In the context of today's digital landscape, the adoption of cloud computing has opened up new opportunities for organizations, but at the same time new challenges have emerged in terms of security of cloud resources. The adoption of a Cloud Security Posture Management solution (CSPM) is critical to ensuring that cloud resources are configured securely and that security standards are properly implemented. Microsoft Azure offers Defender for Cloud, a complete solution that combines the power of a CSPM platform with advanced security features to help organizations protect their cloud resources effectively. This article dives into the CSPM features offered by Defender for Cloud.
The pillars of security covered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud
The features of Microsoft Defender for Cloud are able to contemplate three major pillars of security for modern architectures that adopt cloud components:
- DevOps Security Management (DevSecOps): Defender for Cloud helps you incorporate security best practices early in the software development process. In fact,, helps secure code management environments (GitHub and Azure DevOps), the development pipelines and allows to obtain information on the security posture of the development environment. Defender for Cloud currently includes Defender for DevOps.
- Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): it is a set of practices, processes and tools aimed at identifying, monitor and mitigate security risks in cloud resources. CSPM offers broad visibility into the security posture of assets, enabling organizations to identify and correct non-compliant configurations, vulnerabilities and potential threats. This proactive approach reduces the risk of security breaches and helps maintain a secure cloud environment.
- Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP): Proactive security principles require implementing security practices that protect workloads from threats. Defender for Cloud includes a wide range of advanced and intelligent protections for workloads, provided through specific Microsoft Defender plans for the different types of resources present in the Azure subscriptions and in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
CSPM in Defender for Cloud
Defender for Cloud is the advanced security solution from Microsoft Azure that contemplates the CSPM scope to offer a wide range of security features and controls for cloud resources. With Defender for Cloud, organizations can get complete visibility into their assets, identify and resolve vulnerabilities and constantly monitor the security posture of resources. Some of the key features offered by Defender for Cloud include:
- Configuration analysis: Defender for Cloud examines cloud resource configurations for non-compliant settings and provides recommendations to fix them. This ensures that resources are configured securely and that security standards are met.
- Identification of vulnerabilities: the solution continuously scans cloud resources for known vulnerabilities. Recommendations and priorities are provided to address these vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of exploitation by potential threats.
- Continuous monitoring: Defender for Cloud constantly monitors the security posture of cloud resources and provides real-time alerts in the event of insecure configurations or suspicious activity. This enables organizations to respond promptly to threats and maintain a secure cloud environment.
- Automation and orchestration: Defender for Cloud automates much of the process of managing the security posture of cloud environments, allowing organizations to save valuable time and resources.
Defender for Cloud offers core CSPM capabilities for free. These features are automatically enabled on any subscription or account that has onboarded Defender for Cloud. If deemed necessary, it is possible to expand the set of features by activating the plan Defender CSPM.
For a complete comparison you can refer to Microsoft's official documentation.
The optional Defender CSPM plan offers advanced security posture management capabilities, among the main ones we find:
- Security Governance: security teams are responsible for improving the security posture of their organizations, but they may not have the resources or authority to actually implement the security recommendations. Assigning managers with expiration dates and defining governance rules create accountability and transparency, so you can lead the process of improving your organization's security.
- Regulatory compliance: with this feature, Microsoft Defender for Cloud simplifies the process of meeting regulatory compliance requirements, providing a specific dashboard. Defender for Cloud continuously assesses the environment to analyze risk factors based on the controls and best practices of the standards applied to the subscriptions. The dashboard reflects your compliance status with these standards. The Microsoft cloud security benchmark (MCSB) instead it is automatically assigned to subscriptions and accounts when you sign in to Defender for Cloud (foundational CSPM). This benchmark builds on the cloud security principles defined by the Azure Security Benchmark and applies them with detailed technical implementation guidance for Azure, for other cloud providers (such as AWS and GCP) and for other Microsoft clouds.
- Cloud Security Explorer: allows you to proactively identify security risks in your cloud environment by graphically querying the Cloud Security Graph, which is the context definition engine of Defender for Cloud. Requests from the security team can be prioritized, taking into account the context and the specific rules of the organization. With the Cloud Security Explorer it is possible to interrogate the security problems and the context of the environment, such as resource inventory, Internet exposure, the permissions and the “lateral movement” across resources and across multiple clouds (Azure and AWS).
- Attack path analysis: analyzing attack paths helps address security issues, related to the specific environment, which represent immediate threats with the greatest potential for exploitation. Defender for Cloud analyzes which security issues are part of potential attack paths that attackers could use to breach the specific environment. Furthermore, highlights security recommendations that need to be addressed to mitigate them.
- Agentless scanning for machines: Microsoft Defender for Cloud maximizes coverage of OS posture issues and goes beyond the coverage provided by specific agent-based assessments. Get instant visibility with agentless scanning for virtual machines, wide and unobstructed regarding potential posture problems. All without having to install agents, meet network connectivity requirements or impact machine performance. Agentless scanning for virtual machines provides vulnerability assessment and software inventory, both through Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management, in Azure and Amazon AWS environments. Agentless scanning is available in both Defender Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) both in Defender for Servers P2.
In the increasingly complex context of IT asset security, especially in the presence of hybrid and multi-cloud environments, the Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) has become an essential component of an organizations security strategy. Defender for Cloud in Microsoft Azure offers an advanced CSPM solution, which combines configuration analysis, identification of vulnerabilities, continuous monitoring and automation to ensure that IT assets are adequately protected. Investing in a CSPM solution like Defender for Cloud enables organizations to mitigate security risks and protect IT assets.