Cloud-native has evolved from a marketing term into a highly desirable and useful architecture choice, yielding significant benefits for designing, building, and deploying applications. But security is too often overlooked.
Advantages of cloud-native applications include increased flexibility and scalability, ease of management, faster time to market, and lower cost requirements. Because of this, it’s easy to see why shifting software development efforts to the cloud has become the default for many organizations.
However, amid all the benefits that cloud-native applications bring to the table comes an intricate and layered attack surface that is still widely misunderstood and under-secured.
Containers, APIs, infrastructure as code (IaC), microservices, and other cloud-based components all comprise a large portion of these cloud-hosted apps. A 2020 report from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation noted that 92% of surveyed organizations used containers in production, up from 84% the previous year.
Given the complexities of such an advanced architecture, traditional testing methodologies simply aren’t enough to address security holistically for cloud-native applications.
While adopting new technologies like cloud-native is essential, organizations must ensure application security is brought along every step of the way. As more organizations continue to develop cloud-native applications to advance digital transformation efforts, there are a few best practices to help overcome some of the challenges facing developers and businesses at large. These include:
Test code from the first line that is written
Don’t assume any portion of your codebase is intrinsically secure. Whether proprietary or open source, every line must be thoroughly inspected from the onset of development to ensure that any and all vulnerabilities are addressed.
And when new features and functionalities are added to the application, these introduced code blocks must be given the same time and attention as all other pieces in the bigger software puzzle.
Test the Infrastructure as Code
With the rise in cloud-native comes a rise in IaC, or the process of provisioning and configuring an environment through code instead of manually setting up the required devices and systems. Once code parameters are defined, developers run scripts, and the IaC platform builds the cloud infrastructure automatically.
This has a major influence on the security of applications. Just as you take careful, thorough steps to testing and securing applications, the same must be done when it comes to IaC.
Ensure every component is secured
This includes third-party components such as APIs, which are a very common approach to building software, but one that can introduce a variety of vulnerabilities into the environment. At the end of the day, they must be tested as well to avoid using vulnerable components.
Understand the risks
Cloud-native is the future; undoubtedly, it is here to stay. In addition to adopting the technology at an accelerated pace, organizations must also factor in the proper application security testing practices needed to ensure security isn’t seen as another added layer of complexity but rather an essential step in software development.
With greater awareness of the challenges of cloud-native and greater adoption of best practices to overcome these roadblocks, organizations can reap the full benefits of the technology without sacrificing security.