CIEM versus CWPP versus CSPM


Application and web development paradigms are rapidly shifting towards the cloud, which now provides extensive resources for storage, scaling, and networking. With this rapid expansion comes an array of new and complex security issues. Additionally, developing and managing applications in the cloud has become faster and easier, which inadvertently increases the potential for human error.

Fortunately, there are several solutions to guarantee the security of your cloud architecture. This article explores three solutions, CIEM, CWPP, and CSPM, details an example case for each, and helps you determine when and how to use them, either individually or in combination.


CIEM stands for Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management. This security solution monitors users, identities and access privileges within a cloud (or multi-cloud) infrastructure. CIEM implements the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) for cloud-bound access, ensuring that users and accounts are granted the minimum degrees of access that allow them to function properly. This approach has become inescapable as enterprises increasingly move towards more complex and unstructured cloud solutions, where the on-demand creation and destruction of resources makes it virtually impossible to manually set and manage access privileges. .


Rapid cloud adoption means a dramatic increase in hybrid cloud architectures that rely on on-premises physical machines, virtual machines (VMs), and cloud infrastructure. Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a solution intended to maintain the security of workloads moving through such an environment. When a workload deploys in a cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid environment, a CWPP proactively finds it and protects it against known vulnerabilities. Additionally, it implements a range of tools to protect the workload at runtime and provides visibility into an enterprise-level system.


CSPM stands for Cloud Security Posture Management. It is a security arena that implements automation to mitigate cloud security misconfigurations and compliance failures. CSPM tools rely on a predefined set of security and compliance best practices, as well as known risks, against which they can compare the cloud architecture to discover flaws or gaps. Degrees of automation vary depending on the tool, but more advanced solutions will automatically resolve identified security risks without requiring user intervention.

Identification of solutions based on use cases

As you’ve probably guessed, all three of these tools include an overarching cloud security protocol. Therefore, you will often find more than one tool being used for the same cloud environment. However, as their purposes differ significantly, there are countless situations in which a tool or approach represents an ideal solution.

A CSPM appeal

A mid-size medical practice was using HIPAA-compliant software on local machines in its single office. However, new patient demand means the practice is set to grow, adding more practitioners and requiring several additional locations. Physicians must be able to access all records regardless of the direction in which they currently work.

In addition, the practice wishes to offer its clients reliable access to their medical records, appointment scheduling and communication with medical personnel. The firm has already hired an engineer to create an application that will allow this access to doctors/staff and patients. But moving existing cases into the new app and expanding their practice will require a fairly quick transition to a hybrid cloud environment. Additionally, maintaining the security and integrity of patient information is paramount.

In this scenario, implementing a CSPM solution is the way to go. The office can even use its previous software’s HIPAA compliance standards as a benchmark for CSPM integration. Here, the advantage of CSPM should be clear: the integration of automated processes and cloud-based technologies to monitor misconfigurations and compliance will help ensure that the transition to the new application will maintain optimal compliance standards for patient information and will help prevent misconfigurations before they become a problem.

CIEM stands for election

While many government websites are notoriously sloppy, government offices are increasingly turning to the cost-saving capabilities of cloud architecture. Consider a situation where a district’s law enforcement sector needs to quickly move its internal applications to a cloud environment and contracts additional IT support for the process. The applications allow authorized entities to access and modify criminal databases, court records, and privileged or confidential information about government officials.

While the ability to spin up application resources on demand will greatly facilitate what was once an overloaded physical infrastructure, it becomes nearly impossible for the IT team to effectively manage identities and access privileges. It gets even more complicated with a revolving door of temporary contract workers.

The answer is ICES. Instead of burdening the overburdened IT team with establishing and managing countless roles, privileges, and access levels, a CIEM solution will manage these processes seamlessly and provide a unified location from which to monitor the comings and goings of the system. With such sensitive information online, the ability to detect and resolve weak points, such as excessive permissions or misconfigured roles, is a crucial CIEM offering.

The CWPP-solution

Securing an application’s workloads requires visibility into every workload that crosses physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Additionally, a vulnerability here exposes your entire application ecosystem to the danger of compromised data.

Consider an enterprise-level e-commerce platform that, despite its success, still relies heavily on its physical data centers. Data stores include sensitive customer information and proprietary internal secrets for its technical and business functions. As the maintenance costs become too heavy, the decision is made to start moving the application and its data stores to the cloud.

It is a colossal effort. Realistically, physical machines will continue to be part of the platform infrastructure for years to come. The impending hybrid cloud environment has the potential to obscure available visibility into deployed workloads anywhere in the system. Without proper monitoring, it can be all too easy to miss vulnerabilities at deployment and runtime.

An effective CWPP can provide the necessary visibility into every segment of these processes, all through a single console and group of APIs. Plus, it works proactively to secure workloads regardless of their physical (or more ephemeral) location.


You may have read one of the previous examples and come to a different conclusion. Perhaps the expanding medical practice and government branch could also benefit from a CWPP tool, for example. If that or a similar thought comes to mind, you’re probably right. While each of the examples would certainly require the associated solution, the combination of two or more approaches can often represent an optimal solution.

As cloud-based infrastructure becomes more mainstream, the demand for holistic security solutions has never been higher. However, the dynamic and transient nature of the cloud makes it difficult to secure. Plus, its flexibility means that no two architectures require identical solutions.

Fortunately, CIEM, CWPP, and CSPM technologies can make migrating and using the cloud much more manageable. Although each solution addresses unique security issues, the most effective approach often includes a combination of several strategies. If you want to learn more about improving your infrastructure, explore Trend Micro’s Cloud Security Platform and see what’s possible with an automatic, flexible, all-in-one solution.


Comments are closed.