Are Cloud-Native Apps Secure from Cyber Threats?

Going back to the last decade when cloud computing took its flight, organizations were curious about its growing demand. Prior to that, companies relied upon in-house IT infrastructure that meant hosting custom servers for development and deployment of applications inside the company’s premises. This clearly was not the optimal way of resource utilization as far as IT operations were considered.

What is cloud-native?

Nowadays most organizations are moving towards cloud-native apps from traditional VM based platforms. ‘Cloud native’ is a fundamentally new approach to design, develop and deploy applications on the cloud in order to make the most out of cloud’s ability of scaling, continuous deployment and auto-management. And to boost this, ‘containerizing’ the applications makes much more sense. Containers package the application’s code, dependencies and config file all into one object so that they can be deployed on any environment.

Deploying applications as containers makes them faster, reliable, consistent and cost efficient irrespective of the environment, making it a resource isolated process. To put in simple terms they’re simply building blocks of applications put together to achieve speed, scalability, and reliability which can not be efficiently achieved through monolithic codes. They are also cost efficient since they majorly reduce the overheads generated, thus making ‘containerizing’ a critical business as well as a technical decision. Early adopters of such ‘micro-services’ include the big tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, to name a few. No matter how young your organization is, it will always be compared with these bests.

Organizations have started migrating to the cloud. Earlier applications hosted on in-house servers were majorly a huge lump of code in monolithic architecture and configuration suitable to the corresponding computing resources available for the firm. Migration to cloud made organizations re-look at their application source codes, dependencies and config files, and most organizations often refactored and re-architectured them in a way to optimize required computation. However, it also opened the doors to a whole new level of cyber threats.

The immense potential of cloud-native at the same time has made it challenging to secure cloud-native apps from cyber threats. With the raised global concerns of data privacy, organizations must leverage the potential that the cloud offers in order to predict and assess a threat in real time. With the availability of tools which harness the use of big data and analytics on the cloud platform, it is now easier than before to manage cyber-security.

What decides an organization’s digital supremacy?

The pace of software product development and the ability to scale can be some of the key factors, however, security should be the first and foremost concern for organizations. There are various aspects to consider to secure data on the cloud.

Steps for the security of data and applications should be taken at every stage of the app development process. Earlier to cloud technology, cybersecurity as a whole was more vulnerable as compared to now. Since the inception of the cloud, cybersecurity is now a shared responsibility, with the vendor being responsible for the security of the cloud platform and the organization for the security of their data on the platform.

The Types of Cyber Threats in the Cloud-Native Domain

Cybersecurity as a whole can be broken down into various aspects since the threats can be innumerable; they can be internal as well as external. To save an organization from internal threats, organizations should adopt the practices of following certain security policies across the hierarchy. They should strictly make monitor the access of their contents on the cloud to protect from threats from the organization’s employees. Access should only be given to limited people.

Many organizations have been recently witnessing cryptocurrency mining attacks. Cloud sprawl is another problem according to cloud-native cybersecurity vendors and its real challenge is its’ governance. Some operational disciplines like using automation for all kinds of deployments are necessary. Modern-day attackers are using a mix of many innovative and disruptive malware tactics along with traditional ones to successfully bypass the current security measures which are mostly defense-based and passive.

The Equifax data breach gained a lot of attention in 2017 and 2018 which showed how easy it was for organizations who didn’t update their frameworks to bear a cyber-attack. Organizations should move towards standardized practices and frameworks which are mostly backed by robust open source communities, hence they don’t have to worry about versions getting deprecated. By staying updated with the latest versions of frameworks and dependencies is a good way to stay secure. Organizations should take efforts to frequently update the versions and any development which takes place should always happen with an eye on future releases.

Companies should adapt to better encryption management practices which also help in security. While companies should take care of not storing any confidential data or access keys in containers, at the same time they should try adapting to better secret management practices like Docker or Kubernetes.

Companies should be proactive in using various container security platforms which perform various scans and help mitigate risks and ensure the container system is safe and sound. Cloud vendors also include tools backed with machine learning which analyze the activity of users and ingested data in order to spot probable threats. Thus, we can reject vulnerable software before it gets into production.

Another source of critical information is the system logs. There are various tools available to analyze log files and identify unusual activity. Hackers often try to find ‘accidental’ or ‘left behind’ files to escalate while making an attack.

Conclusion

There is no single tool in place to ensure cloud-native security. Security as a whole should be a cross-platform task across all the layers like application hygiene, package management, system patching, server endpoint security to name a few. Shifting towards cloud-native paradigms means all new approaches to application development and deployment which also means new approaches toward security. It is necessary to re-imagine security at all levels and adopting security first approaches by the development team will make sure that the deployment happens freely.

Companies should constantly scan for vulnerable loopholes in the applications. In case of any vulnerabilities being detected, they should be quick in applying required patches. Moving towards cloud-native comes with its own benefits, but we will only be cannibalizing those if the security practices are not well adapted.

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