Guide to Cloud Native Security

Cloud native applications allow organizations to reap benefits like greater operational efficiencies and higher appreciable revenues. These technologies simplify the work of developers and allow them to focus more on developing code than on maintaining infrastructure and other lower end tasks. 

But as cloud-native applications are composed of a variety of infrastructures like containers, serverless platforms, microservices, virtualized networks, and APIs, securing each and everything becomes a problem, especially more so when there is a lack of visibility into systems.

In short, established security practices that work well for traditional computing environments are not suitable for securing dynamic cloud native applications. Frequent code releases and fast development mean malicious actors are potentially able to gain unauthorized entry that much more quickly. Clearly, what is needed is a security approach that takes all these factors into account and provides comprehensive protection from cyber threats.

Also see: Cloud is Down: Protecting Your Organization against Outages

What is Cloud Native Security?

Cloud native security is the method of securing an organization’s cloud-native architecture. In this approach, security is incorporated into the software development life cycle (SDLC), so beginning from the development process right to production/release, security plays an integral part of the process.

While data breaches cannot always be completely prevented, cloud native security takes a holistic view of cyber protection and uses threat intelligence to mitigate malicious attacks. With the right mix of automation, defense-in-depth and shift left security measures in place, cloud-native apps are assured of adequate amount of protection.

Key Elements of Cloud Native Security

The key elements of cloud native security include:

  • Inventorying all cloud assets.
  • Analyzing all network traffic flows.
  • Identifying all vulnerabilities across the app lifecycle.
  • Building network security measures at every level.
  • Strengthening identity and access management (IAM) policies.
  • Securing stored data.
  • Monitoring across cloud environments.

Also see: 9 Cloud Cost Optimization Strategies

How is Cloud Native Security Implemented?

Managing cloud native security is a complex process, as it involves complete coverage for the entire application lifecycle. Organizations can enhance their cloud native security by adopting the following strategies:

Gaining Visibility

The first step to establishing a strong cloud native security posture is gaining visibility into all cloud assets. After all, only when organizations know what they have will they be able to protect it effectively.

Sharing Responsibility Between Teams

Making the move to cloud native requires coordination between development and security teams. While developers need to be aware of security procedures, likewise security teams should also be aware of the workings of the CI/CD cycle. Close collaboration between teams is vital to securing every stage of the application development process. Thanks to teams on the same page, there is greater accountability and quicker resolution of issues.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Using AI tools can help you monitor and manage traffic behaviors in complex cloud native applications and platforms. These AI tools can analyze network traffic and identify attack patterns with far greater accuracy than your human staff.

Enforce the Principle of Least Privilege

Cloud native environments are highly dynamic, and as a result, traditional perimeter security may not be able to protect against all forms of intrusions. Enforcing the principle of least privilege is vital to securing identities across workloads and preventing attackers from gaining access to sensitive information. When you adopt least privilege, you ensure users access systems only with proper verification. Further, even if a system is compromised, you know that only certain components are affected.

Shift Security Left

Existing security tools are ill-equipped to handle the size and velocity of cloud native applications, exposing them to vulnerabilities. DevSecOps shifts security left, which means security measures are incorporated early on in the SDLC. By shifting left, security teams can scan for vulnerabilities and remove them before deploying to production.  

Also see: Developing a Cloud Modernization Strategy

What are Cloud Native Security’s Key Benefits?

Complete Visibility

A lack of visibility into cloud systems may let misconfigurations pass through, causing sensitive data to be exposed to threat agents. Cloud native security lets organizations monitor their cloud assets 24/7. By providing continuous visibility, businesses can protect themselves better from threat actors.

Advanced Threat Detection

Given the complicated threat landscape, it is impossible to detect them with a single threat detector. The advanced threat detection features of cloud native security tools can detect patterns in traffic streams and identify threats more quickly and with less effort.

Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with industry standards is a must so as not to fall foul of regulatory agencies. Cloud-native security helps to ensure compliance with regulatory standards like SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST 800-53, and GDPR.

What are Cloud Native Security’s Top Strategies?

The top cloud native security strategies include:

Investing In Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

A CSPM solution provides comprehensive visibility into multi-cloud environments, identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities across the entire stack. These tools integrate with CI/CD workflows and secure IaC templates, container images, data, and applications to provide protection from threat actors.

The benefits of CSPM are:

  • Continuous visibility into all cloud assets.
  • Monitoring and identifying new threats.
  • Performing remediation of misconfigurations.
  • Leveraging prebuilt compliance libraries and ensuring that configurations conform to regulatory mandates.

Data Security

Data security can be challenging when dealing with complex cloud infrastructures. However, good cloud native security solutions have robust security protocols in place that protect your data from data theft and accidental leakage. Adopting the following best practices can further protect your data in the cloud:

  • Securing endpoints.
  • Encrypting data both at-rest and in-transit.
  •  Implementing strong access permissions.

Defense-in-Depth Security

Today, with multi-pronged attacks being launched at systems, a defense-in-depth or multi-layered security is necessary to protect cloud assets. The premise behind defense-in-depth is to manage risk in such a manner so that even if one layer of defense turns out to be ineffective, there are other layers of defenses to protect your system.

Also see: 9 Ways AI Can Help Improve Cloud Management

What are Cloud Native Security Challenges?

There are several security concerns when securing cloud native apps. They are:

Securing Multiple Entities

Earlier, software functionalities would run on monolithic architectures. But cloud native systems comprise a range of architectures and services with unique security requirements. For instance, cloud-native uses microservices to run apps, where each capability is composed of loosely coupled services. Furthermore, each of these microservices has their entry points and communication channels that create greater opportunities for threat actors to gain entry to privileged systems.

Evolving Environments

Cloud native environments are always in a state of flux. Fast release cycles and frequent application updates mean SOCs have to be always on their toes, securing deployments while being mindful of the release cycle. In such a scenario, legacy security tools cannot provide adequate protection for continuously evolving environments.

Cloud Sprawl

Cloud sprawl is often an unintended consequence of cloud computing. Organizations must take great care in monitoring their cloud environment. Unmanaged workloads present a security problem as they are used by hackers to gain entry into systems. And by the time the organization realizes there is a problem, it is already too late.

Conclusion

While cloud native is the way to go, you must take adequate measures to ensure its security. With the right security controls in place, cloud native security allows enterprises to identify security loopholes in their cloud strategy and fix them quickly.  

Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy is a full-time writer and editor who presently lives in Singapore. She has over ten years of experience writing, editing, and delivering exceptional content for her clients. She currently writes for Virtasant, a cloud technology company, and Krista Software, a provider of intelligent automation solutions. Her work also gets published on several high-ranking tech websites.

Latest Articles

Follow Us On Social Media

Explore More