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Cloud-native is a software development methodology designed explicitly for new cloud infrastructures and delivery models. Cloud-native applications offer all the benefits of the cloud, such as rapid development, resilience and scalability, but also raise significant security challenges. 

What is the cloud-native concept?

Cloud-native security involves building applications on emerging cloud-based infrastructure and delivery models, as opposed to on-premises data centers. This approach takes full advantage of the cloud, making it easier to deploy, manage and scale applications, and applies those principles to software development.

Cloud-native applications are comprised of cloud services and include three fundamental tools: containerization, dynamic orchestration and microservices architectures. They embrace Platform as a Service (PaaS) and serverless functions, which enable developers to make frequent application changes without affecting other programs and results in vastly increased productivity levels, improved business agility and significant cost savings. They also require robust cloud-native security.

What's the history of cloud native?

Application development is increasingly moving towards agile, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes that offer end-to-end automation. As DevOps increased in popularity and development teams updated their pipelines, security tools like firewalls and scanners quickly became outdated and ineffective. 

As a result, cloud-native security was engineered to address problems across the software stack but couldn't fully understand the risks in cloud-native environments. Therefore, security teams had to use various tools and vendors, which increased complexity, cost, risk and blind spots between tools. 

What are cloud-native security challenges?

Cloud-native applications are built on short-lived infrastructure that poses maintenance and operational challenges and security issues. These security concerns include: 

  • Securing multiple entities: Cloud-native applications rely on microservices to run, which sees each capability or process packaged as separate containers or serverless functions. Each of these entities is vulnerable to being compromised, which means it needs to be protected explicitly at each stage of the development process.
  • Diverse architecture: The systems designed to develop cloud-native applications harness multiple architectures, cloud services and cloud platforms. Each of these has its unique security requirements and potential vulnerabilities, which means security teams need to fully understand the risks of this complex attack surface to secure each architecture.
  • Evolving environments: The environments that cloud-native applications are developed in are constantly changing. Processes like infrastructure as code (IaC) and immutability see rapid software release cycles, frequent application updates, and applications regularly ripped up and recreated. The challenge for security teams is to ensure this process is secure without significantly slowing down the product release cycle.

How to solve cloud-native security challenges

Solving these concerns requires a new approach, strategy and tools to handle cloud-native security. These challenges can be addressed through various processes and solutions, including:

  • Cloud-Native Security Platforms (CNSPs): CNSPs are how cloud architectures are secured by sharing context around application workloads, data, development platforms, infrastructure and users. This provides unified visibility for DevOps and SecOps teams, improves threat response for cloud-native applications and automates remediation for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities across the application development lifecycle.
  • Shift security left: Many enterprises rely on traditional security tools that can't handle the size and speed of cloud-native applications, which leaves vulnerabilities in code and containers. By shifting security left, security teams can remove code security issues before deploying to production and scanning for malware and image vulnerabilities early on in the development cycle.
  • Container-level perimeter security: It's vital to address security issues at multiple levels in containerized environments, from containers and pods to physical hosts and the orchestrator control plane. Orchestrators like Kubernetes enable you to isolate nodes, limit and monitor traffic between containers, and use third-party authentication to verify the application programming interface (API) server.
  • Minimize roles and privileges: Access controls can be used to minimize roles or permissions for each container. This ensures minimal damage is caused if the cloud-native architecture becomes compromised and prevents attackers from gaining privilege escalation.
  • Shared security responsibility: Strong partnerships between developers and security teams are critical to protecting every stage of the application development process. Developers need to be educated on security best practices and how to secure their code. At the same time, security teams need to protect the development, testing and deployment of applications.
  • Embrace artificial intelligence (AI): AI tools enable you to monitor the behavior of traffic in cloud-native applications and architectures. This is critical to detecting anomalous or unusual behavior and minimizing the risk of an attack.

Enhance your cloud-native security

Cloud-native security gives you the freedom to develop new applications without worrying about integrating security solutions. Protection is built-in throughout the development lifecycle, giving you greater agility and flexibility to embrace digital transformation while minimizing the risk of code or software vulnerabilities.

Learn more about how WWT can help your company get the most out of cloud-native security