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SSPM vs CSPM: Choosing The Posture Management You Need

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As businesses catapult into the digital age, managing and securing software applications have become paramount. Two key concepts have emerged to address these needs – Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM). But what are these, and how do they differ? Most importantly, which one does your organization need?

With the rise of SaaS and cloud computing, cybersecurity landscapes are evolving rapidly. Ensuring the right security posture is no longer a luxury but a necessity. The increased reliance on third-party SaaS applications and cloud services means organizations must vigilantly guard against misconfigurations, unauthorized access, and compliance deviations.

It's in this context that CSPM and SSPM come into play. In this blog post, we'll take a deep dive into both these concepts, illustrating their importance, and functionality, helping you make an informed decision about the posture management that best fits your organization. Buckle up, and let's compare SSPM vs CSPM.

Difference between SSPM and CSPM

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) are unique but interconnected aspects of an organization's cloud security architecture. CSPM pertains to the safety and governance of cloud platforms (IaaS) and developer environments (PaaS), with an emphasis on finding and fixing misconfigurations, promoting compliance, and enhancing the overall cloud security stance. SSPM, on the other hand, targets the management of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. It delivers visibility into how these applications are used, manages data access rights and sharing, and mitigates risks from unsanctioned SaaS apps.

what is cloud security posture management

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) primarily focuses on the security assessment and management of cloud infrastructures such as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). CSPM tools automatically identify and remediate risks associated with misconfigurations in the cloud environment, which is one of the leading causes of cloud data breaches. It emphasizes aspects such as configuration drifts, compliance monitoring, and cloud visibility to ensure the organization's cloud infrastructure maintains a robust security posture.

what is sspm

On the other hand, SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) focuses specifically on Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. SSPM solutions provide visibility into SaaS environments, helping organizations understand their risk exposure and enhance their security posture. They automate the detection and remediation of SaaS security and compliance risks. These tools allow you to identify potentially risky user behaviors, insecure configurations or settings and ensure compliance with regulations and security standards.

To optimally protect your digital assets and data, understanding the distinction between SSPM and CSPM – and determining which one aligns best with your organization's needs – is critical in today's cybersecurity landscape. So, let's further unravel the SSPM vs CSPM debate and help you make the right choice for your organization.

SSPM vs CSPM comparison table

SSPM CSPM
Scope Focused specifically on securing SaaS applications. Aims to secure overall cloud environments, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Visibility Provides visibility into SaaS application usage, configuration, and user behavior. Offers visibility into overall cloud usage, configuration, and user behavior.
Misconfiguration Detection Detects and manages misconfigurations specifically within SaaS applications. Detects and manages misconfigurations across all cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).
Threat Protection Provides threat protection specifically for SaaS environments. Provides threat protection across all cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).
Regulatory Compliance Helps ensure compliance with security policies and regulations specifically for SaaS applications. Helps ensure compliance with security policies and regulations across all cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).

What does SSPM protect?

saas security posture management features

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is designed to protect your organization's Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. SSPM tools offer a range of security capabilities designed to safeguard your organization's SaaS environment, including:

Discovery and Visibility: SSPM tools enable organizations to gain visibility into their SaaS landscape, identifying all sanctioned and unsanctioned SaaS applications, user interactions, and third-party integrations. This allows organizations to discover potential shadow IT risks and manage them effectively.

Data Security and Privacy: SSPM solutions can identify and protect sensitive data within SaaS applications, ensuring it is accessed and used appropriately. This helps prevent data breaches and leakage and ensures compliance with data protection regulations.

Access Management: SSPM tools monitor user access and permissions within SaaS applications to ensure they are appropriate and secure. This includes identifying excessive or risky permissions and ensuring users and third-party integrations only have the access they need.

Configuration Management: SSPM solutions can detect insecure or non-compliant configurations within SaaS applications, helping to prevent misconfiguration vulnerabilities that could lead to security breaches.

Compliance Management: SSPM tools help organizations comply with security standards and regulations by automatically detecting and reporting on compliance deviations within SaaS applications.

By providing these functionalities, SSPM solutions protect against a wide array of threats in the SaaS environment, including data breaches, unauthorized access, insecure configurations, and compliance risks.

98% of organizations has at least one vendor that experienced a breach in the past two years. See more third-party data breach statistics.

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) use cases

sspm use cases

SaaS Application Discovery

SSPM tools can identify all SaaS applications in use across an organization, including unsanctioned or shadow IT applications. This provides a comprehensive view of the SaaS environment, enabling better management and control.

Data Security and Privacy

SSPM solutions help ensure that sensitive data within SaaS applications is properly protected and handled, maintaining compliance with relevant data privacy regulations and preventing data leakage or breaches.

Access Management

By monitoring user access and permissions, SSPM tools ensure secure and appropriate access to SaaS applications. They can identify and alert to risky or excessive permissions, enhancing overall security.

Configuration Management

SSPM solutions can detect and remediate insecure or non-compliant configurations in SaaS applications, reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities.

Compliance Management

SSPM tools can automatically detect and report on compliance deviations in SaaS applications, helping organizations maintain adherence to various security standards and regulations.

Threat Detection and Response

SSPM tools often offer capabilities to identify and respond to security threats in real time, providing alerts and automating responses to potential security incidents within the SaaS environment.

Is SSPM worth the investment?

Determining the worthiness of investing in a SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) tool largely depends on the specific needs, scale, and nature of an organization's SaaS usage. Here are some factors to consider:

Size and Complexity of SaaS Environment

Organizations that use a significant number of SaaS applications, especially those with complex settings and configurations, are more likely to benefit from an SSPM solution. It helps in managing the overall security posture, ensuring compliance, and reducing the risk of security incidents.

Data Sensitivity and Compliance Requirements

If your organization handles sensitive data (like personally identifiable information, financial data, or health records) within SaaS applications, or is subject to regulatory compliance standards, SSPM can be a crucial investment. It aids in monitoring and protecting data, managing user access, and maintaining compliance.

Risk of Shadow IT

If your organization is at risk of Shadow IT, where employees use unsanctioned SaaS apps that IT doesn't know about, SSPM can provide the necessary visibility and control to mitigate associated security risks.

Uncover your organizations Shadow IT with Resmo.

Resources and Expertise

Implementing and managing an SSPM tool effectively requires resources and expertise. If these are limited, the return on investment might be less immediate, although it could still be beneficial in the long run by reducing the risk of costly security incidents.

Ultimately, the value of SSPM lies in its ability to provide visibility, control, and automated security for SaaS applications. If these are priority areas for your organization, an SSPM solution could be a worthwhile investment. However, like any investment, it should be evaluated in the context of your organization's specific needs and circumstances.

Reading suggestion: What is SaaS Governance?

What does CSPM protect?

cloud security posture management capabilities

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is aimed at protecting an organization's data and resources within their cloud environments. CSPM solutions offer a variety of security features, including:

Cloud Configuration Auditing: CSPM tools perform continuous audits of cloud environments to identify and rectify insecure configurations that could lead to potential security risks.

Compliance Monitoring: CSPM solutions help organizations adhere to security standards and regulations. They provide automated compliance assessments and offer insights for remediation.

Visibility and Discovery: CSPM tools provide a comprehensive view of an organization's cloud assets across multiple cloud platforms. This includes visibility into cloud resources and services, user activity, and data locations.

Risk Assessment: CSPM tools can identify potential security risks and threats within an organization's cloud environment, providing insights for risk mitigation.

Threat Detection and Response: CSPM solutions often have capabilities to identify and respond to security threats in real-time. They provide alerts for potential security incidents and automate response actions.

CSPM solutions protect against a wide range of threats in the cloud environment, including data breaches, unauthorized access, insecure configurations, and compliance risks. This ensures organizations have a robust cloud security strategy, thus safeguarding their digital assets.

According to Check Point's 2022 Cloud Security Report, approximately 27% of businesses experienced a security breach within their public cloud infrastructure in the last year. Out of these incidents, nearly 23% were attributed to security misconfigurations within the cloud infrastructure itself. This highlights the critical importance of ensuring proper security configurations in the cloud to mitigate potential risks and protect sensitive data. (Discover more cloud computing statistics)

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) use cases

cspm use cases

When comparing SSPM vs CSPM, it's clear that Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools address a unique set of use cases, catering to various organizational needs specifically tied to cloud security. Let's explore some common CSPM use cases:

Multi-cloud Environment Management

In an era where organizations often leverage services from multiple cloud providers, a CSPM tool offers a centralized view and management console. This unified approach eliminates the need to juggle different native tools, streamlining the process of ensuring secure configurations across multi-cloud.

Automated Remediation

CSPM solutions not only identify misconfigurations or policy violations but can often automatically rectify these issues. This capability reduces the manual workload on IT teams, enables faster response times, and ensures consistent security posture across the cloud environment.

DevSecOps Integration

As organizations embrace DevOps, integrating security into these practices (DevSecOps) becomes paramount. CSPM tools can be integrated into CI/CD pipelines, providing continuous security checks throughout the development cycle and ensuring that applications deployed to the cloud are secure by design.

Advanced Threat Intelligence

With their ability to detect abnormal activities or patterns, CSPM tools offer sophisticated threat intelligence. They can alert teams to potential attacks or breaches, allowing for timely defensive actions. This proactive approach is crucial in the modern threat landscape.

Governance and Compliance Reporting

CSPM tools greatly simplify the task of compliance reporting. They can generate detailed reports showing an organization's adherence to various security standards and regulations, a task that would be significantly more labor-intensive if done manually.

CSPM solutions provide granular control, proactive protection, and crucial insights, significantly enhancing an organization's ability to secure its cloud environments.

What are the limitations of CSPM?

While Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools provide comprehensive capabilities to protect cloud environments, there are certain limitations that organizations should be aware of:

Limited SaaS Coverage

CSPM tools are primarily designed for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments. However, their visibility into Software as a Service (SaaS) environments can be limited. They might not provide comprehensive control over SaaS applications, which are also critical components of an organization's cloud strategy.

Dependence on Configurations

The effectiveness of CSPM tools largely depends on correct configurations. Misconfigurations can not only reduce the effectiveness of these tools but can also introduce additional security vulnerabilities. Therefore, organizations need to have the requisite expertise to configure these tools correctly.

Lacking User and Entity Behavior Analytics

While CSPM solutions are proficient in detecting misconfigurations and compliance issues, they may not have advanced user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). As such, detecting anomalous user activities or insider threats might be beyond their scope.

Limited Control over Third-party Security

CSPM tools might have limited control over the security policies and practices of third-party service providers, which can be a critical aspect of overall cloud security.

Acknowledging these limitations is vital for organizations to supplement CSPM capabilities with other security controls and strategies, ensuring a holistic approach to cloud security.

Is CSPM worth the investment?

Deciding on the value of investing in Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) depends largely on the specific needs, goals, and circumstances of an organization. However, there are a few key considerations that often make CSPM an investment worth considering:

  • Reducing Risk Exposure

By continuously monitoring and correcting cloud misconfigurations, CSPM tools significantly reduce an organization's exposure to security threats, reducing the likelihood of costly data breaches and downtime.

  • Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

CSPM solutions automate compliance checks, making it much easier for organizations to adhere to regulatory requirements. This can prevent costly fines and reputational damage associated with non-compliance.

  • Saving Time and Resources

Through automation, CSPM tools alleviate the burden of manual checks and remediation, freeing up IT and security teams to focus on more strategic tasks.

  • Enabling Business Agility

With a robust CSPM solution in place, businesses can confidently expand their cloud footprint, knowing their security posture is well managed. This fosters innovation and business agility.

However, it's crucial for organizations to assess the cost-benefit ratio of CSPM tools in their specific context. A detailed analysis of the organization's cloud security needs, existing capabilities, and the anticipated return on investment will provide more clarity on whether CSPM is worth the investment. In terms of the CSPM vs SSPM considerations, your organization might need both, depending on your cloud usage, company size, employee SaaS usage, and other factors.

Does your organization need SSPM, CSPM, or both?

The decision whether an organization needs SSPM (SaaS Security Posture Management), CSPM (Cloud Security Posture Management), or both hinges on several factors:

1. Cloud Environment

If an organization primarily uses SaaS applications like Salesforce, Google Workspace, or Microsoft 365, an SSPM solution would be more fitting. It is designed specifically to manage and secure these types of applications.

However, if an organization is heavily invested in IaaS and PaaS platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, a CSPM tool, with its focus on infrastructure and platform security, would be more appropriate.

2. Scope of Control

SSPM solutions offer greater control and visibility over user activities within SaaS applications. On the other hand, CSPM tools offer better control over cloud infrastructure and platforms, including the management of misconfigurations.

3. Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Different regulatory frameworks might have distinct requirements for SaaS and IaaS/PaaS security. Understanding these requirements can help organizations decide which type of solution is necessary.

4. Threat Landscape

Understanding the organization’s threat landscape and security vulnerabilities is vital. If threats are more likely to arise from misused or unsanctioned SaaS applications, an SSPM solution could be the priority. If threats are more likely from misconfigurations in cloud infrastructure, a CSPM tool would be more beneficial.

For many organizations, the answer may be "both." As the boundaries between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS continue to blur, having a coordinated approach to posture management across all types of cloud services can ensure comprehensive coverage. This is particularly true for organizations with a diverse cloud environment encompassing several different types of cloud services.

At the end of the day, the choice between SSPM, CSPM, or both should be guided by a thorough understanding of the organization's cloud environment, security needs, and risk tolerance.

Secure the SaaS usage in your organization with Resmo

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have become an integral part of organizational workflows. While these applications bring flexibility and convenience, they also introduce potential security risks that must be addressed. That's where Resmo comes in.

sspm tool

Resmo is a cutting-edge SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) solution designed to empower organizations with robust security measures for their SaaS environment. With Resmo, you can:

  • Ensure compliance with industry regulations
  • Mitigate the risks associated with unauthorized access and misconfigurations
  • Get real-time alerts of SaaS security vulnerabilities in your company
  • Find unauthorized SaaS applications used in your organization
  • Guide employees toward secure SaaS usage

Discover the SaaS tools being used in your organization that you may be unaware of, right now. Get started for free and start protecting your organization's SaaS usage.

SSPM vs CSPM: FAQ

What is the difference between CSPM and SSPM?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) are two critical elements of cloud security. CSPM focuses on managing and securing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments. It identifies and rectifies misconfigurations, helps maintain compliance, and enhances the overall security posture. Conversely, SSPM is primarily concerned with managing Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. It offers visibility into application usage, controls over data access and sharing, and assists in mitigating threats related to unsanctioned SaaS applications.

What is the difference between SMP and SSPM?

SaaS Management Platforms (SMP) and SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) tools both offer crucial functionality for overseeing an organization's SaaS suite, but they focus on different aspects. SMPs concentrate on administrative control, governance, and financial efficiency by offering visibility into SaaS applications' usage, tracking their utilization, and managing licenses. 

Meanwhile, SSPM tools are devoted to the security facets of SaaS applications. They ensure compliance with security policies, standards, and regulations by providing insights into security configurations, detecting potential risks like misconfigurations or suspicious user activities, and assisting in risk remediation. Thus, while both platforms enable control over SaaS usage, SMPs are more oriented towards administrative and financial management, and SSPMs towards security management.

What is the difference between CASB and SSPM?

Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) and SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) are two distinct aspects of cloud security. CASBs provide broad security services for all cloud services, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. On the other hand, SSPMs focus specifically on security for SaaS applications, offering detailed visibility and control over SaaS configurations, data access, and threat protection.

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