Cloud Security Explainers:
Cloud Security Solutions: 8 Solution Categories You Must Know
What are Cloud Security Solutions?
Cloud security solutions are software tools that secure cloud architectures and identities, identify and remediate vulnerabilities, prevent threats, and help respond to incidents when they occur.
Data privacy and security concerns continue to grow as more and more businesses adopt cloud infrastructure, and use cloud resources to store sensitive data and run mission-critical applications.
With so many security threats facing cloud environments, businesses need to automatically detect security incidents and proactively identify threats across their environment. Cloud security is an evolving challenge that can only be addressed if cloud technologies and security tools work together.
What Do You Need to Secure in the Cloud?
Cloud environments are complex and built of a large number of moving parts. Many organizations use SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) to govern security for their SaaS cloud services, enabling their DevOps, Security and IT teams to get visibility and manage the security posture of their SaaS environments — particularly to evaluate their zero trust initiatives and toolsets. Here are the main types of assets that must be addressed by cloud security solutions:
Firewalls are as important in the cloud as they are on-premises, but they involve a few different requirements. A cloud firewall must be deployed in such a way that it does not disrupt essential connections within a virtual private cloud (VPC) or within the broader cloud network. Firewalls and other technologies can be used to inspect and filter network traffic to and from cloud resources (ingress/egress traffic) — whether web access in front of an application or general traffic regulation.
Also known as virtual machines (VMs), these are computing resources that run cloud workloads. A compute instance must be protected against vulnerabilities, malware, and uncontrolled changes, like any server. Protection can be more complex because cloud instances are started and stopped dynamically. They must remain visible to IT administrators and each instance must be governed by a security policy.
A common deployment pattern in the cloud is to run applications in containers: lightweight processes that can contain an entire software environment. Containers are used to run software reliably in any environment.
Containers are based on images, and security solutions must provide a way to scan container images for vulnerabilities or unauthorized changes before and as they are used. In addition, there is a need for monitoring and protection of containers during runtime, and additional security layers for container orchestrators, like Kubernetes.
Cloud applications, whether deployed on cloud instances, containers, or serverless platforms, require their own security measures. This includes securing application configuration, ensuring strong authentication, and monitoring application traffic for malicious or abnormal patterns. Both their logs and their authentication methodologies should be secure. IT administrators and security teams must have central visibility and control over cloud applications, to enable threat detection and response.
Related content: Read our explainer on Cloud Security Threats.
How Are Cloud Security Solutions Impacted by Governance and Compliance?
A cloud security solution should support the standards and regulations affecting your organization, and assist with compliance.
Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and standards like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), have extensive implications for cloud environments. Ideally, a cloud security solution should help organizations:
- Identify elements in the environment that may violate a compliance requirement
- Remediate compliance issues
- Collect relevant data from the environment such as access and change logs
- Generate reports demonstrating compliance to auditors
8 Key Cloud Security Solution Categories
The following are the most commonly used SSPM solution categories used to help organizations secure cloud computing environments:
Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
CASB tools act as a gateway between users and cloud services. They can be deployed as a physical device or a software application, either in the cloud or on-premises. CASB extends security policies beyond the on-premises environment, allowing organizations to apply the same access policies both on-premises and in the cloud.
CASB solutions work by auto-discovering cloud services used by the organization, determining the risk associated with each service, and setting and enforcing policies for data use and user access. CASB solutions typically also perform data encryption and malware protection.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
CSPM tools scan cloud configurations to identify insecure configurations or those that deviate from security standards or compliance requirements. Security misconfiguration is one of the top causes of security breaches in the cloud. CSPM can identify misconfigurations and automatically remediate vulnerabilities in affected systems. It can also report on cloud configurations for compliance purposes.
Related content: Read our explainer on Cloud Security Posture Management.
Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)
CWPP tools protect cloud workloads, such as virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions. They can discover workloads running in multiple cloud environments and apply consistent security policies to all workloads. CWPP typically collects information directly from operating systems rather than integrating with cloud provider APIs.
Cloud compliance solutions improve visibility over cloud workloads. They help organizations understand what parts of a cloud environment violate compliance requirements. A cloud compliance tool can generate audits showing whether cloud systems comply with specific regulations and standards, and suggest remediation for compliance issues.
Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM)
A modern SIEM solution is uniquely capable of ingesting and behaviorally analyzing all security alert data from any cloud or on-premises data source to help organizations detect, investigate, and respond to cyberattacks more efficiently.
To effectively function as a cloud cyber-cop, the modern SIEM needs multiple API-based connectors to enable the ingestion of alert data from any source you need to ensure cloud security. It also may ingest on-premises data sources into a hybrid multicloud environment. Generally the same as protecting on-premises infrastructure, the process looks like this:
- Logs are ingested and centralized into a SIEM
- An alert fires either from a security tool or from a correlation rule in the SIEM, or a notable user or entity event is created from behavioral analytics
- This triggers an investigation, where analysts review evidence gathered in their SIEM
- Evidence is processed into an incident timeline
- Based on the timeline, the analyst can now respond to an attack
The analyst now knows what systems and users were involved, can view their activities, and consult with or apply playbooks for remediation.
eXtended Detection and Response (XDR)
XDR is a new security paradigm that allows organizations to more effectively deliver threat detection and incident response (TDIR). Cloud environments have multiple layers, including public networks, virtual private networks (VPN), APIs, workloads, and applications. Another dimension is unprotected user devices connecting to cloud services.
XDR can help by combining three types of data to the TDIR regime, and automatically constructing attack timelines that can help rapidly investigate incidents:
- Identity management — monitoring human users and service roles for anomalous activity
- Cloud logs — collecting large volumes of log data from multiple layers of the cloud environment and extracting anomalous events
- Analyzing network flows — going beyond monitoring NetFlow for cloud machines by observing network traffic across entire cloud environments, and automatically responding by configuring network segmentation
XDR shines in its ability to combine data from cloud environments with data from on-premises systems and other distributed systems, such as IoT.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
SASE enables remote access to cloud systems with real-time context, security, and compliance policies, based on the identity of a device or entity.
SASE provides a variety of integrated network and security features, such as SD-WAN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). It also supports general Internet security for branch offices, remote workers, and locals.
SASE greatly simplifies the delivery and operation of critical network services through a cloud delivery model, improving agility, resilience, and security. Its biggest advantage is that it is a fully-integrated solution, whereas the previous generation of remote access solutions required the integration of four to six different tools in order to provide a fully secure solution.
Security Service Edge (SSE)
SSE secures access to the web, cloud services, and personal applications. Features include access control, threat protection, data security, security monitoring, and acceptable usage control, all implemented through web-based and API-based integrations.
SSE technology enables organizations to implement security policies and support their employees anytime, anywhere using a cloud-centric approach. By consolidating multiple security features into a single product, it provides an immediate opportunity to reduce complexity and improve the user experience.
How to Choose Cloud Security Software
Here are important things to consider when selecting a cloud security solution for your organization:
Public cloud support
- Does the solution support multiple public cloud providers?
- Does it allow you to manage multiple accounts on each cloud provider?
- Do you have granular access control for different features of the solution?
Compliance and policies
- Does the solution support compliance standards like CIS security benchmarks, NIST cloud security guidelines, and PCI DSS?
- Does the solution enable custom security policies?
- Does the tool detect security vulnerabilities in real-time, and what type of notifications does it provide?
- How does the solution visualize security vulnerabilities, and what actionable information does it provide that can enable rapid response?
- Can the solution perform automated remediation or threat response, and to what extent?
- What volume of data can the solution store and what is the retention period?
- Can the solution identify relationships between cloud objects, services, and user accounts?
- Can the solution operate without write permissions?
- Can the solution trace security issues to specific changes made by developers?
- What third-party integrations are supported? Can the solution work with existing security tools?
- Does the solution provide APIs and supporting documentation?
Ease of use
- Is the solution easy to use, and what level of training, documentation, and support is available?
- How often is the solution updated and do updates require any action from your organization?
Cloud Security with Exabeam
Even if an all-cloud initiative is not in motion, it’s likely your organization will be moving operations into the cloud in the near future. Before taking this step, it’s critical to assess how you will go about securing cloud operations by understanding related security and compliance issues. Fortunately, a modern security information and event management (SIEM) or extended detection and response (XDR) solution will let your analysts address enterprise cloud security with advanced monitoring, behavioral analytics, and automation.
A modern approach automatically collects alert data from across multiple clouds, detects deviations in normal user and entity activity using behavioral analytics, and helps analysts quickly respond to attacks on cloud applications and infrastructure. A modern SIEM or XDR can help you combat increasingly targeted and complex attacks and insider threats by augmenting other cloud security solutions like identity and access management (IAM), cloud access security broker (CASB), and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to better detect, investigate, and respond to cloud-based attacks, all while minimizing the detection of false positives.
As cloud-delivered offerings, Exabeam Fusion SIEM and Fusion XDR address cloud security in multiple ways to ensure the protection of sensitive data, applications, and infrastructure. Exabeam Fusion SIEM and Fusion XDR are cloud-delivered solutions taking outcome-based approaches and offering prescriptive workflows and pre-packaged, threat-specific content to efficiently solve threat detection and incident response (TDIR) for cloud security threats. Integrations with hundreds of third-party security tools and market-leading behavioral analytics combine weak signals from multiple products to find complex threats missed by other tools. Automation of triage, investigation, and response activities turbocharges analyst productivity and reduces response times.
As the leader in Next-gen SIEM and XDR Exabeam dramatically improves SOC productivity, allowing teams to detect, investigate, and respond to cyberattacks in 51 percent less time. Here are a few of the ways Exabeam supports cloud security:
- Collects alert data by direct ingestion from dozens of cloud security tools and popular cloud-based services across multiple enterprise clouds, in addition to hundreds of other products
- Detects new and emerging threats with behavioral analytics
- Provides machine-built timelines to improve analyst productivity and reduce response times by automating incident investigation
- Includes response playbooks using pre-built connectors and hundreds of actions to contain and mitigate threats
- Offers pre-built compliance packages (Exabeam Fusion SIEM)
- Supports detection and investigation with mappings to MITRE ATT&CK
- Augments other cloud security solutions like IAM and CASB to better detect, investigate, and respond to cloud-based attacks while minimizing the detection of false positives