust identity and access management policy that includes access granting and revocation controls, multi-factor authentication for externally-exposed applications and remote network access, and privileged access management.

2. Continuous monitoring

Continuous monitoring is the foundation of CSPM.

Continuous monitoring provides a complete view of your external attack surface. With this insight, you can visualize your entire cloud ecosystem, including shadow IT; assess your risk exposure; and drill down into specific cloud environments to better understand, prioritize, and manage risk.

Continuous monitoring also keeps an eye on emerging risks, such as misconfigured or unpatched software, insecure access ports, anomalous human behavior, and more. Be sure to configure alerts so you’re not constantly hunting threats down and are notified the moment risk is detected.

3. AI-driven threat detection

AI threat detection uses the power of deep learning, behavioral analytics, predictive analytics, and cloud-based AI to analyze the vast amount of data that your cloud environment generates. It autonomously identifies patterns or activity that may indicate malicious behavior or intent.

AI-driven threat detection technologies are cutting edge, but they are indicative of a broader shift from reactive to proactive threat management. These systems also free up security analysts to focus on more strategic activities and complex threats that require human intervention.

4. Enterprise-wide incident response

An incident response plan is key to your CSPM strategy. It describes how teams—across the organization, not just the Security Operations Center—should respond to an attack and helps avoid costly delays in discovery and remediation.

Importantly, your plan should not be static. Revisit it often to ensure that emerging cloud risks and new scenarios are accounted for.

To ensure continuous security improvement, be sure to review how threats are being detected and remediated, including KPIs such as mean-time-to-detect (MTTD) and mean-time-to-repair (MTTR).

CSPM is key to a secure cloud environment

Combining continuous monitoring, automation, and even autonomy, CSPM can address many of the challenges of securing your complex cloud environment.

CSPM can map and discover your digital assets, assess their security posture, help prioritize remediation actions based on severity, and keep a finger on the pulse of emerging risk. In this way, CSPM ensures risks are mitigated and your cloud environment is optimized—without overburdening already stretched security resources.