A Guide to Build a Secure Cloud-Native Application

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In this article we will discuss how to Build a Secure Cloud-Native Application. An enterprise’s modern, cloud-native architecture leverages cutting-edge software technology in order to send their applications to the cloud in a successful, scalable manner while emphasizing the cloud’s first-class infrastructure.
Likewise, cloud native security is the same paradigm applied to securing applications: zero trust and defense in depth (DiD) are elements of this approach. To ensure the security of cloud native applications, it takes the same approach, with tools and services developed specifically for the purpose.

Cloud Native: What Is It?

The cloud native framework consists of several design principles, software, and services that promote system architecture, with the cloud as its primary hosting platform. A cloud-native application must be highly scalable, resilient, and secure by taking advantage of the capabilities of modern cloud-based infrastructure, and leveraging continuous integration methods to enable faster development and deployment.

In addition to simplifying operations, cloud native eliminates much of the burdensome overhead associated with managing and deploying traditional server infrastructure, leveraging high levels of automation through software-driven infrastructure models.

This definition provides an excellent foundation for general understanding of cloud native, but there are more specific takes on the subject from places such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

It might be sufficient to refer to cloud native technologies as “cloud first,” but the CNCF supports a more vendor-neutral approach, highlighting projects and software that can be moved between cloud providers with minimal configuration. The CNCF’s largest project (Kubernetes) also places a heavy emphasis on containers. Cloud native can be described as a generalization while utilizing hosted services that do not meet CNCF standards. Depending on their design, teams can choose which definition is best suited.

Cloud Native Applications: What Are They?

Build a Secure Cloud-Native Application

Application programs and services built in the cloud are cloud-native applications. Apps that are cloud native are a unique unit, encompassing the design principles, deployment paradigms, and operational processes that make cloud native functions possible.

In contrast to general principles of cloud-native development, specific applications require a careful selection of implementation patterns, tools, and tools, such as immutable artifacts, that reinforce cloud-native functionality across the larger site.

In spite of the large variety of methods for designing and deploying software that falls under the definition of cloud native, there are certain generalized characteristics that all cloud-native apps share.

The majority of cloud-native applications rely heavily on automation. From application testing and building to deployment and scaling your underlying infrastructure, everything is automated. Some of the most successful organizations use a cloud-native, efficient CI/CD system that is heavily automated to perform thousands of deployments a day. Microservice architectures are also typical of cloud-native apps, with decoupled components that can be flexibly sized to accommodate the demands of rising services. As a general rule, applications created using DevOps principles will almost always require being cloud native in order to succeed.

Technology-driven firms can create cloud native applications at a faster pace and scale more efficiently than previous application models. This enables more rapid innovation and a faster time-to-market. When it comes to securing and operating cloud native applications, the infrastructure that was separate from the application now forms a key component of security. Particularly in terms of security, cloud native applications demand a new approach to security, redefining the notions of application security and operations.
Cloud Native Security: What Is It?

Security in the cloud is a modern, pragmatic approach to protect and deploy applications at scale. Zero-trust, defense-in-depth and other concepts are part of this concept.

It is clear that security tools and processes designed for traditional, legacy software hosting infrastructure lack the feature set necessary to cope with the dynamic, highly exposed “borderless” paradigm of cloud-native architecture.

In other words: Legacy security tools aren’t designed for the modern cloud. Several of the security tools were not even developed when many of the tools and design patterns we use today were invented.

Terraform, an infrastructure as code (IaC) tool, is a perfect example. Despite being technically “code,” domain specific languages (DSL) have unique functionality, making traditional validation using tools like static analysis difficult and ineffective. Since IaC tools can provision a large amount of infrastructure with little effort, security of these tools is critical. Implementing best practices and tools to audit IaC code and configuration is a relatively new development in the history of software and infrastructure engineering.

In spite of the critical gap in legacy security tooling, IaC tools are just one of the many challenges faced in securing cloud-native applications. Securing cloud native applications must begin with the developers who build them rather than leave security to the IT/Ops security teams. Migration of security concepts that originally lived in IT/Ops needs to happen through the application security model.

How do you secure cloud native applications?

Build a Secure Cloud-Native Application

An organization’s cloud native security strategy must be aligned with their overall cloud native strategy. Secure cloud native applications in an application context, and address the changes in the teams, processes, and infrastructure model that build and operate cloud native applications. As a result, cloud native application security should be a major focus – identifying vulnerabilities during development so they can be remediated. Software development lifecycles should be designed holistically with security baked in.

As applications are built on top of our infrastructure, developers will assume responsibility for ensuring that code is secure. Using a cloud native security platform enables developers to deliver designs that fit business goals. A truly cloud-native application may not be possible if cloud architecture isn’t a primary consideration in both discussions and design decisions.

Coding for application and infrastructure will probably begin after the design foundation has been laid. Early on in the secure software development life cycle (SSDLC), it’s critical to test the code. As mentioned earlier in this article, static analysis cannot continue to rely on the legacy, one-dimensional approach. Tests like static application testing (SAST), dynamic application testing (DAST), interactive application testing (IAST), and mobile application security testing (MAST) should be conducted on the code of cloud native applications.

Likewise, cloud-native infrastructure presents unique challenges to application security. It is often the case that developers and infrastructure code are developed in tandem during the implementation of IaC configurations. There is a need for security tools that are capable of handling this unique challenge, and should seamlessly integrate with existing developer workflows, providing insights and remediation advice directly to the developer. As a result, security information can be surfaced directly in an IDE and local testing can be executed using CLI tools.

Additionally, cloud native security tool support should be integrated into every aspect of the software development lifecycle, as well as providing security insights. The automated scanning of source code management systems as well as container images through CI/CD systems should be a priority. Integrated scanning results should also provide remediation advice so that developers can easily make decisions regarding what to prioritize.

Traditional on-premise infrastructure often relied on a logical network perimeter to prevent unauthorized entry into a distinct set of internal resources with lax security controls. Cloud native technology does away with the concept of perimeters altogether. You can make nearly any resource available to the public by configuring a few lines or changing the user interface. In reality, data that appears to remain in the same logical domain may cross several network boundaries and locations before reaching its destination. With this knowledge in mind, enterprises should assume every component and service is vulnerable to compromise, thereby adopting a “zero-trust” approach. Authentication is done between all nodes in a system, regardless of network location.

It is important to note that cloud native security solutions are still needed in live production environments because of the greater emphasis on cloud native application security in the development process. There was typically one type of computing resource available in legacy architecture: the hardware server. Static network configurations and firewalls served as traditional security measures for securing the perimeter around these resources. With cloud native infrastructures, new applications can be deployed rapidly, and resources can be reconfigured to suit changing demands.

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