CSPM Tools: Going Beyond Cloud Vendor CSPM Solutions

CSPM (Cloud Security Posture Management) tools are a type of software that helps organizations manage and secure their cloud environments.

May 17, 2023

What Are CSPM Tools? 

CSPM (Cloud Security Posture Management) tools are a type of software that helps organizations manage and secure their cloud environments. Their main goal is to reduce the attack surface of cloud environments by discovering vulnerabilities and detecting misconfigurations.

CSPM tools typically work by scanning an organization’s cloud environment for potential security issues and alerting the organization to any issues that are found. They commonly also provide recommendations for how to address those issues and help automate the process of resolving them.

Some examples of the types of security issues that CSPM tools may help identify include:

  • Misconfigured cloud resources, such as servers or storage systems that have been set up with weak security controls.
  • Software vulnerabilities discovered in packages, services, or libraries used in the cloud environment, and managing the process to remediate them.
  • Unsecured data, such as sensitive information that is stored in the cloud without proper encryption.
  • Permissions monitoring, to identify users or applications that have been granted access to cloud resources without proper authorization.

In this article:

Why Are CSPM Solutions Important? 

In a cloud computing environment, the provider is responsible for ensuring that the hardware and underlying infrastructure are secure, while customers must secure their own applications and data. This means that both the provider and the customer must work together to ensure that the cloud environment is secure. This is known as the shared responsibility model.

CSPM solutions are important because they help organizations manage and secure their cloud environments. Here are some security problems that CSPM solutions can help solve:

  • Lack of visibility: Without proper visibility into their cloud environments, organizations may not be aware of potential security risks or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. CSPM solutions provide organizations with visibility into their cloud environments, helping them understand what resources they have deployed and how they are configured.
  • Complexity of cloud security: Cloud environments can be increasingly complex, spanning multiple clouds, with many different resources, users, and applications that need to be secured. CSPM solutions can help organizations automate the process of identifying and addressing potential security issues, making it easier to manage the security of their cloud environments.
  • Compliance challenges: Organizations may face challenges in meeting regulatory requirements and industry standards for security and privacy in their cloud environments. CSPM solutions can help organizations identify and address potential compliance issues, making it easier to meet their obligations.
  • Lack of control: Without proper controls in place, organizations may not have the ability to manage who has access to their cloud resources and how that access is granted and managed. CSPM solutions can help organizations enforce access controls and manage user permissions in their cloud environments.

CSPM Key Features and Functionality

Cloud Security Posture Management provides discovery and visibility, misconfiguration management and remediation, continuous threat detection, and DevSecOps integration, as follows:

Discovery and Visibility

CSPM provides discovery and visibility into cloud infrastructure assets, creating an inventory of all cloud assets and their vulnerabilities. 

Users can access a single source of truth across multi-cloud environments and accounts. Cloud resources and details are discovered automatically upon deployment, including misconfigurations, metadata, networking, security and change activity. Security group policies across accounts, regions, projects, and virtual networks are managed through a single console.

Misconfiguration Management and Remediation

CSPM eliminates security risks and accelerates the delivery process by comparing cloud application configurations to industry and organizational benchmarks so violations can be identified and remediated in real time. Misconfigurations, open IP ports, unauthorized modifications, and other issues that leave cloud resources exposed can be fixed with guided remediation. Storage is monitored so the proper permissions are always in place and data is never accidentally made accessible to the public. 

Continuous Threat Detection

CSPM proactively detects threats across the application development lifecycle by cutting through the noise of security alerts with a targeted threat identification and management approach. The number of alerts is reduced because the CSPM focuses on the areas adversaries are most likely to exploit, vulnerabilities are prioritized based on the security context, and vulnerable code is prevented from reaching production. 

DevSecOps Integration

CSPM reduces overhead and eliminates friction and complexity across multi-cloud providers and accounts. Cloud-native, agentless posture management provides centralized visibility and control over all cloud resources. Security operations and DevOps teams get a single source of truth, and security teams can stop compromised assets from progressing through the application lifecycle.

The CSPM should also integrate with DevOps tool sets that are already in use, which will enable faster remediation and response within the DevOps tool set. Reporting and dashboards provide a shared understanding across security operations, DevOps, and infrastructure teams.

Cloud Vendor CSPM Tooling

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools are essential for organizations utilizing cloud services, as they help maintain a strong security posture and ensure compliance with industry standards. The leading cloud providers, such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, offer built-in CSPM solutions that cater to different aspects of cloud security.

For example, AWS offers AWS Security Hub, a CSPM service that centralizes alerts, performs security checks, and facilitates automated responses. It provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s security state in AWS and helps track compliance with best practices and standards. The tool collects and centralizes security findings from AWS services, accounts, and supported partners. Key benefits of AWS Security Hub include centralized findings, automated security checks, and fast response.

Azure’s CSPM solution, Defender for Cloud, is a service that covers Azure, on-premises, and multi-cloud resources. It addresses crucial needs for managing security, such as providing a security score, offering recommendations for improvements, and sending alerts for real-time protection. Defender for Cloud continuously assesses an organization’s security posture and offers guidance for security hardening.

Google Cloud’s Security Command Center (SCC) is a security management platform that assists organizations in identifying, understanding, and responding to security threats. It provides a centralized platform for managing security across an organization’s Google Cloud infrastructure, as well as on-premises and hybrid environments. Features of SCC include threat detection, vulnerability management, compliance management, and incident management.

Each CSPM tool offers unique capabilities tailored to the specific cloud provider’s environment. However, they all have similar limitations, because they are limited to a specific cloud provider’s environment and lack some advanced security capabilities.

The Limitations of Cloud Vendor CSPM Tools 

There are a few potential limitations of cloud vendor tools that organizations should be aware of:

  • Cloud platform specific: One potential limitation is that organizations may become dependent on the vendor for the availability and functionality of the tools. Most companies use more than one cloud provider, making cloud vendor CSPM tools insufficient to manage their overall cloud security posture.
  • Limited control: Organizations may have limited control over the configuration and customization of cloud vendor tools. This can make it difficult to customize the tools to meet the organization’s specific needs and requirements.
  • Complex: CSPM tools are often built from several solutions, making them complex to deploy and maintain.
  • Compatibility: Cloud vendor tools may not be compatible with other systems or tools that the organization is using, which can limit their effectiveness.

Overall, while cloud vendor tools can provide many benefits, organizations should carefully consider the potential limitations and ensure that they choose tools that meet their needs and requirements.

What Are Next-Generation CSPM Tools?

Next-generation CSPM refers to an evolved and more advanced approach to managing security in cloud environments. While traditional CSPM solutions focus on monitoring and enforcing security policies and configurations, next-generation CSPM expands its capabilities to provide a more comprehensive and proactive security management system for cloud infrastructure.

Key features of next-generation CSPM include:

  • Enhanced visibility: Next-generation CSPM solutions offer improved visibility into an organization’s entire cloud environment, including multi-cloud deployments, containers, and serverless architectures, providing a more holistic view of the security landscape.
  • Advanced analytics: Next-generation CSPM tools leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify patterns and anomalies that may indicate security risks, providing more accurate and timely threat detection.
  • Automated remediation: Next-generation CSPM solutions offer more sophisticated automation capabilities, allowing organizations to automatically remediate misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in real-time, reducing the risk of security incidents.
  • Integration with other security tools: Next-generation CSPM platforms are designed to integrate seamlessly with other security tools, such as Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP), and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems, providing a unified and comprehensive approach to cloud security.

By incorporating these advanced features, next-generation CSPM solutions enable organizations to better manage their cloud security posture, providing more comprehensive protection against security threats and ensuring continuous compliance with regulatory requirements.

Considerations for Evaluating CSPM Solutions 

A CSPM vendor should provide a range of features to help organizations manage and improve the security of their cloud environments, including:

  • Cloud platform support: The CSPM solution should support the cloud platform(s) that the organization is using.
  • Integration with cloud provider tools: The CSPM solution should be able to integrate with the security tools provided by the cloud provider. This can help to provide a more comprehensive view of the organization’s cloud security posture.
  • Policy definition and management: The CSPM solution should offer tools for defining and managing security policies for the organization’s cloud environment. It should be easy to create and modify policies, and the vendor should offer guidance on best practices for policy creation.
  • Policy enforcement: The CSPM solution should offer tools for enforcing security policies in the organization’s cloud environment in real time. It should be able to detect and help remediate policy violations.
  • Compliance management: The CSPM solution should offer tools for managing compliance with industry regulations and standards in the organization’s cloud environment.
  • Security monitoring and alerting: The CSPM solution should offer tools for monitoring the organization’s cloud environment for security threats, and providing alerts when potential threats are detected.
  • Reporting and analytics: The CSPM solution should provide reports and analytics on the organization’s cloud security posture, including information on policy compliance, security threats, and vulnerabilities.
  • Support and training: The CSPM vendor should offer support and training resources to help organizations get the most out of their CSPM solution.
  • Support enterprise scale: The CSPM solution must support multiple users and teams across hundreds of cloud accounts.
  • Broad integration with enterprise technology stack: The CSPM solution should integrate with popular SIEM and collaboration tools, such as Splunk, Slack, OpsGenie, PagerDuty, and Microsoft Teams.

Best Practices for Adopting CSPM Tools 

Here are some best practices for adopting CSPM tools:

  • Define clear security policies: It is important to define clear and concise security policies that outline the security requirements for your cloud environment. This should include guidelines for how to secure resources such as networks, servers, and data.
  • Choose the right CSPM solution: Carefully evaluate available CSPM solutions to ensure that they meet your organization’s needs and requirements. Look for solutions that are easy to use, integrate well with your existing security tools, and offer a good value for the price.
  • Involve key stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders such as DevOps teams, cloud engineers, business leadership, and security teams, in the process of adopting CSPM tools. This can help to ensure that the tools are aligned with the needs and goals of the organization.
  • Train your team: Make sure that your team is trained on how to use the CSPM tools effectively. This can help to ensure that the tools are used correctly and to their full potential.
  • Regularly review and update your security policies: Regularly review and update your security policies to ensure that they are still relevant and effective. This can help to ensure that your cloud environment is secure and compliant with industry regulations and standards.
  • Monitor your security posture: Use CSPM to regularly monitor your cloud security posture and identify any misconfigurations or risks. Take timely action to remediate any issues that are identified.
  • Integrate with a SIEM solution: Integrating CSPM tools with a SIEM solution can help to provide a more comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture. This can allow organizations to identify security threats more effectively, and respond to them in a timely manner.
  • Follow cloud benchmarks from the CIS: The CIS has published a set of cloud security benchmarks that provide guidance on how to secure cloud environments. Organizations should consider adopting these benchmarks as part of their CSPM efforts.

CloudSecurity Posture Management with Aqua

Aqua CSPM+ combines agentless cloud workload scanning, traditional CSPM, and correlated risk-based insights into one unified solution to help you dramatically reduce your attack surface in the cloud. The solution helps you find and fix misconfigurations in cloud accounts, enabling consistent, unified multi-cloud security for AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and more. It also extends visibility to running workloads to increase your ability to identify, prioritize, and remediate the highest cloud security risks across both your infrastructure and workloads.

The solution is part of the Aqua Cloud Native Security Platform that delivers CNAPP, CSPM, and CWPP in one single source of truth, protecting the entire cloud native application lifecycle and stopping cloud native attacks.