How a Unified Security Platform Protects the Cloud

Cloud solutions are business-essential these days. Organizations are using hybrid and multi-cloud environments to connect users, data, applications, workloads, and devices in dynamic ways. But that growing dependence on the cloud has also expanded the attack surface, adding layers of potential vulnerability and putting security and compliance risks at the top of enterprise concerns.

While it’s common practice to address these threats with best-of-breed point solutions, the sheer number of products required to cover the full range of attack vectors is becoming too complex and resource-intensive to manage. With the risk of missing critical vulnerabilities too high, it’s time to seek a unified cyber security platform instead.

A complex security environment

One of the challenges with the widespread use of cloud technologies is that there’s just so much to protect. Workloads, applications, containers, storage buckets, connectivity, access points and more need defending against a wide range of threats—from misconfigurations to malware—across development and production environments.

Cloud providers have robust and sophisticated controls to do their part when it comes to cloud security. But the very fact of ‘shared responsibility’ points to certain complications: enterprises are not fully in control of their cloud environments—and neither are the cloud providers. Both can be confident in the steps they each take themselves, but without full visibility of the cloud infrastructure, there’s always a risk of misalignments that leave vulnerabilities unaddressed—or even potentially create new ones.

Alert overwhelm!

Addressing every type of vulnerability separately could require dozens or more point solutions. That on its own is a handful for security operations center (SOC) teams to manage. But because each solution focuses on its own niche, there’s no or very limited correlation of data from across the environment to identify, analyze, and prioritize threats. Even with security information and event management (SIEM) technologies in place to collect all the logs, there’s still insufficient context to allow for precise diagnosis and triage.

As a result, SOC teams often end up chasing hundreds and even thousands of alerts daily—the security version of Whack-a-Mole. Many of these are false positives, while some are signaling the same root issue, just ‘seeing’ it from different perspectives and creating unnecessary noise. One point solution might indicate an email threat while another throws up an alarm over misused credentials, when in fact those symptoms relate to the same attack. A Trend Micro global study found that 43% of SOC managers report turning off alerts and 40% say they have ignored them outright.

The targeted nature of point solutions also brings the risk that a key vulnerability might get missed. This can be inadvertent or the result of over-focusing on one area. For instance, most companies are focused on endpoint security and will use an endpoint detection and response (EDR) point product. However, EDR doesn’t cover email; and with 94% of malware starting with a malicious email, this can’t be left behind.

You don’t want split focus and you don’t want focus on every single point. You could train subject-matter experts if you have enough people and time, but most organizations don’t.

Mike Milner, VP Cloud Technology, Trend Micro
[on David Spark’s “Hacking Cloud Security Innovation” podcast]

Running out of experts

Since point solutions can’t provide a single end-to-end view of the environment, SOC teams must jump between dashboards and manually interpret siloed data sets to keep an eye on the big picture. That makes surveillance time-consuming and increases the chances something key might get overlooked.

Furthermore, many point solutions require specialized knowledge to use effectively. SOC teams end up having to be experts in multiple tools, which is intellectually demanding and imposes a heavy training burden on the organization.

Having multiple point solutions for cloud security also makes procurement more complex. In a conversation with Trend Micro’s Mike Milner and DataBank’s Mark Houpt, podcast host David Spark said CISOs cite procurement headaches as a key reason they are looking for an integrated cloud security platform.

You can’t focus on multiple things at once. This is why automation is important: it keeps doing the repetitive tasks.

Mike Milner [on David Spark’s “Hacking Cloud Security Innovation” podcast]

A unified cyber security platform approach

With a unified cyber security platform, organizations can protect data and resources across public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments with end-to-end visibility. Instead of multiple disconnected dashboards, SOC teams can focus on just one—with aggregated, correlated data and analytics that make sense of all the different alerts to get to resolutions faster.

Having a single platform that can pinpoint high-priority threats and calculate your risk score brings enormous benefits all on its own. But when that platform can also serve up recommended actions—not only flagging a cloud misconfiguration, for example, but also suggesting the fix—it can relieve security staff of manual burden. The most advanced platforms also help speed up SOC responsiveness by carrying out auto-remediation schemes.

Furthermore, organizations are enabled to accomplish more with the teams they have, which is essential considering that many are already facing staffing shortages. Instead of acquiring a vast breadth of specialized expertise, companies can utilize automated, intelligent, integrated technology to cover the full attack surface—assessing and prioritizing risk, integrating with leading cloud providers, and covering the cyber threats that affect endpoints, email, the network, IoT environments and more.

A truly unified cybersecurity platform simplifies cloud security, helps detect and stop threats faster, and improves an organization’s cyber maturity.

Aided by automation

Managing attack surface cyber risk demands a continuous, repetitive cycle of discovery, assessment, and mitigation. A unified cyber security platform with automated functionality can sustain that cycle while easing the strain on human teams. And in fact, automation is a prerequisite for today’s best-practice security frameworks.

The cloud has enabled developers to spin up projects and infrastructure instantaneously, but this runs the risk of misconfigurations flying under the radar. And with misconfigurations being the #1 cause of a data breach, enterprises need to ensure everything is up to code. A cloud-native platform that leveraged automation to continually monitor and scan for misconfigurations helps reduce cyber risk and meet compliance requirements. Even better if the platform can auto-check against compliance frameworks and cloud best practices and provide auto-remediation or step-by-step guides.

Zero-trust models require automated authentication and logging of user behaviors. Secure access service edge (SASE) capabilities automate decisions about access to protect distributed network environments. Extended detection and response (XDR) uses artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics to augment SIEM with deeper, contextualized correlations that enable faster detection and response. And when it comes to defending against zero-day exploits, continuous, automated monitoring with checks against bug bounty programs such as the Trend Micro™ Zero Day Initiative™ is the quickest possible way to identify and patch against brand-new vulnerabilities.

Next steps

Learn more about the benefits of a unified cyber security platform and cyber risk management with the following resources:

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