Application and web development paradigms are shifting quickly toward the cloud, which now provides extensive resources for storage, scaling, and networking. With such rapid expansion comes an array of novel and complex security concerns.
Moreover, developing and managing applications in the cloud has become faster and easier, which inadvertently expands the potential for human error that can lead to security incidents such as data breaches.
Fortunately, there are several solutions to help security teams manage your cloud resources and architecture. This article will explore three solutions, CIEM, CWPP, and CSPM, detail a sample case for each, and help you to determine when and how to use them—whether individually or in conjunction with one another.
What is CIEM?
CIEM stands for Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management. This security solution monitors users, identities, and access privileges within a cloud (or multi-cloud) infrastructure.
CIEM implements the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) to cloud-related access, ensuring that users and accounts receive the minimum degrees of access that enable them to function properly. This approach has become integral as companies increasingly turn to more complex and unstructured cloud solutions, where on-demand creation and destruction of resources make it virtually impossible to manually define and maintain access privileges.
Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a solution intended to maintain the security of workloads moving through such environments like hybrid cloud, which rely on physical, on-premises machines, virtual machines (VMs), and cloud workloads. As a workload deploys to a cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi cloud environment, a CWPP will proactively search for and protect it against known vulnerabilities. Moreover, it implements an array of tools to protect the workload at runtime and provides visibility across an enterprise-level system.
CSPM stands for Cloud Security Posture Management. It’s a security arena that implements automation to mitigate cloud security misconfigurations and compliance failures. CSPM tools rely upon a pre-defined set of security and compliance best practices, as well as known risks, against which they can compare cloud architecture to uncover any faults or shortcomings. Degrees of automation vary depending on the tool, but more advanced solutions will automatically resolve identified security risks without the need for user intervention.
Identifying solutions based on use case
As you’ve likely deduced, these three tools comprise an overarching cloud security protocol. As a result, you will often find more than one tool in use for the same cloud environment. However, as their goals differ considerably, there are countless situations in which one tool or approach represents an ideal solution.
A CSPM remedy
A mid-size medical practice had been using HIPAA-compliant software on its sole office’s local machines. However, new patient demand means the practice is set to expand, adding more practitioners and requiring several additional locations. Physicians must be able to access all records, regardless of which branch they’re currently working from.
Furthermore, the practice wants to provide its clients with reliable access to their medical records, appointment scheduling, and communication with medical personnel. The practice has already hired an engineer to create an application that will enable this access for physicians/staff and patients. But moving the existing records into the new application and expanding their practice will require a fairly rapid shift to a hybrid-cloud environment. Moreover, maintaining the security and integrity of patient information is paramount.
In this scenario, implementing a CSPM solution is the way to go. The office can even use its previous software’s HIPAA compliance standards as a reference point for the CSPM integration. Here, the benefit of CSPM should be clear: Integrating automated processes and cloud-borne technologies to monitor misconfigurations and compliance will help ensure that transitioning to the new app maintains optimal compliance standards for patient information and help to prevent misconfigurations before they pose an issue.
CIEM runs for office
While many government websites are notoriously rough-hewn, government offices are increasingly turning to the cost-saving abilities of cloud architecture. Consider a situation in which a district’s law enforcement sector must rapidly shift its internal applications into a cloud setting and is contracting additional IT support for the process. The applications enable authorized entities to access and modify criminal databases, judicial records, and privileged or confidential information about government officials.
While the ability to spin up the application’s resources on demand will greatly ease what used to be an overburdened physical infrastructure, it becomes virtually impossible for the IT team to effectively manage identities and access privileges. This becomes even more complicated with a revolving door of temporary contract workers.
The answer to this is CIEM. Instead of tasking the overworked IT team with establishing and maintaining countless roles, privileges, and access levels, a CIEM solution will seamlessly handle these processes and provide a unified location from which to monitor the system’s comings and goings. With such sensitive information on the line, the ability to detect and resolve points of weakness—like excessive cloud permissions or misconfigured roles—is a crucial CIEM offering.
The CWPP solution
Ensuring the security of an application’s workloads requires visibility into each workload passing through physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Moreover, a vulnerability here exposes your entire application ecosystem to the danger of compromised data.
Consider an enterprise-level e-commerce platform that, despite its success, still relies heavily on its physical data centers. Data stores include sensitive customer information and proprietary in-house secrets for its technical and business functions. As maintenance costs become too burdensome, the decision is made to begin shifting the application and its data stores to the cloud.
This is a massive endeavor. Realistically, physical machines will remain part of the platform’s infrastructure for years to come. The impending hybrid-cloud environment has the potential to obscure available visibility into workloads deployed anywhere within the system. Without proper monitoring, it can be all too easy to miss vulnerabilities during deployment and at runtime.
An effective CWPP can provide the necessary visibility into each segment of these processes, all through a single console and group of APIs. Moreover, it works proactively to secure workloads regardless of their physical—or more ephemeral—location.
You might have read one of the preceding examples and come to a different conclusion. Perhaps the expanding medical practice and the government branch might additionally benefit from a CWPP tool, for instance. If this or a similar thought occurred to you, you’re likely correct. While each of the examples would certainly require the associated solution, combining two or more approaches can often represent an optimal solution.
As cloud-reliant infrastructure becomes ever more commonplace, the demand for holistic security solutions has never been higher. However, the dynamic and transient nature of the cloud makes it difficult to secure. Moreover, its flexibility means that no two architectures require identical solutions.
Fortunately, CIEM, CWPP, and CSPM technologies can make migrating to and using the cloud far more manageable. While each solution addresses unique security concerns, the most effective approach often includes a combination of multiple strategies. If you’d like to learn more about improving your infrastructure, explore Trend Micro’s cloud security platform and discover what’s possible with an automatic, flexible, all-in-one solution.