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CIEM vs CSPM: Why You Need Both

CSPM focuses on securing cloud infrastructure by identifying and remediating misconfigurations, while CIEM centers on managing and securing user identities and access permissions within cloud environments, addressing threats related to unauthorized access and entitlements.

Wiz Experts Team
3 min read

Feeling overwhelmed by the alphabet soup of cloud security tools? You're not alone.

From CASB to CWPP, a sea of acronyms bombards every security professional navigating the ever-evolving cloud landscape. Two prominent contenders in this arena are Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Identity and Entitlement Management (CIEM). But amidst the confusion, a crucial question arises: CIEM vs. CSPM - what's the difference?

This article explores the distinct roles of CIEM and CSPM, unveiling their unique strengths and uncovering the critical harmony they create when combined in a cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP).

Understanding CSPM

What is CSPM?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) refers to the set of policies, tools, and practices designed to ensure the secure configuration of cloud resources. CSPM solutions are specifically tailored to identify and rectify security misconfigurations that may expose organizations to cyber threats. The focus is on aligning cloud infrastructure with best security practices and compliance standards.

Role of CSPM in Cloud Security

CSPM plays a crucial role in proactively managing security risks in the cloud environment. It continuously monitors cloud configurations, assesses them against security baselines, and alerts administrators to potential vulnerabilities. By automating the identification and remediation of misconfigurations, CSPM helps organizations maintain a robust security posture in the cloud.

Benefits of Using CSPM

  1. Risk Mitigation: CSPM tools identify and address security misconfigurations, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.

  2. Compliance Assurance: CSPM ensures that cloud resources comply with industry regulations and security standards, helping organizations maintain a compliant infrastructure.

  3. Real-time Monitoring: Continuous monitoring allows for timely detection and response to security issues, minimizing the impact of potential threats.

  4. Cost Optimization: By preventing misconfigurations that could lead to security incidents, CSPM contributes to cost savings associated with data breaches and regulatory fines.

Understanding CIEM

What is CIEM?

Cloud Identity and Entitlement Management (CIEM) is a comprehensive approach to managing and securing identities and permissions within cloud environments. CIEM solutions focus on ensuring that access privileges are aligned with organizational policies, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.

Role of CIEM in Cloud Security

CIEM addresses the challenges associated with managing identities and entitlements in complex, multi-cloud environments. It offers visibility into user access, assesses entitlements, and enforces least privilege principles. CIEM ensures that users have the appropriate level of access based on their roles and responsibilities, enhancing overall security.

Benefits of Using CIEM

  1. Identity Governance: CIEM provides centralized control over identities, ensuring that users have the right access permissions and privileges.

  2. Risk Reduction: By enforcing least privilege and continuously monitoring access, CIEM helps organizations reduce the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access.

  3. Compliance Management: CIEM aids in meeting regulatory requirements by maintaining proper controls over user access and entitlements.

  4. User Behavior Analytics: CIEM tools often incorporate user behavior analytics, allowing organizations to detect and respond to anomalous activities that may indicate a security threat.

Comparing CIEM and CSPM

As organizations navigate the complex landscape of cloud security, understanding the distinctions between Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Identity and Entitlement Management (CIEM) is crucial.

Focus AreaConfiguration securityIdentity and Entitlement Management
Primary ObjectiveSecure cloud infrastructureManage and secure user access and entitlements
ScopeConfigurations and policiesUser identities and access permissions
Visibility & ControlOffers visibility into cloud infrastructure settings and enforces security policiesProvides comprehensive insights into user activities and enforces least privilege principles
ComplianceEnsures configurations align with industry regulations and compliance standardsFacilitates identity governance to meet regulatory requirements regarding user access
Example Use Cases- Detecting insecure VM configurations - Identifying open storage buckets- Implementing least privilege principles - Detecting anomalous user behavior
Attack Vectors Covered- Misconfigurations - Insecure settings- Credential theft - Privilege escalation - Insider threats

Harmonizing CSPM and CIEM with CNAPP

While it's natural to pit siloed cloud security tools against one another, the optimal approach lies in understanding how they can complement one another in a cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP).

Traditionally, organizations have deployed siloed security solutions, hindering comprehensive visibility and streamlined threat detection. Each tool operates in its own domain, leading to fragmented data and potentially missed risks. CNAPP transcends this limitation by:

  • Consolidating Data: CNAPP aggregates data from disparate sources, including CIEM and CSPM, providing a holistic view of your cloud security posture. This eliminates manual correlation and facilitates informed decision-making.

  • Automating Workflows: By automating threat detection and response processes, CNAPP improves efficiency and reduces the burden on security teams. This allows them to focus on strategic initiatives while ensuring continuous security vigilance.

  • Enhancing Threat Detection: CNAPP's ability to correlate data from multiple sources across the attack surface empowers it to identify and neutralize threats with unprecedented accuracy. This proactive approach minimizes the potential for successful cyberattacks.

  • Simplifying Compliance Management: CNAPP simplifies compliance efforts by ensuring alignment with industry standards and regulations. By consolidating security activities, organizations can demonstrate adherence with greater ease.

Wiz's Approach Combining CSPM and CIEM with CNAPP

Wiz's approach to CNAPP represents a paradigm shift in cloud security, consolidating key functionalities such as posture management, identity security, vulnerability management, workload protection, detection and response, and data security.

Embracing Gartner's definition of a CNAPP as a "unified and tightly integrated set of security and compliance capabilities," Wiz goes beyond simply identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities. It correlates data from both CSPM and CIEM functionalities to assess risks holistically. This means considering how vulnerabilities interact with excessive permissions, exposed credentials, and other factors, creating a more comprehensive understanding of attack paths and potential breaches.

Schedule a demo to see first-hand how unifying CSPM and CIEM simplifies and strengths security.

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