Security Command Center latency overview

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This page provides an overview of the activation process that takes place when you enable Security Command Center. It aims to answer common questions:

  • What happens when Security Command Center is enabled?
  • Why is there a delay before the first scans start?
  • What is the expected runtime for the first scans and ongoing scans?
  • How will changing resources and settings impact performance?

Overview

When you first enable Security Command Center, an activation process must complete before Security Command Center can start scanning your resources. Then the scans must complete before you see a complete set of findings for your Google Cloud environment.

How long the activation process and scans take to complete depends on a number of factors, including the number of assets and resources in your environment and whether Security Command Center is activated at the organization level or the project level.

With organization-level activations, Security Command Center must repeat certain steps of the activation process for each project in the organization. Depending on the number of projects in an organization, the time required for the activation process can range from minutes to hours. For organizations with more than 100,000 projects, a lot of resources in each project, and other complicating factors, enablement and initial scans can take up to 24 hours or more to complete.

With project-level activations of Security Command Center, the activation process is much faster, because the process is limited to the single project in which Security Command Center is activated.

The factors that can introduce latency in starting scans, processing changes to settings, and the runtime of scans are discussed in the following sections.

Topology

The figure below provides a high-level illustration of the onboarding and enablement process.

Illustration of Security Command Center onboarding (click to enlarge)
Illustration of Security Command Center onboarding (click to enlarge)

Latency in onboarding

Before scans start, Security Command Center discovers and indexes your resources.

Indexed services include App Engine, BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Compute Engine, Identity and Access Management, and Google Kubernetes Engine.

For project-level activations of Security Command Center, the discovery and indexing is limited to the single project in which Security Command Center is activated.

For organization-level activations, Security Command Center discovers and indexes resources across your organization.

During this onboarding process, two critical steps take place.

Asset scan

Security Command Center conducts an initial asset scan to identify the total number, location, and state of projects, folders, files, clusters, identities, access policies, enrolled users, and other resources. This process is usually completed within minutes.

API activation

As resources are discovered, Security Command Center enables parts of Google Cloud that are needed for Security Health Analytics, Event Threat Detection, Container Threat Detection, and Web Security Scanner to operate. Some detection services require specific APIs to be enabled on protected projects to function.

When you activate Security Command Center at the project level, API activation usually takes less than a minute.

With organization-level activations, Security Command Center iterates through all of the projects that you select for scanning to enable the necessary APIs.

The number of projects in an organization largely determines the length of the onboarding and enablement processes. Because APIs must be activated for projects one by one, API activation is usually the most time-consuming task, particularly for organizations with more than 100,000 projects.

The time needed to enable services across projects scales linearly. That means, generally, it takes twice as long to enable services and security settings in an organization with 30,000 projects than one with 15,000 projects.

For an organization with 100,000 projects, onboarding and enablement of the Premium tier should be completed in under five hours. Your time can vary depending on many factors, including the number of projects or containers that you are using and the number of Security Command Center services that you choose to enable.

Scan latency

When you set up Security Command Center, you decide which built-in and integrated services to enable, and select the Google Cloud resources that you want to have analyzed, or scanned, for threats and vulnerabilities. As APIs are activated for projects, selected services begin their scans. The duration of these scans also depends on the number of projects in an organization.

Findings from built-in services are available as initial scans are completed. Services experience latency as described below.

  • Container Threat Detection has the following latencies:
    • Activation latency of up to 3.5 hours for newly onboarded projects or organizations.
    • Activation latency of minutes for newly created clusters.
    • Detection latency of minutes for threats in clusters that have been activated.
  • Event Threat Detection activation occurs within seconds. Detection latencies are generally less than 15 minutes, from the time a log is written to when a finding is available in Security Command Center.
  • Rapid Vulnerability Detection begins scanning a project and returning findings within 24 hours after it is enabled for the project.

  • Security Health Analytics scans start approximately one hour after the service is enabled. The first Security Health Analytics scans can take up to 12 hours to complete. After that, most detections run in real time against asset configuration changes (exceptions are detailed in Security Health Analytics Detection Latency).

  • VM Threat Detection has an activation latency of up to 48 hours for newly onboarded organizations. For projects, the activation latency is up to 15 minutes.

  • Web Security Scanner scans can take up to 24 hours to start after the service is enabled and run weekly after the first scan.

Security Command Center runs error detectors, which detect configuration errors related to Security Command Center and its services. These error detectors are activated by default and can't be deactivated. Detection latencies vary depending on the error detector. For more information, see Security Command Center errors.

The IAM roles for Security Command Center can be granted at the organization, folder, or project level. Your ability to view, edit, create, or update findings, assets, and security sources depends on the level for which you are granted access. To learn more about Security Command Center roles, see Access control.

Preliminary findings

You might see some findings in the Security Command Center dashboard while initial scans are taking place but before the onboarding process is complete.

Preliminary findings are accurate and actionable, but they are not comprehensive. Using these findings for a compliance assessment within the first 24 hours is not recommended.

Subsequent scans

Changes made within your organization or project, such as moving resources or, for organization-level activations, adding new folders and projects, usually won't significantly impact resource discovery time or the runtime of scans. However, some scans proceed on set schedules, which determine how quickly Security Command Center detects changes.

  • Event Threat Detection and Container Threat Detection: these services run in real time when they are turned on and immediately detect new or changed resources, such as clusters, buckets, or logs, in enabled projects.
  • Rapid Vulnerability Detection performs subsequent scans weekly from the date of the first scan. If new resources are added to projects in between scans, any vulnerabilities are not discovered until the next scan.
  • Security Health Analytics: Security Health Analytics runs in real time when turned on and detects new or changed resources in minutes, excluding the detections listed below.
  • VM Threat Detection: VM Threat Detection scans each VM instance immediately after the instance is created. In addition, VM Threat Detection scans each VM instance every 30 minutes. This service generates one finding per process, per VM, per day. Each finding only includes the threats associated with the process that is identified by the finding. If VM Threat Detection finds threats but can't associate them with any process, then, for each VM, VM Threat Detection groups all of the unassociated threats into a single finding that it issues once per each 24-hour period. For any threats that persist longer than 24 hours, VM Threat Detection generates new findings once every 24 hours.
  • Web Security Scanner: Web Security Scanner runs weekly, on the same day as the initial scan. Because it runs weekly, Web Security Scanner won't detect changes in real time. If you move a resource or alter an application, the change might not be detected for up to a week. You can run on-demand scans to check new or changed resources between scheduled scans.

Security Command Center error detectors run periodically in batch mode. Batch scanning frequencies vary depending on the error detector. For more information, see Security Command Center errors.

Security Health Analytics Detection Latency

Security Health Analytics detections run periodically in batch mode after the service is enabled, as well as when the configuration of a related asset changes. Once Security Health Analytics is enabled, any relevant resource configuration changes result in updated misconfiguration findings. In some cases, updates might take several minutes, depending on the asset type and change.

Some Security Health Analytics detectors do not support immediate scanning mode if, for example, a detection runs against information outside of a resource's configuration. These detections, listed in the table below, run periodically and identify misconfigurations within 12 hours. Read Vulnerabilities and findings for more details on Security Health Analytics detectors.

Security Health Analytics detections that do not support real-time scanning mode
API_KEY_EXISTS
API_KEY_NOT_ROTATED
API_KEY_APIS_UNRESTRICTED
API_KEY_APPS_UNRESTRICTED
COMPUTE_PROJECT_WIDE_SSH_KEYS_ALLOWED
COMPUTE_SERIAL_PORTS_ENABLED
DISK_CSEK_DISABLED
FULL_API_ACCESS
MFA_NOT_ENFORCED (previously named 2SV_NOT_ENFORCED)
OS_LOGIN_DISABLED
PUBLIC_IP_ADDRESS
SQL_NO_ROOT_PASSWORD
SQL_WEAK_ROOT_PASSWORD

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