‘Security’ in Cloud-Native: Everything You Ever Want To Know

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@drishtishastriDrishti Shastri

Specialist, Marketing and Communication at BNY Mellon | Pershing.

Enterprise networks and data security risks have never been this monumental as they are in today’s day and age. Nonetheless, traditional approaches, including those used by operators of public clouds, are essentially more or less the same.

Check out my previous blog on migrating to cloud-native. This blog will talk about the security aspect of cloud-native applications by building upon the previous blogpost.

The rise of cloud-native apps and the threat to their security

Enterprise networks and data security risks have never been this monumental as they are in today’s day and age. Nonetheless, traditional approaches, including those used by operators of public clouds, are essentially more or less the same.
Turning to reactive methods that address threat attacks rather than deter them. Conventional wisdom has been questioned in all possible ways by the growing prominence of cloud-native applications.
From infrastructure to the development of an application, the stack has a marked contrast between legacy methods and a more modern, cloud-based approach, most of which have attained prevailing views on successful patterns and practices: DevOps culture, continuous delivery, and microservice architecture. Why did we not re-imagine cloud-native security yet? Where are our audacious new ideas regarding this?
It is safe to assume that safety has long been side-tracked during the delivery of applications. Traditional teams for IT security see themselves as middlemen; they have to do their jobs properly or face an increased risk for their agencies.
They have high safety requirements in all processes, but it takes time, testing and revisions to meet such levels. Because this delays application development and often does not ensure full protection, development teams often grumble.
At the point when organizations hope to advance and quicken application improvement life cycles and dispatch cloud-native applications, security turns into a more prominent test. Cloud-native applications for the most part run in new models that give unconventional productivity, adaptability, and cost-adequacy.
Cloud-native which uses dev-ops for its development further has DevSecOps as its security component. DevSecOps seek to assimilate due diligence security into speed, agility and, continuous delivery processes. Nevertheless, if DevSecOps neglect integration, orchestration capabilities and control and have less safety from users, it may be difficult to provide security in continuous delivery systems.

The vulnerability of cloud-native

It’s bound to happen. We are humans and bound to make mistakes, especially when running behind tough deadlines and product deliveries. We’ve all made some wrong judgments, despite all the warnings and signs and precautions.
Amid warning, people continue to blindly copy and paste from Stack Exchange to obscure applications discovered at GitHub, and even randomly pull code out of a folder maintained by an utterly clueless and only doubtfully regarded the third party that the author in question has never encountered or even spoken to. 
The distributed nature of the microservice application means that different components may be ‘owned’ by a different team, even in cases where all code is written internally, by eliminating the risk of third-party actors.
Communication obstacles between teams can lead to a range of problems, including a lack of coordination on testing, quality assurance and even vulnerability resolution in the application.
A solitary cloud-local application can comprise of thousands of remaining tasks at hand spread over numerous foundations. There can be singular microservices in on-premises data centers, numerous public clouds, edge data centers, and, in the end, in organizing areas we presently can't seem to develop.  
Each developer and every developer team knows and understands how to fix different issues. What they do is mold their attention and knowledge accordingly. In an internal code context, even if all departments were somehow to 'secure' their own piece of the wider program, the microservice has to connect with others and communication is a risk or vulnerability here.
All of this can sound pretty intimidating and frightening but cloud-native does solve some very complex real-world problems and we cannot anymore afford to ignore its presence. It’s ever-evolving and here to stay, about time we upgrade its security aspect. 

Major threats to cloud-native applications

Whilst companies begin to experience the advantages of cloud-native applications, they have little comprehension of the practical side of handling and maintaining such systems. Are the consequences of protection very different from that of a more conventional system than in a cloud environment? How do the protective measures and safeguards impact that? 
The following are some of the highest safety issues for cloud-based environments:
1. Cloud Misconfiguration
The misconfiguration of IaaS and cloud data stores is the major cause today of some of the most damaging cloud violations and data exposures. Whether you are removing structured cloud security settings, utilizing common codes, unlimited access to certain resources, or anything else, misconfiguration problems contribute to many unknown threats, which are only frequently found in the newspapers after an awkward encounter. The latest "2019 Cloud Security Report" claims that around 40% of organizations say that misconfiguring cloud platforms are their main concern for cybersecurity.
2. Business-Managed IT
Forget concerns of 'shadow IT' or 'rogue IT'. Unblinkingly, several companies label infrastructure acquisitions trends of bridge-of-business customers acquiring and operating cloud services as ' business-managed IT ', and an engine of creativity plus development. The "Harvey Nash/ KPMG CIO Survey 2019" reports that over two-thirds of companies currently promote or allow IT management for enterprises. This is because companies that do so are 52% more capable of beating industry rivals and 38% more likely to provide better employee service.
The concern is that these cloud technology silos can become massive safety obstructions for organizations without the cooperation of information and cybersecurity professionals. These same companies evolve quicker, but the survey shows that redundant safety hazard wavelengths are twice as likely.
3. Multi-cloud Procurement
The Cloud Protection Alliance Report shows that a majority of companies rely on the cloud environment of a wide variety of vendors to buy multi-cloud goods. About 66% of companies, with about 36% depending on a mix of both multi-cloud and hybrid systems, have multi-cloud settings.
As the cloud is now the tool of choice for literally every other enterprise that wishes to reduce its operating processing costs, Cloud Computing offers its cloud consumers a range of services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS). The Cloud provides secure, responsive and quality of service throughout its context. However, every time the user can not move from one cloud to another, it keeps cost and QoS scalability. In order to overcome this framework of multi-cloud computing, the dynamic sharing of resources between cloud-based systems was introduced. Safety is an even more complex issue in a multi-cloud device.
4. Hybrid Architecture
According to a notable Cloud Security Alliance Report, about 55% of organizations have complex, hybrid-operated cloud computing environments. This system offers big organizations a great way to gradually switch to the cloud but it presents challenges for security when they struggle to track the assets throughout the whole architecture and monitor activities across a myriad of hybrid cloud connections. In fact, an earlier report published by Firemon shows that 80% of organizations challenge the limitations and complexity of tools used in hybrid safety monitoring and management.
5. Dark Data
Like "Dark Fiber" is to the telecommunications industry, "Dark Data is to enterprises and businesses. There are vast reservoirs of untapped, mostly unregulated data, that are just there existing, doing nothing at all.
Unfortunately, although dark fiber explicitly represents an advantage that merely lights up to add power and bandwidth, even when recognized and overlooked, dark data may present a safety risk whether they fall into the wrong hands or fall beyond the reach of the user.
Most arguments about dark data tend to concentrate on an organization's potential value and usefulness. In reality, these prospects are undeniably lucrative for organizations willing to spend capital (funds, equipment, and time) on creating and leveraging the knowledge and interest locked in dark data. This also illustrates why many companies, although they do not intend to work on their behalf, refuse to exchange dark details in the short term or further along the program line.
Just as with many potentially enriching and fascinating information resources, businesses also have to realize that dark data, or, maybe, darker data about them, their customers and their cloud operations, can present risks to their ongoing health and wellbeing, outside their immediate control and management. According to recent research, 40% of organizations are still in the planning or fundamental phases of their safety strategy with regard to container environments.
6. Containers and Container Orchestration
If you are using containers to develop your application on the surface or bring your existing single-source (monolithic) applications into a containerized ecosystem, you must comprehend that container environments introduce peculiar security threats that you should be ready to tackle from day one when you start building your own containers, that are to be installed and run in the production industry.
Below-mentioned are the most common container security risks -
  • Privileged flags Even those with a substantial understanding of containers could know what a privileged container implies. Containers that use the privileged flag can do almost anything that a server can do, perform and get access to the resources of the client. It implies if an intruder enters a set of protected flag bins, they may be destroyed.
  • Unrestricted communication To achieve their goals, containers must interact with each other. Nonetheless, the number of containers and microservices and the ephemeral design of the containers generally mean that it can be a struggle to enforce networking/firewall regulations that conform with the concept of least rights. However, your goal should be to enable containers to only interact in containers which are necessary to reduce the surface of your attack.
  • Lack of isolation  The container safety is a double-edged sword. In addition to their short life cycle and limited functionality, their immutable nature offers various safety advantages. But also containers can be used to strike the host at the edge. We discussed before that this danger lies in containers with a privileged flag. The underlying host can be endangered by many other misconfigurations.

Ensuring comprehensive security 

In order to approach cloud-native security, it's best advised to keep aside the age-old notions of using traditional manual techniques. Also, to establish a successful DevSecOps, IT departments should focus on automation and assimilation of security staff into DevOps teams. Because of their microservice architecture package in container infrastructure, cloud-based apps can scale much faster than legacy apps. The above means that manual safety approaches are too slow to retain and automation is mandatory. Putting security teams into DevOps groups ensures that security is included in application code rather than being revamped once problems are identified. This also speeds up and clarifies responses to issues.
Let's talk about five DevSecOps pillars that hold some major potential to ensure comprehensive cybersecurity:
  • Safe and compliant deployment pipes - Analyze tools, integrate pipeline, and how compliance and audit fit into pipelines for DevSecOps and Cloud-Native Development.
  • Cloud platforms that are secure and compliant - Identity and access management assessment, detective controls, infrastructure protection, data protection, and response incident.
  • Code conformance - In the software development process compliance is addressed as a code-frame to ensure management, compliance and any risk mitigation concerns.
  • Confidential Information Management- Manage cloud-based sensitive information, keys, and certifications across a hybrid cloud business model.
  • Container Privacy - How containers fit in with the security strategy, how container safety threats are linked, and how container operational models and checks are reviewed.
All these pillars are lateral areas of focus so that business safety is consistently and entirely applied and is further open to scrutiny. In order to provide the cross-cutting vision of each pillar of implementation, "horizontal governance" is spread across all pillars. These models of governance apply to each pillar and ensure that the pillars function in a mutually beneficial and synergistic way.
  • Protected Delivery - Assure that the application platform and cloud infrastructure supported are stable, compliant and secure.
  • Safety Models -To develop a security position and a threat model that supports the diverse acceptance of customers. 
  • Protection of information - Guarantee customer data protection from internal and external employees.
  • Risk Assessment - include the current architecture, container strategy, and cloud infrastructure with a gap analysis of the application. 
  • Tech Changelog - create an ordered, tactical execution backlog that drives a 3-6 month road map and strategic implementation plan by delivering engineering results.

The demand for a new security prototype

Statistics show that by 2021, 92% of companies will go cloud-native.
That being said, what usually leads organizations into trouble is building a $5000 USD application and  $5 USD security system for it. Security is equally or rather more important of a factor when it comes to cloud security. Hence, the concept of DevSecOps needs to be implemented and taken seriously at the earliest.
DevSecOps provides for compliance in all phases of the app's development process and is responsible for designing and installing applications. This starts with an assessment of the nature of a team or entity and the creation of procedures that represent this.
The first move is to split silos between teams to ensure that everyone is accountable for protection. Ops will deliver software quicker and with peace of mind, understanding Dev knows how critical stability and protection are, as development teams build applications for security reasons.
Throughout fact, there must be processes in place that conduct safety checks immediately. 
Server records indicate who modified, what changed, and when it happened -these are all important facts to be known when the program is audited.  The easiest way to remain protected is to always guarantee that your systems run the latest software updates. Security fixes should not take months and should be fast and automatic. Likewise, when developing API and new features, potential updates should be done to prevent software liability and to discourage the framework from patching for risk of crashing.
There are still no single security methods to protect your software when you create cloud-native apps. To secure the server resources in the cloud, you will take a multi-faceted approach. To protect your containers you need several strategies. Ultimately, to put safety where it properly falls into your list of priorities - right up there, you need the DevSecOps strategy. 


At a glance, what would the Ideal Framework for Cloud-Native Security look like?

In order to allow cloud-based transformation, companies need to consider these further requirements before designing the security strategy: 
  • A high standard of safety automation Conventional precaution-based security operations simply can not keep the cloud-based systems in their virtually unlimited, much more dynamic nature. This is simply not an option for manual workflows.  A need for cloud-native safety is automated detection and sensitivity at scale.
  • "Chaos" design In a microservice architecture, many software components stitched together at runtime can be used for any function. From a security point of view, this implies that logic for detection and controls can not rely on a prior understanding of operational safety. Cloud-native safety should rather embrace principles of chaos engineering - efficiently and effectively, running tests and otherwise. 
  • Identify rapidly, encompass locally, and track down immediately             Cloud-native programs are essentially allocated computing applications. In such an ecosystem, global security choices can't be easily executed subsequently. You would, therefore, like to prioritize measures that enable you to swiftly identify, recuperate and encompass local impact before system-wide malicious tendencies spread. Although your safety decision isn't 100 percent accurate, local action and quick recovery can provide you with a more compatible existing system.
Subsequently, what should your cloud solution have for native security? To put it briefly, let's focus on the compiler functionality. In my opinion, the top features are as follows:
  • Hybrid stack visibility and decision support                                                    In a server, VM, database, software, and API services, even when applications are distributed, dynamic resources and containers are short term, visibility and decision support in the cloud-native datacenters is required. Data obtained on these different layers should go into an engine that enables for a choice-making process in real-time.
  • Quick reaction and warning functions to restrict the 'blast radius'                                 In case of an accident or attack, the safety solution will mitigate and contain the impact. This argument amounts to swift decision-making and insightful controls to deter malicious conduct before irreversible disruption takes place. In a cloud-native environment, a smart detection system can fully acknowledge the advent of an intrusion and influence local controls.
  • Close monitoring and investigation Cloud native workload safety investigations can be complex due to all distributed components and API services, so monitoring and security investigation must minimize performance impacts and storage requirements. This includes a centralized surveillance architecture, with no network bottlenecks, and with workloads that are able to scale.
  • Integration with automated tools Container workloads can be managed by Kubernetes, Openshift, Amazon ECS, or Google GKE, in cloud-native environments. Optionally, you may automate deployments using  Puppet, Ansible or Chef. The Security Tool can be deployed automatically with the workload to be protected–the cloud environment must be a must-have integration with such components.
For event-driven containers and applications replacing physical servers and virtual machines of first-generation, security must find the correct entry point to maximize visibility and reduce risks while allowing creativity and adaptation to the complexities of continuous cloud delivery.

Conclusion 

Moving to a native cloud environment from a monolithic one does sound and is very appealing indeed, but once you decide to do so, make sure you gauge all the security concerns that might arise, evaluate if you have the adequate resources and team to handle them, and most importantly, if this transition is something you really need for your business to excel and grow.

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