Accelerated digital transformation, coupled with the escalating cloud and SaaS threat landscape, have made cloud breach readiness a topic climbing up many CISOs’ lists of cyber priorities. At the same time, what cloud readiness entails isn’t yet well understood. Oftentimes organizations think of it as a mindset or a tabletop planning exercise, versus a considering readiness across their cloud and SaaS estate a new requirement of their capability set and tech stack. To be prepared and resilient in today’s attack landscape, that perception needs to change.

Incident response plans and tabletop exercises are important parts of elevating your cloud breach readiness, and those elements are not to be discounted. However, mock incidents and emergency playbooks have limited value if the needed forensic data and tools are lacking when a breach strikes. Modern security demands that enterprises build extensible data visibility and readiness capabilities covering their entire cloud ecosystem. This allows detection, investigation and response at machine speed when seconds matter most.

Why Cloud Data Readiness can be a Challenge

In Cloud and SaaS environments, the shared responsibility model often leads to a situation where critical forensic data is not readily accessible to organizations during a cybersecurity incident. This lack of immediate access can significantly hinder an organization's ability to respond effectively to cyber threats. To mitigate this challenge, it is essential for organizations to proactively collect and store forensic data in advance.

Collecting all the forensic data that an enterprise requires to be ready for a cloud security breach is a complex challenge to be solved across dozens, even hundreds, of cloud and SaaS environments. There are a few key reasons why amassing and preparing the right data for full forensic visibility is hard:

  1. Complexity of data. There are many different data sources with myriad data structures and schemas to consider that are constantly changing. And that holds true not only across different providers and SaaS, but even within those individual vendors. Visibility isn't just about one type of log or a log from a single source but about multiple logs from multiple sources and vendors. And visibility is not just about pulling these multiple logs, but also about pre-processing and normalizing them in a way that make them useful during investigations.
  2. Data overload. With number one being true, you can imagine that across all the different cloud providers and SaaS deployment there is a lot of data to consider—more than just basic logs. To achieve cloud readiness, enterprises need to be able to handle and store a massive volume of data; this typically requires a technology and skills sets and capabilities the majority of security teams don't have.
  3. Data retention practices. In the cloud, how long does the vendor keep the logs? A week? a month? Several? It’s different from provider to provider and company to company. Cloud readiness demands that enterprises keep all data for an adequate amount of time, so the organization can be ready when an investigation is needed. Simply put, for the cloud, if the data isn’t there, you can’t investigate.
  4. Staffing resource limitations. Dealing the complexity, volume and retention of data is no easy task for any organization to manage on its own with an existing SOC team. Even when the people exist, those analysts may not possess specific cloud and SaaS investigation expertise. It can make cloud readiness feel unattainable.

The Tools Aspect of Readiness

Public cloud platforms and SaaS environments each have their own distinct data formats, schemas and semantics that are magnified in multi-cloud environments. Organizations can easily end up with data scattered across dozens of siloed systems in inconsistent formats.

Most enterprises already use SIEMs and other tools to store and analyze security event data from on-premises and cloud infrastructure. A SIEM is a valuable cyber tool, but in the context of preparing for cloud breaches, a SIEM isn't particularly useful because it is not set up or designed to collect the large amount of cloud forensic data and to make it useful for forensic investigations. Due to this limitation, too many organizations are forced to limit the volume, variety and retention period of data they stream and store in their SIEMs.

The piecemeal approach to observability data collection leaves dangerous forensic blind spots across your cloud attack surface. Critical data needed to reconstruct compromise scenarios simply isn’t being captured or stored. And gaps aren’t identified until you’re scrambling to investigate a real incident.

Security teams shouldn’t be expected to become experts across every cloud data source. So modern enterprises demand tools that can support rapid, accurate threat investigation and response when incidents occur. Modern cloud data readiness aims squarely at resolving this dilemma.

Establishing Forensic Data Readiness Capabilities

Forensic data readiness requires two key elements, working in harmony:

  1. Continuous, Comprehensive Data Collection and preprocessing: Ongoing collection pulls the data that will be needed for forensic investigation (such as security events, audit logs, configurations and more) from Cloud and SaaS. Ongoing preprocessing normalizes and enriches the data to make it “investigable”, streaming it to the “forensic data lake”.
  2. Forensic Data Lake: A cloud-based data lake that stores and aggregates the forensic data from across your cloud environment. This serves as the repository to analyze during incident investigation and response. By preserving forensic artifacts from across your cloud ecosystem in one data lake, security teams gain unified visibility and avoid data gaps. Mitiga's purpose-built IR solution will even enrich raw data via threat intelligence to accelerate investigations.

The Advantages of Achieving Cloud Readiness

Forensic data readiness offers multiple advantages

- Eliminates blind spots by capturing cloud audit and event data at scale
- Preserves historical data to “rewind time” during investigations
- Reduces complexity by normalizing and centralizing data from multiple sources
- Supports threat hunting and analytics with comprehensive forensic artifacts

Continuous readiness monitoring ensures your data foundation keeps pace with your evolving cloud footprint and addresses emerging blind spots before incidents strike.

By operationalizing forensic data readiness, Mitiga customers gain an indispensable advantage. They possess a cloud-first IR capability that complements prevention, detection, and response. Whether hunting for stealthy adversaries or containing confirmed incidents, possessing comprehensive data equips analysts to move swiftly and authoritatively.

In short, the old soft-skills of readiness—like tabletops—have a role to play in breach preparedness, but real resilience stems from capabilities like rapid unified investigation of your entire cloud estate. With threats growing more severe and complex daily, forensic data readiness provides the crucial foundation for effective modern security.

LAST UPDATED:

April 23, 2024

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