Cloud Security

CNAPP vs CWPP: 10 Critical Differences

In today’s continuously changing cybersecurity landscape, protecting digital assets from new threats is essential for enterprises. For that, there are various cybersecurity strategies in place. The Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) and the Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) are well-liked cybersecurity strategies. They have a similar goal of protecting cloud-based workloads and apps but are […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

July 26, 2023 | 5 min read

In today’s continuously changing cybersecurity landscape, protecting digital assets from new threats is essential for enterprises. For that, there are various cybersecurity strategies in place. The Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) and the Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) are well-liked cybersecurity strategies. They have a similar goal of protecting cloud-based workloads and apps but are very different in capability and focus.

We’ll examine the key distinctions between CNAPP vs CWPP in this post, highlighting their distinctive qualities and assisting enterprises in making defensible choices.

Table of Contents

What are CNAPP and CWPP?

CNAPP stands for Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform and is an advanced security solution that provides unified protection and is designed to identify, assess, and prioritize cloud security risks.

On the other hand, CWPP stands for Cloud Workload Protection Platform and is designed for protecting all kinds of workloads across containers, virtual machines, on-premises, and serverless environments.

CNAPP vs CWPP: Unveiling the Key Differences

#1. CNAPP vs CWPP: Area of focus

Their focal areas are primarily where CNAPP vs  CWPP diverge. When it comes to securing applications created using cloud-native architectures, CNAPP places a strong emphasis on protecting cloud-native apps. CWPP, on the other hand, focuses on securing cloud workloads, such as virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions, regardless of whether they are cloud-native.

#2. CNAPP vs CWPP: Deployment Approach

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution CNAPP offers application-level security while integrating seamlessly into cloud settings. As a security agent or agentless solution, CWPP, on the other hand, is often implemented within cloud workloads, monitoring and safeguarding individual instances.

#3. CNAPP vs CWPP: Application Centric vs Workload Centric

In CNAPP, security policies are directly connected to the applications, using an application-centric methodology. From application creation through deployment, security is its main concern. By contrast, CWPP has a workload-centric strategy, emphasizing safeguarding virtual instances and the resources they are connected to.

#4. CNAPP vs CWPP: Architecture Compatibility

CNAPP was developed specifically for cloud-native designs that use Kubernetes, microservices, and containers. It provides improved security for these contemporary application settings and works in perfect harmony with the underlying infrastructure. In contrast, CWPP is made to function with both conventional and cloud-native deployment architectures.

#5. CNAPP vs CWPP: Scope Of Security Controls

For cloud-native applications, CNAPP offers thorough security controls, including runtime defense, vulnerability monitoring, safe coding procedures, and container security. It has runtime anomaly detection, application firewalling, and container image scanning capabilities. While CWPP protects cloud resources at the infrastructure level, it focuses on workload-specific controls, including intrusion detection, integrity monitoring, and access control.

#6. CNAPP vs CWPP: Automation and Orchestration Capabilities

CNAPP makes heavy use of automation and orchestration to offer seamless interaction with cloud-native processes and DevOps approaches. Secure applications can now be scaled automatically, repaired automatically, and deployed continuously. The main focus of CWPP is manual security configuration and management, notwithstanding the possibility that it may offer some amount of automation.

#7. CNAPP vs CWPP: Compliance and Governance

CNAPP frequently comes with built-in governance and compliance tools tailored to cloud-native infrastructures. By offering auditing, logging, and monitoring tools designed for cloud-native settings, it aids enterprises in adhering to industry norms and laws like HIPAA or GDPR. Even though CWPP has security controls, it might not have as many compliance-focused features.

#8 CNAPP vs CWPP: Dynamic Workload Protection

CNAPP’s application-centric approach guarantees that security solutions are flexible and adaptable because cloud-native apps are constantly evolving. It makes it possible to protect certain microservices, enabling the granular application of security controls. CWPP, which is workload-centric and focused on securing the virtual instances themselves, might not provide the same level of adaptability for dynamic cloud-native systems.

#9. CNAPP vs CWPP: Integration with Cloud Provider Service

The native services offered by cloud providers can be integrated smoothly with CNAPP. The use of these services improves the security posture of cloud-native apps. CNAPP can fully utilize the advantages cloud provider offers using native tools like AWS Security Groups or Azure Security Center. The level of native integration offered by CWPP may not be as high as that of CNAPP, even though it may integrate with cloud provider services to some extent.

#10. CNAPP vs CWPP: Performance & Scalability

CNAPP was created with cloud-native architectures in mind and is optimized for scaling and performance in these settings. It is capable of handling the dynamic nature of orchestration platforms, containers, and microservices, ensuring that security measures do not impair application performance. The scalability and performance requirements of cloud-native apps may provide difficulties for CWPP, even though it can grow to protect a variety of cloud workloads.

Key differences between CNAPP and CWPP

Areas of DifferentiationCNAPPCWPP
Performance and scalabilityLow-friction and scalable solutions, multi-cloud deployments, and cloud-based application and workload securityLow-friction and scalable solutions, multi-cloud deployments, and cloud-based application and workload security
Security orchestration and automationCloud Security Posture Management, Kubernetes Security Orchestration, and Incident Response AutomationSecures workloads for VMs, Serverless functions, microservices, APIs, and containerized applications
VisibilityUnified visibility for DevOps and SecOps teamsSingle pane of glass for visibility and workload protection for both on-premises and cloud environments
Integration with cloud servicesIdentity and entity management, zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and principle of least privilegeIntegrates with multi-cloud management tools, network components, CI/CD pipelines, and DevOps workflows
IaC securityMinimizes attack surfaces, provisions IaC scripts, and detects infrastructure risksScans code repositories, container images, and IaC templates
Identity analysisIdentity-based micro-segmentation, host-based intrusion prevention, and shared responsibilityProtects sensitive data in transit and at rest and uses encryption keys
Data encryptionProtects sensitive data in-transit and at rest and uses encryption keysHardening, network firewalling, change management, log management, and  configuration and vulnerability management
Compliance and policy enforcementAutomated compliance monitoring, customized governance policies, and cloud account auditsEnforces security policies within CI/CD pipelines, and manages secrets
Table – CNAPP vs CWPP

Key Takeaway

While CNAPP vs CWPP both aim to secure cloud-based apps and workloads, there are significant distinctions between the two that must be taken into account when deciding which solution would best meet a given organization’s particular needs.

Organizations with significant investments in cloud-native infrastructures may find CNAPP a tempting option due to its emphasis on cloud-native apps, application-centric strategy, and integration with cloud-provider services.

On the other hand, CWPP is a desirable alternative for businesses with a variety of cloud settings due to its adaptability across various architectures, workload-centric strategy, and wider scope of security controls. Organizations can choose wisely between CNAPP vs CWPP for their cybersecurity requirements by being aware of these 10 key distinctions.