AcademyWhat is the difference between CSPM and CWPP?

What is the difference between CSPM and CWPP?

The migration of infrastructure, applications, data, and services to the cloud results in an increasingly complex security position.

Wiz Experts Team

These complexities can lead to cloud services that are not configured in line with best practice, organizational policy, or regulatory framework, and these misconfigurations can result in vulnerability to data breaches leading to reputational damage and financial loss. 

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) are two cloud security solutions that organizations often look toward to address these issues. Here we explore the functions of CSPM and CWPP, how they are different, and why the use of both is essential to a comprehensive cloud security strategy. 

What is CSPM? 

The CSPM family of cloud security solutions focuses on identifying and remediating misconfigurations and vulnerabilities across cloud services. CSPM tools monitor cloud environments and provide visibility into security risks, deviations from compliance frameworks, and other issues related to cloud security posture. 

CSPM solutions work by continuously monitoring cloud environments for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, scanning virtual machines, containers, storage, networking components, and many other cloud resources, to detect security risks. Once detected, CSPM solutions provide security teams with recommendations to remediate the issues, as well as automating the remediation process if the configuration of the tool permits it. 

Key features of CSPM 

CSPM solutions are designed for consistent security policy enforcement in modern cloud deployments, with key features of the product including: 

  • Continuous monitoring: CSPM tools provide continuous monitoring of cloud environments, providing real-time visibility into security risks and compliance violations and enabling rapid security team responses in cloud environments that often experience high volumes of change. 

  • Automated Policy Enforcement: CSPM solutions scan cloud infrastructure for security vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and policy violations. Policy violations are quickly identified and remediated, before they can be exploited. 

  • Compliance management: CSPM tools help organizations ensure compliance with industrial, regulatory, and legislative requirements such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR. They also provide reporting data supporting audits to demonstrate compliance. 

  • DevOps Integration: CSPM solutions can be integrated into CI/CD pipelines and container orchestration platforms, ensuring that security is maintained throughout the software development lifecycle. This results in faster and more reliable deployment of secure code across environments. 

  • Continuous Improvement: CSPM is a continuous process as well as a family of security tools, requiring ongoing monitoring, analysis, and improvement. CSPM solutions provide security risk intelligence and help organizations to adopt risk-based approaches to remediation, resulting in an improved security posture over time. 

What is CWPP? 

CWPP cloud security solutions are focused on the protection of individual cloud workloads. CWPP provides security for applications, operating systems, and other components that make up a workload, as well as detecting and blocking attacks. This provides a workload-centric vulnerability management approach, enabling the enforcement of policies that govern how workloads are protected in the cloud. 

Security policies enforced by CWPP ensure that workloads are protected in line with their specific security requirements, and protect against malware, ransomware, and other types of attacks. 

Key features of CWPP 

While some of the features of CWPP may seem similar to CSPM, it is important to remember that CWPP is focused at the individual cloud workload level, changing the scope of the functionality: 

  • Threat Detection and Prevention: CWPP solutions provide continuous threat monitoring and detection, identifying potential threats and preventing them before they can negatively impact a workload. 

  • Identity and Access Management: CWPP helps to ensure that only authorized users can access workloads, as well as providing access controls that limit the actions that users can take. 

  • Configuration Management: By providing tools for managing and monitoring workload configuration, CWPP ensures a consistent configuration policy is applied and any changes are tracked and audited. 

  • Compliance Management: Organizations maintain compliance with regulatory requirements, using CWPP to generate reports and alerts that identify non-compliant workloads. 

  • Data Protection: CWPP provides encryption, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and backup and recovery services for workloads. 

  • Automated Remediation: CWPP can be configured to automatically remediate workload security issues, reducing security team threat response times and improving overall security posture. 

  • Integration with Cloud Infrastructure: Integration with cloud-native security services and cloud management platforms enables CWPP to provide holistic workload protection. 

  • Centralized Management and Visibility: CWPP provides a centralized and consolidated view of all workloads, resulting in easier management and monitoring from a single pane of glass. 

 The difference between CSPM and CWPP 

As demonstrated above, CSPM and CWPP solutions have much in common, yet the key difference between the two solution types is scope. 

CSPM is designed for visibility of cloud infrastructure and application security, identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, and offering remediation recommendations and automation. CSPM solutions evaluate cloud resources against security best practices, ensuring that access to sensitive resources is limited, and data is encrypted. 

CWPP prioritizes the security of the application and service workloads running in cloud environments, offering workload security protection against malware, managing access controls, and monitoring activity for suspicious behavior. Similar to CSPM, CWPP solutions can help organizations comply with regulatory requirements for workloads running in the cloud, as well as demonstrating that compliance. 

While the two are similar in several ways, CSPM focuses on ensuring that the cloud environment is configured securely, while CWPP focuses on protecting the workloads running in that environment. 

Why CSPM and CWPP should work together 

CSPM and CWPP are different tools with different strengths, but they can be used together to provide a comprehensive cloud security solution. CSPM helps organizations identify misconfigurations in their cloud environment that could lead to security breaches, while CWPP focuses on protecting workloads from attacks. This dual approach provides the best coverage, and the most robust security position. 

In a situation where CSPM identifies a virtual machine configuration outside of policy that permits unauthorized access, CWPP can be used to ensure that appropriate access controls are correctly implemented which prevent unauthorized access to that workload. By combining CSPM and CWPP solutions, organizations have a holistic view of their cloud security posture, from the infrastructure to the workloads running on it. This approach enables organizations to maximize regulatory compliance while reducing the risk of a security breach. 

CSPM and CWPP are both essential tools for securing modern cloud environments. While there is some overlap in functionality, both solutions have specific scopes and strengths which make them ideal companion technologies that should work together to provide a comprehensive security solution.  

To find out how WizCSPM and CWPP technologies can help your organization optimize cloud security, contact us for a demo.