Bringing observability to cloud security

Security observability is the ability to gain visibility into an organization’s security posture, including its ability to detect and respond to security threats and vulnerabilities. It involves collecting, analyzing, and visualizing security data to identify potential hazards and take proactive measures to mitigate them.

Security observability involves collecting data from various security tools and systems, including network logs, endpoint security solutions, and security information and event management (SIEM) platforms, and then using this data to gain insights into potential threats. In other words, it tells you what is likely to happen, not just what’s happening already, as with more traditional security operations tools. It’s a significant difference that makes security observability perhaps the most important improvement in cloud security technology that’s come along in recent years. 

However, most people don’t yet understand security observability, and that’s concerning. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, cloud assets were involved in 24% of all breaches analyzed in the report, up from 19% in 2020.

It’s clear that a lot of people who do cloud security are playing Whac-A-Mole with emerging threats, and a few need to be faster to respond. This will likely worsen as cloud deployments become more heterogeneous and complex with the growing popularity of multicloud applications that use federated architectures. The number of attack surfaces will continue to increase, and the creativity of the attackers is beginning to gain ground.

By adopting cloud security observability, organizations can gain a more comprehensive view of their cloud security situation, enabling them to:

  • Detect and respond to threats more quickly. By collecting data from multiple security tools and systems, cloud security observability enables organizations to uncover threats faster and respond to them proactively.
  • Identify vulnerabilities and security gaps. With better insight, organizations can take proactive measures to address potential problems before the bad guys exploit them.
  • Improve incident response. By providing a more comprehensive view of security events, cloud security observability can help organizations strengthen their incident response capabilities and minimize the impact of attacks.
  • Ensure compliance. Cloud security observability can help organizations monitor their cloud security deployment/posture to remain compliant with industry regulations and standards, even supporting audits and other legal accounting.

Is this different than what you’re doing today for cloud security? Cloud security observability may not change the types or the amount of data you’re monitoring. Observability is about making better sense of that data.

It’s much the same with cloud operations observability, which is more common. The monitoring data from the systems under management is mostly the same. What’s changed are the insights that can now be derived from that data, including detecting patterns and predicting future issues based on these patterns, even warning of problems that could emerge a year out. This gives the operations team time to respond, plan, and budget for these issues before they become another fire to put out.

Cloud security observability looks at a combination of dozens of data streams for a hundred endpoints and finds patterns that could indicate an attack is likely to occur in the far or near future. If this seems like we are removing humans from the process of making calls based on observed, raw, and quickly calculated data, you’re right. We can respond to tactical security issues, such as a specific server under attack, with indicating alerts, which means it should block the attacking IP address. Cloud security observability can examine a complex array of system data and provide meaning derived from an integrated advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence system.

The good news is that most cloud security providers know what cloud security observability is and does. Their salespeople are likely to call any day now. The bad news is that you probably don’t have the skills to understand how to properly set it up or, most importantly, how to operate it ongoing. If you’re not there now, you need to be—and soon.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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