In the 50’s BC, Roman General Julius Caesar was able to conquer Gaul, a wealthy, advanced region that today consists of France, as well as large swaths of Germany, Belgium and Italy. Caesar conquered this region by employing a strategy we refer to today as, “divide and conquer.” Unlike the Roman Empire, Gaul had no central authority or leadership, Rather, there were many tribes in Gaul, some of whom cooperated, others who looked out solely for themselves. Over a period of years, Caesar exploited these divisions between tribes to conquer Gaul, one tribe at a time. Had the tribes of Gaul cooperated, working together towards a common goal of defeating Caesar, they might have avoided the ensuing 500 years of Roman rule.
So, what do Julius Caesar and millennia old military strategies have to do with Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP)?
Well, unfortunately, the various teams responsible for delivering, and securing, public cloud applications and infrastructure often work like separate tribes, each with their own goals and direction. Unlike the Gauls.
A well-designed CNAPP can help these disparate groups work together towards a common goal of minimizing cloud risk while at the same time allowing them to work in silos, with minimal direct cooperation amongst teams. The approach relies on compartmentalizing each group’s tasks into smaller sub-functions, with shared policies and agreed-upon guardrails. Rather than focus the team on complex, cross-functional goals initiatives, this divide and conquer approach breaks down each team’s task into smaller, easier to tackle, components, with a single platform (CNAPP) tracking overall progress towards risk reduction.
In other words, CNAPP can help form a loose federation across your organization’s tribes that dramatically increases the likelihood of overall public cloud risk reduction. Let’s explore a bit further on the role that several of these tribes are meant to play, and how a CNAPP helps them accomplish their objective.
- InfoSec: They are responsible for setting cloud security policies and determining where in the development lifecycle guardrails will be enforced. CNAPP allows these teams to accomplish exactly that, despite the fact that the cloud infrastructure, development environments, and DevOps tools are under the team’s direct control. These teams can set a unified policy across clouds, cloud services, and across the entire lifecycle, triaging and assigning policy violations to the appropriate stakeholders in the organization.
- Development: CNAPP platforms offer native integrations into IDEs, as well as standalone CLI scanner. As developers write code, these integrations provide feedback into what policy violations are occurring, why they are important, and how to fix them. Resolving security issues this early in the development process not only saves time and costly rework, but it helps educate developers on security best practices as they do their work.
- DevOps: Policy checks and guardrails implemented in the CI/CD pipeline can not only prevent security weaknesses from making their way into production cloud environments but, as with IDE integrations, can help save time and rework, ultimately enabling application teams to more quickly develop and deliver applications.
- Compliance: This team faces a tall order in the cloud. Not only are there potentially hundreds of cloud services in use across the organization, but use of these services is often heavily automated, with services appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. CNAPP continuously automates the compliance process, allowing compliance teams to quickly and easily demonstrate ongoing compliance without manual efforts that would be impossible to leverage given the dynamic nature of most cloud environments.
With their ability to consume and contextualize a broad range of public cloud security weaknesses, Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP) are quickly becoming the dominant tool for identifying, prioritizing and remediating cloud risks. Importantly, these platforms are not only a tool to reduce risk, but one that serves multiple teams, each of which has their own role to play in cloud security.