Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks Review

We have identified and secured many misconfigurations and remediated a lot of vulnerabilities

What is our primary use case?

Primarily, we are attempting to secure our public cloud security posture through compliance and vulnerability scanning.

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, the solution is effective for helping us take a preventative approach to cloud security. We have managed to remediate thousands of high impact misconfigurations or vulnerabilities that have been detected by the tool.

It is how we are securing access to these public facing resources, i.e., how we are locking down S3 buckets, RDP to EC2 instances, or other administrative access that might otherwise allow easy compromise. The value to the business is simply just securing these cloud assets in alignment with security policies and best practices that we have defined.

The comprehensiveness of the solution is good for securing the entire cloud-native development lifecycle, across build, deploy, and run. We are exclusively an Azure DevOps shop. Thus, we are well-aligned with the capabilities that Prisma offers. Its ability to participate in and integrate with the DevOps lifecycle has been very good for us.

Prisma Cloud has enabled us to integrate security into our CI/CD pipeline and add touchpoints into existing DevOps processes. We are integrated in a handful of CI/CD pipelines at the moment. These touchpoints are fairly seamless in our DevOps processes. We are performing the scan and failing builds automatically without developer involvement, but we use the Visual Studio plugin. Therefore, developers can self-service scan their work prior to the build process. It is both seamless and on-demand for the people who choose to use it.

The integration of security into our CI/CD pipeline has affected collaboration and trust between our DevOps and SecOps teams has improved, though there is some diplomacy that has to occur there. The way that it's improved: We approached vulnerability management and cloud security posture with these teams historically by presenting them a list of findings, like a laundry list of things they need to go fix. These teams aren't staffed for moving backwards and fixing old problems, so we established a process for working with them that starts with securing net new development. We can do that without much of an ask, in terms of their time, by having these integrations into their CI/CD pipeline along with self-service scanning tools. So, we have the capability of securing new development while they are completing the lengthy task of reviewing and remediating existing deployments.

The solution provides risk clarity at runtime and across the entire pipeline, showing issues as they are discovered during the build phases. We are applying the same secure configuration baseline scans in the pipeline that we're doing for the deployed assets. Most of the time, our developers can correct these issues.

What is most valuable?

The Twistlock vulnerability scanning tool is its most valuable feature. It provides us insight into security vulnerabilities, running inside both on-premise and public cloud-based container platforms. It is filling a gap that we have with traditional vulnerability scanning tools, where we don't have the ability to scan inside containers.

Prisma Cloud provides security spanning multi- and hybrid-cloud environments. This is of critical importance to us because we have workloads in multiple cloud providers as well as having them on-premise.

The solution provides the following in a single pane of glass:

  • Cloud Security Posture Management
  • Cloud Workload Protection
  • Cloud Network Security
  • Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management.

These are all critical and challenges that we have faced. We have been unable to find solutions using native tools from cloud providers. We use AWS and Azure in production along with GCP in testing.

Prisma Cloud provides us with a single tool to protect all our cloud resources and applications, without having to manage and reconcile disparate security and compliance reports. The Redlock portion of the tool and reporting are better. There are still some gaps in terms of our ability to trend over time periods. However, in terms of point-in-time snapshot reporting, the tool is very good. What we have done is automated the process of compiling these trendline reports on a weekly basis to capture those metrics, then take them offline so we can build our own dashboarding to fill in the tool's gaps.

We are using the solution’s new Prisma Cloud 2.0 Cloud Security Posture Management features. These features give our security teams alerts, with context, to know exactly what are the most critical situations. This is critical because we have insight into new assets that are deployed out of spec, but have otherwise not been enabled for auto remediation. The challenge there has been that we deploy these policies, and if someone's not sitting there watching the console, then they might miss these misconfigurations where time is of the essence. The learning and context are important in order to prioritize how quickly we need to triage these findings.

The new Prisma Cloud 2.0 features provide our security teams with all the data that they need to pinpoint the root cause and prevent the issue from recurring. It is less data requirement gathering that has to happen in the middle of an incident or remediation. If the alerts themselves have all the context you need to address those, then it's just less legwork required to find the problem and fix the misconfiguration.

What needs improvement?

The alignment of Twistlock Defender agents with image repositories needs improvement. These deployed agents have no way of differentiating between on-premise and cloud-based image repositories. If I deploy a Defender agent to secure an on-premise Kubernetes cluster, that agent also tries to scan my ECR image repositories on AWS. So, we have limited options for aligning those Defenders with the repositories that we want them to scan. It is scanning everything rather than giving us the ability to be real granular in choosing which agents can scan which repositories. This is our biggest pain point.

There are little UI complexities that we work around through the API or exporting.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for about nine months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In general, the stability is very good. As a SaaS tool, we have high expectations for how it performs, and we did have some growing pains in that regard around the console upgrade in October. 

The work that we have ongoing maintenance-wise is from a policy perspective. We have custom policies that we deploy above and beyond the CIS Benchmark policies deployed with the tool. As we deploy new services, start to use new tools, and as the cloud vendors roll out new services, there is policy work which goes along with that. However, the bulk of the work is still in meeting with business units who are responsible for deploying these applications and keeping them on track with their remediation activities.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. The notable exception is on the Lambda function side. We have had some challenges with its ability to scale up and scan all versions of deployed functions in a timely fashion. Otherwise, in the container space and public cloud space on the RedLock side, it has been very good in terms of scaling up to meet our demands.

25 people use this solution. Seven of those would be people on the cloud SecOps team, and the balance of them would be a mix of developers, DevOps engineers, and incident response.

There are dozens more pipelines for us to integrate with. The bulk of the growth will be organic to new app teams, who are in different business units in the enterprise.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is pretty good. In most instances, they are responsive. They meet their SLAs. They are eager to engage with R&D or their engineering teams when necessary to escalate issues. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prisma Cloud provides the visibility and control that we need, regardless of how complex or distributed our cloud environments become. Our security and compliance postures are significantly improved through the implementation of this tooling, mostly because we had poorly supported open source tooling acting in this capacity previously. We were using the Scout2, because it was free, which was not nearly as fully featured or capable.

How was the initial setup?

I have led this team since the beginning. The initial setup was harder when we did it than it is now. We had to go through individual AWS accounts, configuring IAM permissions and things like that, on an account by account basis. Whereas now, that happens automatically through AWS Organizations integration. While the setup was good then, it is better now.

It took us three months to have all the resources onboarded.

Our implementation strategy varied because there are so many elements of the tooling. We started with RedLock and the public cloud compliance pieces, starting with the sandbox accounts and validating the results and things of that nature. We then moved out to the larger Cloud COE as a whole and started onboarding production accounts. After that, we started meeting with the COE and app teams to socialize the findings and explain the remediation steps and go through all of that.

We broke the Twistlock stuff into a separate project phase. The deployment approach there was similar to the implementation strategy. We started with the sandbox teams and public facing apps, socializing the findings, then going through the vulnerability structure and compliance structure with them. Once we had established a rapport with them and they understood the goals of the program, then we started pushing for integration into the CI/CD pipelines, etc.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. I feel like it is a good value. I am not going to say for sure that we couldn't have leveraged the same results from one of the competing platforms, but you don't need to prevent many security incidents to realize the value of an investment like this. We have identified and secured many misconfigurations and remediated a lot of vulnerabilities that I feel like we have gotten our value out of the tool.

Prisma Cloud has reduced our runtime alerts by 25 percent through the nature of developers being able to fix their own code by shifting the responsibility of identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities. Fewer runtime alerts are making it to runtime because they are fixing security or compliance issues earlier in the process.

Our alert investigation time is much better and has been reduced by 75 percent.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing and licensing are expensive compared to the other offerings that we considered.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at Aqua Security and Rapid7 DivvyCloud. Capabilities-wise, these commercial solutions have similar offerings. The two primary differentiators with Palo Alto were:

  1. It was by far the most mature solution. They had acquired that maturity through getting the most baked startups, then rebranding and rolling them under the Prisma banner. So, they were the most mature platform at the time. 
  2. There was an element of wanting to have that single pane of glass management. They had a SaaS solution that we felt would scale to our large cloud environment. 

What other advice do I have?

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.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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