Most businesses utilize the cloud, and many businesses rely so heavily on the cloud that they operate exclusively in cloud environments. While in many ways the cloud can be more secure than on-site servers or hybrid computing systems, businesses need to be careful whenever they alter or add to their cloud infrastructure — especially when they integrate cloud-native apps.
Cloud-native applications are software programs developed specifically to run on the cloud, taking full advantage of the cloud to increase the speed and customization of the apps. However, software can introduce a number of vulnerabilities into the cloud system, and organizations need to be careful that their cloud-native apps are not putting their entire network at risk.
Fortunately, security experts have already developed a list of essential security practices for those interested in cloud-native apps. Here are three must-dos for any business investing heavily in the cloud.
Understand Application Architecture
Traditional applications — those not built specifically for deployment in the cloud — tend to have monolithic architectures, which means that all the components of the application are contained in a single unit. For example, an ecommerce application that facilitates payment processing, order fulfillment and product management relies on a database shared amongst all these functionalities.
However, as the increasing popularity of cloud-native applications demonstrate, monolithic architectures have limitations, especially for growing organizations. Cloud-native apps instead run on a microservice-based architecture, which isolates each functionality of an application with its own database. This architecture works better for businesses because it silos each tool, preventing one from interfering with another. If one microservice in a cloud-native ecommerce app is faulty and becomes non-functional, the other microservices remain active and accessible by the workforce.
However, microservice-based architecture tends to be more vulnerable to a wider variety of security threats. CIOs and IT leaders would be wise to understand more about this application architecture and its unique vulnerabilities to ensure that they can invest in the right cloud-native application security services to stay safe.
Research Past And Present Threats
After gaining a foundational understanding of microservice-based architecture, the next step executives and IT professionals can take to protect cloud-native applications is learning about the threats facing their cloud-based tools. Currently, most of the threats to cloud-native apps involve the exploitation of vulnerabilities, which allow attackers to abuse certain functionalities and hold an organization ransom.
As adoption rates of cloud-native apps rise, the number of hackers focused on attacking these assets and systems will also rise, and the types of threats are likely to diversify. Thus, those responsible for maintaining security in the cloud and other business systems will need to stay abreast of emerging threats to cloud-native apps into the future. By recognizing the most common threats, leaders can make security-focused decisions in the development of their cloud infrastructure to keep the organization protected from attack.
Use Modeling To Identify Vulnerabilities
During development and integration, businesses can rely upon threat modeling to identify vulnerabilities within their cloud-native apps, cloud infrastructure and more. Most attackers follow a logical path in their methods of attack, beginning with initial approaches to finding vulnerabilities and proceeding to executing their ultimate goal. By copying the behavior of attackers, businesses can predict what will go wrong with their applications and resolve issues before they become devastating and expensive.
There are many different methodologies for threat modeling. One of the most common is the STRIDE methodology, which gains its name from its criteria used to identify threats:
Spoofing an identity, or committing fraud by assuming an alternate identity
Tampering with data, or making unauthorized changes to data
Repudiation, or executing an untraceable attack
Information disclosure, or revealing data to unauthorized users
Denial of Service, or preventing authorized users from accessing applications or resources
Elevation of privilege, or obtaining admin-level permissions to gain access to limited resources
IT leaders might work alongside security professionals to identify the models and methodologies that will be most useful in testing and verifying the security of cloud-native apps within their unique network and infrastructure.
Many executives see cloud-native apps as the future for their organization, but any shift in digital infrastructure must be planned with cybersecurity in mind. Fortunately, there are ways to keep cloud-native apps secure, so businesses can benefit from enhanced agility and efficient security into the future.