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Internetwork Engineering

By: Internetwork Engineering on September 28th, 2023

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Prisma® Cloud: Securing your Public Sector Data from Code to Cloud

Data Center | Data Protection | Partners | State & Local Government | Cloud Solutions

If you work in the public sector, then you’re aware of the rigorous compliance and security concerns surrounding PII and SPII. A fact that’s likely the culprit for causing many state and local governments’ hesitation towards cloud migration. Cyber-attacks hijacking, corrupting, deleting, or selling sensitive data have steep consequences for Public Sector accounts lacking the resources to properly protect them, so it’s no surprise.  

Whether your team is ready or not, the cloud is steadily becoming the inevitable future for businesses everywhere. With some application and service providers even moving away from on-premises iterations altogether, the need for system migration is imminent to maintain compliance-ready security standards, keep up with your competitors, and stay ahead of cyber criminals.  

We spoke with our partners over at Palo Alto Networks, to explore Prisma® Cloud — a cloud security solution released in 2019 — and how it can help to alleviate the insecurity surrounding cloud migration for Public Sector professionals. 

Prisma® Cloud Overview 

Prisma® Cloud is a comprehensive Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) designed to help organizations ensure the security and compliance of their cloud environments. By combining threat intelligence, continuous monitoring, and automated remediation, Prisma® Cloud helps organizations safeguard their sensitive data and applications in the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing. 

Prisma® Cloud allows you to protect data stores such as Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure blobs while migrating the rest of your operations to the cloud. Prisma Cloud protects your application data by scanning your application resources for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities while protecting running applications at runtime. 

According to Palo Alto Networks’ press release of this solution, Prisma® Cloud aims to, “simplify access, data protection, and application security.” This ensures the protection of your sensitive data during the transition, so you can feel safe moving it to your new cloud environment.   

Let’s discuss how investing in Prisma® Cloud enhances security in your Public Sector environment as you migrate to the cloud.  

Common Cloud Migration Concerns for Public Sector  

To understand how a solution like Prisma® Cloud can assist your cloud migration, let’s first explore common concerns from public sector professionals that we’ve seen regarding cloud migration. 

Common Concern #1: Lack of Data Security, Privacy, and Visibility  

Public sector organizations handle sensitive citizen data, classified information, and government records. All of which are protected by compliance regulations including NIST 800-53, HIPAA, FISMA, and more. With this responsibility, it makes sense why some public sector professionals are hesitant to hand over control of their infrastructure and data management to a cloud provider.  

If the cloud providers do not have sufficient security measures, data encryption, access controls, and compliance with relevant regulations in place to protect that data from unauthorized access and cyber threats, they would feel those consequences. Additionally, they want to maintain visibility and governance over their cloud environments and worry that migrating to the cloud will hamper this.  

How Prisma® Cloud can help 

Data Security and Encryption:  

Prisma® Cloud helps identify and classify sensitive data, enabling public sector organizations to effectively implement data loss prevention (DLP) policies. Additionally, it supports  

  • Encryption of data at rest and in transit, ensuring data confidentiality even if there is a security breach. 
  • Granular Identity and Access Management (IAM) controls, ensuring that only authorized users and services have access to public sector data by providing 
  • Role-based access control (RBAC), least privilege principles 
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA), preventing unauthorized access and insider threats 

These policies allow you to maintain control of your data and establish a secure transition to the cloud.  

Compliance and Governance:  

Prisma® Cloud offers comprehensive compliance and governance features and visibility into your cloud resources, helping you identify and rectify potential compliance issues proactively. Prisma® Cloud supports compliance with industry frameworks like NIST, CIS, and GDPR, among others. It helps public sector agencies demonstrate adherence to these standards through continuous monitoring and reporting. 

Container and Serverless Security 

For public sector agencies utilizing containerized applications and serverless functions, Prisma® Cloud provides specialized security measures through its Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP). It scans container images for vulnerabilities and compliance issues, and it monitors runtime behavior to detect potential threats in containerized environments. 

Prisma® Cloud is “purpose-built to deliver full lifecycle serverless security for AWS Lambda, Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions. [1]” 

Common Concern #2: Lack of Data Sovereignty and Residency 

Due to data sovereignty requirements or national security concerns, public sector entities often need to keep data within specific geographical borders. The Cloud providers they use must have data center locations in the required areas and data residency options. 

How Prisma® Cloud can help 

Prisma® Cloud has cloud hosting availability in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Singapore, United States. To view the current list of Prisma® Cloud’s cloud Service Provider regions, click here. It includes regions for AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba Cloud, and OCI [2].   

Prisma® Cloud offers cloud hosting availability all over the world and should meet your compliance and data residency requirements for your data center if you need to host in specific geographic regions   

Common Concern #3: Vendor Lock-in 

Public Sector professionals worry about getting locked into a specific cloud vendor's ecosystem, making it challenging to migrate to another provider if needed.  

How Prisma® Cloud can help 

Prisma® Cloud is not tied to a specific cloud provider, which means you can use it to secure multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. You can configure Prisma® Cloud to work with the following well-known cloud providers: 

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) 
  • Microsoft Azure 
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP) 
  • IBM Cloud  
  • Kubernetes 
  • Cloud Discovery, and more 

Access the administrator’s configuration guide for these cloud service providers here to learn more [3].  

Common Concern #4: Cost and Budgeting 

Budget constraints and cost predictability are significant concerns for public sector organizations.  

How Prisma® Cloud can Help 

According to the Forrester Total Economic Impact of Prisma® Cloud, June 2021 study,After investing in Prisma® Cloud, the customers improved their cloud security compliance, transformed security and developer operational agility, reduced the risk of breaches, and improved compliance efficiency [4].” 

As you can see in the three-year benefits chart, there was a significant lift in SecOps efficiency, DevOps Shift Left & Productivity, and Compliance Productivity in addition to Material Breach Risk Reduction Savings. This resulted in a 3-year 276% ROI.  

Graph showing the benefits of investing in Prisma Cloud including ROI, Benefits PV, NPV, Payback

Image Source: 

Common Concern #5: Lack of Service Availability and Reliability 

Public sector services often need to be available 24/7. Downtime, data loss, or service disruptions that could affect critical government operations, are a big concern for these professionals. 

How Prisma® Cloud can help 

Threat Detection and Incident Response 

Prisma® Cloud employs machine learning and behavior-based analytics to detect suspicious activities and potential threats in real-time. It provides security teams with actionable insights and alerts to respond swiftly to security incidents, mitigating their impact on public sector data. The platform makes it more efficient for smaller IT teams to detect and address issues quickly and efficiently. This empowers your team to keep operations running smoothly during an incident and reduce/eliminate the potential for downtime. 

Additionally, Prisma® Cloud uses Red Hat-specific vulnerability data, resulting in precise layer-aware vulnerability analysis [5].” 

Common Concern #6: Lack of Legacy System Integration 

Many public sector organizations have legacy IT systems that need to be integrated with cloud environments. If your organization is married to an outdated system, technology, or software application, secure cloud adoption may be difficult to achieve. Depending on the legacy system you’re using and your flexibility with third-party integrations, you may still have the option of cloud migration.  

How Prisma® Cloud can help 

Integration with Security Operations Centers (SOCs), SIEMs, and More: 

Prisma™ Cloud provides multiple out-of-the-box integration options that you can use to integrate Prisma® Cloud into your existing security workflows and with the technologies you already use. Some of these integration options include: 

  • Amazon GuardDuty 
  • AWS Inspector 
  • Amazon S3 
  • AWS Security Hub 
  • Amazon SQS 
  • Azure Services 
  • Jira 
  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Splunk 
  • Tenable 
  • Webhooks 

The Webhooks integration, for example, allows you to pass info in JSON format to third-party integrations not natively supported by Prisma® Cloud.  

Additionally, Prisma® Cloud has REST API (Representational State Transfer), enabling you to access the platforms features programmatically [6]. Check out the Administrators guide to learn how this works.  

These integrations allow you to streamline incident response, protect your backups, and work seamlessly with your existing ecosystem. 

Common Concern #7: Insufficient Data Backup and Recovery 

Data backup and disaster recovery capabilities are vital to business security, especially with public sector data. Their environments require a cloud provider with robust backup practices and well-defined disaster recovery plans to avoid data loss in case of events. 

How Prisma® Cloud can Help 

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) 

Prisma® Cloud helps public sector organizations maintain a strong security posture in their cloud environments. This solution continuously monitors cloud configurations and identifies security gaps and vulnerabilities that could expose data to unauthorized access. By proactively addressing these issues, Prisma® Cloud helps prevent potential security incidents. 

While Prisma® Cloud is not a cloud provider, it does integrate with some of the most prominent names (as we mentioned above). This allows you to further leverage security features accessible to you through integrations with cloud providers like AWS (Amazon S3 for example).  

Request a Demo with Palo Alto Networks and IE 

Curious to see Prisma® Cloud in action? Our partners at Palo Alto Networks will demonstrate the power of Prisma® Cloud in your environment! See how Prisma® Cloud can help you achieve cloud compliance, detect and prevent vulnerabilities, and secure running applications with the industry’s only comprehensive cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP).