Cloud Workload Protection: The Key to Decreasing Cloud Security Risks

Cloud Workload Protection: The Key to Decreasing Cloud Security Risks

More than 80% of all breaches involve data stored in the cloud, and security teams that don’t use cloud workload protection (CWP) may never get ahead of attackers who want to access as much data as possible with the least effort. A single cloud breach is often the most straightforward way into these sensitive environments. On average, it costs nearly $5 million to respond and recover. So, why are so many organizations still using traditional on-prem security that isn’t designed for the dynamic cloud?

As a growing number of global organizations shift their workloads to the cloud, threat actors are increasingly targeting their complex cloud environments. Cloud workloads are a gold mine of data. Often interconnected, one successful breach can lead to a massive payday for attackers and nightmares for the organizations they successfully breach.

Tenable’s “2024 Cloud Security Outlook” found almost all of its respondents, a staggering 95%, say they’ve experienced a cloud-related breach during an 18-month period. Some 40% have had between three or four breaches during that time.

And these breaches aren’t just threat actors poking around seeing what they can find. While more than 90% of respondents said they had sensitive data exposures, nearly 60% indicated those exposures caused harm.

IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 echoes similar findings, noting that 82% of breaches in 2023 involved data stored in public, private or hybrid cloud environments.

Phishing and malware topped the list of cloud security concerns around the world in 2023, followed by:

  • User account compromise
  • Accidental data leaks
  • Targeted cloud infrastructure attacks
  • Data theft
  • Admin account and supply chain compromises

Tenable’s respondents indicated that insecure human/service identities, and risky permissions and cloud misconfigurations are among their top security risks. Almost all (99%) who had multiple cloud breaches cited identity and permissions risk as the cause.

This uptick in cloud breaches isn’t surprising, especially considering challenges organizations have attracting and retaining cybersecurity talent. The World Economic Forum says the global cybersecurity talent shortage could top 85 million workers by 2030. That could result in nearly $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue. This may be why 95% of Tenable’s respondents said they are affected by a lack of expertise in cloud infrastructure protection.

These reports demonstrate what many organizations are learning the hard way. It’s no longer about if your organization might experience a cloud attack, but when and how many.

Getting ahead of cloud workload attacks isn’t easy. This is particularly true for security teams using traditional cyber practices, which are not designed for constantly evolving and complex cloud environments.

The good news is there is a solution. Best practices for cloud workload security and CWP technologies can certainly help.

What is CWP?

CWP protects cloud workloads from malware, data breaches and compliance violations. It is a holistic approach to cloud workload security. CWP includes technologies and solutions such as:

CWP is an essential component of a comprehensive, mature security program. While CWP increases visibility into security issues within your cloud environment, it’s not about trying to find and fix every vulnerability in the cloud. CWP is about taking a proactive, risk-centric approach to mitigate cloud vulnerabilities across operating systems, containers, applications, services and more. It’s about understanding which cloud security issues pose a risk to your organization, so you know where to focus efforts first.

Why is CWP important?

Cloud workloads are attractive to attackers because cloud environments often contain sensitive data and are critical for business operations. But they’re also complex and constantly changing. This makes them difficult to secure, especially for organizations that rely on traditional on-prem security methods.

From a holistic cloud security standpoint, CWP can help you find and fix cloud security risks, follow compliance rules, and save money on security costs.

Some other key benefits of cloud workload protection:

  • Proactive threat detection: CWP solutions continuously scan your cloud workloads for vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and suspicious activity to reduce cloud risk.
  • Matured security posture: CWP enhances your cloud security posture by ensuring your teams securely configure workloads and meet industry standards and compliance mandates.
  • Prioritized remediation: CWP solutions can prioritize vulnerabilities based on severity and risk.
  • Decreased attack surface: CWP tools minimize your attack surface by identifying vulnerabilities, correcting misconfigurations and limiting access controls.
  • Enhanced visibility: CWP gives you a centralized view of your cloud security posture, so your security teams can identify trends, analyze risks and make more informed cloud security decisions.
  • Optimized costs and workflows: CWP solutions with automated workflows, alerts, policies and templates help decrease the chance of costly breaches and downtime associated with security incidents.

Key CWP tech and tools

As part of your CWP, and in addition to it, you can use cloud security technologies and best practices to overcome cloud complexities and make your cloud more secure, for example:

  • Use cloud vulnerability management to find vulnerabilities in your cloud workloads, such as missing patches and misconfigured or outdated software. This can help you understand which patches, upgrades or other security fixes to apply before attackers exploit them.
  • Conduct threat hunting to proactively search for cloud workload threats so you can respond before they cause damage.

You can use CWP to protect a variety of cloud workloads, such as:

  • Virtual machines (VMs)
  • Containers
  • Serverless computing

And CWP can also help you mature your other cyber hygiene practices, for example:

  • Improved security to reduce the risk of cloud breaches or other cloud security incidents.
  • Enhanced compliance with industry and government regulations, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and GDPR.
  • Increased efficiency and reduced expenses by automating tasks and improving visibility into cloud security posture, so your security teams can focus on other tasks.

You can also protect your cloud by:

  • Using cloud security posture management (CSPM) to get better visibility into your cloud security posture, so you can find and fix misconfigurations and other security issues.
  • Employing data protection, such as data encryption (at rest and in transit) to prevent threat actors from gaining unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of data.

Choosing the Right CWP

CWP is an essential investment for every organization that uses cloud workloads. It’s applicable worldwide across all industries.

But how do you know which CWP is right for you? Here are some key considerations when searching for a CWP tool:

  • What are your cloud security risks?
  • What types of threats are you most concerned about?
  • What are your compliance requirements?
  • What is the size and complexity of your cloud environment?
  • What is your budget?
  • What are your security requirements?
  • Will internal staff or outside security consultants be responsible for CWP priorities?
  • What are your existing security solutions?
  • Does the CWP tool you’re considering integrate with those solutions?
  • Does the solution offer easy-to-understand and customizable reports and dashboards? Can it help your teams quickly identify cloud workload security risks?
  • Can it support investigations into suspicious activities (logs and other monitoring)?
  • Will it automatically alert for suspicious activities or other security concerns?
  • Does it include mitigation and remediation suggestions?
  • Is it built on industry best practices and other critical compliance requirements?
  • Can it automatically identify and alert when security patches or system upgrades are available?

Securing Cloud Workloads with Tenable 

Tenable Cloud Security offers CWP capabilities as part of its unified cloud native application protection platform (CNAPP). These comprehensive features safeguard your cloud environments from build to production in one intuitive tool. Here are seven ways Tenable can help you secure your cloud infrastructure and its dynamic cloud workloads:

  1. Continuous cloud vulnerability management: With Tenable, you can automatically scan your cloud workloads for vulnerabilities across operating systems, containers, configurations and more. Unlike other cloud workload protection tools and solutions that only offer periodic scans, Tenable’s continuous monitoring identifies newly discovered vulnerabilities and potential risks no matter how quickly your cloud workloads change.
  2. Contextualized vulnerability analysis: Tenable goes beyond just identifying vulnerabilities. It provides rich context backed by Tenable Research, including severity ratings, exploit details and remediation suggestions. This empowers your security teams to prioritize risks and take actionable steps to decrease cloud security risks.
  3. Misconfiguration detection and enforcement: Tenable automatically identifies misconfigurations in your cloud infrastructure that can cause security gaps. With pre-defined policies and templates to enforce best practices and ensure your cloud environment is secure, Tenable’s focus on vulnerability management and misconfiguration detection sets it apart from other cloud security tools with a singular focus.
  4. Cloud workload prioritization with risk scoring: Tenable’s advanced analytics assigns risk scores to vulnerabilities so your security teams can focus on the most critical issues first and optimize remediation.
  5. Compliance management with out-of-the-box policies: With pre-built compliance policies that align with industry standards like CIS Controls and PCI DSS, you can simplify compliance efforts and ensure your cloud environment meets regulatory standards.
  6. Shift-left security: Tenable integrates with DevOps workflows so your developers can identify and address security issues early in the development lifecycle. With a shift-left approach, your teams can take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood vulnerabilities or misconfigurations make it to production, ultimately building collaboration between security and development teams.
  7. Just-in-time (JIT) access control: Tenable’s JIT access control minimizes your cloud attack surface by granting temporary access to cloud resources only as needed to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and potential cloud breaches.

By leveraging Tenable Cloud Security capabilities, your teams are empowered to proactively secure all your cloud workloads, prioritize remediation, and mature your cloud security posture with less lift and more confidence.

Want to learn more about CWP and how it can help your organization? Get more information about Tenable Cloud Security today.

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More than 80% of all breaches involve data stored in the cloud, and security teams that don’t use cloud workload protection (CWP) may never get ahead of attackers who want to access as much data as possible with the least effort. A single cloud breach is often the most straightforward way into these sensitive environments.…

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