If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
It makes sense for a smaller company to use the native cloud tools, but for a large organization it makes sense to have a tool like Prisma Cloud with centralized information, especially for security.
My advice for anybody who is considering this product is to give it a good look. Give it a good cost-balance rationalization versus the cost of a compromise or breach, because it's your defense mechanism against exposure. I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.
I would rate Prisma Cloud six out 10. I would recommend it if you are using AWS or anything like that. It's quite a tool and I'm impressed with how they have been improving and onboarding new features in the past one and a half years. If you have the proper logging system and can implement it properly within your architecture, it can work really well. If you are weighing Prisma Cloud versus some CASB solution, I would say that it depends on your use case. CASBs are a different kind of approach. When someone is already using a CASB solution, that's quite a mature setup while CSPM is another side of handling security. So if someone has CASB in place and feels they don't need CSPM, then that might be true for a particular use case at a particular point in time. But also we need to think of the current use case and the level of maturity at a given point in time and consider whether the security is enough.
If you have compliance requirements such as PCI or ISO, going with Palo Alto would be a good option. It will make your life much easier. If you do not have Layer 7 visibility requirements and you do not have auditing and related requirements, then you could probably survive by going with a traditional firewall. But if you are a midsize or enterprise company, you will need something that has the capabilities of Prisma Cloud. Otherwise, you will have issues. It is very difficult to work with the typical solution where there is no log and you don't know exactly what happened and there is too much trial and error. Instead of allowing everything and then trying to limit things from there, if you go with a proper solution, you will know exactly what is blocked, where it is blocked, and what to allow and what not to allow. In terms of visibility, Prisma Cloud is very good. One thing to be aware of is that we have a debate in our environment wherein some engineers from the cloud division say that if we had an Azure-based product, the same engineer who is handling the cloud, who is the global administrator, would have visibility into where a problem is and could handle that part. But because we are using Palo Alto, which has its own administrators, we still have this discussion going on. Prisma Cloud also provides security spanning multi- and hybrid-cloud environments, which is very good for us. We do not have hybrid cloud as of now, but we are planning, in the future , to be hosting infrastructure on different cloud providers. As of now we only have Azure. Because Zero Trust is something new for us, we have actually seen a significant increase in alerts. Previously, we only had intra-zone traffic. Now we have inter-zone traffic. Zero Trust deployments are very different from traditional deployments. It's something we have to work on. However, because of the increased security, we know that a given computer tried to scan something during office hours, or who was trying to make certain changes. So alerts have increased because of the features that we have turned on.
We are Palo Alto partners. I'd advise that companies that get big and have a lot of servers or critical applications in their cloud invest in this solution. I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten.
We used the API from Prisma Cloud. We had a Jenkins pipeline with a lot of scripts to automate the installation of Prisma Cloud and the patching updates as well. In our company, the security team had about 10 people, but only two were responsible for Prisma Cloud. As I mentioned, we inherited ownership of it from the containers team. In the containers team, we had a guy who was our main contact and who helped us. For example, when we needed to access a certain environment, he had to manage access so that it could have privileged access to do what it needed to do in the container environment. So overall, there were three people involved with it. We used Prisma Cloud extensively. We used it across the whole on-prem environment and partially on cloud. We were at around 10 or 20 percent of the cloud. I think that nowadays they have probably reached much more than that, because we were just beginning on the cloud at the time. Smaller companies should probably use the SaaS. I know that Azure and the cloud providers already have different ways to use tools in an easy manner so that you don't need to manage the infrastructure. So smaller companies should look into that. The infrastructure solution would be more for big companies, but I would recommend the solution for big companies. I would also recommend it for small companies. In terms of budget, sometimes it's hard to prioritize what's more important, but Prisma fits into different budget levels, so even if you have a small environment you can use Prisma's SaaS solution. I was pretty satisfied with it. My impression of Prisma Cloud was pretty good. It's an amazing tool. It gives the whole view of your container environment and connection with multiple platforms, such as Splunk. It is a good solution. If I had my own company and a container environment, I would use it. It can fit a huge container environment with a lot of hosts, but it can also fit a small container environment. Azure also provides built-in solutions to install Prisma in your application. So there are different solutions for various container environments. The company I was in had huge container environments to monitor, on-prem and in the cloud, and the tool fit really well. But the tool also fits small environments.
It is a good tool. Work with your stakeholders and cloud teams to implement Prisma Cloud within as many environments as you can to get that rich amount of data, then come up with a strong strategy for integrations and alerting. Prisma Cloud has a lot of integrations out-of-the-box, like ServiceNow, Jira, and Slack. Understand what your business teams need as well as what your engineering and developers need. Try to work on the integrations that allow for the maximum amount of integration and automation within a cloud environment. So, work with your business teams to come up with a plan for how to implement it in your cloud, then how to best integrate the tooling and alerting. While Prisma Cloud does have the ability to do auto-remediation, which is a part of their automation, we didn't turn any of that on now because those features have a tendency to sometimes break things. For example, it will automatically shut down a security group or server that can sometimes have an impact into availability. So, we don't use any of the auto-remediation features, but we do have automation setup with Jira and Slack to create tickets and events for our ticketing and infrastructure teams/Slack channels. We definitely want to continue to explore and build-in some of the Shift Left principles, getting the tool into our dev cycles earlier. We do have some plans to expand more on the dev side. I am hiring an AppSec engineer who will be focused more on the development and AppSec side. That is something that is in our roadmap. It has just been something that we have been trying to work on and get into our backlog of a lot of projects. I would rate this solution as a nine out of 10.
My advice would be not to look at it like you're implementing a tool. Look at it like you're changing your processes. You need to plan for the impact of the data for the various teams across Dev and Security and Ops. Think very holistically, because a lot of this cloud container stuff spans many teams. If you only look at it as "I'm going to plug a tool in and I'm going to get some benefit," I think you'll fail. Prisma Cloud covers both cloud and container, or could cover either/or, depending on your needs. But in both of those cases, there's often confusion about who owns what, especially as you're creating new teams with the transition to DevOps and DevSecOps. Successful implementation has a lot to do with working out lines of ownership in these various areas and changing processes and even the mindset of people. You have to make strides there to really maximize the effectiveness of the solution. The solution provides Cloud Security Posture Management in a single pane of glass if you're using the SaaS solution, but we do not. Our use case does not make it feasible for us to use the SaaS solution. But with the Prisma Cloud features and compute features in the self-hosted deployment, you have to go to multiple panes to see all the information. When it comes to the solution helping us take a preventative approach to cloud security, it's a seven or eight out of 10. The detective side is a little higher. We are using the detective controls extensively. We're getting the visibility and seeing those things. There is a lot of hesitance to use preventative controls here, both on the development side—the continuous integration stuff—and particularly in the runtime, continuous monitoring protection, because you are just generally afraid. This mirrors years and years ago when intrusion prevention first came out at the network level. A lot of people wanted to do detection, but it took quite a few years for enterprises to get the courage to start actively blocking. We're in that same growth period with container security. When it comes to securing the entire cloud-native development lifecycle, across build, deploy, and run, it covers things pretty well. When I think about it in terms of build, there are integrations with IDEs and development tools and GitHub, etc. Deploy is a little shakier to me. I know we have Jenkins integration. And run is good. In terms of continuous monitoring, it feels build and run are a little stronger than deploy. If we could see better integration with other tools, that might help. If I'm doing that deploy via Terraform or Spinnaker, I don't know how all that plays with the Jenkins integrations and some of the other integrations that Palo Alto has produced. Overall, it feels like a pretty good breadth of integrations, as far as what they claim. They certainly support some things that we don't use here at build and deploy and runtime. But a lot of what they rely on, in terms of deploy, is API-driven, so it's not an easy-to-configure, built-in integration. It's more like, "We have an API, and if you want to write custom software to use that API, you can." They claim support in that way, but it's not at the same level as just configuring a couple of items and then you can scan a registry. In the container space, we have absolutely seen benefit from the solution for securing the cloud-native development lifecycle. At the same time, it has required some development on our part to get the integration. Some of that is because we predated some of the integrations they offer. But in the container space, there has definitely been a huge impact. The impact has been less so in cloud configuration, because there are so many competing offerings that can do that with Terraform and Azure Security Center and Amazon native tools. I don't feel like we've made quite the same inroads there. In terms of it providing a single tool to protect all of our cloud resources and applications, I don't think it does. Maybe that's because of our implementation, but it just doesn't operate at every level. I don't think we'd ever go down that path. We have on-premise tools that have been here a long time. We've built processes around reporting. Vulnerability scanning is an example. We run Nessus on-premise, and we wouldn't displace Nessus with, say, a Twistlock Defender to do host-level scanning in the cloud, because we'd have a disparate tool set for cloud versus on-premise for no reason. I don't ever see Prisma Cloud being the single solution for all these security features, even if they can support them. It's important that it integrate with other tools. We talked earlier about a single dashboard. A lot of those dashboards are aggregating data from other tools. One thing that has been important to us is feeding data to Splunk. We have a SIEM solution. So I would always envision Prisma Cloud as being a participant in an ecosystem. In summary, I actually hate most security products because they're very siloed and you have mixed-vendor experiences. I don't think they take a big-picture view. I've been really pleasantly surprised with how Prisma Cloud is, over time, covering more and more of the topics I care about, and listening to customer feedback and growing the product in the right directions. For the most part, it does what they say it will do. The vendor support has also been good. I would definitely give the vendor an eight out of 10 because they've been great in understanding and providing solutions in the space, and because of the reliability and the responsiveness. They've been very open to our input as customers. They take it very seriously and we've taken advantage of that and developed a good relationship with them. When it comes to the solution itself, I would give the compute solution an eight. But I don't think I would give the Prisma Cloud piece an eight. So overall, I would rate the solution as a seven because the compute is stronger than the other piece, what used to be RedLock. I would also emphasize that what I think is a strong roadmap for the product and that Palo Alto is really interested in customer feedback. They do seem to incorporate it. That may be our unique experience because our use cases just happen to align with what Palo wants to do, but I think they're heading in the right direction. Early on in a solution's life cycle or problem space, it's more important to have that responsiveness than it is even to have the fullest of solutions. The fact that we came across this vendor, one that not only mostly covered what we needed when we were first looking for it three years ago, but that has also been as responsive as they have to grow the solution, has been really positive.
Have a clear plan for how you will structure your policies, then decide right from the get-go if you will augment the delivered policies with your custom ones to minimize the amount of rework that you need to do. Likewise, make sure that the ticketing application that you are planning to integrate with, if you're going to track remediation activities, is one that is supported. If not, have a plan for getting that integration going quickly. Biggest lesson learnt: Do better planning for that third-party and downstream integration that you will be doing with your ticketing platform. Right out of the gate, our options were rather limited for integration and ticketing. It seemed to be geared around incident handling or incident response more than compliance management or vulnerability response. The solution is comprehensive for protecting the full cloud native stack. It covers nearly all of our use cases. The gaps present are more a function of API visibility that we get from Azure, for example. As they roll out or make generally available new services, there is a lag time in the tool's ability to ingest those services. However, I think that is more a function of the cloud platforms than Prisma Cloud. This solution is a strong eight out of 10.
You need to identify how you'll be using it and what your use cases are. If you don't have a mature enough organizational posture, you're not going to use it to actually fix the issues because you won't have the teams ready to consume its information. You need to build that and that needs to be built into the thinking around that product. There's no point having information if you're not going to act on it. So understand who is going to act on it, and how, and then you've got a much better path to understanding your use for this. There's no point in buying a product for the sake of the product. You need the processes and the workflows that go with it and you need to build those. It's not good enough to just hope that they will happen. The solution doesn't secure the entire spectrum of compute options because there are other Palo Alto products that secure containers, for example. This is very specifically focused on the configuration of the public cloud instances. It doesn't look inside those instances. You would need something else for that. You don't want to be using other products to do this. You don't want to mistake this for something that does everything. It doesn't. It is a very specific product and it is amazingly good at what it does. We do integrate it with our workflow as part of the process of getting an application onto the internet. It does integrate with our workflow, giving us a posture as part of the workflow. But it is not a workflow tool. It definitely does multi-cloud. It does the three major ones plus Alibaba Cloud. It doesn't reach into hybrid cloud, in the sense that it doesn't understand anything non-cloud. We don't use it to provide security, although it is very good for that. We already have an advanced security provision posture, because we are a very large organization. We just use it to inform us of security issues that are outside our other controls. Prisma Cloud doesn't provide us with a single tool to protect all of our cloud resources and applications in terms of security and compliance reports because we have non-cloud-related tools being folded into the reports as well. Even though it works on the cloud, and is excellent at what it does, we integrate it with our Qualys reports, for example, which is the scanning on our hosts. Those hosts are in the cloud, but this doesn't touch them. There's no such thing as a single security tool, frankly. It's basically part of our portfolio and it's part of what every organization needs, in my opinion, to be able to manage their cloud security postures. Otherwise, it would just never work.
My advice is that if you have the opportunity to integrate and utilize Prisma Cloud you should, because it's almost a given that you can't get any other cloud security posture management system like Prisma Cloud. There are competitors that are striving to achieve the same types of things. However, when it comes to the governance element for a head of architecture or a head of compliance or even at the CSO level, without that holistic view, if you use one of them you are potentially flying blind. Once you've got a capability running in the cloud and the associated demand that comes through from the business to provision accounts for engineers or technical service owners or business users, the given is that not every team or every user that wants to consume the cloud workload has the required skill set to do so. There's a certain element of expertise that you need to securely run cloud workloads, just as is needed for running applications or infrastructure on-premise. However, unless you have an understanding of what you're opening up to—the risk element to running cloud workloads, such as a potential attacks or compromise of service—from an organizational perspective, it's only a matter of time before something is leaked or something gets compromised and that can be quite expensive to have to manage. There are a lot of unknowns. Yes, they do give you capabilities, such as Trusted Advisor, or you might have OpenSCAP or you might be using Forseti for Google Cloud, and there are similar capabilities within Azure. However, the cloud service providers aren't native security vendors. Their workloads are built around infrastructure- or platform-as-a-service. What you have to do is look at how you can complement what they do with security solutions that give you not just the north-south view, but the east-west as well. You shouldn't just be dependent on everything out-of-the-box. I get the fact that a lot of organizations want to be cloud-first and utilize native security capabilities, but sometimes those just don't give you enough. Whether you're looking at business-risk or cyber-risk, for me, Prisma Cloud is definitely out there as a specialist capability to help you mitigate the threat landscape in running cloud workloads. I've certainly gone from a point where I understood what the risk was in not having something like this, and that's when I was heavily dependent on native tools that are offered up with cloud service providers. The first release that came out didn't include the workload management, because what happened, I believe, was that Palo Alto acquired Twistlock. Twistlock was then "framed" into cloud workload management within Prisma Cloud. What that meant was that you had a capability that looks at your container workloads, and that's called Prisma Cloud Compute, which is all available within a single pane of glass, but as a different set of capabilities. That is really useful, especially when you're running container workloads. In terms of securing the entire development life cycle, if you integrate it within the Jenkins CI/CD pipeline, you can get the level of assurance needed for your golden images or trusted image. And then you can look at how you can enforce certain constraints for images that don't match the level of compliance required. In terms of going from what would be your image repository, when that's consumed you have the capability to look at what runtime scanning looks like from a container perspective. It's not really on par with, or catering to, what other products are looking at in terms of SAST and DAST capabilities. For those, you'd probably go to the market and look at something like Veracode or WhiteHat. It all depends on the way an organization works, whether it has a distributed or centralized setup. Is there like a central DevOps or engineering function that is a single entity for consuming cloud-based services, or is there a function within the business that has primarily been building capabilities in the cloud for what would otherwise be infrastructure-as-a-service for internal business units? The difficulty there is the handoff. Do you look at running it as a central function, where the responsibility and the accountability is within the DevOps teams, or is that a function for SecOps to manage and run? The scenario is dependent on what the skill sets are of a given team and what the priorities are of that team. Let's say you have a security team that knows its area and handles governance, risk, and compliance, but doesn't have an engineering function. The difficulty there is how do you get the capability integrated into CI/CD pipelines if they don't have an engineering capability? You're then heavily relying on your DevOps teams to build out that capability on behalf of security. That would be a scenario for explaining why DevOps starts integrating with what would otherwise be CyberOps, and you get that DevSecOps cycle. They work closer together, to achieve the end result. But in terms of how seamless those CI/CD touchpoints are, it's a matter of having security experts that understand that CI/CD pipeline and where the handoffs are. The heads of function need to ensure that there's a particular level of responsibility and accountability amongst all those teams that are consuming cloud workloads. It's not just a point solution for engineering, cloud engineering, operations, or security. It's a whole collaboration effort amongst all those functions. And that can prove to be quite tricky. But once you've got a process, and the technology leaders understand what the ask is, I think it can work quite well. When it comes to reducing runtime alerts, it depends on the sensitivity of the alerting that is applicable to the thresholds that you set. You can set a "learning mode" or "conservative mode," depending on what your risk-appetite is. You might want it to be configured in a way that is really sensitive, so that you're alerted to events and get insights into something that's out of character. But in terms of reducing the numbers of alerts, it all depends on how you configure it, based on the sensitivity that you want those alerts to be reporting on. I would rate Prisma Cloud at eight out of 10. It's primarily down to the fact that I've got a third-party tool that gives me a holistic view of cloud security posture. At the click of a button I can determine what the current status is of our threat landscape, in either AWS or Azure, at a conflict level and at a workload level, especially with regards to Prisma Cloud Compute. It's all available within a single pane of glass. That's effectively what I was after about two or three years ago. The fact that it has now come together with a single provider is why I'd rate it an eight.
The biggest lesson I have learned while using the solution is that you need to tune it well. The Prisma tool offers a lot of functionality and a lot of configuration. It's a very powerful tool with a lot of features. For people who want to use this product, I would say it's definitely a good product to use. But please be aware also, that because it's so feature rich, to do it right and to use all the functionality, you need somebody with a dedicated amount of time to manage it. It's not complicated, but it will certainly take time for dedicated resources to fully utilize all that Prisma has to offer. Ideally, you should be prepared to assign someone as an SME to learn it and have that person teach others on the team. I would rate Prisma Cloud at nine out of 10, compared to what's out there.
I would highly recommend automating the process of deploying it. That has made just a huge improvement on the uptake of the tool in our environment and in the ease of integration. There's work involved in getting that done, but if we were trying to do this manually, we would never be able to keep up with the rate that we've been growing our environment. The biggest lesson I've learned in using this solution is that we were absolutely right that we needed a tool like this in our environment to keep track of our AWS environment. It has identified a number of misconfigurations and it has allowed us to answer a lot of questions about those misconfigurations that would have taken significantly more time to answer if we were trying to do so using native AWS tools. The tool has an auto-remediation functionality that is attractive to us. It is something that we've discussed, but we're not really comfortable in using it. It would be really useful to be able to auto-remediate security misconfigurations. For example, if somebody were to open something up that should be closed, and that violated one of our policies, we could have Prisma Cloud automatically close that. That would give us better control over the environment without having to have anybody manually remediate some of the issues. Prisma Cloud also secures the entire development lifecycle from build to deploy to run. We could integrate it closer into our CI/CD pipeline. We just haven't gone down that path at this point. We will be doing that with the Compute functionality and some of the teams are already doing that. The functionality is there but we're just not taking advantage of it. The reason we're not doing so is that it's not how we initially built the tool out. Some of the teams have an interest in doing that and other teams do not. It's up to the individual teams as to whether or not it provides them value to do that sort of an integration. As for the solution's alerts, we have them identified at different severities, but we do not filter them based on that. We use those as a way of prioritizing things for the teams, to let them know that if it's "high" they need to meet the SLA tied to that, and similarly if it's "medium" or "low." We handle it that way rather than using the filtering. The way we do it does help our teams understand what situations are most critical. We went through all of the policies that we have enabled and set our priority levels on them and categorized them in the way that we think that they needed to be categorized. The idea is that the alerts get to the teams at the right priority so that they know what priority they need to assign to remediating any issues that they have in their environment. I would rate the solution an eight out of 10. The counts against it would be that the Compute integration still seems to need a little bit of work, as though it's working its way through things. And some of the other administrative pieces can be a little bit difficult. But the visibility is great and I'm pretty happy with everything else.
It's a good tool. I would tell anybody to give a shot. It's easy, it's user-friendly; it's like a plug-and-play tool. I am a single point of contact for this solution, right now. I'm working on it with my entire management to review things. I have to coordinate because of the multiple platforms they have. Roles have been assigned at different levels. There is a consultant's role, a reviewer's role, and there is an implementer's role. The latter is supposed to be working with them. Root cause analysis needs to be done at my own level. The solution does inform me that a predicted vulnerability exists and this is the asset where it could be happening. But the intelligence has to be provided by the security consultant. If something becomes visible during the build phase, we already have a pretty good area where we can change the product so that it does not impact the production environment. The solution provides an integrated approach across the full lifecycle to provide visibility and security automation and, although we have not started using that part of it yet, it will definitely enable us to take a preventive approach to cloud security when we do use it. Overall, it provides all the pieces of information that you require, in one place and time. I think it's going to be good to work with them.
It's definitely a good product. If a company is heavily into the public cloud environment, they must look to use a product like this to gain good visibility into their security. It will also help with the compliance of how they are doing things in the cloud. It's definitely a good, must-have tool.
I would say Twistlock is a fairly sophisticated tool. It's not the most user-friendly so if somebody wants to use it for their deployment, their firm, they need to have the right people on your team to know how to use it because it's not a plug and play kind of software, like Aqua Security which is a little more plug and play. I think it's easier, more user-friendly, and has a more flexible kind of deployment. If you can configure it well, Twistlock is a lot better in providing you real-time statistics than Aqua Security. I would rate it an eight out of ten. I recommend two months of POC in this. It's fairly new but until now it's been pretty good.
The advice I would give to someone seriously considering these cloud solution products is to be careful with procedures you use while testing them. During the setup phase, there were not many challenges. But while integrating the cloud accounts, I would recommend the users initially provide only read-only access not read-write access, just as a precaution. The users should also be cautious not to expose cloud data to vendors like Dome9 or Palo Alto or whomever the vendor will be. On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the Palo Alto product overall as a seven-out-of-ten. Dome9 I would currently rate eight-out-of-ten. Palo Alto's rating could improve with enhancements to ease-of-use.
We use the cloud deployment model. I'd rate the solution nine out of ten.
This is a product for which I had a very specific need, and my security partner recommended it. This product is one of the leaders. I would, however, suggest that you do a POC before implementing this solution. It has very good support in all of the cloud environments. I think that they offer a lot of functionality in supporting that space. I don't think that this product is perfect, but it fits my needs perfectly. I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.
Is one better than the other?