Cloud Security Tools Selecting the Right Solutions and the Right Vendors

According to IDG’s 2018 Cloud Computing Survey, 89% of companies use Software as a Service (SaaS). With the use of cloud computing increasing every year, challenges have arisen that are unique to the cloud environment. With increased cloud usage, convoluted supply chain networks, and other third-party services out of your direct control, protecting sensitive data is complicated. Without in-depth visibility into security and privacy events that affect your data, your organization won’t be able to prevent your data from ending up in the wrong hands. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of cloud security tools available to help safeguard your organization’s most valuable asset – your data. In this post, we highlight the five most effective cloud security vendor solutions that thwart the type of malicious activity that threatens the safety of your data.

User Activity Monitoring (UAM)

User activity monitoring is one of the most vital tools for any organization concerned with putting a stop to data leakage. With event logs being recorded natively in various cloud applications like Salesforce or Office 365, user activity monitoring reads the log files and provides proactive alerting to prevent security threats on a detailed, user-centric level. If one of your privileged users suddenly downloads an abnormally large report that contains sensitive information, user activity monitoring can alert you, allowing you to investigate and remediate the situation right away. This level of monitoring can put a stop to internal and external threats while giving you the foresight to prevent data breaches and other security incidents. The primary use of UAM is detecting insider threats, meaning that additional security layers may be necessary to block outsider attacks.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

CASB tools ensure that all network activities comply with organizational security policies by performing gatekeeping duties between on-premises and cloud-hosted infrastructures. By sitting at the barrier between the cloud and the premises, a CASB can provide insights into cloud usage while offering detection against shadow IT.

CASB solutions are well-known in information security circles as a valuable layer in any defense-in-depth security posture. However, as many organizations have discovered, CASBs are limited by their scope. Often, these tools don’t protect SaaS applications like email programs, which are significant targets for hackers. In fact, phishing was involved in most social attacks (98%) according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Report. While the scope of CASBs is restricted, other layers of defense can make up for the lack of protection.

User activity monitoring, for example, integrates with CASBs – a CASB can ingest event logs to identify and alert on potential threats. This added layer of insight shines a light on granular details within your cloud environment. In an application like Salesforce, user activity monitoring and a CASB can reveal details about created or deleted contacts, exports run, or data exported.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Information security teams rely on DLP tools to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data across internal networks. DLP tools provide a solution for personal information protection, regulation compliance, data visibility, IP protection, and more.

Most organizations that manage sensitive information – whether personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI), or payment card information (PCI) – must comply with regulations like GDPR, CCPA, GLBA, or HIPAA. DLP tools can help you meet compliance regulations by preventing the loss or abuse of regulated and protected data.

DLP tools are best used in a defense-in-depth security architecture because they’re highly vulnerable to user error and may require backup security. Because DLP relies on security policies, the policies must be set perfectly based on a rigid set of controls or else they won’t work as intended. Additionally, DLP solutions don’t necessarily provide details about how the data is being used, stored, or accessed. Therefore, the insights you can pull from this tool are limited.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

A SIEM system provides threat monitoring, event correlation, and incident response solutions to boost organization security. As another layer in a defense-in-depth approach, SIEMs provide insights into potential threats with alerting and correlative analysis. However, SIEM tools are complex and require teams of data scientists to use correctly. SIEM tools are limited by configuration requirements; if misconfigured, you’ll be inundated with false positive alerts. Plus, the systems generally require a fully stacked team of analysts to monitor logs and alerts 24/7. If normal event conditions aren’t clearly and explicitly defined, the system won’t work.

SIEM tools provide valuable data, but when combined with a tool like user activity monitoring, you can gain even deeper insights. UAM combined with a SIEM can show you information such as the IP address where a massive report download originated, the name of the user that downloaded the information, and more. Then, you can feed that information to a SIEM, which can analyze access patterns. Combined, the tools reduce the number of false positives you may encounter and reduce the need for 24/7 monitoring.

Identity Access Management (IAM)

Identity access management helps establish the principle of least privilege, which is restricting access to sensitive information to only the necessary individuals. Limiting privileged information to users on a “need to know” basis only is one of the prime ways to safeguard sensitive data across an organization. By managing electronic identities through role-based authentication, IT security teams can limit access to mission-critical information, reducing the risk of data breaches, ensuring compliance, and regulating network access. With this type of tool, system administrators can assign roles based on competencies, authority, responsibility, and clearance level within the organization. On a specific level, IAM enables admins to assign individual users with abilities like viewing, creating, editing, or deleting records in CRMs like Salesforce and other business-critical cloud applications. Along with single sign-on, multifactor authentication, and privileged access management, IAM is another essential layer in a robust defense-in-depth security posture.

Defense-in-depth as a reliable security network architecture

Layered together as part of a defense-in-depth security architecture, user activity monitoring, CASB, SIEM, DLP, and IAM solutions are five of the most comprehensive, powerful, and integration-friendly tools for defying security threats. Because every tool has some form of limitation, creating a layered network of solutions that work together in a defense-in-depth security architecture can reduce your security vulnerabilities.

Choosing the right cloud security solution vendor

After determining what tools are necessary for a robust security posture, many organizations immediately plan to build a solution themselves that meets their exact security needs. However, building a cloud security solution is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly. Instead, buying a solution that has been built, tested, implemented, and comes with expert troubleshooting is a superior alternative for many organizations who want to utilize their time, budget, and team resources wisely.

When choosing vendors for your cloud security tools, there are many factors to take into consideration, including:

  • Budget
  • Security needs
  • Other cloud security solutions in your defense lineup
  • Compliance and regulation requirements
  • Whether the vendor’s tool is SaaS, on-premises, or otherwise
  • Data storage location
  • Desired speed of implementation
  • Vendor certifications and qualifications
  • Staff resources and abilities
  • Vendor support and managed services

While there’s much to consider when evaluating your options, choosing a cloud security vendor doesn’t have to be a hassle. Instead, look to your applications and platforms – Salesforce, Office 365, Google Drive, etc. – for trusted vendors and recommendations as well as independent third-party sources for vetting vendors.

Ultimately, the most essential aspect of any security posture is to fortify it as much as possible against potential threats – and that begins by accounting for all possible vulnerabilities. Defense-in-depth utilizes the right cloud security tools to enforce a robust defense while enabling information security teams to gain better insights and analyses of their cloud environments. With the right tools from the right vendors, InfoSec teams can enhance compliance, streamline manual efforts, and reduce security threats.