This article first appeared in Infoworld.com.
When I first set out to start my company, I received some backlash from a former colleague that cybersecurity was not “interesting anymore.” I disagreed which I’m sure most people now do. As technology evolves, there will always be new ways (and new groups) to hack into systems, whether it’s for fun, profit or for national security reasons. That’s why it’s no surprise that within the past few years, cybersecurity has been a top concern for businesses. According to a recent report, cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion just a year ago, proving that enterprises literally cannot afford to forgo strong cybersecurity measures.
Software is eating the world and if you are in the software production space, cybersecurity particularly affects your role. And if you think you aren’t in the software production industry, chances are you really are ‒ you just don’t realize it yet. Software developers must balance the demands of development speed while also adhering to necessary security protocols to ensure their companies are protected.
As attacks become more intricate and hackers get more creative, it can be difficult for companies to keep up with evolving threats ‒ and traditional perimeter security approaches just don’t cut it in today’s cloud era. To fully equip developers with the tools they need to be successful, organizations need to undergo a shift to enable the utmost agility and speed. Cloud-native helps to achieve this goal.
But, what is cloud-native?
Unlike traditional software written for servers, cloud-native applications are written for the cloud. Additionally, cloud-native applications are written to scale horizontally (instead of vertically) and to be continuously integrated and deployed, meaning increased automation across the board.
Cloud-native embodies huge potential, both from a conceptual and technical perspective. From the conceptual standpoint, cloud-native development offers a new approach. The security is elevated across IT teams thus removing any bottlenecks in software deployment. This results in a more fluid security process. From a technical standpoint, cloud-native allows security to have a higher level of automation, because the security is plugged directly into the processes that DevOps put in place. Because the DevOps processes allow extraction of information that was not visible before, IT teams can automatically revolutionize the level of security anomaly detection one puts on the application. Processes, system calls, storage usage and even network calls, become far more predictable than when trying to apply anomaly detection with non-cloud-native software.
How security’s role changes with cloud-native
While there are many benefits to cloud-native software, implementing it will mean many changes to security’s role at a company. An understanding of how that has shifted is necessary for successful implementation. Here are just a few ways to keep in mind:
- There is no server security manager: When it comes to cloud-native, there is no longer an IT person that manages the server, so teams cannot rely on network IT to help enforce security protocols. This means a new level of responsibility for software development teams as a whole.
- Dev processes need to be defined: Organizations must now define processes‒ such as service accounts, access control, etc.‒ directly with the DevOps teams rather than the IT teams. Understanding DevOps language and being able to speak it is critical for everyone.
- The Dev team is now in charge of patching: This has important security implications. No longer does a CISO have a single point of contact that can guarantee everything is patched. They now either have to cross their fingers and hope people would care, or create an automated process that alerts/enforces patching through the development team.
Cloud-native means more time and less attacks
As you may have guessed by now, the most essential cloud native security concept is automation. Software development teams should be prepared to ask themselves this question: Is there anything manual the security needs to do, each time a new piece of software is being pushed into production? If the answer is yes, there’s more work to be done. Once the software development team gets to a point where everything is automated, they can finally deal with tightening security measures and proactively look for other weakness.
Cloud-native will put software developers in the best possible position to stop modern attacks, because it ultimately frees up a lot of resources and time. With more resources and time, developers will finally have the opportunity to be proactive ‒ they’ll shift from having a level of security that makes it harder for script kiddies to break into their organization, to a level of security that makes it difficult for global hacker groups to penetrate an organization. And isn’t that the end-goal?
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