A new dawn of advanced technology is upon us. Although the idea of powerful, smarter, and more agile solutions is enticing, it comes riddled with various security vulnerabilities and an increasing need to defend complex ecosystems. As more organizations adopt a digital-first, data-driven attitude, the amount of data increases exponentially and so does the possibility of cybersecurity attacks.
The consequences of vandalism in cyberspace, although difficult to quantify, does disrupt businesses and wreak a ton of havoc. In times like these, it’s essential to utilize a combination of security approaches to try and build an impenetrable wall and maximize protection.
Out of a variety of widely used approaches out there, the tension between centralizing and decentralizing is at the core of today’s digital environment. Therefore, this article will largely focus on the “centralized vs decentralized security” battle.
The centralized approach to security
Centralized security is when there is one unified system that acts as a single security solution that provides multiple security functions from a single point. A centralized approach means there is one global security control plane that protects the entire organization’s network. It helps continuously monitor systems and networks to enable immediate damage control. When a centralized security system comes across a common threat, it sends an immediate alert. This alert is then turned into a policy that aids in eliminating that threat.
A centralized security approach includes VPN networking that protects outgoing traffic by encrypting and anonymizing the network traffic, a firewall that filters out malicious traffic, and load balancing to improve application responsiveness and help stabilize network traffic during peak hours by routing it between different servers.
A centralized approach to cloud security works across either single or multiple cloud environments and provides all logs out of these cloud environments to a central destination. This information can then be evaluated and analyzed to get information about potential threats. This approach also comes with a DLP (Data Loss Prevention) solution that ensures all cloud data is encrypted and used only by authorized applications.
Although the centralized approach brings a ton of benefits, it’s not without challenges. For example, a single point of failure in the security tooling becomes a possible risk factor since all the security functions are concentrated in a single appliance. This means if the central security monitoring system goes down, the entire security system goes down with it. Cybercriminals would only have to focus on disrupting one centralized system to break the security of the entire system. Limited scalability and performance limitations are among the pitfalls of a centralized security approach.
The decentralized approach to security
Decentralized security is when security tooling spans several different tools integrated together. In this approach the tools split the security monitoring data into multiple pieces that can only be reconstructed when a legal minimum of splits is used. Since it’s almost impossible to access this scope of data easily, the system becomes completely immune to all kinds of breaches. A decentralized approach minimizes the risk of compromising protected and sensitive information by bypassing the need for an encryption key. This approach speeds up innovation, enables flexibility, and provides easy scalability.
In a decentralized approach, the information doesn’t pass through a single point, instead, it passes through different points which makes it difficult to track. This not only enables greater privacy but also makes it difficult for attackers to breach the system. This approach also eliminates the risk of a single point of failure as there is no reliance on a single central security tool.
A decentralized approach to security helps each business unit take greater responsibility and ownership of its program thus improving enterprise-wide awareness of security. This creates custom security policies that along with the specific requirements of each unit and eliminates the need for generic security policies. This way, security gets embedded within each unit of an organization.
As is the case with the centralized approach to security, the decentralized approach also has its set of challenges. For example, it requires consistent and strong communication, there is a lack of consistency across organizations and there can be instances where risks end up being mischaracterized. With the decentralized approach, it can get messy to assess whether all the access control systems meet a set standard.
CNAPP: The security hypermarket
In a previous post on CNAPP, we had discussed how putting old and new security tools together is limiting and siloed in nature. The modern security concept of DevSecOps – security is weaved into cloud-native workloads right from the beginning – was introduced as an upgrade to this. But, integrating multiple complex cloud-native security tools using APIs required extra effort and money that doesn’t pay off as security flaws aren’t fully eliminated and there still are gaps in the DevSecOps pipeline that are missed. Ultimately, the juice is not worth the squeeze.
This is precisely where CNAPP swoops in by parading its ability to implement security in all the different areas of infrastructure and being the superior centralized security solution the cloud security market longed for.
CNAPP is a cloud-native security model that aims to provide a complete lifecycle approach to application security by integrating and centralizing otherwise varying security functions into a single user interface. Although in most cases, cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) and cloud security posture management (CSPM) are different tools, CNAPPs combine the two to offer both their capabilities, along with some additional features, in a single, unified, end-to-end solution. In combining the two distinct security tools, CNAPP is able to address both their limitations. Therefore, CNAPPs eliminate the need to add multiple security tools to make up for the limitations of the existing tools by providing a streamlined and centralized option. CNAPPs position themselves as a single, consolidated, truly cloud-native platform that analyzes and manages risks across cloud environments and provides a centralized solution for viewing all concerns and enabling faster action.
There are plenty of security solutions approaches, each with its own set of pros and cons. Therefore, there is no definitive answer to which is the perfect solution. You just need to choose based on your needs and the style that best fits your organization. However, CNAPP and its approach to security is promising for organizations venturing into the world of cloud-native.
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