An overwhelming majority of organizations are already adopting the multi-cloud strategy, according to one software company’s “State of the Cloud Strategy Survey” (2021) report. Around 75 percent are already using multi-cloud, while some 86 percent say that they are set to become multi-cloud operators in the next two years.
This shift towards the multi-cloud environment naturally calls for changes in the way organizations establish and maintain their security posture. Conventional strategies and approaches no longer suffice. Traditional ways of detecting, mitigating, and preventing threats are no longer that effective in view of the new systems that organizations have embraced as go to the cloud.
The rise of Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform
Before discussing the key points on why cloud-native is the direction that is set to be the norm for cybersecurity, it is important to mention Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) and its impact on the current situation of the cybersecurity industry. Introduced by Gartner in 2021, CNAPP is a relatively new cybersecurity model that brings together different established models including Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP), Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS), as well as Cloud Security Entitlement Management (CIEM).
CNAPP provides a single holistic platform that combines the benefits of the aforementioned cybersecurity categories. It focuses on cloud-native security to address the issues or weaknesses associated with using a hodgepodge of security tools. It is designed to achieve full security visibility and coverage for all cloud assets. Additionally, it is capable of detecting risks across the entire tech stack, spanning the areas of cloud configuration up to the management of workloads and identities.
CNAPP is still new, but many security firms and institutions are already offering solutions based on it. A quick search on Google News would show several announcements for the launch of CNAPP products by multiple security firms.
Addressing the changing needs of multi-cloud environments
The use of multiple clouds is good for operational resiliency. However, it creates complexity in security management, as having different cloud providers entails different capabilities and tool sets suitable for their specific configurations, components, and environments.
There have been solutions created for different cloud security needs, like the CSPM, CWPP, and CSNS mentioned earlier. However, separately, these were viewed as limited to compliance and vulnerability identification purposes in the context of multi-cloud security. They help in seeing and comprehending the risks involved, but they were not exactly designed to ensure full network visibility to ensure rapid detection and response.
Some security firms have developed on-prem/non-cloud network detection and response solutions to secure multi-cloud environments in ways that make up for deficiencies in conventional defensive systems. The problem is that these are not as scalable and manageable as organizations would like them to be. Since their functions are being provided as individual or segregated cloud solutions, it is difficult to use them as cohesive and easy-to-monitor security controls.
There are efforts to resolve the scalability and manageability issues through traffic mirroring and other complex methods, but these prove to be very expensive and hard to set up especially for organizations with extensive cloud usage. Their reliance on packet capture also impairs security visibility because of the inevitable need for encryption.
In other words, existing multi-cloud security solutions left much to be desired before the introduction of CNAPP. Its emphasis on cloud-native makes it the best solution for achieving improved visibility and implementing tighter controls.
The push toward cloud-native security
Conventional cybersecurity usually follows the Castle-and-Moat model, wherein only those inside are able to access data and everyone outside is prevented from gaining access. This means that insiders and those that have been granted access previously are presumed to be trustworthy.
For this model to work, it is important that the security parameters are well-defined. A small configuration error or the granting of privileges to someone or a service that appeared previously harmless (but is actually a well-disguised threat actor) is enough to make the entire defense system break. Still, even with the best efforts in defining parameters, this approach is not suitable in the modern enterprise setting with the kind of cloud-native workloads organizations are dealing with.
It is important to bring security to the cloud-native level by bringing together continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to establish defenses in both public and private clouds as well as on-premises. This is what CNAPP is built for, with its inherent cloud-native infrastructure, and this is where modern cybersecurity focus is heading.
As many cybersecurity pundits also suggest, it is time to embrace zero-trust security. This is completely different from the Castle-and-Moat approach, as it eliminates all presumption of safety. Everyone and everything inside and outside are deemed potentially harmful, so they are subjected to rigorous evaluation. The zero-trust concept is baked into the CNAPP system to ensure optimum cloud defense.
The benefits of cloud-native security
The advantages of cloud-native security can be summed up by the three major components of CNAPP and how their integration boosts each other’s functions in the overall security posture of an organization. The integration of CSPM, CWPP, and CSNS results in significantly improved visibility, tighter controls in view of emerging threats, and end-to-end cloud-native security integration across all workloads, which could not be achieved if these security models were deployed separately and independently.
CSPM provides the tools necessary to automate threat detection and remediation. It comes with automated compliance and security evaluation functions, as well as the ability to spot configuration errors or misconfigurations that can possibly be exploited to breach defenses. CSPM ensures in-depth cloud visibility with its ability to inventory cloud assets across platforms (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.) and sort them accordingly.
CWPP addresses the new kinds of threats that target modern workloads. It allows organizations to integrate different security solutions continuously and in the early stages of the app lifecycle. It scans the workloads of an organization both on the cloud and on-premises, then examines them to identify security issues and apply the appropriate solutions. CWPP comes with a host of workload security functions including network segmentation, malware detection, and runtime protection.
Meanwhile, CSNS provides next-generation firewall, load balancing, Denial of Service protection, SSL/TLS inspection, and Web Application and API protection tools to secure cloud-native networks. It is vital in ensuring cloud security with its dynamic network perimeters that can enable granular segmentation to defend cloud assets from attacks across different directions.
Keeping up with the needs of the times
Becoming cloud-native is a matter of responding to needs, not getting in line with the trends. As more organizations embrace the multi-cloud strategy, they unavoidably take in the complexities and new risks that come with it. Conventional defense strategies are no longer effective because of the increasing complexities of infrastructure and workload management. Cloud-native security brings cyber protection to a level that is in tune with new needs and challenges. It is further enhanced with the rise of CNAPP, which maximizes the benefits of cloud-native security solutions by integrating them with each other to significantly improve visibility and seamlessly adopt zero-trust security and the implementation of tighter controls against emerging threats.