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What is CNAPP? How It Works, Components & Benefits

A cloud-native application protection platform, or CNAPP, has emerged as a cutting-edge cloud solution that is an all-in-one suite to secure your cloud-native applications. CNAPP not only simplifies the process of how an organization develops and manages its applications but also the process of monitoring and mitigating potential threats. 

As modern organizations move to the cloud, the seismic shift has brought unparalleled capability and agility and paved the way for numerous security challenges. However, CNAPP, by combining multiple tools and capabilities, was able to address the ever-expanding security problems. 

Today, in this guide, we will take a good look at what CNAPP is along with its critical components, benefits, capabilities, and how CloudDefense.AI can be the perfect choice that you can make when picking a CNAPP for yourself.

What is a CNAPP?

A cloud-native application protection platform, or CNAPP, is a complete cloud security and compliance solution that helps your team develop, deploy, and run cloud-native applications in a secured cloud environment.

This security solution combines a range of cloud security tools such as CSPM, CIEM, CWPP, and elements of KSPM and CI/CD security into a unified solution to secure applications through the entire CI/CD application lifecycle. According to Gartner’s CNAPP definition, organizations need to focus on cloud-native security solutions rather than relying on security patches. 

Why is CNAPP Important? 

Top security professionals have stated that CNAPP’s importance lies in the incorporation of shift-left and shield-right security concepts to help organizations implement an effective security strategy in an application’s lifecycle. By consolidating scanning, threat detection, and reporting into a single solution, it has effectively minimized all the human error that occurs due to managing multiple security tools and also reduced the time to threat response. 

Why is CNAPP Important

Since it acts as an end-to-end solution, it enables DevOps and cloud infrastructure teams to have complete visibility into their application development and provide full-stack security. As the cloud security landscape changes with time, CNAPP utilizes threat intelligence feeds and machine learning to strengthen its defense against emerging threats. CNAPP is perfectly suited for modern cloud-native applications because it can scale the security measures as the applications grow and ensure complete protection.

Benefits of CNAPP

CNAPP is a highly effective cloud application security solution that provides organizations with tools to address several problems and challenges. It combines multiple cloud security solutions, integrates with application development and threat intelligence, and offers complete visibility to mitigate risks. Here are some CNAPP benefits:

  • Visibility and risk assessment: A significant problem for most organizations is getting complete visibility into the security of their cloud applications. CNAPP solves this issue by combining multiple security tools to offer a complete view of security controls in the infrastructure. It also provides security with the option to quantify and address security risks.
  • Manual management of containers: With the integration of CNAPP technology, organizations were able to eliminate manual management of containers and make improvements in how resources are utilized. It utilizes Kubernetes to enable organizations to deploy containerized applications quickly.
  • Security during application development: With the increasing number of cloud application developments, it was getting difficult to scan and identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations at the development stage. However, CNAPP helped to solve the issue by integrating CI/CD activities, continuously monitoring misconfigurations or changes, and blocking them before they were deployed.
  • Scaling and elasticity: CNAPP has helped organizations get past the scaling of security along with application growth and provide optimum protection throughout the lifecycle. It ensures that all the sources are appropriately secured and security can cope with the increasing demand for the application.
  • Monitoring: CNAPP automates the monitoring process and allows all the security, DevOps, and operation teams to gain complete CNAPP insights into security control as well as the performance of their application.
  • Managing multiple cloud security tools: Previously, security and DevOps teams had to manage multiple security tools, which led to many human errors. However, CNAPP combined all the security solution tools into one and created an end-to-end security solution. It combined all the capabilities of security tools into a single platform and allowed organizations to secure cloud applications while delivering all the CNAPP details.

The Main Purposes of the CNAPP Model

A cloud-native application protection platform has changed the way organizations look after cloud application security. Gartner made CNAPP a rage in the industry through its report, where it mentioned how it combines multiple security tools into one holistic security solution and provides comprehensive protection. 

Besides making security and compliance a continuous process across the application lifecycle, CNAPP also has many other purposes, and they are:

  • Comprehensive application protection: The primary purpose of CNAPP is to provide security to cloud applications from development and deployment to runtime. It integrates with DevOps and CI/CD to automate threat detection and alerts throughout the software lifecycle.
  • Continuous monitoring and threat detection: CNAPP automates the process of continuous monitoring and threat detection and prevents the rise of any security threats. CNAPP makes use of various threat detection techniques to help security teams address any kind of security risk in real time.
  • Containerized application protection: CNAPP also focuses on container security and makes sure containerized applications carrying container images are free from any security risks.
  • Protecting microservice communication: There are cloud applications that carry numerous microservices that communicate with each other. What CNAPP does is secure the transaction between the microservices through data encryption and authentication.
  • Complete API security: This security solution also takes care of the security of APIs that allow the microservice in the application to communicate with external systems. They protect the APIs from injection attacks, data leaks, and other threats.
  • Adherence to compliance: CNAPP is highly instrumental for organizations because it helps them maintain compliance with industry standards and security policies. They not only make sure the cloud application adheres to all the compliances but also provide audits and reports regarding adherence.
  • Implementing IAM: One of the purposes of CNAPP is to implement IMA controls to manage service and user identities and access credibility to cloud applications. It is highly helpful for organizations to mitigate any unauthorized access to applications.

The Key Components of CNAPP

A CNAPP is a combination of multiple security solutions that help the security teams have a full-stack view of the cloud environment. These security solutions are:

Key Components of CNAPP

Cloud Security Posture Management 

CSPM serves as one of the primary components of CNAPP as it helps in monitoring, identifying, and remediating misconfigurations and compliance issues associated with cloud applications. It remediates security controls that might be drifting from best practices and also manages adherence to security regulations and standards. 

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management

By integrating the capabilities of CIEM, CNAPP is able to mitigate all the issues that can lead to data breaches in the public cloud. It continuously manages permissions and access rights across the cloud environment and makes sure users or services don’t have unnecessary access to resources. 

Cloud Workload Protection Platforms 

CNAPP, by leveraging the power of CWPP, enables organizations to protect the cloud workloads used by the application from any kind of security threats. Its main job is to identify cybersecurity issues and provide alerts along the correction process to security teams. 

Kubernetes Security Posture Management

Kubernetes are widely used by cloud infrastructure and applications, and CNAPP, by using the capabilities of KSPM, helps DevOps teams to secure Kubernetes. It scans the Kubernetes for security issues and misconfiguration and also manages its activities. 

Infrastructure as Code Security Scanning 

IaC scanning is another critical component of CNAPP, where it helps the security solution to identify misconfigurations in the code during software development and prevent issues at runtime. It automates the process of assessing the code quality in the configuration file and ensures the complete security of the codes.

Primary CNAPP Features and Capabilities

CNAPP, being a popular cloud security tool, offers a wide range of features and capabilities that work towards the protection of cloud applications. Here are the features and capabilities we are talking about; 

  • Container security: One primary feature of CNAPP is container security, where it scans container images for vulnerability and monitors for behavioral deviation.
  • Microservice security: CNAPP is responsible for the protection of every microservice in the application, which includes accessor control.
  • Runtime protection: Another primary feature of CNAPP is to assess the runtime behavior and ensure the protection of the application.
  • Vulnerability management: CNAPP is associated with the capability of identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities that may affect the application.
  • Data encryption: CNAPP is tasked with the process of encrypting all the data in the transaction and also those that are stored.
  • API protection: CNAPP helps mitigate all the security issues that might affect an API associated with the application.
  • Web application firewall: CNAPP integrates web application firewall capabilities to protect the cloud-native application against all kinds of malicious attacks.
  • DDoS protection: Cloud applications are vulnerable to varied types of denial-of-service attacks, so CNAPP is tasked with the implementation of DDoS protection.
  • Enforcement of security policies: A highlighting capability of CNAPP is to define and enforce security policies throughout the application lifecycle.
  • Auditing and compliance adherence: A major feature for which CNAPP is integrated by most organizations is its capability to meet most regulatory compliances. It adheres to compliance by delivering audits and reports.
  • Monitoring: CNAPP offers continuous monitoring to keep records of all security events and compliance violations. It logs all the events for future reference.
  • Incident response: CNAPP is tasked with incident response, where they assist in assessing security incidents and collecting all the data.
  • Zero-trust security: CNAPP provides organizations with a zero-trust security model that assumes that none of the users or services should be trusted by default.

From Code to Cloud: Why You Need a Platform Like CNAPP?

CNAPP, as a unified security solution, provides organizations with a range of benefits, and it is the reason that you need CNAPP to secure cloud applications. These are CNAPP advantages that you will also get;

  • Integrated platform: CNAPP provides your organization with a unified and integrated platform through which they can secure their application. They provide a complete view of all the security components in the application.
  • Proactive security approach: CNAPP takes a proactive approach when it comes to securing applications by providing visibility into configuration and resources. Misconfigurations in workloads, containers, or Kubernetes clusters can lead to serious cybersecurity issues, but CNAPP can quickly identify these misconfigurations and mitigate them.
  • Securing the application lifecycle: CNAPP integrates with the IDE platform to automate the discovery of compliance issues and misconfigurations before deployment. It also integrates with the SecOps ecosystem to trigger alerts and tickets to ensure security teams can remediate them efficiently.
  • Granular protection: CNAPP benefits you with granular security control at the application level and enables your security team to protect every microservice in the cloud application. They help the team focus on each component of the application, helping to mitigate any possible vulnerabilities.
  • Distributed security responsibility: By injecting security controls into each level of DevOps, CNAPP helps developers look after the security of the code that reflects on the application’s security.  It promotes collaboration between security teams and DevOps engineers and helps them work seamlessly while ensuring the optimum security of the application.
  • Real-time threat detection: One of the significant benefits of having CNAPP for your application is the real-time threat detection it offers. It utilizes runtime visibility mechanisms along with native cloud security controls to find out about security issues, indicators of compromise, and vulnerabilities. It quickly alerts the security team regarding threats and prevents any possible attack.
  • Easy adherence to industry standards: CNAPP enables organizations to easily meet all the compliance and regulatory requirements by providing them with the right security controls and processes.

It ensures the organization maintains the best security practices and remediates all security issues so the application adheres to all compliance frameworks.

How Does CNAPP Work?

CNAPP works by combining all the essential security tools and functions and ensuring complete protection of applications from code to the cloud. It combines primary security tools like CSPM, CIEM, and CWPP to identify high-priority security issues and misconfigurations. All the high-priority risks are identified in the appropriate context. 

It carries out a well-defined and automated remediation process to mitigate all the misconfigurations and vulnerabilities while maintaining compliance with industry regulations. It also injects guardrails that ensure there is no malicious alteration to the cloud architecture.

Through integration with the SecOps ecosystem, CNAPP helps security and developers solve security issues in real time. In addition, CNAPP also provides cloud and development risk visibility to ensure its smooth operation.

CNAPP either works through an agent or with the interruption of any agent. In agent-based CNAPP, a sensor or probe is required that will act as an agent and it will provide complete visibility along with access to system information. 

However, in an agentless CNAPP, it is injected with the help of APIs provided by the cloud provider, which helps in providing complete visibility. In agent-based CNAPP, you will get proper runtime insight into your security, whereas in agentless CNAPP, it helps you to solve issues that don’t require real-time mitigation seamlessly.

Gartner Recommendations Around CNAPP

Gartner has always advocated the use of CNAPP because it has many benefits that would help organizations maintain the seamless protection of their cloud applications. To help organizations recognize the true capability of CNAPP, Gartner has many recommendations, and they are;

  • According to Gartner, organizations should focus on treating security and compliance as a continuous process during application development and operation. 
  • They should also look for ways to combine security tools to remediate issues and avoid considering issues in application development and runtime as separate problems.
  • Gartner also recommends scanning the cloud configurations and development components, along with runtime visibility. Organizations should also combine configuration awareness with scanning to prioritize the risk remediation process.
  • Through CNAPP, organizations should take a comprehensive security approach where security controls should be present, from design and development to deployment of applications.
  • Gartner, in its recommendation, has also suggested that organizations should properly evaluate the CNAPP offers when the CPSM and CWPP tools reach expiration. 

Depending on the requirements, an organization can capitalize on this situation to consolidate vendors and eliminate all the overhead complexity.

Cloud-Native Application Protection with CloudDefense.AI

CloudDefense.AI is a leading CNAPP platform that not only ensures the complete security of cloud-native applications but also has 360-degree visibility into all the components in a cloud infrastructure. CloudDefense.AI, through its CNAPP platform, aims to curb all the cybersecurity risks associated with your application and infrastructure at scale. 

The agentless solution integrates with your cloud infrastructure and Kubernetes to automate scanning and generate reports regarding vulnerabilities, allowing your team to address them in real time. 

CloudDefense.AI, through its integrated platform, combines multiple security tools, such as SAST, DAST, SCA, CIEM, CWPP, CSPM, Hacker’s View™, and Noise Reduction, into a single solution that makes it possible to have a unified approach to the security of applications and multi-cloud environments. 

What makes this platform stand out? It is the use of real-time AI capability to detect and investigate threats. By leveraging indicators of behavior and programmable automation, it detects deviations from best practices and identifies threats that jeopardize 20+ compliances. The platform is built around Gartner’s recommendations to ensure top-notch security of all major cloud services. 

CloudDefense.AI promotes collaboration between your DevOps, operations, and security teams through Slack, Jira, Webhooks, and others and allows you to enhance the speed of application development. Book a free demo right now to test out the immense power that CloudDefense.AI hands you!

FAQs 

Can a CNAPP solution integrate with my existing security tools and systems?

CNAPP solutions can easily integrate with your existing tools and system as they are designed with that aspect. CNAPP can integrate with any cloud infrastructure and security tools to ensure a comprehensive security posture.

What does CNAPP stand for?

CNAPP stands for cloud-native application protection platform, and it serves as an all-in-one security solution to help organizations build and run cloud applications securely. CNAPP is widely used in modern cloud-native application development and cloud computing.

What is CNAPP, according to Gartner?

Gartner defines CNAPP as an integrated and combined set of security tools and compliance capabilities whose primary work is to protect the cloud-native application through its lifecycle. It combines multiple separately used security capabilities into one platform and offers a holistic approach toward application security. 

What does the CNAPP include? 

Cloud-native application protection platform encompasses a lot of security solutions like CSPM, CIEM, KSPM, IaC Scanning, Application Security, and CWPP to ensure application protection across development and production.

Conclusion

Cloud-native application protection platform or CNAPP has made it straightforward for organizations to protect their cloud application. It offers a single holistic platform through which all the DevOps, security, and operation teams can work towards securing the application. 

Vendors like CloudDefense.AI make securing cloud applications during development and runtime a simple task for all organizations. As cloud technologies are evolving, CNAPP is also making progress accordingly and helping organizations to address emerging threats. Through this CNAPP guide along with how CNAPP works and CNAPP importance, we have provided you with all the details you need to have a broad idea regarding CNAPP.

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Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist, currently co-founds CloudDefense.AI, a cybersecurity solution with a mission to secure your business by rapidly identifying and removing critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code. With a background in Amazon, Microsoft, and VMWare, they contributed to various software and security roles.
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