August 12, 2023 | Reading time 3 minutes

The Evolution of Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) has become a widespread security solution for the cloud. In this post, we unravel the evolution of Cloud Security Posture Management.

Early Cloud Security Challenges

Back in the 2010s, the newly emerged cloud offered businesses computing capabilities much greater than on-prem solutions. Businesses could cut costs on building and maintaining in-house infrastructure.

Rapid cloud adoption, however, showed that traditional approaches to organizing security architecture didn’t work as well in the cloud. For example, they couldn’t organize perimeter security in the same manner.

Legacy architecture would have a safe environment that could only be accessed from a secured spot, the company office in most cases. The system would connect with the “outer world” via one or two entry points. 

The Evolution of Cloud Security Posture Management
Gartner was one of the first to outline CSPM.

The on-prem security was thus bound to the physical access checks. The company needed to make sure that outsiders did not get access to the computers that were located in the office. It also required building strong firewalls and network protection.

To access the cloud, a user doesn’t need to be physically present in the office. Cloud has many entry points and perimeter security doesn’t work there.

Another important issue that arose almost immediately was the mistakes in the configuration of the cloud that due to a greater attack surface led to a bigger number of security incidents.

The collaboration tools on the one hand enabled people to streamline their work on documents. Previously, people had to send each other a document every time they wanted to make edits. Now several people could be working on the same document at the same time, and even discuss and comment on it right there.

Unfortunately that productivity boost came with a prize. Incorrect sharing settings remain among the top reasons for massive data breaches. Gartner predicted it quite back in 2016.

Cloud environment grew exponentially and new technologies brought new challenges to the table. For example, the OAuth authentication enabled the emergence of cloud Shadow IT. As many applications would access cloud environments unbeknownst to the IT team and without their approval. This created even greater attacks surface.

On the other hand, large data breaches prompted governments to adopt laws that would protect their citizens from data theft, related events, and consequences. These laws identified the responsibility of businesses to protect the data privacy of their customers.

The cloud configurations had to be compliant with the new laws. However, achieving this compliance was tricky as people could make mistakes or forget about the necessity to correct configurated.

It became clear that cloud security required different approaches, architecture, and tools.

The Emergence and Evolution of Cloud Security Posture Management

The booming IT market followed the new demand coming up with tools that could detect security misconfiguration in the cloud. The first CSPM tools performed three main functions:

  • Misconfiguration detection
  • Risk assessment
  • Compliance analysis.

One of the next steps in CSPM development was to automate the remediation. The tools would fix the misconfigurations on their own.

As cloud environments grew, however, the number of daily security alerts grew as well, overwhelming the IT security teams. That’s when the idea of “context” came into play.

Simply put, first-generation CSPMs analyzed isolated data points, for example, access to the cloud. Context-based CSPM analyzed this piece of data in relation to other upcoming data. It enabled them not only to analyze risk better but also to prioritize the risks. It helps reduce the alerts and decrease the workload of IT security teams.

Advancements in CSPM Capabilities, Current and Future Trends

With the development of CSPM technologies, their capabilities grew. In addition to threat detection, risk assessment, and compliance analysis, modern CSPMs can also control access, and applications, identify vulnerabilities, and help with the response and remediation of cyber attacks.

The current trends in CSPM are:

  1. Growing adoption. The number of companies adopting CSPM is constantly increasing.
  2. Cloud consolidation. Organizations can now use CSPM to control all their cloud environments.
  3. Integration with DevOps. CSPM can identify security issues in the development process.
  4. Humanless security management. Modern CSPMs tend to be more independent and fix an increasing number of mistakes on their own.

Future Trends in CSPM

  1. AI integration. In the future CSPM is anticipated to extensively use AI to analyze the large data pulls. Some are already using this technology.
  2. Engagement of CSPM in managing IoT and 5 G networks.
  3. The further improvement of basic features like threat detection, compliance management, and incident response.
  4. Use of emerging technologies (e.g., quantum computing) to empower CSPMs.


How has cloud security evolved over the years, and what were the early challenges faced by organizations?

Cloud security has evolved to meet the needs of businesses that were rapidly transitioning from on-premises to cloud. It became early on that legacy on-prem security architecture could not be applied to the cloud. That’s why new cloud security solutions emerged, and CSPM is one of them.

What were the limitations of traditional security approaches in addressing cloud security issues?

Traditional security approaches could only work with environments that have a limited number of entry points. Unfortunately, the cloud has many of them. 

What are some anticipated future trends in CSPM?

The future trends include use of AI, quantum and edge computing, management of IoT and 5G security, and improvement of basic features.

How did the emergence of CSPM solutions address the challenges of misconfigurations and compliance in the cloud?

CSPM could identify and report misconfigurations and compliance gaps in the cloud.

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Director of Product

Davit Asatryan is the Director of Product for Spin.AI, focusing on the All-in-One SaaS Security platform, SpinOne. He has been with the company for over 5 years and specializes in SaaS data protection, helping organizations battle Shadow IT, ransomware and data leak issues.

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