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Types of Cloud Security Tools

Explore the security roles your tools should cover, then outline the key tool types to help you build your security workflows.

Wiz Experts Team
9 min read

Cloud security is the practice of protecting your cloud infrastructure, applications, and data. It refers to tools and processes that allow you to sustain fast-paced software delivery while accurately detecting, analyzing, and mitigating threats.

Good cloud security is essential to keep your users and data safe. However, because so many aspects contribute to security, it's often difficult to understand which tools and techniques you should use.

In this article, we're going to explore the security roles your tools should cover, then outline the key tool types to help you build your security workflows. Let's get started.

Cloud security tool categories

Cloud security tools differ from each other in two main ways: 

  • The type of threats and systems they work with

  • The security function they perform 

For complete cloud security, you need a strategy that covers the following four categories of tools.

1. Preventative tools

These are designed to prevent threats from reaching your live deployments. They do this, for example, by using CI/CD controls to prevent branches with detected vulnerabilities from being merged. 

Using preventative tools reduces the number of real security incidents you'll face and lowers the workload for security teams.

2. Detective tools

Detective tools scan your environments to identify live security issues that slipped through your preventative controls. They spot new app vulnerabilities and highlight infrastructure misconfigurations, such as incorrect access controls for your cloud resources. 

Because preventative solutions won't stop every threat, detective tools are necessary to find as many problems as possible before attackers find and exploit them.

3. Analysis tools

Security analysis tools expand available information about detected threats. They reveal how a threat impacts your product, where it was introduced, and what the root cause is. 

A powerful analysis solution provides actionable insights so you can fix risks faster and drive future improvements to your cloud security posture.

4. Mitigation tools

These provide support as you resolve threats. They automate the resolution process by suggesting possible remediations or by fixing issues for you, e.g., auto-updating a vulnerable package or deleting a hardcoded secret from your repository. 

These tools make mitigation easier, faster, and more consistent.

Cloud security tools: A glossary

Below, we explore 10 key tool types and security functions you should include in your cloud security arsenal; these solutions offer prevention, detection, analysis, and mitigation capabilities across your app and infra fleets.

CASB (cloud access security broker)

Cloud access security brokers mediate access attempts between users and cloud providers. They're strategically positioned to enforce security policies and prevent unauthorized access attempts.

A CASB provides more opportunities to monitor, block, and audit user access. Users are prevented from retrieving cloud resources or applying sensitive actions unless the broker approves it. Therefore, the broker acts as a checkpoint that improves your ability to meet compliance criteria by demonstrating that all security requirements were met each time an endpoint was used. 

CASBs support the capabilities of CIEM and IAM tools by specifically regulating how identities interact with your applications.

Example CASB solutions: Netskope, Zscaler, Proofpoint

CDR (cloud detection and response)

CDR tools provide precise threat detection that's backed by analysis and remediation functions. Unlike other kinds of vulnerability scanners, CDR solutions are cloud-native, meaning they can provide more detailed insights into threats associated with cloud networking, containers, virtualization, and multi-cloud deployments.

Example of the real-time detection capabilities that a CDR tool can offer

The detection portion of a CDR solution continuously monitors your cloud accounts to identify new threats and verify which resources are affected. The tool analyzes each threat to determine the exposure chain it creates and potential exploit vectors. The response aspect then intervenes, either by notifying the relevant security engineers or auto-applying a mitigation where possible. 

CDR enables you to find more cloud threats and fix them faster, with a higher accuracy rate.

Example CDR solutions: Wiz, Rapid7, Arctic Wolf

CIEM (cloud infrastructure entitlement management)

CIEM concerns the process of controlling user access rights to the resources in your cloud accounts. Over-privileged, unused, and invisible accounts threaten your security and can easily proliferate when multiple clouds are combined. CIEM provides a pragmatic solution so you can audit identities, establish clear reporting, and enforce compliant access policies.

An example CIEM tool visualization of overprivileged entitlements

CIEM complements solutions such as IAM and RBAC. It builds upon these methods by adding a cloud-native layer that’s capable of automatically discovering your credentials and analyzing how they're used. 

Deep integration between CIEM services and your cloud accounts also permits automated mitigation of detected threats, for example by automatically deactivating compromised accounts.

Example CIEM solutions: Wiz, Sonrai, CyberArk

Cloud vulnerability management

Cloud vulnerability management is a critical cybersecurity process that involves continually identifying, analyzing, prioritizing, and remediating security weaknesses within your cloud environment. This involves scanning your cloud resources to discover misconfigurations, outdated software, insecure settings, and known vulnerabilities in the software and operating systems running on them.

Example of a cloud vulnerability dashboard

Not all vulnerabilities are created equal. Cloud vulnerability management tools provide insights into the severity of each vulnerability based on factors like exploitability, potential impact, and the value of the affected assets. This helps you prioritize which vulnerabilities to fix first.

Example vulnerability management solutions: Wiz,

CSPM (cloud security posture management)

CSPM tools focus on managing risks across all your cloud endpoints. You can use them to monitor multi-cloud security, enforce rules and policies, and prevent accidental misconfigurations or compliance lapses.

Using a CSPM solution allows you to take control of risks wherever they exist in your infrastructure. Modern development teams frequently deploy to multiple environments, which makes it easy for visibility coverage gaps or configuration inconsistencies to occur. 

CSPM lets you regain control by providing a unified experience.

Example CSPM solutions: Wiz, Microsoft Defender for Cloud

CWPP (cloud workload protection platform)

A CWPP provides continual security for the workloads you deploy to your cloud environments. It includes runtime-level protection for your compute nodes, containers, databases, and applications, allowing real-time detection and mitigation of anomalous activity.

CWPP must start with complete workload visibility, not just of the workloads themselves, but also their interconnections across the environment

Using a CWPP gives you greater visibility into what's actually happening in your apps. AI-powered behavioral analysis learns what's normal and alerts when any discrepancies occur, like if a malicious process is launched or an unexpected filesystem change occurs. 

By integrating with your cloud infrastructure, CWPPs can also report the potential effects of each detected threat—such as whether a vulnerability could be exploited to access neighboring hosts.

Example CWPP solutions: Wiz, Panoptica, SentinelOne’s Singularity Cloud

DSPM (data security posture management)

DSPM is a little different from the other tools on this list. Whereas solutions like CSPMs, CWPPs, and IAM affect your deployments, infrastructure, or user access, DSPM specifically protects the data generated by your apps. This must be properly secured to prevent leaks, loss, and other forms of exposure.

Example data security dashboard

DSPM tools come with comprehensive capabilities for discovering, cataloging, and classifying your data across cloud environments. This gives you visibility into what data you're storing (such as sensitive PII) and how it's being used.

Once data has been cataloged, DSPM safeguards it by enforcing security policies that prevent unauthorized access and manipulation. DSPM also incorporates data loss prevention (DLP) strategies, including automated detection and prevention of data transits across network boundaries.

Example DSPM solutions: Wiz, Cyera, Sentra

IAM (identity and access management)

IAM is a primary cloud security layer. A variation of IAM comes included with most major cloud providers to manage the user identities associated with your accounts.

IAM is designed to limit who can interact with your cloud resources and how they authenticate, e.g., by enforcing SSO and MFA for all sign-ins. It also creates an audit trail for each user activity, allowing you to verify that compliance requirements are being upheld.

Example IAM solutions: AWS IAM, Entra ID (previously Azure AD), Google Cloud IAM

KSPM (Kubernetes security posture management)

KSPM solutions are specialized tools for managing the security of Kubernetes clusters. They provide functionality for analyzing the security risks and opportunities associated with your Kubernetes infrastructure, including cluster control planes and worker nodes.

Example of a Kubernetes cluster visualization

The distributed architecture and tremendous scale of Kubernetes clusters mean their security requirements are distinct from other types of cloud resources. KSPM acknowledges this by providing Kubernetes-specific assessments and rule enforcements, although it must be used alongside a broader CSPM or CNAPP solution. 

The integrity of your clusters is only as good as the protection surrounding the cloud accounts and networks they belong to.

Example KSPM solutions: Wiz, ARMO, Tigera

RBAC (role-based access control)

Role-based access control is a security mechanism that reaches far beyond the cloud. However, RBAC is particularly important to cloud environments because different resources (compute nodes, databases, and apps) are invariably accessed by many different individuals, not all of whom should be permitted to view everything in your inventory.

RBAC works by assigning discrete permissions to each of your system's actions—such as "create user," "edit user," and "delete user." These permissions are then assembled into roles that your users are assigned, letting you precisely control what each identity can do.

One of the challenges with RBAC is the difficulty in identifying over-privileged, unused, and misconfigured roles. Because of this, RBAC should ideally be managed within a CNAPP solution that can surface all your role, user, and resource relationships across your cloud environments.

Example RBAC solutions: Auth0, StrongDM, ZITADEL

Consolidating your tools w/CNAPP

Cloud security tools work best when used together. To attain complete protection, you should consolidate your tools so you can manage all threat and resource types from one viewpoint.

Without this unification, your tools will become siloed, resulting in the following challenges:

  • Duplicated data: Vulnerabilities can be detected simultaneously by different tools and then tracked as separate threats. This makes it harder to accurately measure changes in your security posture.

  • Loss of control: It's harder to control security when your process spans multiple solutions. Hunting between platforms for information slows you down and makes it harder to find what you're looking for.

  • Incompatible data models: Tools can be challenging to integrate later on if they use different data models or report vulnerabilities in proprietary formats.

  • Irrelevant or outdated findings: Tools that lack any broader context about your cloud environment may present irrelevant or outdated results that have already been dismissed in another solution.

  • Tool inventory that's too large to manage: Large tool inventories carry a higher maintenance burden. You should be focused on resolving the threats found by your tools, not managing the tools and their integrations.

To avoid these problems, it’s best to choose a CNAPP solution to give you total visibility into risks across your cloud environments, with the ability to automate threat analysis and mitigation. 

A CNAPP is a purpose-built cloud security solution that integrates the capabilities of multiple existing tools into one platform. CNAPPs are the leading approach to cloud security because they enable holistic workflows that tightly integrate all threat types, cloud resources, and compliance requirements.

CNAPPs exist to address the challenges involved in manually combining individual tools. Historically, you'd use separate solutions for cloud security posture management (CSPM), cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM), data security posture management (DSPM), and the other categories we'll discuss below. A CNAPP implements all these functions within a single service.

Choosing a CNAPP solution gives you comprehensive cloud security protection by unifying visibility, analysis, and mitigation functions. This makes it easier and more efficient to track and prioritize threats across your environments and assets, without having to continually switch between tools.

Using Wiz for complete cloud security

Wiz is an all-in-one CNAPP solution that secures everything you build and run in the cloud. Avoid the pitfalls of trying to connect multiple siloed tools by using Wiz for CSPM, CDR, CIEM, CWPP, DSPM, and more.

Wiz helps you prevent, detect, analyze, and mitigate risks caused by all types of threats. For example, our CSPM features detect misconfigurations and automatically apply rule-based remediations. Meanwhile, our CIEM capabilities surface exposed credentials, correlate usage across your resources, and offer auto-generated recommendations to eliminate risk.

Choosing Wiz for your cloud security gives you fast, efficient, and effective protection for your entire cloud inventory. Wiz achieves coverage of your resources in minutes via API, then provides visibility into your threat posture and any vulnerabilities that exist. You can even set up rules, policies, and alerts to continuously enforce your security requirements.

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