The Evolution of Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud security posture management or CSPM didn’t exist a few years ago, yet it’s something businesses are talking about now. This is happening because of cybercrime and how costly it can be, yet what is cloud security posture management? Well, the following should help folks understand what it is and how far along it has come.

What Exactly is CSPM?

You need to know what CSPM is. In essence, it’s a method or technique created to help protect a company’s cloud environments from a cyber attack.

A lot of businesses use the cloud infrastructure to store information about the business and their customers. Some companies even use cloud technology to connect with remote workers.

The cloud infrastructure is important, and having a methodology in place to protect this information is wise. It should be pointed out that having this kind of methodology in place protects the company when virtually no other methodology can since the vulnerabilities that put a business at risk rarely come from within the company.

The vulnerabilities come from customers, and there’s no way to train them to be more careful. The methodology is constant. It always provides security and reduces the likelihood of an attack penetrating the cloud.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

It’s hard to believe how far CSPM and its sister methodologies have come, like Data Security Posture Management (DSPM). If you’re wondering what DSPM is, it’s basically the same thing except it focuses on scanning data across any platform, whereas CSPM focuses on information swimming within the cloud.

In the beginning, CSPM helped online businesses identify their cloud environments, and it searched for any changes. This was something CSPM was able to do across any cloud space. Consistency was the key, and any misconfiguration or improper setting was dealt with automatically. If a business owner or the team had to deal with some of these issues, then that would become the company’s primary job. Scouring through the cloud and looking for inconsistencies takes a long time.

It was impressively effective, but it’s incomplete. The one thing early CSPM lacked was context, and this needed to be addressed at some point.

Adding Some Context

Usually, context is informed by how a piece of compute is ultimately invoked. The piece of compute could be an identity or a data point. Once the function context is learned, the cloud environment can begin to do things like enforcing granular access controls to apps, VMs, or apps.

This is going to be based on the user’s identity and the context, which would have required a VPN in the past but not anymore. With regards to the least privilege security model, context-aware access offers a business or organization an easier path for all users. It also ensures the use of a single platform for cloud and on-premises apps along with any other infrastructure resources you may have.

In addition to that, today’s CSPM, the more modern version with context, will also have the following:

  • There’s an ability to verify user identity.
  • There’s a way to validate context before granting access.
  • Offers unified access to a management platform, which reduces costs and confusion.
  • Effortlessly enforcing access policies to free up company’s time.
  • Security posture is improved as the workload moves into the cloud.

The only issue is that CSPM can’t account for non-person identities. These are starting to be used more and more throughout the world of online business. Non-person identities or bots can automate responses and make customers feel like they’re being taken care of. It’s only a matter of time though before CSPM evolves further and finds a way to address bots.

Smart CSPM

It makes total sense that the next step in CSPM evolution happens to be smart or intelligent CSPM. Of course, this next step is going to include what you expect, which includes data and identity security, but it’s going to do much more. It’s going to use first-generation CSPM tooling with non-person identities or bots.

Beyond that, you can also expect smart CSPM to interact with data automation and remediation. The reason smart CSPM is vital is that many companies nowadays still don’t have key identity-related security controls. As mentioned earlier, bots are here. It’s not just human users that businesses need to worry about, yet it seems like many online businesses only worry about that.

Non-person identities could act on behalf of a customer. They could be the pieces of code like AWS Lambda functions, just as much as they could be pieces of compute like Azure VMs. There’s no way to ignore the presence of bots and what they represent in the cloud. Smart CSPM will be able to identify relationships between identities, including those between bots and users. This has the potential to make compliance and security much easier.

PRIYA JAMES is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Certified Ethical Hacker, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Author at GBHackers On Cyber Security

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