Securing cloud environments is more critical than ever as enterprises accelerate the shift of workloads to the cloud. In November 2020, Gartner forecast an increase of 18.4% this year in worldwide public cloud spending, to a total of $304.9 billion. The research and advisory firm further predicts cloud spending to reach 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024.
As organizations shift IT spending to cloud services, it’s important to prepare for more regulations, a high rate of data loss, and a likely increase in attacks on cloud apps.
To plan for these challenges, organizations need visibility and security for software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds. Here are four categories to consider to secure your cloud environments.
Essentially a firewall for cloud services, the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) provides a security policy enforcement gateway to ensure users’ actions are authorized and compliant with company security policies.
A CASB identifies all cloud services in use at an organization, including unapproved or unmanaged SaaS and PaaS products, often referred to as shadow IT. It enables cloud usage tracking, reporting, logging, and event monitoring, as well as assessing risks posed by shadow IT and triggering alerts if necessary.
In addition, CASB provides auditing and reporting tools to enable regulatory compliance, including user authentication and authorization, policy enforcement, and message filtering. A CASB provides threat protection by protecting cloud services for authorized users and applications. In addition, a CASB provides limited data security through policy-based encryption and by monitoring data access and enforcing data-centric security policies through granular access controls.
A Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) provides security protection for all types of workloads, including physical servers, virtual machines (VMs), containers, and serverless workloads, delivering a single view across on-premises and cloud environments.
Gartner defines CWPP as workload-centric security protection solutions, which include eight layers of control, specifically:
- Hardening, configuration, and vulnerability management, including scanning
- for vulnerabilities before software is pushed to production
- Network firewalling, visibility, and micro segmentation
- System integrity assurance
- Application control and allow listing
- Exploit prevention and memory protection
- Server workload EDR, behavioral monitoring, and threat detection and response
- Host-based IPS with vulnerability shielding
- Anti-malware scanning
CWPP solutions identify vulnerabilities earlier in the CI/CD process, detect exploits and active threats faster, and provide more context and investigative capabilities when responding to an incident. Mapping observed activity to the MITRE ATT&CK enterprise matrix helps analysts and investigators understand incident severity by providing additional context.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) assesses the cloud platform’s control plane to determine whether configurations are secure and compliant through tools that support compliance monitoring, integration with DevOps processes, incident response, risk assessment, and risk visualization.
A CSPM offers continuous compliance monitoring, configuration drift prevention, and security operations center investigations by identifying unknown or increased risk across an organization’s cloud estate, including cloud services for compute, storage, identity, and access.
Organizations must create policies defining the desired configuration of the cloud infrastructure; a CSPM monitors defined policies to detect and address configuration issues that affect cloud environments. Further, enterprises can test the cloud environment for compliance and security violations and deliver remediation steps automatically.
The Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) combines CWPP and CSPM capabilities to scan workloads and configurations in development and protect them at runtime. Securing cloud-native applications requires continuous processes that identify, assess, prioritize, and adapt to risk in cloud-native applications, infrastructures, and configurations.
Cloud-native applications require a systematic approach to identity and entity management and adoption of a zero trust security posture, including robust user identity management for developers and users. CNAPP tools deliver unified visibility to SecOps and DevOps teams and enable them to respond to threats, secure cloud-native apps, and automate vulnerability and misconfiguration remediation.
By identifying and prioritizing all workloads, data, and infrastructure across endpoints, networks, and cloud based on risk, CNAPP protects organizations from configuration drift and supplies vulnerability assessments across VMs, containers, and serverless environments.
Organizations must build policies based on zero trust, observe behaviors to eliminate false positives, and enforce good behavior using CNAPP, empowering security operations centers by mapping cloud-native threats to the MITRE ATT&CK enterprise and cloud matrices.
What’s the Best Option to Secure Your Cloud Environment?
There’s no single answer. Choose a tool based on your primary concerns and priorities:
- CASB to control enterprise cloud usage.
- CWPP to protect workloads on the cloud and reinforce application security.
- CSPM to comply with cloud configuration best practices.
- CNAPP to combine CWPP and CSPM capabilities.
When choosing the right platform for your organization, make sure you clearly define your cloud security needs and communicate them to all internal stakeholders and business executives.