November 18, 2021

White Paper
5 min

CSPM Strategies to Transform Cloud Platforms

Learn about optimal cloud security posture management strategies and their impact on cloud security and visibility.

Mike Mullen

Effective cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools support organizations across industries and help them provide connectivity and services for users around the world. When dealing with something as powerful and complex as the cloud, organizations need tools they can rely on to keep their data and users secure.

Implementing CSPM tools requires a thorough strategy that considers both cloud and on-premises security measures. Additionally, organizations should assess their existing security postures to ensure they are implementing solutions that best align with their security and business needs.

With so many organizations shifting to the cloud, CSPM tools can provide the support organizations need to keep networks safe and stay ahead of threats. CSPM tools that prioritize automation, visibility, continuous monitoring and adaptability can transform an organization’s existing cloud platform and drive business outcomes.

71%

The percentage of IT professionals who have full visibility across their entire cloud environments

Source: OpsCompass, “2021 State of Cloud Security Posture Management Report” (PDF), June 2021

Strategies for Effective CSPM

In general, cloud security strategies should incorporate the same fundamentals as on-premises security: defense in depth; least-privilege access controls; and the exercise of continuous, adaptive monitoring and management. Two additional principles define the tactics and the value that CSPM delivers: automation and visibility. Organizations will gain the most from these tools by choosing a solution that best aligns these core capabilities with their unique IT and business needs.

Automation

Research shows that many IT professionals are concerned they are not adequately leveraging automation to effectively manage their cloud infrastructures. Faced with the persistent gap between consistent, reliable data protection and the shifting sands of the cloud, these professionals recognize that where manual processes are insufficient, automation is key. 

CSPM tools address this concern by automating an organization’s governance, risk management and compliance for the cloud. Automation minimizes the burden on IT staff, which in itself is a significant advantage. But it also gives organizations a fighting chance against attackers, who are arming themselves with the same powerful tools. 

“In the same way automation may be helping you scale up your defensive operations, it can also help attackers scale up their offense,” as Verizon noted in its “2021 Data Breach Investigations Report.”

Automated capabilities include:

  • Cloud asset inventory: CSPM tools provide continuous visibility across all deployed assets from a single, unified console. They can automate workload and application classification, as well as full lifecycle asset change attribution.
  • Configuration assessment: Many CSPM solutions can enforce configuration policies across multiple cloud services and fix common misconfigurations before they lead to security incidents. Some CSPM platforms allow users to build custom rule sets and reports. All CSPM tools can flag misconfigurations, and many can also enforce policies through autoremediation. 
  • Compliance management: Continuous compliance posture monitoring for a variety of standards and frameworks helps organizations investigate and remediate compliance violations.
  • Automated remediation: CSPM can automatically resolve policy violations, such as misconfigured security groups.

Visibility

A need for greater visibility, particularly in hybrid and multicloud environments, is consistently the top driver for adoption of CSPM tools. 

However, “visibility” means more than simply understanding the cloud environment from a security perspective. CSPM tools’ reporting features deliver visibility that is actionable within the specific cloud environment itself and applicable, more broadly, to the organization’s overall cloud and security strategies.

From a practical perspective, reporting is a key CSPM capability that helps organizations prioritize issues. By identifying which concerns are most important and what steps need to be taken to address them, CSPM solutions provide IT teams with a launch point and a roadmap for remediation.

49%

The percentage of IT and security professionals who reported that a lack of security visibility and monitoring capabilities was a primary cause of cloud misconfigurations

Source: cloudsecurityalliance.org, “Survey Report: Cloud Security Posture Management and Misconfiguration Risks,” Sept. 20, 2021

Getting Started

Organizations should start by determining whether CSPM is appropriate for their needs. The first questions to ask are “Do we have Infrastructure as a Service?” and “Are we using cloud services that require CSPM?” To get the most from these solutions, organizations need to be engaged with the cloud beyond Software as a Service. (Organizations that consume only SaaS services should consider SaaS security posture management tools to assess the configurations of SaaS applications.)

An assessment can help organizations determine which CSPM tool makes the most sense for a specific environment. Third-party partners can provide insight into the capabilities of various CSPM offerings, as well as how to use them to improve the cloud environment and remediate security issues. 

Ultimately, CSPM is one component of an overarching cloud security strategy. It brings cloud security under the same stringent protections that govern on-premises security, making governance and risk management an integral, ongoing aspect of cloud operations. As CSPM solutions check the most critical boxes for cloud security (visibility, control, proper configuration and automation to augment staff limitations), they allow organizations to confidently take full advantage of the power of the cloud.

Story by Mike Mullen, a senior field solution architect for CDW’s Secure Cloud team. He is a knowledgeable cybersecurity professional focused on assisting companies as they develop security strategies for their public cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Mullen’s experience with businesses ranging from fledgling startups to expanding global corporations affords him a distinctive viewpoint for determining how security can advance business operations to achieve goals.

To learn how cloud security posture management strategies can help organizations enhance security and visibility, read the white paper “As Cloud Adoption Accelerates, Security Must Keep Pace” from CDW.

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