According to a 2023 Cloud Computing Study, 92% of organizations already host a portion of their IT environment in the cloud, with 66% expected to increase spending on cloud computing over the next year. With an emphasis on building and deploying applications that leverage all the advantages of the cloud, cloud-native security can be an effective approach to designing applications built of independently deployable microservices that can scale dynamically based on demand.
What is cloud native security, anyway?
Cloud-native security is a way to fold critical security measures into an organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy, providing the foundation of secure development and operations for cloud-based assets. Effective cloud security merges multiple technologies like identity and access management, encryption, and firewalls to protect more than just the perimeter, ensuring that resources and data are secured at every layer of cloud deployments—from the cloud platform through clusters and container images to application code.
In web application development, cloud-native architecture is based on containerization technologies like Docker, which, combined with orchestration tools like Kubernetes, help ensure consistent and scalable deployments while reducing the risk of misconfigurations. With cloud-native web apps often developed in agile DevOps workflows, application security commonly relies on DevSecOps practices, where security best practices and checks are integrated throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) for a more secure development process.
Embedding security throughout cloud-native environments can also provide the flexibility and agility to enable enterprises to respond to critical vulnerabilities faster and with more effective rapid response protocols. With a layered and systematic approach to access control, security becomes less of an afterthought and more of an inherent part of the development and operations process, reducing the risk of security incidents and downtime in the face of constantly increasing cyber threats.
The advantages of cloud-native application security are extensive, affecting the organization in ways that can positively influence everything from security posture to talent retention and accelerated software innovation. Read on for a breakdown of what you can expect if security in the cloud becomes a reality for your organization.
Easier vulnerability management
To automate or not to automate? That is no longer the question. Automation is now an integral part of web application development, so application security, by extension, also needs to be automated through frequent and consistent scans as well as accurate data from your scanning and monitoring tools. Cloud-native security technologies can combine previously separate domains like network security, container security, and application security, enabling teams to simplify vulnerability identification and remediation across their entire cloud infrastructure. SecOps and DevOps both become easier, paving the way for effective DevSecOps in the cloud.
By centralizing security data collection and employing analytics in the cloud, you can more easily correlate vulnerabilities in your cloud environment. Security teams can detect patterns and links between security events, which is critical for understanding the full scope of an incoming threat and launching the appropriate response. This information can also be used to define security policies that are implemented throughout the entire cloud infrastructure, allowing routine security chores and compliance checks to be automated and efficient. Ultimately, the security testing process is sped up while adhering to stringent security regulations and reducing the possibility of human error.
Improved clarity and dynamic threat intelligence for more effective prioritization
Cloud-native security improves insight into your security posture by delivering a holistic, cross-dimensional view of risk. It gives a uniform and clear picture of the risks associated with the workloads you are running so that security teams can understand the scope more completely. Cloud-native web application security also covers open-source components, which are critical for modern applications that rely on third-party dependencies for much of their internal scaffolding. Finding potentially threatening components and misconfigurations within cloud infrastructure is crucial for reducing the risk of security emergencies, especially with infrastructure as code blurring the traditional lines between software and hardware.
Cloud-native security technologies also excel at providing the visibility required for runtime workloads, monitoring dynamic apps as they execute actions in real time so that security teams can gain a comprehensive view of their environment. With this visibility, they can more effectively prioritize and remediate risks in various architectures, including virtual machines, serverless architectures, and container clusters. Using a cloud-native security framework ensures that vulnerabilities are recognized and mitigated in a timely manner, with threats prioritized based on severity and possible impact.
Time and money savings for comprehensive DevSecOps
Playing a pivotal role in providing more complete web application coverage, cloud-native application security aligns with agile development practices for more rapid deployment. By enabling earlier detection and mitigation in the software development lifecycle, teams can deploy more secure code without breaking step. Applying DevSecOps processes to cloud-native application protection combines the power of accurate scanning tools with tried-and-true security approaches so that teams don’t have to spend unnecessary time on manual tasks.
As the cyber workforce shortage still looms, it’s more important than ever that security and development teams have tools they trust, processes they can rely on, and solutions that do not interfere with their day-to-day work. Because it simplifies monitoring and acting on potential threats, the integration of cloud security throughout CI/CD pipelines minimizes complexity and opens the door to a more seamless transition of DevOps into DevSecOps practices.
Lower costs—the original driver of cloud adoption—are still a major part of the cloud-native equation, allowing software to be built, operated, and secured far more cheaply than with more traditional on-premises deployments. Less spending on maintenance and upgrades for physical hardware and security appliances can allow security teams to focus their budget on more versatile and better-quality solutions. Centralizing in the cloud also brings the bonus of unification and scalability for remote teams that need access to the same tools, systems, and data without sacrificing security.
Cloud native security tools help you work smarter, not harder
Effective security management takes time, whether it is leading a team of hardworking DevSecOps professionals or digging into a backlog of vulnerabilities and security issues. By making deliberate decisions about tooling and security strategies that reach deep into every corner of your application landscape—both in cloud and on-premises environments—you will gain strategic advantages such as increased efficiency, faster mitigation, and the adoption of critical best practices in the development process.
As the distinctions between cloud security and application security blur, we’ll likely see more cloud-native security solutions and security platforms with features that extend coverage across the entire attack surface.