Public cloud infrastructure can provide significant benefits to an organization. The transition to the cloud offers greater flexibility and scalability than on-prem data centers along with the potential for significant cost savings. However, the move to the public cloud also brings significant security risks. Resources located in the public cloud are hosted on shared infrastructure and are accessible via the public Internet. Implementing security controls for multiple environments and securing access to these cloud-based resources can be complex.

Cloud security solutions can help to take some of the burden of cloud security off of corporate security teams; however, many solutions are available and it can be difficult to determine which best meets an organization’s needs. 

Two of the main cloud security solutions that a company should consider are Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM). Let’s take a closer look at both options.

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What is Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)?

As companies adopt cloud infrastructure, many are deploying multi-cloud environments, distributing data and applications across multiple providers’ platforms. Each of these platforms has its own security controls and methods for managing access to corporate cloud-based resources.

A zero-trust security model and the principle of least privilege state that users, applications, and systems should have only the access and permissions that they need to do their jobs. Implementing entitlements across multiple cloud platforms can be complex and unscalable.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) can allow an organization to automate the process of entitlement management across a multi-cloud deployment, enabling an organization to maintain consistent access controls across its entire environment. 

Some key features of CIEM include:

  • Discovery: All human and non-human identities, account activity, and resources should be identified. CIEM solutions should also evaluate all types of entitlement policies and offer support for both native and federated identities.
  • Cross-Cloud Correlation: In multi-cloud environments, CIEMs should simplify entitlement management by natively supporting all major public cloud platforms.
  • Visibility: Without visualization support, such as a graph view, humans struggle to understand complex entitlement relationships.  This graph view should create mappings between identities and resources, and support natural language-based queries for entitlement information. Organizations should also be able to track behavior, entitlement consumption, and similar metrics on a dashboard.
  • Entitlement Optimization: Underused, overused, or ineffective entitlements create risk and provide limited value to an organization. CIEM solutions should identify these entitlements and provide recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Entitlement Protection: CIEM systems should help to identify and correct entitlements that are unusual and potentially risky.  Remediation of these entitlements should be accomplished automatically based on prebuilt rules or by creating support tickets.
  • Threat Detection and Response: User behavior monitoring is a crucial component of a CIEM solution. Anomalous behaviors should generate an alert in the corporate SIEM and analysis for anomalies, patterns, and trends of interest.
  • Security Posture Analytics: Applicable security best practices, regulations, and industry standards should be integrated into the cloud entitlement creation process. A CIEM should automatically compare policies to these requirements, producing gap analyses and suggested modifications.
  • Entitlement Logging and Reporting: Information about an organization’s entitlements is a requirement in compliance reports and vital to the investigation of security incidents. A CIEM should automatically generate logs and populate built-in compliance reporting templates with relevant entitlement data.

What is Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Security misconfigurations are a leading contributor to cloud data breaches. To effectively secure a cloud environment, an organization needs to properly configure a range of vendor-provided security controls. With multiple cloud environments, all with their own vendor-specific security settings, configuration management becomes much more complex.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) enables an organization to monitor cloud security configurations and identify potential misconfigurations of cloud security controls. 

Some key features of a CSPM solution include:

  • Continuous Configuration Monitoring: Constantly monitor cloud configuration for regulatory compliance and other policy violations. 
  • Asset Tracking: Validate that new assets comply with corporate security policies and check for threats to the organization’s cloud security posture.
  • Incident Response Management: Enable centralized monitoring and management of threat detection, quarantine, and remediation.
  • Risk Identification: Identify and classify threats to cloud security.
  • Asset Inventory and Classification: Provide visibility into cloud assets and their configuration settings.

Choosing the Right Solution For Your Business

CIEM and CSPM are designed to address two very different security risks in public cloud environments. CIEM solutions are designed to manage access to cloud resources, enabling an organization to implement the principle of least privilege and a zero-trust security model. CSPM provides crucial visibility into cloud security configurations, enabling an organization to identify and address misconfigurations that place cloud-based resources at risk.

Effectively securing a cloud environment requires both CIEM and CSPM, not one or the other. To learn more about cloud security posture management and what to look for in a CSPM solution, check out this buyer’s guide.

Check Point CloudGuard provides both CIEM and CSPM functionality for comprehensive cloud protection. Learn more about the capabilities of CloudGuard by requesting a free demo. Then, try CloudGuard out for yourself with a free trial.

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