As more organizations continue to migrate to the cloud, cloud-native applications are now providing a competitive edge as they enable organizations to improve their business agility and operational efficiency, along with reducing costs. At its optimum level, cloud-level applications are designed to run on the cloud – and leverage cloud-specific capabilities like automatic scaling and continuous deployment.
Despite their multiple benefits, cloud-native applications continue to challenge the common understanding of networks and overall security. For example, cloud-native applications (using the microservices model) pose security challenges like difficulty in executing end-to-end visibility and monitoring.
To fully leverage cloud computing capabilities, organizations need to understand the implications of cloud-native security. We shall look at 7 tips on how organizations can improve cloud-native security. Keep reading.
7 expert tips that can improve cloud-native security
Listed below are 7 expert tips that can work towards securing cloud-native applications:
Plan your cloud architecture
An efficient cloud-native architecture cannot simply be achieved in the “traditional old” way of migrating the on-premises model to a cloud platform. It requires a radical shift in the way cloud applications are designed and deployed. This requires elaborate planning with significant impacts on the organization’s culture and how businesses respond to shifting market demands.
Businesses managing legacy systems require a careful audit for knowing the scope of their cloud infrastructure at every cloud stack level. By mapping out the entire cloud environment, it becomes easier to determine whether a full-scale security solution is required – or to integrate and manage separate services.
Redefine parameter security
With legacy applications, organizations could build a parameter around their infrastructure, thus blocking attackers from the external side. The move towards cloud-native applications means that the parameter-based approach will no longer work. For example, a web application firewall (or WAF) cannot protect application functions that are triggered from different event sources.
With cloud-native applications, perimeter security needs to be applied at the function level – through identifying any event anomalies or any trigger coming from a different-than-usual source. This can only be done by application security tools that have been designed for the cloud-native environment.
Secure Application Dependencies
As cloud-native applications are loosely coupled and distributed, organizations have less insight into application elements and other entities. The application code also includes software packages retrieved from npm or PyPI repositories. As a result, hidden dependencies can impact performance and pose a security threat.
Additionally, cloud-native security can also be impacted by small changes in the system. For example, a simple component reuse feature (that allows developers broader permission for selected datasets) could, at some time, be made available to other groups or teams.
To improve cloud-native security, organizations need to protect these dependencies using automated tools with a database of open-source components. Additionally, cloud-native orchestration tools can improve application security by excluding vulnerable packages in the running function or container.
Assign User Permissions for Each function or Container
Unauthorized logins are a serious threat to the security of any cloud solution. For any cloud administrator, it is easy to assign (or block) user access to both data and programs with just a few clicks.
As there are more interactions among cloud-native applications, organizations need to assign a unique set of user permissions for every serverless function or container to enhance security. This requires streamlining Identity & Access Credential Management or IAM for every function – or configuring permissions at a granular level for containers in a cluster.
As a practice, assign only the minimal set of permissions (as required) for each function or container. This ensures that even if one element (function or container) in the application is compromised, they can prevent privileges from escalating to the other elements.
Shift Towards Microservices
Any cloud-native application must be developed using microservices that work on smaller chunks of code along with easier coupling. As compared to microservices, large monolithic system applications do not offer benefits like continuous deployment & updates, and automatic scaling.
Additionally, DevOps teams can leverage microservices to execute cloud-native applications with each process encapsulated within a separate function or container. Before microservices, organizations could run multiple processes on a single virtual machine. With the implementation of microservices, security is essential for each component (or entity) through the entire development cycle.
Approach Cloud-Native Security as a Shared Responsibility
In the traditional approach, the end-user organization owned complete responsibility including securing their development infrastructure & applications to implementing access control. With the cloud computing approach, a part of this responsibility is now shared with the cloud vendor.
However, end-user organizations still retain responsibility for securing their cloud-stored data – leading to the “shared responsibility model.” Organizations that fall short of implementing this model increase their chances of security failures.
To prevent this, make sure to build collaboration among the development, DevOps, and security teams. While network security teams must be trained on how applications are developed and deployed, development teams must be well-versed with the best security practices. This can enhance the culture of “shared ownership” and add security at every level.
Strengthen Cloud-Native Security Overtime
For the best results, organizations need to understand that security is a continuous process – and not just a “one-time” activity. At the same time, cloud-native security can adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, as every business enterprise has its own set of priorities and challenges. For example, growth-oriented technology startups may need to prioritize on faster “go-to-market” for their products, even if it means initial higher security risk.
To adapt to the rapidly evolving digital ecosystems, organizations must address security gaps in their security architecture by integrating digital technologies like AI, IoT & embedded solutions, and data analytics.
As more organizations continue to move to the cloud, they need to emphasize the importance of cloud-native security and get a complete understanding of how to implement it for their specific needs. To help you get started, we have presented a few tried-and-proven tips on how to enhance your cloud-native security.
With its expertise in networking and IoT domains, Benison Technologies has provided its customers with the best solutions to address their security challenges. Would you love to partner with us? Let us get in touch.