Cloud native has become a popular buzzword in the last couple of years. Organizations everywhere are either already running cloud native workloads in production or working on pilot projects involving microservices and Kubernetes. However, with the growing adoption of cloud native infrastructure, teams have come to realize how complicated service-oriented applications can become. Add the recent shift towards hybrid and multi-cloud platforms to the mix, and teams have inherently complex workloads that are extremely hard to secure.
Due to a lack of knowledge on how to secure these complex cloud native workloads, teams end up deploying a variety of tools and get left with a haphazardly put-together mish-mash of old and new tools that only address a limited amount of security use cases. This approach is siloed in nature as each tool takes care of a separate security task. Ultimately, teams are left dealing with the security gaps these poorly integrated tools leave behind.
Support teams for big, mission-critical workloads are bombarded with a never-ending stream of security incidents that are impossible to solve and prioritize in time. This not only puts a lot of burden on IT teams, but it can also end up impacting the business. DevOps teams end up resolving security issues rather than working on important build activities, setting them back.
The pitfalls of the modern security approach
The DevSecOps approach is meant to evade such a scenario by weaving security into cloud native workloads from the very beginning, so security teams aren’t burdened with security compliance at the last hour. The ideal is to make security a part of each software development lifecycle (SDLC) step. Security teams aren’t siloed anymore and actually understand the business logic and can develop security standards and benchmarks that are mandatory for each team to follow. The DevSecOps approach entails a shift in ideology, which means DevOps teams have to put security first. However, sometimes, DevSecOps pipelines created by organizations still don’t work well enough because even though tools involved in these pipelines do their job, several gaps are missed.
Cloud native security tools leveraged by organizations can be categorized based on what they do. Most organizations use cloud security posture management (CPSM), Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM), cloud workload protection platforms (CWPP), container scanning, Infrastructure-as-service (IaS) scanning, and cloud identity and entitlement management (CIEM) solutions. In theory, all these tools address most security concerns on modern applications. However, using several tools means additional efforts to integrate them using APIs and pay for each tool separately. However, due to the complexity of cloud native workloads, all that effort and expense goes to waste when applications are still riddled with security flaws.
CNAPP: the one-stop-shop for all security needs
Gartner coined the term cloud native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) in a report published earlier this year highlighting the need for a converged security solution. A CNAPP takes care of security implementation in all the different areas of infrastructure while allowing DevOps teams to address highly critical concerns. CNAPP is not another tool teams will have to integrate into their already complex pipelines; it’s an overhaul. This single solution can eliminate the need for multiple, standalone security tools.
Here’s a list of capabilities that make CNAPPs such a standout solution:
- CNAPPs can identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in the cloud infrastructure irrespective of what public cloud vendor an organization hosts its workloads on. This task is traditionally performed by cloud security posture management (CPSM) solutions.
- CNAPPs can secure K8s clusters by identifying misconfigurations that can leave workloads vulnerable. This is usually done using a Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM) solution.
- CNAPPs can scan workloads for vulnerabilities, whether VMs or containers or serverless functions. Cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) are usually responsible for this task.
- CNAPPs scan container images from the beginning of development to considerably eliminate risk due to misconfiguration, improper secret management, and hardening.
- CNAPPs also help ensure that infrastructures’ permission configurations are up to the set security standards and all the best practices are followed. Cloud identity and entitlement management (CIEM) solutions are traditionally responsible for this job.
CNAPPs are extremely important for teams tired of hundreds of security alerts in a day. Standalone tools usually lack context and consider every security flaw a high risk. Due to inefficient prioritization of these risks, teams can miss critical ones while they spend their time wading through a sea of warnings. CNAPPs provide insights that help teams address risks that need immediate attention. By understanding how different segments of a single workload work together, CNAPPs can send efficient alerts that help teams get to work without wasting time finding the root cause of a possible risk.
CNAPPs provide teams with the proper understanding of the more significant risks and help mitigate them quickly so teams can continue focusing on innovation, and the business is not impacted. SREs should understand that there can never be a perfect application. Risks will always exist, and newer risks will always pop up. A product will never be entirely secure. However, teams can try to address risks that need immediate attention rather than letting the overwhelming number of risks stop them from doing what they are supposed to do.
Gartner suggests organizations phase their existing suits out as their contracts end and licenses expire and start their CNAPP journey. There are plenty of solutions available in the market, like Orca Security, that are gaining a lot of traction recently. Organizations should research their options thoroughly and opt for tools that work for them.
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