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Jan Schulte for Outshift By Cisco

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The Role of CNAPP in Modern DevSecOps

If you're a software developer new to DevSecOps, navigating the complex landscape of security probably pushes you out of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re figuring it out as you go along, hoping that a little bit of luck will keep you a step ahead of the bad guys. Or maybe you’re counting on your work being so obscure you’ll avoid catching the attention of attackers.

Maybe what you need are some good tools to help you implement security best practices, tools that give you confidence that proper DevSecOps is finally getting done. The cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP)—an all-in-one solution that consolidates security tools into a single place—is your answer.

In this post, we’ll look at the role of the CNAPP in helping you to transition smoothly from mere DevOps to actual DevSecOps. We’ll look at how the core components of a CNAPP address modern security risks, simplifying what you need to do to put DevSecOps in place.

Let’s start by looking at some of those security risks.

Understanding the Security Risks in DevOps

Security threats today are not what they used to be. Sure, you’re still susceptible to the common security attacks of old, like:

  • SQL injection: An attack that exploits application or database vulnerabilities through dangerously crafted queries.

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS): An attack in which poorly sanitized user input allows the injection of malicious scripts into your web pages.

Yes, these kinds of attacks are still a thing. But when it comes to your cloud-native applications—distributed across multiple cloud environments and platforms—the range and sophistication of attack techniques can seem overwhelming.

  • Multi-vector attacks: Attackers no longer attack a single and obvious point of failure. Instead, they try to exploit multiple vulnerabilities in your application, across your network, and throughout your infrastructure.

  • Advanced persistent threats (APTs): Some attackers gain unauthorized access and lurk undetected for an extended period. They probe around here and poke around there. Then slowly, they get around other security measures to set up more impactful attacks.

  • Zero-day exploits: Some attacks target undisclosed vulnerabilities before you even have a CVE and a security patch.

Today’s cyber attacks far outpace traditional cybersecurity measures.

Transitioning from DevOps to DevSecOps

That’s why modern software development has gravitated toward shift left security, an approach that integrates strong security measures earlier in the software development life cycle (SDLC). How? Here are just a few examples:

  • Code scanning: Use automated tools to scan your code for security vulnerabilities as you write it.

  • Automated testing: Run security tests as part of your CI/CD pipeline to catch issues in your application before they reach production.

  • Security as code (SaC): Codify your security policies to define, manage, and track them.

Adopting these practices is a good start, and a CNAPP can help you get there. But the CNAPP brings a lot more, especially when we get into more complex security areas, such as software supply chain security, identities and access management, and cloud workloads.

What Is a CNAPP?

A CNAPP is a comprehensive platform designed to achieve cloud-native application security. It consists of several key components, bundled together to form a single, unified security solution. For example, in Panoptica (the CNAPP solution from Outshift), you’ll have components that include:

  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): Monitors for cloud misconfigurations to ensure security and compliance.

  • Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP): Monitors cloud-based workloads and provides runtime protection.

  • Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM): Manages permissions and entitlements within your cloud environment.

  • Software supply chain security: Works with software bill of materials (SBOMs) to ensure dependency components in your software (such as third-party or open-source libraries) are free of security vulnerabilities.

  • API security: Monitors and protects API endpoints, which can be entryways for attackers into your applications and systems.

  • Risk mitigation and resolution: Identifies and prioritizes potential risks, providing actionable insights for resolution.

Let’s consider an example. Imagine an attacker gains initial access to your system through a successful phishing attack on one of your contractors. The attacker then tries to escalate their privileges to access other parts of your system. The attacker wants to move laterally across your cloud infrastructure, searching for valuable resources or sensitive data.

Here’s where the CNAPP proves valuable. Before the phishing attack even occurred, the CIEM component enforced the principle of least privilege, ensuring that the targeted employee had only the minimal permissions needed to perform their tasks. Then, when an attack does occur, the CIEM component detects unusual activity and permission requests. Coupled with automated alerts, the CNAPP would notify you immediately so that you could take swift action.

How CNAPPs Simplify DevSecOps

At first glance, all of the above components and processes may seem complex. Certainly, DevSecOps involves many moving pieces. But the CNAPP abstracts away that complexity to give you a single, unified solution that covers all your bases. By offering a streamlined approach to security, the CNAPP makes it easier for you to manage and monitor your cloud applications.

CNAPPs provide you with early detection and remediation. In many setups from traditional security teams, vulnerabilities often go unnoticed (or unaddressed) until it’s too late—either the vulnerable code has made its way to production or an attack has occurred. Early detection means your CNAPP will:

  • Identify security risks in the development stages of your SDLC,

  • Scan container images for vulnerabilities before those containers can be deployed to production,

  • Ensure Kubernetes cluster configurations are free of security issues,

  • Monitor endpoints for any unusual activity.

Detected issuers are flagged, and the CNAPP can recommend (or even automatically implement!) remediation steps. This proactive approach of fixing problems before they escalate will significantly reduce the risk of a security breach, ultimately saving you time, money, and stress.

In addition, the CNAPP gives you continuous monitoring and compliance. Security is not just “set it and forget it.” Your CNAPP will bring 24/7 monitoring of your applications, infrastructure, and network activity. As the CNAPP maps out your entire infrastructure, it performs attack path analysis to determine—with the mindset of an attacker—where your systems are most vulnerable.

There’s more to SecOps than just identifying threats. Your cloud-native security also includes maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulations (such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS). CNAPPs monitor for compliance and also generate reports for validation and auditing.

Other benefits and advantages

Although we just covered some essential parts of DevSecOps that a CNAPP can help you address, we’ve only scratched the surface of what a CNAPP can bring. Other advantages include:

  • Streamlined security: A CNAPP serves as a single source of truth. All of your tools and components are managed, through dashboards and visualizations, in one place.

  • Reduced tool sprawl: By consolidating your security tools, you minimize gaps and vulnerabilities. And you reduce your costs by eliminating overlapping tools.

  • Visualizations and dashboards: Real-time dashboards offer insights into your security posture, helping you make informed decisions.

  • Cost and time efficiency: CNAPPs offer a cost-effective solution that saves both time and resources.

Introducing Panoptica

Panoptica stands out as a comprehensive CNAPP solution. It offers end-to-end security features, covering your application from design to development to deployment. Its ease of integration into existing DevOps tools makes it a go-to choice for organizations looking to secure their cloud-native applications.

Navigating the world of DevSecOps may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. With the right tools like CNAPPs, and specifically Panoptica, you can secure your cloud-native applications effectively and efficiently. Take the first step in your DevSecOps journey by trying out Panoptica today.

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