Cloud Security

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

Cloud Native Application Protection Platform, CNAPP,  is a term coined by Gartner and can be described as a step forward in cloud security.

Anand Prakash

Written by Anand Prakash

November 21, 2022 | 5 min read

CNAPP

Introduction 

Businesses are rapidly adopting cloud-native application development techniques as they migrate their operations from on-premises and hybrid data centers to the cloud. The popularity of cloud-native applications raises concerns about cloud security, as these businesses must ensure that their applications are secure. Cloud security is a complex topic to deal with in general, but thanks to cloud security vendors, we have a plethora of cloud security solutions tailored to various cloud services and needs. Cloud-native application protection platforms (CNAPP), for instance, are a product of cloud security solutions but are specifically designed for cloud-native application protection. As a result, CNAPPs play a crucial role in the security of applications and their ability to run smoothly in a cloud environment.

Given the complexities of securing a modern cloud-native environment, CNAPPs offer a unified solution to previously disparate protection features such as container scanning, cloud infrastructure entitlement management, and runtime workload protection platforms. This article will go over the fundamentals of Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms, including how they work, their benefits, and their use cases.

What is CNAPP?

Cloud Native Application Protection Platform, CNAPP,  is a term coined by Gartner and can be described as a step forward in cloud security. Having recognized the expanding need for cloud-native application security, Gartner defines CNAPP as “an integrated set of security and compliance capabilities designed to help secure and protect cloud-native applications across development and production.” CNAPP is an end-to-end cloud-native security solution that offers a central control plane that combines all security capabilities, delivering cloud-native security and safeguarding cloud environments. This centralized strategy gives users access to the workload and configuration security features offered by cloud security posture management (CSPM) and cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs). 

The multiple security capabilities provided by CNAPP through a centralized control plane with other notable capabilities include:

  • Serverless security
  • Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) scanning
  • API identification and protection
  • Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM)
  • Identity-entitlement management

What are other the Use Cases of CNAPP?

 A comprehensive CNAPP represents a convergence of existing siloed security components and may support the use cases listed below.

  • Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM): a set of tools and practices aimed at automating security and compliance across Kubernetes clusters. CNAPPs can provide dedicated KSPM functionality for K8s security in cloud-native environments.
  • Cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM): the process of managing identities and privileges in cloud environments in order to enforce governance controls. CNAPPs can provide infrastructure entitlement management capabilities to ensure robust Identity Access Management (IAM) in cloud-native applications and environments.
  • CNAPP solutions may also provide cloud-native application protection via serverless security, API Discovery, and Protection.

How does CNAPP work?

To understand how CNAPP works, we divide it into two words: cloud native and application protection. Concerning cloud-native, there is always a security challenge in the cloud environments since they are dynamic and transient and often pose unpredictable and unique interactions that traditional agent-based security approaches are prone to hence defenseless.  On the other hand, there is also a need to secure cloud applications, therefore, application protection. Application protection adds to not only a secure cloud infrastructure as is usually the norm but also works to offer secure cloud applications. 

CNAPP generally pushes for a holistic view when dealing with cloud applications security considering it can monitor and implement security across an entire cloud application profile.  Applications are vulnerable to various risks in the cloud, especially unintentional public internet exposure. The narrow focus of individual point solutions leads to a struggle to correlate signals between different parts of a cloud environment, generating many low-priority alerts leading to alert fatigue. Scanning during all stages of development is one way of avoiding application vulnerabilities finding their way into production environments. Furthermore, It is mandatory to extend the workload protections no matter where the application may reside, be it a hybrid or multi-colored environment, not forgetting Kubernetes environments where container protection is mandatory to cover all bases. 

A CNAPP gives organizations a bigger picture of how security issues affect their businesses. CSPM solution implementation is vital to block any open ports or access points, considering the impact of misconfigurations as the leading cause of breaches in cloud data. Security in major areas where the data may reside is taken care of by CWPP. However, CNAPP bridges the two solutions since both are stand-alone products opening the door for an integrated solution to implement and provide a single management platform.

What are the benefits of using CNAPP?

The rise of CNAPP portrays the complexity of cloud security and the need for new approaches to support and secure the work of DevOps teams in the cloud. CNAPP not only identifies all the misconfigurations and security issues but also works to detect actual risks that require the team’s attention.  

Some of the following benefits of CNAPP include:

Reduced cost: CNAPP eases the work for customers by integrating several cloud security features into one platform, further easing the burden of managing a complex environment and risk. Move from CWPP and CSPM stand-alone products to one integrated platform requiring fewer resources.

Security automation: CNAPP drives a shift left culture through embedding controls inside the entire DevOps landscape.

Improved visibility and unified management console: CNAPP integrates several cloud security capabilities, such as CSPM and CWPP, under one platform.

Comprehensive security: CNAPP offers an end-to-end approach from development through production for ongoing application security. 

Conclusion

With the constantly evolving technology trends and the growing complexity of dynamic cloud-native environments, cloud security is a significant concern. Enterprises must concentrate on cloud-native application security solutions, as evidenced by the growth of the Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP), as it was first defined by Gartner. Security for cloud-native applications is dynamic and difficult, necessitating a collection of capabilities integrated within a single platform to address various security and compliance challenges. 

CNAPP consolidates cloud security into a single management platform, that helps you identify all the misconfigurations and security issues. If your organization is considering a full-stack platform for securing multi-cloud native applications, try out PingSafe’s unified platform that acts as a robust cloud-native application protection platform. Sign up for a demo with our cloud security experts to learn more about PingSafe’s comprehensive CNAPP capabilities.