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Cloud Security

What is a Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP)?

New technologies demand new solutions

The cloud is a dynamic and ever-evolving environment characterized by transient workloads and an expansive attack surface. The ever-changing nature of the cloud environment contributes to the ongoing complexity and challenges in maintaining robust security measures. And with the rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure and software-as-a-service (SaaS) driven by business’ efforts to compete in an increasingly digitized world, cloud and SaaS security are more critical than ever. These new technologies have driven new security advancements like cloud-native application protection platforms (CNAPPs).

What is a Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform?

A cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) is a comprehensive solution designed to secure and protect cloud environments. It encompasses a range of security capabilities tailored specifically for the unique challenges posed by cloud-native environments. A comprehensive CNAPP applies multiple aspects of vulnerability management, compliance management, and endpoint detection to the cloud environment. 

What challenges does a CNAPP solve?

A CNAPP addresses the pressing demand for contemporary cloud security solutions encompassing monitoring, posture management, breach prevention, workload protection, and threat detection and response. It achieves this by combining multiple aspects of cloud security in one, unified solution.

  • Securing a large and dynamic attack surface. Cloud is a transient environment with ephemeral workloads across multi-cloud where developers build core business software and applications without security oversight. A CNAPP facilitates the security of cloud workloads while not infringing on the ability of developers to take advantage of the flexibility of cloud for their purposes. Further, as an increasing number of software development teams embrace the continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) paradigm, a CNAPP seamlessly integrates into CI/CD practices to scrutinize changes such as infrastructure as code (IaC) configurations.
  • Lack of visibility and prioritization. The siloed view of risk across on-premises, multi-cloud, and SaaS environments presents two significant challenges: visibility and prioritization. When assets are spread across multiple cloud services and tools and teams do not communicate, achieving a 360-degree view of risk is difficult. Additionally, with so many different risks, it is difficult to prioritize effectively without a holistic view of the landscape. These challenges are compounded in multi-cloud environments, where organizations must manage different technologies and philosophies of risk. By combining diverse cloud security functionalities into a unified solution, a cloud native application protection platform amplifies the overall visibility of risks associated with cloud infrastructure.
  • Communication gaps between security and developer teams. Developers and DevOps groups often face the challenge of receiving disjointed communications that obscure urgent issues. Additionally, the need for clear and unified compliance reporting to auditors adds complexity, potentially stretching security resources. These communication barriers are more than just obstacles; they can weaken overall risk management. A cloud-native application protection platform can foster a culture of collaboration between development, operations, and security teams, making it easier to implement secure code and quickly respond to critical risks, as well as streamlining adherence to regulations.
  • Lengthy remediation processes. In the fast-paced domain of cloud security, the duration of the remediation process is critical. Delays in addressing misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, or other threats can put an organization at risk. Accelerating the identification and rectification of issues is vital, as is the need to expedite the risk-elimination process. CNAPPs with automation, one-click, and the ability to integrate ITSM tools to assign tickets automatically can transform risk mitigation from a reactive process to an efficient and proactive operation.

What are the benefits of a CNAPP?

A cloud-native application protection platform offers a multitude of benefits tailored to meet the evolving security needs of cloud-native environments. Here are the highlights:

  • One Prioritized View of Risk: A CNAPP consolidates critical indicators from diverse sources, such as cloud workload protection (CWP), cloud security posture management (CSPM), and cloud detection and response (CDR), into cohesive, actionable insights. By unifying multiple, varied data streams, each with its own set of priorities, a CNAPP can offer a singular, prioritized view of the cloud risk landscape.
  • Real-time Threat Detection: With advanced capabilities, often powered by artificial intelligence (AI), CNAPPs enable real-time detection of known and unknown threats across the entire cloud kill chain. This helps organizations manage and reduce cloud security risk by scanning cloud infrastructure at runtime and in a cloud-native manner, including container images.
  • Scalability: CNAPPs seamlessly scale to adapt to the ever-changing needs of organizations, ensuring consistent security regardless of workload size or complexity. Next-generation CNAPPs offer features like flexible, continuous, and quick vulnerability scanning across a multi-cloud environment so security teams can identify potential vulnerabilities within minutes in a continuous manner.
  • Adaptability: With support for containerized workloads, microservices, serverless computing, and software-as-as-service (SaaS), CNAPPs are adept at securing the diverse components of modern cloud-native applications.
  • Cost Optimization: By preventing security breaches and minimizing downtime, CNAPPs help organizations avoid costly repercussions associated with cyber attacks and data breaches. As a unified solution that brings together the benefits of multiple tools, a CNAPP also optimizes costs by unifying risk management and alleviating the need for multiple tools and the time to reconcile results across them.
  • Operational Efficiency: By automating security processes and integrating with DevOps pipelines, CNAPPs streamline security operations, reducing manual overhead and accelerating application deployment. They also offer prioritization based on risk, reducing the unnecessary vulnerabilities sent to developers to address.
  • Enhanced Security: By providing specialized security controls for cloud-native architectures, CNAPPs bolster protection against a wide array of cyber threats, including data breaches, malware, and unauthorized access.
  • Faster Risk Remediation: The best CNAPPS offer one-click, automated remediation and customizable workflows—integrated with ITSM tools. This means it’s easier to orchestrate and streamline the remediation process and, ultimately, reduce mean time to remediation (MTTR).
  • Compliance Assurance: CNAPPs facilitate adherence to regulatory requirements and industry standards by enforcing security policies and providing tools for compliance monitoring and reporting.

The capabilities of a CNAPP:

Cloud-native application protection platforms play a crucial role in protecting the evolving cloud landscape. These platforms integrate a wide range of security solutions—from vulnerability management to compliance oversight—ensuring that cloud environments are robust, resilient, and secure. Here are the core capabilities of a comprehensive CNAPP:

  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): CSPM solutions help organizations assess and manage their security posture in cloud environments. They identify misconfigurations, non-standard deployments, compliance violations, and security risks, enabling organizations to remediate issues and strengthen their security posture.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): IaC solutions detect and remediate security problems within IaC templates, helping organizations address potential security threats to the cloud infrastructure.
  • Cloud Workload Protection (CWP), also known as Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPPs): CWPPs focus on securing cloud environments, virtual machines, containers, and serverless workloads. They provide capabilities such as vulnerability management, runtime protection, and workload integrity monitoring to defend against threats targeting cloud-based assets.
  • SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM): SSPM solutions automate the management of SaaS apps, offering visibility into SaaS applications and enabling organizations to manage their security and compliance posture. 
  • Cloud Detection and Response (CDR): CDR solutions offer real-time threat detection and response to known and unknown threats.
  • Kubernetes and Container Security (KSC): KCS solutions empower organizations to discover, track, and secure Kubernetes and containers.

Why a CNAPP should be part of a unified solution

In the ongoing effort to identify, asses, and remediate the biggest business risks across hybrid environments, even the most advanced CNAPP solution can’t win the battle alone. That’s why it’s important to find a platform that combines as many different cybersecurity areas as possible for truly universal risk management, including: 

Attack Surface Management (ASM): ASM is a comprehensive approach to identifying, analyzing, and mitigating potential security risks within an organization's attack surface. It goes beyond reactive security measures and adopts a proactive stance, continually monitoring and assessing the evolving threat landscape, with a focus on inventory and risk assessment of every cyber asset within the organization. The key element is “risk assessment.” It’s one thing to build a static inventory of assets, but true attack surface management includes the risk context that drives stronger vulnerability management and remediation.
Find out more about attack surface management.

Vulnerability Management, Detection, and Response (VMDR): Vulnerability Management, Detection, and Response (VMDR) is a continuous, seamlessly orchestrated workflow of automated asset discovery, vulnerability management, threat prioritization, and remediation. By adopting the VMDR lifecycle, organizations decrease their risk of compromise by effectively preventing breaches and quickly responding to threats. In this way, organizations can safely pursue and extend their digital transformation, which has become essential for boosting competitiveness.
Find out more about vulnerability management, detection, and response.

Web Application Security: Modern web application security involves a set of practices, methodologies, and tools designed to protect web applications and online services from threats and vulnerabilities. These practices are essential for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of web-based applications and the data they process.
Find out more about web application security.

Patch Management: Patch management is a critical aspect of cybersecurity, involving managing updates for software applications and technologies. It includes identifying, acquiring, installing, and verifying software applications and systems' patches (updates or fixes). Effective patch management is vital for correcting security vulnerabilities, enhancing functionality, and ensuring the operational integrity of software.
Find out more about patch management.

Learn more about TotalCloud, Qualys’ comprehensive CNAPP Solution.