The principle of zero-trust security has been gaining traction in recent years. A survey by the Cloud Security Alliance shows that around 80 percent of C-level executives consider zero trust as a priority for their organizations while 94 percent say that they are already in the process of implementing zero-trust strategies.
Zero trust is particularly important in cloud-native environments, especially for those new to the cloud ecosystem. Unfamiliarity creates opportunities for threat actors, so it makes complete sense to assume that every permission request is potentially hostile or accompanied by serious risks.
A relatively new cybersecurity concept that complements zero-trust is the Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). As enterprises embrace cloud computing more and more, it is important to bolster cybersecurity. Cloud use may already be commonplace, but many are still unfamiliar with the security side of it.
Cloud security with CNAPP
CNAAP is a relatively new cybersecurity model designed specifically to address threats in the increasingly cloud-reliant IT ecosystems of modern organizations. It is not an entirely new model but a combination of three major solutions, namely cloud security posture management, cloud workload protection platform, and cloud service network security. These are consolidated under a unified holistic platform that emphasizes cloud-native protection.
Also, CNAPP is designed to enable a full lifecycle approach for application security. Even though it combines three cybersecurity solutions, as mentioned earlier, it is not a mere patchwork of tools. It seamlessly brings together different security tools to provide comprehensive security, especially when it comes to modern cloud-native architectures. CNAPP provides container security, runtime protection, and threat management functions that make it an ideal solution for organizations that use microservices, containers, and other cloud-native technologies.
What makes cloud-native security with CNAPP different from conventional cloud defense systems? It is its ability to integrate with CI/CD pipelines to secure private and public clouds as well as on-premise assets. It veers away from the traditional “castle-and-moat” type of solutions, wherein security controls have clearly defined boundaries. As organizations embrace the cloud, these boundaries blur and eventually disappear. Relying on firewalls is no longer enough because the perimeters shift to being software-defined instead of being physically existent.
The perimeter-based security solutions are replaced with next-generation firewalls, web application firewalls, web application and API protection systems, load balancers, and SSL/TLS inspection mechanisms, among others.
Is CNAPP the Be-All and End-All of Cloud-Native Security?
It would be inaccurate to characterize CNAPP as the ultimate and single most important element of cloud-native security strategies like SD-WAN and SASE platforms. However, what makes CNAPP stand out is end-to-end cloud-native security that can be harnessed to secure all workloads of an enterprise, from code to deployment.
It unifies container image assurance, third-party library scans, virtual machine protection, automated micro-segmentation, K8s runtime assurance, entity behavior analytics, and infrastructure-as-a-code scanning functions to cover various areas of concern. Bringing together all of these functions result in a holistic platform that smoothens DevSecOps processes. These also help generate security insights with contextualization and enhance an enterprise’s overall security posture management.
Contextualization is particularly important in this discussion. With monitoring, security scanning, and observability tools unified in CNAPP, organizations collect and process various security-relevant information that can be correlated with each other to more accurately identify threats and know which connections and actions are legitimate.
CNAPP as an effective zero-trust enabler
So where is the zero-trust security principle in all of these? The basic idea of zero-trust security is having a suspecting view of everything, from data transfers to permission requests and IT asset modifications. Even the highest officials in an organization are not deemed trustworthy enough that their permissions are routinely authenticated and meticulously monitored.
Zero-trust is like rationalized paranoia. It requires the refusal to trust, but at the same time, it has to learn how to trust in some instances to be functional. This is certainly easier said than done. Keeping everything out is easy, but knowing who or what to let in is the extremely difficult part. How do organizations know which is trustworthy and which is not? This problem grows exponentially in large multi-location organizations that share common IT assets through the cloud.
This is where CNAPP enters the picture. CNAPP’s ability to contextualize security data helps organizations enforce meaningful zero-trust security policies. Zero-trust no longer becomes a blanket refusal to trust but a rationalized or properly managed distrustfulness.
CNAPP provides insights into a wide variety of cloud risks affecting many previously separate categories of products. These risks include misconfigurations, the granting of unnecessary or excessive privileges and permissions, capturable “at-rest” data, unpatched software issues, and other vulnerabilities. With correlation and contextualization across functions, CNAPP enables the prioritization of actual, exploitable vulnerabilities. It depicts an accurate picture of how threat actors can breach security systems.
In other words, CNAPP provides the critical element of risk context useful in making informed security decisions, especially when granting access to workloads within and across the enterprise cloud footprint.
The benefits of zero trust with CNAPP
Together, CNAPP and zero trust can improve the security posture of cloud-native environments. They create noticeable benefits in comprehensive security coverage.
For one, CNAPP establishes consistency and organization in zero-trust security policies. Zero trust is not an exact or strictly-defined concept. Different organizations may have different ways of implementing it. By introducing CNAPP, zero-trust gains direction and a system of mechanisms, rules, and actions that guide permission access and the generation of security alerts.
CNAPP also helps establish multi-layered security. It provides a range of tools covering different threat areas at different levels. It helps define how zero-trust should be observed in different scenarios and levels. CNAPP includes network segmentation, encryption, access controls, and other functions that ensure that threats that may have managed to pass through some security controls will be reexamined by other controls as they move from one layer of the IT infrastructure to another.
Moreover, CNAPP and zero trust security practices make it easy to comply with security regulations including HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI-DSS. Their functions and mechanisms inherently abide by most security regulatory requirements such as the protection of sensitive data and secure user access controls.
A match made for the cloud
Cloud-native environments present unique security challenges that require specialized security solutions. CNAPP and zero trust help address these challenges effectively and efficiently. They provide a comprehensive range of security capabilities suitable for the cloud ecosystem. With real-time and continuous threat detection, multi-layered security, security rules consistency, and regulatory compliance, enterprises enjoy security improvements as CNAPP enables zero-trust security.