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The shift to cloud-native app development on Kubernetes is in full force. Today, cloud-native has become the strategy of choice in the software industry. There are plenty of reasons the industry is preferring cloud-native software development over legacy approaches.
The cloud-native approach complements an agile DevOps-based model that incredibly accelerates the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to produce apps with the highest quality and lowest cost in the shortest amount of time. Augmented by microservices, cloud-native apps are highly scalable and exceptionally flexible due to automation embedded across their entire lifecycle in a continuous delivery environment.
The Question of Security
As such, embedding failsafe security controls into the SDLC stays central to protecting these applications from the possibility of a breach or cyberattack. In theory, security challenges of cloud-native infrastructures are as formulaic as on-premises infrastructures. And yet, they are vastly different given the relative novelty and infrastructural complexity of cloud native. In practice, every part and layer of a cloud-native application’s architecture needs security controls. Even the smallest error or security loophole in SDLC is subject to massive exploitation by today’s sophisticated threat actors.
Why Does Security Fail in Cloud-Native Environments?
Let us look at some reasons why security fails in cloud-native environments:
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, the security issues cited above are some of the most important reasons that keep application development teams up at night.
Minimize Security Fails in Your SDLC
The possibility of security failures in your application development lifecycle can be minimized by proactively anticipating where the dangers lie, then taking preventive measures to forestall them. Below is some food for thought about taking approaches that outmaneuver the security issues discussed above.
The foremost thing to do to minimize access control risks is to ensure least-privilege access is set-up and enforced per CWE-248 guiding principles in your Kubernetes environments while authorization checks are implemented on a granular level, this can for example, be per user, resource, or role. Consider using multi-tenant role-based access control (RBAC) to restrict access to applications, and its metadata. Assign granular permissions that are super specific to user roles, such as read-only or edit access to an asset or capability. A common flaw is to implement user-level authorization, leaving objects/data security with security gaps waiting to be discovered.
When dealing with multi-cloud Kubernetes workloads, scanning for misconfigurations is an important necessity. Harden your Kubernetes environment by confirming against CIS benchmarks that provide several helpful configuration checks to lower the risk from cyber threats. Consider enforcing policy-driven security configurations and governance to make sure the essential orchestration layer of your cloud-native apps is watertight.
Keeping code clean is key to finding indicators of compromise such as code injections among many others. Mandate vulnerability scanning to ensure proper code-construction while staying away from using suspicious third-party packages with unknown components. Ensure that attempts to add unknown components or inject code into running workloads are blocked at all costs to prevent drift from originally trusted images or artifacts.
A software bill of materials (SBOM) is essential to preventing SSC vulnerabilities because without one, it is difficult to know which components are vulnerable to attack and need updating or patching. In fact, different security standards are being put forth to identify practices that enhance the security of the software supply chain, including Google’s SLSA. The Biden Executive Order has clearly mandated compliance with the NIST Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) and the NIST Software Supply Chain Security Guidance as a set of practices that create the foundation for developing secure software. To secure your software supply chain, follow the best practice of generating an SBOM during the build stage. Compare against the SBOM to root out known vulnerabilities in development, testing, production, and runtime. Scan your SBOM to look for open-source components so you can flag the ones that carry risk.
And lastly, as previously said, any alterations to running workloads despite their originating images or artifacts must always be stopped. Enforce the software design principle of immutability to protect your containerized application environment from getting corrupted. Make sure updates are pushed only through the CI/CD pipeline and allow no patching in runtime.
Forrester recently revealed that organizations across the United States are set to modernize their software development landscape at unprecedented rates, making it the new normal. The move to cloud-native is synonymous with the growing rise in adoption of container environments, making the Kubernetes orchestration platform the de facto standard.
Above, we have highlighted some common reasons why security fails in cloud-native environments. As you navigate the SDLC of your modern application, consider taking the approaches we’ve discussed in this article to avert threats and optimize security.
Did you know? Panoptica is Cisco’s cloud-native application security solution that simplifies enforcing security controls for frictionless DevSecOps collaboration. With Panoptica, you can innovate your modern cloud-native applications faster and reduce time to market by driving security automation through the entire application development process. Visit Panoptica.app to learn more. You can try it for free for an unlimited time by signing up here.