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Cloud Security Monitoring Explained

Cloud security monitoring combines methodologies, practices, and tools that assess and analyze cloud resources.

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What is cloud security monitoring?

Cloud security monitoring combines methodologies, practices, and tools that assess and analyze cloud resources. By analyzing cloud environments and pinpointing vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors, cloud security monitoring assesses the overall security posture as well as the performance of individual security mechanisms.

The cloud monitoring market, worth almost $2.2 billion in 2023, is on track to reach nearly $10 billion by 2030. With a projected compound annual growth rate of 24.1%, this market is a testament to the rapid shift to cloud infrastructures and the need for robust security visibility and monitoring solutions.

One of the main reasons that businesses migrate to the cloud is to empower their developers to build and deploy applications at higher speeds. Developers commission and use a diverse assortment of cloud resources to accelerate their software development life cycles (SDLCs), and security teams often scramble to keep track of and secure these new services. Securing cloud environments that are dynamically changing is a complex task that requires planning, precision, and robust cloud security monitoring strategies and tools.

The bottom line? Cloud security monitoring is more important than it has ever been before. Now that enterprises' IT strategies largely revolve around multi-cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructures, they need to ensure that these environments are healthy, streamlined, and secured. If businesses fail to protect their cloud environments, they can suffer from downtime, data breaches, and losing the trust of their customers. 

What are the benefits of cloud security monitoring?

  • Strengthened security posture: Threat actors’ tools and tactics are constantly evolving, and enterprises must ensure that their security posture can withstand these dangers. Businesses can determine the quality of their security posture by evaluating existing security tools, capabilities, personnel, and protocols and ensuring that they align with overall business and cybersecurity strategies. This is vital because security must calibrated to the unique contexts of an organization. Therefore, to assess cyber readiness accurately, businesses must have comprehensive views of their environments, activities, and surrounding threats. This is impossible to do without robust monitoring capabilities. Cloud security monitoring can help businesses continuously and contextually map their attack surface, identify weak spots, fortify crown jewels, and optimize security mechanisms. 

  • Extended uptime: Cloud security monitoring can help businesses avoid downtime and disruptions. Because cloud security monitoring assesses vulnerabilities and threats in real time, companies don't have to wait for vulnerabilities to become attacks to remediate them. Cloud security monitoring also treats security as a continuous, proactive undertaking as opposed to something periodic. This ensures that security mechanisms in cloud environments are one step ahead of threat actors. Considering the sheer volume and velocity of threats that businesses currently face, proactive and continuous security optimization is of paramount importance.  

  • Fewer data breaches: Suboptimal cloud security monitoring can result in data breaches flying under the radar. On the other hand, robust cloud security monitoring capabilities such as real-time threat detection, automatic attack path analyses, asset and data risk prioritization, and context-based vulnerability management can reduce the likelihood of data breaches or, at the very least, detect them before significant damage occurs. In December 2023, the genomics company 23andMe disclosed that a data breach exposed the ancestry information of 6.9 million people. This is approximately half of 23andMe's users, which highlights the scale of potential reputational, financial, and legal damage that can stem from data breaches. 

  • Empowered DevOps teams: Development teams, tasked with building applications at once-implausible speeds, are the powerhouses of modern business operations. Naturally, there are security implications that come with that level of speed. Cloud security monitoring can empower dev teams to build and release new features confidently.

  • Quicker time to remediation: Vulnerabilities are inevitable in cloud environments. However, not all vulnerabilities will have the same degree of impact on a particular organization. Cloud security monitoring helps businesses understand which issues matter most to them in real time, significantly reducing time to remediation. 

  • Optimized cloud security metrics: Cloud security monitoring provides businesses with highly accurate and contextualized cloud security metrics. By having visibility into critical cloud security metrics, businesses can frame new goals—for example, reducing the mean time to detect and remediate. Making these cloud security metrics available to dev, security, and operations teams ensures that key personnel and stakeholders across the organization know what they are working toward and where they currently stand.

  • Strengthened threat intelligence programs: Vibrant cross-department threat intelligence programs help protect businesses from internal and external threats. However, the effectiveness of threat intelligence programs is directly proportional to the quality of cloud security monitoring. If businesses are unable to accurately assess their cloud environments, they can’t accurately generate holistic and actionable threat insights and intelligence. Cloud security monitoring ensures that threat intelligence programs are furnished with precise, contextualized, and relevant cloud security data.

  • Secured digital transformation initiatives: With cloud security monitoring, businesses can confidently adopt cloud-based infrastructures and establish strong digital moorings without the fear of facing security disasters. If their cloud environments are rife with vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and other problematic attack vectors, organizations can’t succeed. Cloud security monitoring can help solve these challenges and secure digital transformation journeys.

What features should you look for in a cloud security monitoring tool?

  • Architecture-agnostic visibility: Your cloud security monitoring tool must provide comprehensive visibility across your cloud environments, irrespective of the kind of architecture or configuration of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services present. You need to be able to identify and monitor all workloads, including virtual machines, containers, serverless functions, serverless containers, and storage buckets. 

  • Cloud service provider coverage: Whether you use a single cloud service provider or services from multiple providers like Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, Alibaba, and Oracle, your cloud security monitoring tool must provide 24/7 visibility into your various services. It should also encompass Kubernetes, OpenShift, and similar platforms. 

  • Real-time agentless scanning: Your cloud security monitoring tool must be able to provide continuous, real-time scans across your cloud environments and resources. This will help address vulnerabilities and inefficiencies early and help nurture a proactive security environment rather than a reactive one. Remember, the best way to achieve seamless real-time scanning is by choosing an agentless cloud security monitoring tool. 

  • Holistic security from a unified platform: Interconnectedness and harmony between security solutions are vital, doubly so with cloud security monitoring tools. Siloed cloud security monitoring mechanisms can result in blind spots, unaddressed vulnerabilities, shadow IT, and undetected data breaches. Therefore, your cloud security monitoring solution needs to be part of a unified platform.

  • Risk-based view into your cloud environments: All cloud security monitoring tools scan and analyze cloud environments. However, not all of them present a prioritized look into the vulnerabilities that threaten your cloud estate. Be sure to choose a cloud security monitoring tool that can identify all vulnerabilities and present them to you in a simple prioritized list. Prioritization shouldn’t be generic. Instead, it should take into account the numerous cloud, business, and workload contexts that are particular to your organization.

  • Compliance assessments: Your business must follow the regulations set by various industry and federal bodies, so you need a cloud security monitoring tool with strong compliance capabilities. The ideal tool includes customizable compliance frameworks to meet regulatory benchmarks and continuous compliance evaluation and reporting via heatmaps. 

  • Segmented views: While security teams need to have a bird’s eye view of your cloud estate, all teams within the organization should be able to monitor their sub-ecosystems and assess security issues that matter to them. That’s why it’s important to leverage a cloud security monitoring tool that offers segmented views and self-serve capabilities to make every employee and team in your organization feel empowered and protected.

Best practices for cloud security monitoring

The following are the top eight tips and tricks to make the most of your cloud security monitoring solution: 

1. Frame monitoring objectives

Like any other security tool in your environment, make sure that your cloud security monitoring solution is strategy-bound. Use the objectives of this high-level strategy to frame monitoring objectives, retrieve and leverage the most relevant metrics, and facilitate constant optimization and value creation. 

2. Ensure complete coverage from build to runtime

A common mistake that many businesses make is integrating cloud security monitoring late in their development processes and workflows. Monitor your SDLCs as early as possible to identify and address security issues in their infancy. 

3. Automate monitoring

As cloud environments become faster, bigger, and more challenging to manage, it’s a good idea to automate as many monitoring capabilities as you can. By automating cloud security monitoring, you’ll guide your security and IT teams to focus on more high-level, innovative, and human-centric activities. 

4. Conduct periodic manual interventions

Automated mechanisms can take care of the vast majority of cloud security monitoring requirements. However, it’s a good idea for security and IT teams to conduct periodic manual penetration tests and assessments for closer inspection. 

5. Integrate monitoring alerts into existing workflows

You shouldn’t have to search too far for monitoring alerts and information. Integrate your cloud security monitoring tool with existing project management and collaboration platforms like Slack and Jira to easily and seamlessly incorporate monitoring alerts into your workflows.

6. Facilitate cross-program intelligence sharing

Your cloud security monitoring tool will reveal plenty of information about your cloud estate, but this information must be accessible. Siloed security information can be disastrous. Integrate your cloud security monitoring tool with SIEM and SOAR programs and platforms so that all teams in your organization can analyze and leverage critical cloud security information.

7. Don’t neglect compliance monitoring

Compliance and security shouldn’t be a trade-off. While spending more time and resources to stay on the lookout for cyberattacks is tempting, don’t neglect compliance. A robust and secure cloud ecosystem can significantly strengthen compliance and vice versa.

8. Commit to iterative improvements

Remember that threat actors constantly sharpen their tools and explore new ways to penetrate your perimeters. No matter if you are currently facing high or low volumes of threats, ensure that your organization commits to continuously improving the quality and efficiency of your cloud security posture monitoring. 

How Wiz can transform your cloud security monitoring 

As more organizations start using and migrating to the cloud, it’s critical that teams have visibility into their security posture. This is because the cloud poses new challenges that dev, sec, and ops teams need to adapt to quickly. Wiz's CNAPP solution provides teams immediate visibility into any risks or threats across an organization's cloud estate—from compute to data.

Get a demo now to see how Wiz can help you monitor and gain visibility into the critical security issues your teams should be focused on.

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