Hybrid work environments and the increasing demand to access applications on the go have accelerated the need for cloud adoption. While this dynamic shift has helped organizations scale rapidly, it has resulted in several data security implications. In disrupting the traditional life cycle of applications, cloud deployment across industries has added layers of complexity that impede security. A recent Palo Alto Networks’ 2023 State of Cloud-Native Security Report that surveyed 2,500 people (C-level and DevOps practitioners) across five industries in seven countries is revealing:
- 77% deploy new or updated code to production on a weekly basis
- 38% of organizations commit new code daily.
- 68% increase in deployment frequency in the last 12 months
- 68% of organizations are unable to detect a security threat in less than an hour
- 77% of organizations struggle to identify what security tools are needed to achieve their objectives
- 76% of organizations say the number of point tools they use causes blind spots
These statistics indicate that organizations face challenges in keeping their code and applications secure while moving toward faster and more frequent code build and deployment strategies. In such cases, overlooking the security of cloud workloads can cause a major setback for any organization. Adopting a platform approach that secures applications from code to cloud across multi-cloud environments is a possible solution.
Achieving Comprehensive Security for Cloud-Native Applications
To survive in a competitive landscape, businesses must adopt the latest technologies and leverage them to the fullest to scale, increasing their operational efficiency. Securing cloud-native applications requires a multi-layered approach that addresses various aspects of the application architecture and deployment. Here are some parameters or gates that organizations can use to mitigate security-related risks for cloud-native applications:
- Continuously monitor and audit: Implement real-time logging and monitoring mechanisms to detect and respond to security incidents. Use cloud-native monitoring and logging services, such as AWS CloudTrail or Google Cloud Audit Logging, to track and audit all activity in your cloud environment. Regularly review and analyze logs and audit trails for suspicious activity.
- Follow shift-left strategy: By adopting a shift-left approach, organizations can proactively address security risks and vulnerabilities early in the software development life cycle (SDLC), leading to more secure cloud-native applications with reduced risk of security incidents.
- Implement DevSecOps practices: Incorporate security into your development and operations processes from the outset. Use automated security testing tools, such as static code analysis, dynamic application security testing (DAST), and vulnerability scanning, as part of your CI/CD pipeline to detect and fix security issues early in the software development life cycle.
- Choose a secure connection: Use virtual private networks (VPNs) or private connections, such as AWS Direct Connect or Azure ExpressRoute, to securely connect your cloud-native applications to your on-premises infrastructure or other cloud resources. Implement network security groups or firewall rules to control incoming and outgoing traffic to and from your cloud-native applications.
- Real-time detection mechanism: Implement real time logging and monitoring mechanisms to detect and respond to security incidents. Use cloud-native monitoring and logging services, such as AWS CloudTrail or Google Cloud Audit Logging, to track and audit all activity in your cloud environment. Regularly review and analyze logs and audit trails for suspicious activity.
Implementing DevSecOps in the Cloud for Enhanced Security
Ensuring security for an organization may not be easy, especially in a hybrid work environment with remote teams across different geographies and development life cycles. However, embedding security controls across the DevOps flow or development cycle is imperative to achieve comprehensive security for cloud-native applications. DevSecOps is a strategy for incorporating safety protocols into the DevOps process. Implementing DevSecOps with the primary goal of enhancing security requires a step-by-step approach. It involves the unification of security, operations, development, and testing to build a product marked by quality and backed by security.
An organization must evaluate how to practice DevSecOps, what tools it can utilize at each phase, and how they bring all the pieces together on one platform.
Critical areas of the DevSecOps strategy include:
- Planning: Integrating security professionals within the DevOps teams ensures their early involvement right from the planning phase, where the focus is on security and performance, acceptance test criteria, application interface and functionality, and threat-defense models.
- Developing: Collaborating with security professionals prepares developers for safety industry standards and makes them aware that creating security is a joint effort with the security team.
- Building: Automated build tools can significantly uplift the whole DevSecOps implementation process. These tools ensure test-driven development, standards for release artifact generation, and utilize them to ensure the design aspect aligns with the team’s coding and security standards through statistic code analysis. They can also be used to identify and replace vulnerable libraries in your application.
- Testing: Automated testing should use strong testing practices, including front-end, back-end, API, database, and passive security testing.
- Securing: Introducing advanced practices such as security scanning and traditional testing practices can increase awareness of the issues and identify threats early.
- Deploying: Automated provisioning and deployment can fast-track the development process while making it more consistent. Infrastructure-as-code tools can perform the aforementioned audit properties and configurations and ensure secure configurations across the IT infrastructure.
- Operating: Practicing security-as-a-code and automating vulnerability discovery and remediation with tools like SCA, DAST, SAST, and IAST can help in receiving warnings as early as possible.
De-Risking Your Cloud Environment
With the integration of different software platforms and cloud migration growing exponentially, the risk of applications becoming prone to vulnerabilities increases. This could jeopardize the physical systems and have a grave impact on the organization's overall growth. Achieving comprehensive application security in the cloud-native era requires a proactive, multi-layered approach encompassing people, processes, and technology. By prioritizing security at every stage of the application life cycle, leveraging cloud-native security solutions, implementing strong IAM practices, promoting security awareness, and conducting regular assessments, organizations can effectively protect their cloud-native applications and data from potential threats, ensuring a secure and robust cloud-native environment.
About the Author
Upasana Singh leads Cloud Platform Solutions at Cyient. She has 16 years of experience in application development, small to large scale cloud migration and cloud solutions for customers across multiple industries.