The shift to cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses operate, enabling them to leverage the benefits of on-demand computing power, storage, and software services. Cloud computing has brought about numerous benefits such as improved scalability, flexibility, and reduced operational costs. However, without rethinking your security and controls, these benefits can come with an increased risk of cyber attacks, data breaches, and other security threats. This is where cloud native security is increasingly becoming a core feature of a business’s digital security strategy.
Cloud native security is an approach to securing cloud applications and services that are designed specifically for the cloud environment. It involves a set of practices, tools, and technologies that help protect cloud native applications and data from threats and vulnerabilities. In this article, we’ll explore the key principles of cloud native security and the best practices for securing your cloud environment.
Understanding cloud native security
What is cloud native security?
Cloud native security is a set of practices and tools designed to protect cloud native applications and data from threats and vulnerabilities. It’s the latest evolution of cloud computing security and involves securing applications that are designed to run on cloud infrastructure, by using microservices architecture and containerization, among other things. Cloud native security is automated and continuous so it can be as agile as cloud DevSecOps. It provides a holistic, and essential, approach to securing your cloud environment, starting from the application development stage through to deployment and operations.
Key principles of cloud native security
The following are the key principles of cloud native security:
- DevSecOps: Cloud native security is an integral part of the DevSecOps approach, which involves integrating security into the entire software development lifecycle right from the start.
- Microservices architecture: Cloud native security is designed to work with microservices architecture, which allows for the creation of smaller, more modular components that can be easily secured and managed.
- Immutable infrastructure: Cloud native security utilizes immutable infrastructure, which means that any changes to the infrastructure are made by replacing the entire environment with a new one, rather than updating or patching individual components.
- Zero Ttrust security: Cloud native security follows the zero trust security model, which means that no user or system is trusted by default, and access is only granted on a need-to-know basis.
- Automation: Cloud native security relies on continuous automation to keep up with agile and dynamic cloud environments. It utilizes automation to enforce security policies and respond to security events quickly, further removing the element of human error and static manual processes.
Cloud native security challenges
Threats and vulnerabilities in cloud environments
By nature, cloud environments are flexible and versatile. But this puts them at great risk for a wide range of security threats and vulnerabilities, including:
- Misconfiguration: Misconfigured cloud services can leave your environment vulnerable to attacks, data leaks, and other security incidents.
- Unintentional threats: Dev teams and innovators inside a business generate exposed or shadow data as part of their daily workload. This unintentionally increases the attack surface inside an organization, generating more risk and more threats to a business.
- Data breaches: Cloud environments are a prime target for cybercriminals seeking to steal sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) or financial data.
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. While not limited to cloud environments, DDoS attacks can disrupt the availability and performance of cloud native applications by overwhelming targeted systems with traffic or exploiting vulnerabilities in cloud native infrastructure.
Common cloud native security challenges
In addition to the threats and vulnerabilities mentioned above, there are several other common challenges that organizations face when implementing cloud native security:
- Complexity: Cloud environments can be complex and difficult to secure due to the dynamic nature of cloud infrastructure and the use of distributed architectures.
- Visibility: Cloud environments can lack visibility, making it challenging to monitor and detect security threats and vulnerabilities.
- Compliance: Cloud environments are subject to various compliance regulations and standards, such as GDPR and HIPAA, which can add complexity to cloud native security.
- Shared responsibility: Cloud providers and customers share responsibility for securing the cloud environment, which can lead to confusion and gaps in security.
Best practices for cloud native security
To address these challenges, organizations need to adopt a comprehensive approach to cloud native security that includes the following best practices.
Secure configuration management
All cloud services inside an organization should be configured in a secure and compliant manner from the start. Secure configuration is an ongoing and iterative process whereby the various components of cloud computing are maintained and secured against threats, using a number of critical measures. Among other strategies, secure configuration may include but is not limited to configuring firewalls, setting up access controls, and implementing encryption. Additionally, organizations should regularly review and update their configurations to ensure that they remain secure and compliant on an ongoing basis.
Identity and access management
Identity and access management (IAM) involves controlling user access to cloud services and resources. Organizations should implement strong authentication and authorization policies, such as multi-factor authentication and least privilege access, to prevent unauthorized access to their cloud environment.
Protecting cloud networks from threats such as DDoS attacks and malware is a critical part of cloud native security. To do so, organizations should implement network segmentation, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems to protect their cloud environment from external threats.
Data protection is the key component of native cloud security and involves implementing encryption, enforcing data security policies, data loss prevention (DLP), and backup and recovery processes to protect sensitive data in the cloud environment. Probably the most important to implement is automated data discovery and classification to ensure that sensitive data is properly identified as you can’t protect what you don’t see.
High availability and disaster recovery
Unplanned outages can have very adverse impacts on a business and disasters happen, even for cloud environments. Having high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) plans mean that an organization has a detailed strategy which prepares them for and better equips them to respond to failures or disasters. High availability focuses on keeping an organization’s services available, even in the event of a natural disaster or other potential interruption while disaster recovery focuses primarily on being able to quickly respond and recover from the unanticipated adverse event. An availability and DR plan should define roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and procedures for minimizing the impact of disasters.
Cloud native security tools and technologies
Cloud native security consists of an amalgamation of tools and technologies that should be used in combination to provide an organization with best-in-class cloud native security.
Container security involves securing containers and container orchestration using specifically-designed software or platforms to do so. This includes implementing access controls, vulnerability scanning, and runtime protection.
Serverless security involves securing serverless functions and platforms such as AWS Lambda and Azure Functions. This includes implementing access controls, monitoring and logging, and runtime protection.
Cloud security posture management
Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is an umbrella term that refers to using CSPM tools to monitor and manage the security cloud infrastructure. CSPM tools can help organizations identify known vulnerabilities including misconfigurations, bugs, compliance violations, and other security issues.
Data security posture management
Data security posture management (DSPM) is a data discovery and policy enforcement engine that lets security teams verify and enforce preventive controls that are data-centric, circumventing the complexity of cloud infrastructures, and easily addresses the challenge of ongoing data proliferation. It is built on a foundation of autonomous and continuous data discovery and classification. It is agile data security for agile cloud environments.
DSPM can complement CSPM by providing the location of sensitive data stored in the cloud environment, as well as gauging its potential for exposure, and the security posture of the data.
What is cloud native security?
Cloud native security is security built with cloud native principles, designed to protect data in cloud native applications and environments. Cloud native security utilizes cloud native technologies and services so that security is integrated from the start and is as agile as cloud development.
Why is cloud native security important?
Data, and the cloud, are central to a business’s operations. Protecting a cloud environment from security threats and vulnerabilities is critical. By implementing Cloud Native Security best practices and using Cloud Native Security tools and technologies, organizations can reduce their risk of data breaches, cyber attacks, and other security incidents.
What are the benefits of cloud native security?
The benefits of Cloud Native Security include improved security posture, reduced risk of data breaches and cyber attacks, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Additionally, Cloud Native Security can help organizations save time and resources by automating security policies and incident response processes.
How can organizations implement cloud native security?
Organizations can implement Cloud Native Security by adopting the key principles, implementing best practices for Cloud Native Security, and using Cloud Native Security tools and technologies. It’s also important to regularly review and update Cloud Native Security policies and practices to stay up-to-date with the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.
Cloud Native Security is an essential part of securing cloud environments in the modern era. It involves a set of practices, tools, and technologies that help protect cloud-native applications from threats and vulnerabilities. By implementing Cloud Native Security best practices and using Cloud Native Security tools and technologies, organizations can reduce their risk of data breaches, cyber attacks, and other security incidents. It’s important for organizations to regularly review and update their Cloud Native Security policies and practices to ensure that they remain secure and compliant with regulatory requirements.
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