Managing risk posture — how your business assesses, prioritizes, and mitigates risks — has never been easy. But as attack surfaces continue to expand rapidly, doing that job has become increasingly complex and inefficient. (One global survey found that SOC team members spend, on average, one-third of their workday on incidents that pose no threat).  

But what if you could mitigate risk with less effort and less noise?

This post explores how Cloudflare can help customers do that, thanks to a new suite that converges capabilities across our Secure Access Services Edge (SASE) and web application and API (WAAP) security portfolios. We’ll explain:

  • Why this approach helps protect more of your attack surface, while also reducing SecOps effort
  • Three key use cases — including enforcing Zero Trust with our expanded CrowdStrike partnership
  • Other new projects we’re exploring based on these capabilities

Cloudflare for Unified Risk Posture

Today, we’re announcing Cloudflare for Unified Risk Posture, a new suite of cybersecurity risk management capabilities that can help enterprises with automated and dynamic risk posture enforcement across their expanding attack surface. Today, one unified platform enables organizations to:

  • Evaluate risk across people and applications: Cloudflare evaluates risk posed by people via user entity and behavior analytics (UEBA) models and risks to apps, APIs, and sites via malicious payload, zero-day threat, and bot detection models.
  • Exchange risk indicators with best-in-class partners: Cloudflare ingests risk scores from best-in-class endpoint protection (EPP) and identity provider (IDP) partners and shares telemetry back with security information and event management (SIEM) and extended detection and response (XDR) platforms for further analysis, all via one-time integrations with our unified API.
  • Enforce automated risk controls at scale: Based on these dynamic first- and third-party risk scores, Cloudflare enforces consistent risk controls for people and apps across any location around the world.

Figure 1: Unified Risk Posture Diagram

As mentioned above, this suite converges capabilities from our SASE and WAAP security portfolios onto our global network. Customers can now take advantage of built-in risk management functionality packaged as part of these existing portfolios.

This launch builds on our progressive efforts to extend first-party visibility and controls and third-party integrations that make it easier for organizations to adapt to evolving risks. For example, as part of the 2024 Security Week, we announced the general availability of behavior-based user risk scoring and the beta availability of an AI-enabled assistant to help you analyze risks facing your applications. And in a recent integration in the Fall of 2023, we announced that our cloud email security customers can ingest and display our threat detections within the CrowdStrike Falcon® Next-Gen SIEM dashboard.

To further manage your risk posture, you will be able to take advantage of new Cloudflare capabilities and integrations, including:

  • A new integration to share Cloudflare Zero Trust and email log data with the CrowdStrike Falcon Next-Gen SIEM (available now)
  • A new integration to share Cloudflare’s user risk score with Okta to enforce access policies (coming by the end of Q2 2024)
  • New first-party UEBA models, including user risk scores based on device posture checks (coming by the end of Q2 2024)

Unifying the evaluation, exchange, and enforcement stages of risk management onto Cloudflare’s platform helps security leaders mitigate risk with less effort. As a cybersecurity vendor defending both public-facing and internal infrastructure, Cloudflare is uniquely positioned to protect wide swathes of your expanding attack surface. Bringing together dynamic first-party risk scoring, flexible integrations, and automated enforcement helps drive two primary business outcomes:

  1. Reducing effort in SecOps with less manual policy building and greater agility in responding to incidents. This means fewer clicks to build policies, more automated workflows, and lower mean times to detect (MTTD) and mean times to respond (MTTR) to incidents.
  2. Reducing cyber risk with visibility and controls that span people and apps. This means fewer critical incidents and more threats blocked automatically.

Customers like Indeed, the #1 job site in the world, are already seeing these impacts by partnering with Cloudflare:

“Cloudflare is helping us mitigate risk more effectively with less effort and simplifies how we deliver Zero Trust across my organization.”

— Anthony Moisant, SVP, Chief Information Officer and Chief Security Officer at Indeed.

Problem: Too many risks across too much attack surface

Managing risk posture is an inherently broad challenge, covering internal dangers and external threats across attack vectors. Below is just a sampling of risk factors CISOs and their security teams track across three everyday dimensions including people, apps, and data:

  • People risks: Phishing, social engineering, malware, ransomware, remote access, insider threats, physical access compromise, third party / supply chain, mobile devices / BYOD
  • App risks: denial of service, zero-day exploits, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, remote code execution, credential stuffing, account takeover, shadow IT usage, API abuse
  • Data risks: data loss / exposure, data theft / breach, privacy violation, compliance violation, data tampering

Point solutions emerged to lock down some of these specific risks and attack vectors. But over time, organizations have accumulated many services with a limited ability to talk to one another and build a more holistic view of risk. The granular telemetry generated by each tool has led to information overload for security staff who are often stretched thin already. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Extended Detection & Response (XDR) platforms play a critical role in aggregating risk data across environments and mitigating threats based on analysis, but these tools still demand time, resources, and expertise to operate effectively. All these challenges have gotten worse as attack surfaces have expanded rapidly, as businesses embrace hybrid work, build new digital apps, and more recently, experiment with AI.

How Cloudflare helps manage risk posture

To help restore control over this complexity, Cloudflare for Unified Risk Posture provides one platform to evaluate risk, exchange indicators, and enforce dynamic controls throughout IT environments and around the world, all while complementing the security tools your business already relies on.

Although the specific risks Cloudflare can mitigate are wide-ranging (including all those in the sample bullets above), the following three use cases represent the full range of our capabilities, which you can start taking advantage of today.

Use Case #1: Enforce Zero Trust with Cloudflare & CrowdStrike

This first use case spotlights the flexibility with which Cloudflare fits into your current security ecosystem to make it easier to adopt Zero Trust best practices.

Cloudflare integrates with and ingests security signals from best-in-class EPP and IDP partners to enforce identity and device posture checks for any access request to any destination. You can even onboard multiple providers at once to enforce different policies in different contexts. For example, by integrating with CrowdStrike Falcon®, joint customers can enforce policies based on the Falcon Zero Trust Assessment (ZTA) score, which delivers continuous real-time security posture assessments across all endpoints in an organization regardless of the location, network or user. Plus, customers can then push activity logs generated by Cloudflare, including all access requests, to whichever cloud storage or analytics providers they prefer.

Today, we are announcing an expanded partnership with CrowdStrike for a new integration that enables organizations to share logs with Falcon Next-Gen SIEM for deeper analysis and further investigation. Falcon Next-Gen SIEM unifies first- and third-party data, native threat intelligence, AI, and workflow automation to drive SOC transformation and enforce better threat protection. The integration of Cloudflare Zero Trust and email logs with Falcon Next-Gen SIEM allows joint customers to identify and investigate Zero Trust networking and email risks and analyze data with other log sources to uncover hidden threats.

“CrowdStrike Falcon Next-Gen SIEM delivers up to 150x faster search performance over legacy SIEMs and products positioned as SIEM alternatives. Our transformative telemetry, paired with Cloudflare’s robust Zero Trust capabilities provides an unprecedented partnership. Together, we are converging two of the most critical pieces of the risk management puzzle that organizations of every size must address in order to combat today’s growing threats.”

— Daniel Bernard, Chief Business Officer at CrowdStrike

Below is a sample workflow of how Cloudflare and CrowdStrike work together to enforce Zero Trust policies and mitigate emerging risks. Together, Cloudflare and CrowdStrike complement each other by exchanging activity and risk data and enforcing risk-based policies and remediation steps.

Figure 2: Enforce Zero Trust with Cloudflare & CrowdStrike

Phase 1: Automated investigationPhase 2: Zero Trust enforcementPhase 3: Remediation
Cloudflare and CrowdStrike help an organization detect that a user is compromised.
In this example, Cloudflare has recently blocked web browsing to risky websites and phishing emails, serving as the first line of defense. Those logs are then sent to CrowdStrike Falcon Next-Gen SIEM, which alerts your organization’s analyst about suspicious activity.
At the same time, CrowdStrike Falcon Insight XDR automatically scans that user’s device and detects that it is infected. As a result, the Falcon ZTA score reflecting the device’s health is lowered.
This org has set up device posture checks via Cloudflare’s Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), only allowing access when the Falcon ZTA risk score is above a specific threshold they have defined. 
Our ZTNA denies the user’s next request to access an application because the Falcon ZTA score falls below that threshold.
Because of this failed device posture check, Cloudflare increases the risk score for that user, which places them in a group with more restrictive controls. 

In parallel, CrowdStrike’s Next-GenSIEM has continued to analyze the specific user’s activity and broader risks throughout the organization’s environment. Using machine learning models, CrowdStrike surfaces top risks and proposes solutions for each risk to your analyst.
The analyst can then review and select remediation tactics — for example, quarantining the user’s device — to further reduce risk throughout the organization. 

Use Case #2: Protect apps, APIs, & websites

This next use case is focused on protecting apps, APIs, and websites from threat actors and bots. Many customers first adopt Cloudflare for this use case, but may not be aware of the risk evaluation algorithms underpinning their protection.

Figure 3: Protect apps, APIs & sites with ML-backed threat intelligence

Cloudflare’s Application Services detect and mitigate malicious payloads and bots using risk models backed by machine learning (ML) including:

These risk models are trained largely on telemetry from Cloudflare’s global network, which is used as a reverse proxy by nearly 20% of all websites and sees about 3 trillion DNS queries per day. This unique real-time visibility powers threat intelligence and even enables us to detect and mitigate zero-days before others.

Cloudflare also uses ML to discover new API endpoints and schemas without requiring any prerequisite customer input. This helps organizations uncover unauthenticated APIs and map their growing attack surface before applying protections.

Unlike other vendors, Cloudflare’s network architecture enables risk evaluation models and security controls on public-facing and internal infrastructure to be shared across all of our services. This means that organizations can apply protections against app vulnerability exploits, DDoS, and bots in front of internal apps like self-hosted Jira and Confluence servers, protecting them from emerging and even zero-day threats.

Organizations can review the potential misconfigurations, data leakage risks, and vulnerabilities that impact the risk posture for their apps, APIs, and websites within Cloudflare Security Center. We are investing in this centralized view of risk posture management by integrating alerts and insights across our security portfolio. In fact, we recently announced updates focused on highlighting where gaps exist in how your organization has deployed Cloudflare services.

Finally, we are also making it easier for organizations to investigate security events directly and recently announced beta availability of Log Explorer. In this beta, security teams can view all of their HTTP traffic in one place with search, analytics dashboards, and filters built-in. These capabilities can help customers monitor more risk factors within the Cloudflare platform versus exporting to third party tools.

Use Case #3: Protect sensitive data with UEBA

This third use case summarizes one common way many customers plan to leverage our user risk / UEBA scores to prevent leaks and mishandling of sensitive data:

Figure 4: Protect apps, APIs & sites with ML-backed threat intelligence

  • Phase 1: In this example, the security team has already configured data loss prevention (DLP) policies to detect and block traffic with sensitive data. These policies prevent one user’s multiple, repeated attempts to upload source code to a public GitHub repository.
  • Phase 2: Because this user has now violated a high number of DLP policies within a short time frame, Cloudflare scores that suspicious user as high risk, regardless of whether those uploads had malicious or benign intent. The security team can now further investigate that specific user, including reviewing all of his recent log activity.
  • Phase 3: For that specific high-risk user or for a group of high-risk users, administrators can then set ZTNA or even browser isolation rules to block or isolate access to applications that contain other sensitive data.

Altogether, this workflow highlights how Cloudflare’s risk posture controls adapt to suspicious behavior from evaluation through to enforcement.

How to get started with unified risk posture management

The above use cases reflect how our customers are unifying risk management with Cloudflare. Through these customer conversations, a few themes emerged for why they feel confident in our vision to help them manage risk across their expanding attack surface:

  • The simplicity of our unified platform: We bring together SASE and WAAP risk scoring and controls for people and apps. Plus, with a single API for all Cloudflare services, organizations can automate and customize workflows with infrastructure-as-code tools like Terraform with ease.
  • The flexibility of our integrations: We exchange risk signals with the EPP, IDP, XDR, and SIEM providers you already use, so you can do more with your tools and data. Plus, with one-time integrations that work across all our services, you can extend controls across your IT environments with agility.
  • The scale of our global network: Every security service is available for customers to run in every location across our network spanning 320+ locations and 13K+ interconnects. In this way, single-pass inspection and risk policy enforcement is always fast, consistent, and resilient, delivered close to your users and apps.

If you’re ready to see how Cloudflare can help you manage risk, request a consultation today. Or if you’re at RSA Conference 2024, come to any of our in-person events.

To continue learning more about how Cloudflare can help you evaluate risk, exchange risk indicators, and enforce risk controls, explore more resources on our website.

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