With the increasing urgency for developers to create higher quality code and ship it faster, in the midst of an acute shortage of qualified security professionals, the responsibility for software security has shifted “to the left,” placing increased expectation on developers for the security of cloud native applications.

Added to this, a Dell survey of 1000 global IT decision – makers revealed that 63% believed the emergence of cloud native applications — Kubernetes containers and SaaS workloads — posed a risk to data protection, primarily due to lacking the appropriate tools to manage data protection across multiple environments. In order to prevent application vulnerabilities weaving their way into production environments, security teams must come up with robust defence strategies.

Minimising the security gap among cloud native applications and DevOps delivery methodologies requires acknowledgement of the risks, collaboration between many stakeholders to develop the right approach and continual scanning during all stages of development.

The opportunities of cloud native technologies:

  • Cloud native technologies empower organisations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach
  • These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, observable, and highly scalable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil
  • Challenges of securing cloud native applications

Many organisations are transitioning to DevOps methodologies, with CI/CD pipelines and containerised applications pushing frequent and complex changes to their cloud native software ecosystem. With responsibility fragmented across the application development lifecycle, and without securing the full application lifecycle – infrastructure, application code and workloads – risks of a successful cyberattack are increased.

An Aqua Security survey of CISOs at Fortune 1000 companies across a range of industries assessed their strategies for preventing attacks. What ranks the highest priority is automated, active protection and response applied across the full application life cycle. 87% of the respondents agree that securing the full application lifecycle – including infrastructure, application code and workloads – is critical.

Security decision makers now need critical security capabilities that allow for speed and agility while reducing friction between teams and preserving business continuity. Cloud native applications present tremendous challenges for security and risk professionals, and security is often a number one concern to hinder cloud native adoption, with the following challenges presented:

  • Securing a broad number of entities – DevOps and infrastructure teams are leveraging microservices – which includes containers, Kubernetes and serverless functions – to run their cloud native applications. This combination broadens the scope of entities to protect, both in production and across the application lifecycle. 
  • Continually-evolving environments – Public and private cloud environments are constantly changing due to the rapid-release cycles of development and DevOps teams. With larger enterprises deploying more frequently – weekly and even daily – this presents a big challenge for security pros to secure these deployments without compromising on the pace of releases.
  • Widespread use of open source software – In order to support the accelerated pace of software development, engineering teams are turning to open source components that enable them to develop and release faster. Consequently, the number of known vulnerabilities that need to be managed for risk is also ballooning. 
  • Diverse architectures – With such a broad range of public and private clouds, cloud services and application architectures, it’s hard for security teams to maintain the entire ecosystem and minimise any gaps.
  • Networking is based on service identity – cloud native applications differ from traditional applications based on a physical or virtual machine as a stable reference point or node of a network. It’s common for different components to run in different locations, be replicated multiple times, be taken down and then get spun up elsewhere. A successful zero-trust security approach should factor in the application context and microservices identities.
Related:   Cybersecurity with limited talent and resources

The role of OSS in cloud native security

The developer community is increasingly backing open source software (OSS) as a way to not only develop applications but also secure them. Open source not only has the ability to educate engineering, security and DevOps teams through accessible tools, it can also reduce the skills gap and automates security controls into cloud native pipelines to eliminate risk well ahead of applications going into production.

OSS has experienced a surge in adoption for security purposes. What was only a few years ago considered a potential risk by tech pros is today a boon for both security and business. Aqua Security’s survey reveals that 70% of CISOs believe open source security solutions provide a faster way to secure their environments.

Cloud native environments can benefit from the rapid innovation and agility generated by the OSS community, in particular supporting CISO-vendor partnerships with pro-OSS vendors. This is reflected in over three quarters of respondents (78%) believing that OSS gives access to the latest innovations in cloud security.

A catalyst for innovation

More than two-thirds (68%) of CISOs from Aqua Security’s survey agree that the easiest first step to securing production workloads is to begin with an inventory and assessment of the entire environment. Using a single source of truth for cloud security is favoured by 69% of the CISOs, where it can reduce friction between teams during development.

Security teams need the ability to efficiently detect and assess risks across their distributed application portfolios. In understanding and monitoring for the risks, security leaders are forewarned and forearmed with the help of active protection to secure their complex cloud native environments while promoting the fastest development of high quality code.

In fact, 9 out of 10 CISOs believe that active protection is a critical element of cloud native security. 88% prioritise both active protection and visibility for workloads as necessary to reduce business risk.

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