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Jan Schulte for Outshift By Cisco

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Getting Started with DevSecOps: An Introduction to CNAPP

Building good software is hard enough. Do you need to worry about cybersecurity too? Sadly, yes. You just finished a big refactor and migrated huge chunks of that monolith to their own microservices—nice job! But now they’re talking about detecting vulnerabilities in your third-party dependencies and making sure your logs are compliant with data protection rules. Bleh.

What’s a software dev to do?

Enter DevSecOps, an approach that integrates application security as a shared responsibility—adding security to your DevOps—throughout your software development life cycle (SDLC). When “shifting left” also includes security checks and practices, then release day is ho-hum uneventful. And that’s exactly what you want for your teams.

Helping you with shift left security is where the cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) shines. Gartner describes the CNAPP as a “unified and tightly integrated set of security and compliance capabilities designed to secure and protect cloud-native applications across development and production.” By integrating with your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD pipelines), a CNAPP can help you find and fix vulnerabilities before they become a problem. By continuously monitoring every piece of your cloud infrastructure for performance degradation or anomalous activity, a CNAPP brings visibility across your architecture in a single, central place.

A CNAPP provides the tools and practices that help you with things like:

  • Preparation for (or complete prevention of) data breaches, zero-day vulnerabilities, and privacy violations

  • Speeding up the delivery of secure applications

  • Lowering the cost of remediation

  • … and much more.

Ultimately, a CNAPP helps software developers get up and running quickly with DevSecOps practices. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits and core components of a CNAPP, along with how it helps you level up your DevSecOps game

What CNAPP brings to the table

CNAPP platforms bring together lots of different technologies under a single platform, providing security tools for protection against common attack vectors. Here are some of the key benefits it brings you.

Holistic security

If your security team works reactively, then it probably applies individual solutions and tools for each new issue. This is a patchwork solution that doesn’t scale and likely leaves security gaps. A CNAPP, on the other hand, provides a holistic way to secure your cloud-native application and infrastructure stack (no matter if you’re running on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or all three!). It takes a complete life cycle approach to security.

The CNAPP is a unified and tightly integrated set of security tools that provides actionable security information—for every part of your system and all in one place.

Single source of truth

Cloud-native apps are always juggling different runtimes and resources, including virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions. For example, a cloud-native application could have components deployed as Kubernetes clusters, containers, and serverless functions, running on shared machines or bare metal servers.

What would it look like to capture metrics from all these resources in a meaningful and useful way?

A CNAPP provides an integrated solution, consolidating the security tools across all your applications and environments, to centralize metrics and system data.

Integration with CI/CD pipelines

Core to the DevSecOps vision is that compliance and security concerns are addressed at every stage of the SDLC. That includes the development and testing phases, not just the deployment phase. CNAPPs help you do this by integrating seamlessly with your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD pipelines). You get automated artifact scanning, infrastructure as code (IaC) scanning, and cloud workload runtime protection. This will help you discover vulnerabilities early, reducing the cost of dealing with them.

Key components in the CNAPP architecture

Alright, so that’s what the CNAPP will get you. But how? What are the key pieces in a CNAPP that provide you with full-stack security for your cloud-native apps?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) is your eagle eye for detecting vulnerabilities. It helps you find and prevent misconfigurations and threats across your cloud infrastructure. These misconfigurations may be related to identity and access management (IAM) policies—such as overly permissive access or not adhering to RBAC best practices—or poor secrets management or data storage configurations.

Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is constantly watching your cloud workloads and containers. Think Docker. Think Kubernetes. Do you have the pieces in place to monitor for threats there? Attackers can exploit an unprotected workload by launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks or infecting your workload with malware or ransomware. Or maybe you have a misconfigured workload with insecure settings, open ports, or unauthenticated APIs. A hacker could exploit this to steal sensitive data, leading to privacy risks.

CWP protects your workloads and helps isolate security incidents to prevent a widespread attack.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) monitors the permissions used across your hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments. When entities have excessive permissions, attackers will take advantage of that vulnerability. With elevated access to critical systems, they can execute privilege escalation attacks. A CIEM tool manages cloud identities and entitlements, enforcing the principle of least privilege to reduce attack surfaces.

Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) continuously monitors your Kubernetes clusters and configurations for security risks. In addition, while working with containers in your cloud-native application, you’ll depend on a CNAPP that integrates automated container image scanning for security vulnerabilities, along with runtime monitoring.

Cloud Detection and Response (CDR) takes its cues from endpoint detection and response (EDR) to identify and analyze potential security threats in your cloud environments. By analyzing user activity and network traffic, CDR uses threat intelligence to bring security visibility into your cloud workloads and environments.

External Attack Surface Management (EASM) helps you see the security risks to your application’s external-facing components. Of course, certain APIs, services, and endpoints are necessarily exposed in order for your cloud-native application to be effective. EASM determines the risks and illuminates potential attack paths through those components, providing you with actionable insights on how to protect them properly.

How CNAPPs help you level up your DevSecOps

What does this mean for you, the software dev looking to build your DevSecOps approach?

Handle the complexity of security

Cloud-native applications have so many moving parts. Containers, service meshes, microservices, APIs, etc. If you want to apply DevSecOps practices consistently across your environment, then you’ll need a single platform that consolidates all of your security tools. All of the reporting, scanning, and threat detection come from one place, reducing your alert fatigue and keeping you sane.

No more tool sprawl

Have you heard of tool sprawl? It’s when a company has an IT drawer stuffed with different tools, each one meant to address a different use case—and many of them overlapping in functionality. Tool sprawl is what happens when teams take a reactive and siloed approach to security.

On the other hand, if you have a proactive and holistic approach, you’ll prevent security gaps and stop wasting resources. You, and every member of your team, will finally have good visibility of your entire system. This centralized visibility is what a CNAPP helps you to achieve, without the tool sprawl.

Less of you making mistakes

Do you remember when you hardcoded that API key and committed it to the repo? Or how about when you forgot to remove the debugging statements with the hash secret, and it made its way out to production?

Today’s software projects are too complex to leave every nitty-gritty detail in human hands. There are just too many items on our gotcha checklist. Something is going to get missed.

CNAPPs reduce the risk of human errors by automating the detection of security issues and then giving you actionable guidance to deal with those issues. You also get an audit trail for compliance and accountability purposes.

DevSecOps for devs made possible with Panoptica

Panoptica is a comprehensive CNAPP solution for protecting your entire application stack. It offers attack path analysis to help you visualize how attackers might exploit vulnerabilities in your cloud stack. Panoptica provides CSPM, CWPP, and CIEM, all under a unified platform for simplified vulnerability management. These tools seamlessly integrate with your team's existing development and security operations, improving your incident response.


Cloud-native applications can get messy. You have countless assets and resources—and with that, countless attack vectors—that require safeguarding. The CNAPP is a vital, holistic tool to assist you in the face of those security challenges. Panoptica stands out as a robust CNAPP tool, primed to aid you in fortifying your application's security posture.

Try Panoptica for free or contact us if you have any inquiries.

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