Is a Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) the Answer to Security Woes?

Sudeep Srivastava June 11, 2024
cloud native application protection platform

Cloud computing, at the back of its wide-ranged benefits spanning across scalability, high mobility, easy data recovery, high performance, and quick deployment, has come at a stage where the market is set to reach $676 billion in 2024.

While on one side, the idea of having on-cloud presence is becoming mainstream, the other side – one which needs clear assurances – is directing questions around business data safety towards cloud providers. And for fair reasons.

Even with the promise of strict security measures being diligently embedded in their systems, there have been instances where 80% of companies have experienced one serious cloud security incident in the past few years. Additionally, 24% of the companies reported experiencing a security incident related to public cloud usage. The most common types of incidents were misconfigurations, account compromises, and exploited vulnerabilities.

Reports also mention that more than 45% of data breaches are cloud-based. In addition to this, more than 96% of organizations face significant challenges while implementing their cloud strategies. Among the challenges, 35% of IT decision-makers struggle with data privacy and security issues while 34% face a lack of cloud security skills and expertise.

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Industry’s Response: Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP)

The transition to cloud has introduced a range of new security gaps. For example, the growth in ephemeral and dynamic environments operating inside the cloud ecosystem have increased operational complexities and birthed unique unpredictable interactions.

Also earlier, most of the cloud security tooling was focused on enabling teams to understand their infrastructure security. However, it’s not enough anymore. Security toolset should now ask, “Is my cloud application secure?”

As an industry response, cloud-native applications security has come into picture through CNAPP.

A cloud-native application protection platform is a cloud security model which follows a highly integrated lifecycle approach that protects both workloads and hosts in the cloud-native application development environments. Environments that come with their own unique demands and issues.

These cloud-native security solutions offer powerful automation abilities, which – when calibrated rightly – improves cloud admins’ efficiency. As a result, all the siloed solutions of application security gets unified and raises the expectations that businesses have with next-gen application security solutions.

The true essence of cloud application protection platform, however, can be best understood by looking into the extent of cloud security challenges it solves.

Problems that Cloud-Native Security Platform Solves

The absence of CNAP security opens several security loopholes in application development and deployment, leaving software prone to hacks and breach vulnerabilities. But that is not all. Here are some other reasons that make cloud-native network security exploration a must-have.

Key Challenges Addressed by Cloud-Native Security Platforms

1. Lack of Visibility in Agile

Getting visibility in agile-run development projects can be challenging. The teams tend to be extremely self-organizing, which leads to a situation where they use multiple methods to organize and track themselves across sprints and teams. This, while helps things move swiftly, makes the development efforts opaque to stakeholders.

CNAP cybersecurity platform increases visibility across multiple stages and components in the software lifecycle. It gives a microscopic context to all the information present in the system along with actionable data, which, in turn, makes it easy for the developers to mitigate security issues like misconfigurations with their existing toolsets. This increased visibility also becomes beneficial when it comes to creating and prioritizing alerts on the basis of the risk levels.

2. Delay in Error Detection

Increased collaboration tends to be the biggest benefit of cloud-native applications; several teams are able to work on different parts of the project without ever interfering with each other’s tasks. While it definitely expedites the go-to-market time, expansion of sources can create a wider surface area for vulnerabilities to emerge.

A cloud-native security software addresses this by shifting the security element closer to the development stage. The system creates a model where components are scanned for security vulnerabilities before they are processed, ensuring at-risk components, misconfigurations in files such as infrastructure-as-code templates get identified before deployment. In the highly collaborative work environment, avoidance of misconfigured file sharing tends to save a lot of development resources time.

3. Limited Protection

Another challenge that cloud adoption presents is the utilization of different independent security tools at multiple developmental stages. Managing the configuration of these tasks can be difficult, leading to businesses forgoing security across the end-to-end software spectrum. Some businesses even tend to deploy monitoring tools which end up duplicating tasks, adding to the security woes.

CNAP cybersecurity resolves these challenges by allowing businesses to safeguard the development production processes and infrastructure across the full software spectrum. This gives them a holistic security view right from when development components are received to when the software gets into production. Having a comprehensive view of the ongoing processes ultimately helps with real-time monitoring of infrastructure and applications, while powering speedy issues’ resolution.

4. Difficulty in Automation

CI/CD is the base of modern software development. The popular agile method depends heavily on the full-cycle automation of delivery processes. This comprises building process automation, testing, and releasing it. Even though the process makes software development easy and fast, if a misconfiguration or issue isn’t picked up early, it can show up in the released version.

CNAPP solutions can be seamlessly embedded in the CI/CD and modern development tools. This helps businesses monitor build phase scanning and keep integrity in check.

5. Increased Development Time

One of the prominent issues of SecOps is the time manual scans take to verify vulnerabilities. Managing a toolset tends to become its own workstream, taking up resources. This especially happens because in a cloud environment components don’t share information with each other.

A cloud-native network security service solves this through a unified monitoring system. Businesses can conduct tests on the components from the platform, which can help plan out the overall security approach for the remaining part of the project. This saves developers a lot of time, ensuring they can focus on other tasks that add value to the software.

Also Read: Why DevSecOps is crucial for tackling cloud security challenges

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Now that we have looked into the benefits of CNAPP through the point of view of an unsafe cloud environment, let us look into the elements that make this possible.

Components of Cloud-Native Application Security

Several components merge to form a high security-focused cloud native application protection platform.

components of high security-focused cloud native application protection platform

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

CSPM solution identifies and resolves threats in the cloud environment. With functions comprising incident response, security risk assessment, and DevOps integration, the component utilizes automation for handling security risks swiftly, while working in sync with the IT security and development teams.

Now although CSPM parts of cloud-native network security service are compatible with both containerized and hybrid environments, they tend to be most efficient in multi-cloud environments as they can offer complete visibility into the cloud assets.

Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)

A CWPP solution comes with the capability to handle heavy workloads deployed on a company’s cloud platform. Another great thing about the component is that development units can easily integrate it in the automated processes of their CI/CD flow, which is usually as a part of the build journey.

Additionally, CWPP doesn’t just integrate with parts of the enterprise SecOps infrastructure seamlessly, it also powers up the offerings of the security operations center (SOC), helping it find and analyze complex-level cloud-based cyber attacks efficiently.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

A CIEM solution focuses on cloud access risk management. It uses admin-time controls for handling data governance in the multi-cloud IaaS architectures. In the cloud-native application protection platform setup, it helps with handling identity governance for dynamic cloud environments, usually on a model where the entities and users access only what they need.

Container Security

Container security is a practice followed for the implementation of processes and mechanics to safeguard containerized workloads and applications. In the current time, it has become crucial to have complete visibility of elements such as container-host location, identification of operating or stopped containers, identifying non CIS compliant container hosts, and having regular vulnerability checks.

Keeping this into consideration, it is advised to implement container security at an early stage of the CI/CD pipeline, since it would expose application risks and eliminate friction in the development process.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is where codes are leveraged for the provisioning of the infrastructure resources that the cloud-driven software needs. Developers can easily utilize this reproducible approach for writing, testing, and releasing code which would build the infrastructure on which the application will run. However, it is important to note that securing the process is necessary at a very early phase, since if done later, there can be instances of vulnerabilities or misconfigurations, which can then be exploited by hackers.

Now that we have looked into the different components of a cloud native application protection platform, you must be wondering how they translate into the actual working.

CNAPP security combines essential security functions and tools to ensure complete application protection from code to cloud. It merges security tools like CSPM, CIEM, and CWPP for identifying high-priority security risks.

Once identified, an automated remediation process is initiated for the mitigation of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations and while maintaining industry compliance. The cloud application protection platform also adds in certain guardrails which guarantees zero malicious attempts on the cloud ecosystem.

CNAP can work both through an agent or without one. Usually, the agent cloud-native security platform calls for a sensor to provide visibility into the system information. On the other hand, agentless CNAPP is built on APIs that cloud providers offer, on the basis of which businesses get a complete visibility into the operations.

Using these and a range of other use-case based components like identity and access management, encryption, network segmentation, and threat detection, our team has worked on some cloud-native applications security platforms.

Let’s give you a high-level walkthrough of the projects we are working on for them as their cloud solution services and cloud-native security services provider.

Where Does Appinventiv Fit Into the Cloud-Native Network Security Space?

We recently worked with two businesses, providing cloud-native security solutions for their products. The CNAPP feature sets that we helped them build or integrate into their application included –

  • Continuous container monitoring and vulnerabilities detection
  • Threat intelligence system using machine learning
  • Response automation
  • Comprehensive auditing and logging reports
  • DevOps integration
  • Compliance assurance.

For both the projects, the end goals for the business and in turn us, had been the same – building a CNAPP solution that brings all the cloud resources in one place, offers a full view of the cloud ecosystem and risks, brings multi-cloud infrastructure together, and ensures compliance-readiness.

While both the products are at a beta stage of their launch, we are continuously working with them to establish seamless integration with the DevOps and CI/CD cycles while keeping their systems running.

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Although the demand for CNAPP security solutions is becoming evident every passing day, the platform, when not well-strategized, can pose some challenges as well. One of the most common ones (specially for new cloud-native application protection platform owners) is to scale the solution to seamlessly integrate with different cloud adoption use cases and their unique APIs, third party integrations. This, when added to the growing competition in the domain, can make it difficult for new players to enter the market.

The solution to avoid or ace these situations lies in a partnership – a partnership between cloud native security platform owners and a cloud-focused development team. Appinventiv can be the people you need. Get in touch with our cloud experts today.

FAQs

Q. What is CNAPP all about?

A. CNAPP stands for cloud native application protection platform. It is a comprehensive solution designed to secure cloud-native applications. The platform provides advanced security capabilities tailored specifically for cloud-native architectures, including microservices, containers, and serverless computing.

They also come with features such as vulnerability scanning, runtime protection, access control, encryption, and compliance monitoring to safeguard applications and data in cloud environments. Connect with your managed cyber security services provider to learn more about CNAPP cloud security.

Q. What problems does CNAPP solve?

A. A Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) solves several key challenges related to securing cloud-native applications:

  1. Microservices Security: CNAPPs address security concerns specific to microservices architectures by providing visibility and control over individual microservices, ensuring that communication between services is secure and unauthorized access is prevented.
  2. Container Security: With the widespread adoption of containerization technologies like Docker and Kubernetes, CNAPPs offer container-level security features such as image scanning for vulnerabilities, runtime protection to detect and respond to threats, and secure orchestration of containers.
  3. Compliance and Governance: CNAPPs help organizations adhere to regulatory requirements and industry standards by offering compliance monitoring, audit trails, and policy enforcement mechanisms.
  4. Threat Detection and Response: The platform uses advanced threat detection capabilities such as behavior analytics, anomaly detection, and real-time monitoring to identify and respond to security incidents promptly.
  5. Data Protection: CNAPPs facilitate data encryption, secure data transmission, and data access controls.

Q. How does cloud-native application protection platforms work?

A. A cloud-native application protection platform operates by seamlessly integrating various security capabilities that are tailored for cloud-native environments. It begins by offering visibility into the application’s components, including microservices, containers, serverless functions, and their interdependencies.

The platform conducts comprehensive vulnerability assessments, scanning container images and application components for known vulnerabilities, outdated libraries, and configuration errors, which are then remediated.

Additionally, CNAPPs facilitate encryption of data at rest and in transit, manage encryption keys securely, and enable real-time monitoring, alerting, and incident response to ensure a robust security posture for cloud-native applications.

THE AUTHOR
Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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