While great leaps in innovation can radically transform how business is done, the resulting change can often force the rest of the organization to scramble to keep up. The acceleration of digital transformation over the past several years is a good example. As employees moved from the office to home and workloads migrated from the data center to the cloud, previously manual processes became streamlined, and where, how, and when work got done became more flexible. But while productivity has soared, cybersecurity has struggled to keep up—creating a dangerous security gap in the cloud that is putting organizations at risk.
Enterprise security teams need to modernize their security stack with new tools specifically designed to protect users, applications, data, and infrastructure in today’s distributed 24×7, always-on reality.
Complexity breeds insecurity
Hybrid cloud environments are notoriously complex. Made up of a hodge podge of various cloud service providers, virtual machines and traditional data center infrastructure, hybrid clouds rely on the seamless integration of various networks to provide the accessibility and flexibility that users demand. Ubiquitous access is often given by default in the name of productivity—regardless of the security risk it causes. As a result, hybrid cloud environments are inherently complex with little to no visibility into and across the various networks that make them up.
This complexity creates a security risk because all the various infrastructures are set up differently and have varying policies in place as well as different configurations and naming conventions. In addition, if any provider—whether it’s Google, AWS or VMware—makes an update, adjusts a configuration or changes a policy, a lack of visibility makes it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain existing security controls across the various infrastructures. Then, what do you think happens when a department, team or user wants to move from AWS to Azure? Everything changes, of course, sending existing security controls into a tailspin.
Security teams also must keep up to date on all the training required to protect these environments—often spending up to five days away from their regular duties just to learn how to better secure a new cloud instance. The sheer scale and complexity of hybrid clouds and the resulting expanding threat surface create inherently insecure networks that give users whatever access to systems, applications, and data they need to work from anywhere, however they want, but put the entire organization at risk from enterprising and increasingly sophisticated threat actors who are savvy enough to know where and how to strike.
New ways of working require new ways of protecting the organization.
As a result of these blind spots, organizations need better visibility and control into hybrid cloud environments than their traditional security stack can provide. Fortunately, new Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solutions can provide this visibility and control by mapping network connections across various cloud and data center infrastructures. This lets organizations move beyond just checking a box. CSPM allows organizations to ensure that cloud resources are correctly configured and patched, closely monitor access to cloud resources and ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations. This helps the organization identify and address cloud security risks, prioritize these risks, track the associated remediations, automate security processes within the hybrid cloud environment and, ultimately, enhance the overall security posture of your organization.
But not all CSPM solutions are created equal. Here are five things to look for when investigating a new CSPM solution for your organization:
1. Complete visibility into hybrid cloud environments
Any CSPM solutions worth its salt will provide complete visibility into hybrid cloud environments—using telemetry data from endpoints distributed across the network to map out existing cloud infrastructures and their connections. This gives security teams a solid baseline from which to monitor for configuration errors, vulnerabilities, and abnormal behavior. These insights provide valuable information about what is protected and how it is protected. This is especially useful when up against shadow IT where rogue departments or teams spin up their own cloud instances outside the normal IT parameters. Automatically discovering what has been spun out eliminates critical blind spots that can be taken advantage of by threat actors.
2. Agentless architecture
Agentless architecture is important for this same reason. Few users spinning up a cloud instance without the knowledge of IT will make sure the proper management and monitoring software is installed and updated. An agentless architecture ensures that every cloud instance can be monitored by security teams with the appropriate policies applied.
3. Integration with major cloud services and vendors
A CSPM solution should be vendor agnostic and connect with any cloud service provider and cloud service with no or minimal manual configuration. It won’t matter what service a user spins up or whether they decided to switch providers—complete, seamless integration ensures they will always be protected.
4. Compliance standards
It’s also important that your CSPM solution is geographic and application aware so it can apply the appropriate security policies to remain in compliance of government and industry regulations. As workers move outside the traditional data center perimeter and an increasingly complex regulation environment continues to dictate how data is accessed and by whom, a cloud security solution that provides visibility into these actions is necessary.
5. Incident response
Finally, it’s critical that your CSPM solution empowers your incident response capabilities by giving security analysts context into the when, how, why, and what of breaches. Armed with this critical information, your security analysts will be able to digest information quickly and resolve vulnerabilities as quickly as possible before attacks gain that an initial access and spread throughout the network.
Choosing the Right CSPM Solution
The cloud has led to amazing productivity gains but has also created a major security gap for most organizations. Complexity and a distributed architecture limit the visibility and control security teams have throughout hybrid cloud environments. Fortunately, CSPM solutions can bridge these gaps, but it’s important to choose a solution that is specifically designed for today’s 24×7, always-on world. You need a solution that provides complete visibility, doesn’t rely on agents for telemetry data, is cloud service provider and vendor agnostic, can meet increasingly complex compliance requirements and augments incident response.