What is CSPM (Cloud Security Posture Management) ?
Contemporary enterprises are massively adopting cloud computing technology for efficiency and speed. However, this transition introduces novel security concerns that necessitate appropriate mitigation measures to safeguard sensitive data against cyber attacks. This is where Cloud Security Posture Management comes in, which is an approach to proactively manage and enhance cloud security posture.
While servers were once housed on every company's own premises, the speed of the Internet has enabled the rise of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, and the democratization of code and apps. Companies' infrastructure is no longer in their basement but in someone else's—now dubbed "the Cloud." (Yes, calling someone else's basement your cloud is brilliant marketing! 😅)
CSPM tools therefore help to protect and secure companies' cloud infrastructures (aka someone else basement).
Understanding CSPM: An Overview of Cloud Security Posture Management
Cloud Security Posture Management, is a set of policies and tools that help organizations maintain their cloud infrastructure's security posture. It helps businesses in identifying any potential vulnerabilities within the cloud environment (across the different models: Infrastructure as a service, Software as a service, and Platform as a service), thereby reducing cybersecurity risks.
In other words, CSPM deals with system that have a high adoption of APIs (example AWS, GCP, Azure) where the problem is not really to get the data you need, but more to know where to check (AWS has more than 200 products with dedicated APIs), it’s a mess. 🤯
CSPM is often confused with DSPM, the difference between these two terms is that CSPM focuses on securing workloads while DSPM tools focus on securing the data of an organisation, if you want to know more about what DSPM is here is an article where we explain it.
How CSPM Tools Help Secure Your Cloud Infrastructure
Having a tool to help you manage your CSPM will support you around 2 major themes:
Cloud Security Posture Management is a vital component for ensuring compliance with regulations and industry standards in cloud computing. The compliance landscape is continually evolving, and CSPM tools assist organizations in maintaining alignment with these requirements.
Your CSPM keeps a constant eye on the security state of your cloud resources in different environments, including Azure, AWS, Google Cloud... The biggest strength of CSPM is the ability to automatically assess assets across servers, containers, databases, and storage continuously, spotting potential misconfigurations faster and freeing time spent on manual controls. CSPM often provide pre-built compliance packs (HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC2, ISO,…) allowing security and compliance teams to gain quick coverage on their core IT services. Initial state can then be refined with custom policies to extend the CSPM capacities to specific company needs.
A great open source framework we like at Trout to quickly deploy CSPM compliance packs is Steampipe , which we highly recommend for companies with dev teams starting to think about security and compliance.
Threat detections and Remediation
Threat detections involve continuously monitoring resources to identify potential security threats and misconfigurations. CSPM apply a base set of codified knowledge to detect threats proactively and assist a cybersecurity analyst in his or her remediation.
Once a threat is detected, a CSPM tool will create an event to provide users with an overview of the potential threat detected, context, severity level, and most importantly what should be done.This will allow security teams to prioritize and remediate threats. A growing approach consist in embedding CSPM events in CI/CD pipeline, allowing to automatically suggest remediation and allowing developers to quickly fix the potential issue.
For many systems though, a member of the security team needs to validate the context and dig a bit more to see which decision is the right one, before suggesting a remediation.
What are the differents t
There are several different types of CSPM tools available, including:
Agent-based CSPM tools :
Agent-based Cloud Security Posture Management tools are designed to enhance the security of cloud resources by deploying agents on them to monitor and analyze their security posture.
These agents are gathering and forwarding data on various aspects of the service, such as network traffic, configuration settings, user activities. The data is then sent to a central management console for analysis, which allows organizations to gain a more granular view of their cloud resources and identify security risks and vulnerabilities that may have been missed by other CSPM solutions. Real-time monitoring is a key feature of agent-based CSPM tools, which is essential in today's dynamic cloud environments where changes occur rapidly.
However, the deployment of agents on every cloud resource can be resource-intensive and may affect performance. And managing and maintaining agents on a large scale can be challenging.
Agentless CSPM tools :
As stated in the name, Agentless CSPM tools doesn't require installing agents on cloud resources.
Instead, these solutions use APIs to collect data on cloud resources and assess their security posture, enabling organizations to monitor cloud resources without additional processes running next to their applications.
The main advantage of agentless CSPM tools is the ease of deployment and the reduced performance impact.
Nevertheless, it is important to underline as for the agent-bases CSPM tools the limits of the agentless CSPM tools. First, due to their reliance on APIs and integrations, they may not provide the same level of granular visibility into cloud resources as agent-based tools.
Hybrid CSPM tools :
The hybrid CSPM use a combination of agent-based and agentless approaches to achieve comprehensive security coverage.
Overall, the choice between CSPM tools should depend on an organization's specific security needs, internal resources and architecture.
Top Certifications for Mastering the Art of CSPM
The “cloud” can be rough, and we spotted the below CSPM certifications as potential way to scale your knowledge on these systems, and enhance your CSPM. 📚
Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
The globally recognized CSPM certification is issued by The International Information System Security Certification Consortium, a non-profit organization based in the United States.
The CCSP certification was first issued in 2015, and has since been issued to just over 10,000 mostly Americans.
The certification is described by the organization as follows: "The CCSP shows you have the advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage and secure data, applications and infrastructure in the cloud using best practices, policies and procedures established by our certified member cybersecurity experts around the globe.
The exam consists of 150 questions in 4 hours and covers all of these areas: Cloud Concepts, Architecture and Design, Cloud Data Security, Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security, Cloud Application Security, Cloud Security Operations, Legal, Risk and Compliance.
For a complete overview please visit the ISC² website.
AWS Certified Security – Specialty
Amazon's certification is also recognized for its quality, validating expertise in data and application security in the AWS Cloud.
By having this qualification, you are recognized by companies as a person with the necessary skills to lead cloud projects.
The certification is a 2.5 hour exam that combines two question formats, multiple choice questions and multiple answer questions.
For more information, including exam requirements, please visit the Amazon page dedicated to the certification .
Azure Security Engineer Associate
The certification of Azure certifies your ability to manage identities and access, secure networking, secure computing, storage and databases and manage security operations.
To obtain the certification it is recommended to have a fine-grained understanding and hands-on experience in the administration of Microsoft Azure and hybrid environments. More generally a good knowledge of computing, networking and storage in Azure, as well as Azure Active Directory, which is part of Microsoft Entra is required.
The exam, named AZ-500, is available in several languages and its price varies according to the country, it is necessary to count 165$ in the USA for example.
To have a complete overview dont hesitate to go on the AZ-500 page presentation .
Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer
The Professional Cloud Security Engineer exam certifies the following engineer competencies: Configuring access within a cloud solution environment, Managing operations within a cloud solution environment, Configuring network security, Ability to ensure compliance, Data protection.
To pass the exam it is required to have at least three years of industry experience, including more than one year in designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud.
The exam lasts 2 hours, consists of 60 multiple choice questions and costs $200.
If you would like more information about this certification, please visit Certification Profesionnal Cloud Security Engineer page of Google.
In addition to these cspm certifications, professionals can utilize a range of cspm tools to boost their expertise and understanding. Aqua Security Trivy , Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks , are among the most sought-after cspm tools.
How Trout Software can help you with CSPM ?
Our vision at Trout Software is to allow security teams to access their data wherever it is, which means that we are favorable to an Hybrid CSPM approach.
We have developed Security Hub, a tool that allows you to quickly analyze your systems, identify potential vulnerabilities and set up automated controls and audits to stay on top of potential threats.
In alignment with CSPM practices, Security Hub allows you to connect to your APIs and get the response data in our data cells. This is done at the time of request, and without preliminary ingestion. Security Hub then allows you to explore and prepare the data with a no-code interface, saving lots of time usually spent in parsers... In order to make the preparation of your data easier and faster, our tool allows you to make pivots, filters, searches in the UI.
Once the configuration are valid, a user can schedule the notebook to validate these controls over time, and save hours of manual checks.
To ensure that all the knowledge generated by the detection responses is not lost, Security Hub stores and indexes your responses over time so that you can capitalise on the knowledge of your team.
We tend to be opinionated, and also believe that most of the SAAS footprint of a company falls under its CSPM, and should be monitored in the same way. So in the same way as above, Security Hub allows you to easily connect to your SAAS, facilitate investigation with our tools, set up alerts and thus monitor your overall cloud environment in detail.
To conclude, by implementing a CSPM strategy, organizations seeking to securely expand their cloud operations can achieve measurable returns on investment.
CSPM reduces exposure to risks and enhances operational efficiency by preemptively detecting potential threats before they escalate. Furthermore, automated and proactive monitoring ensures adherence to regulatory obligations, resulting in compliance.
There are several types of CSPM tools, it is important to choose the tool that meets the challenges of your company.