Cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) offer unified cloud workload protection across multiple providers, protecting any workload in any location. They rely on vulnerability management, anti-malware, and application security tailored to meet modern infrastructure needs.
The process of continuously monitoring and removing threats from cloud workloads and containers is known as cloud workload protection (CWP). The Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a security solution that protects any workload in any location while also providing unified cloud workload protection across multiple providers.
What is Cloud Workload Protection (CWP)?
Cloud workload protection (CWP) ensures the security of workloads as they move between cloud environments. However, the entire workload must be functional for a cloud-based application to function correctly without posing any security risks. Therefore, cloud workload security and workload protection for application services fundamentally differ from application security on a desktop machine.
Attackers are increasing the number of ransomware attacks and targeting businesses. As cloud computing infrastructures proliferate, so do security vulnerabilities. But security strategies that rely on preemptive endpoint protection or limit access to endpoint devices fall short of what’s going on in the cloud.
To defend against cyberattacks, businesses using private and public clouds need to focus on protecting themselves from harm at the edge and the workload level.
Why is Cloud Workload Protection (CWP) Important?
Cloud adoption continues to be a key driver of digital transformation and growth for businesses today, allowing them to deliver applications and services with the speed and scalability that only the cloud can offer. On the other hand, protecting the cloud entails securing an ever-expanding attack surface, from cloud workloads to virtual servers and other technologies that support your cloud environment.
Cloud workload protection is essential because it offers breach protection for workloads, containers, and Kubernetes while allowing organizations to continue to build, run, and secure cloud applications with speed and confidence.
Migration from legacy applications to the cloud is not automatic. You can’t just copy and paste your existing app to the cloud and expect it to work.
Here are four reasons why the Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is important:
- Many companies have legacy applications and infrastructure that prevent functionality from moving entirely to the cloud.
- Many organizations intentionally use multiple cloud vendors depending on their specific needs. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for security professionals to know, see, and manage applications and data in a fragmented environment.
- Today, app developers take code from various places such as GitHub, leverage workloads to build an app, and publish it directly to their target consumer audiences. This approach is called DevOps, and it is the development cycle, defined as continuous innovation and continuous improvement (CI/CD), where customers can respond quickly.
- The trade-off of the process for speed and continuous improvement of applications means that safety is no longer a rigid domain for application production. As a result, security professionals cannot enforce checks at application runtime as they used to.
The changing nature of workloads, the lack of visibility and control, and the risk to data and applications due to the rise of the DevOps environment make CWPP an essential security solution in modern organizations.
How Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) Work
A Cloud Workload Protection Platform solution identifies workloads in an organization’s cloud deployments and on-premises infrastructure. Once these workloads are found, the solution performs a vulnerability assessment to identify potentially exploitable security issues based on defined security policies and known vulnerabilities.
Based on the vulnerability scan results, the CWPP solution should provide the option to apply security checks to fix identified issues. This may include enforcing allow lists, maintaining integrity, and similar solutions.
In addition to addressing security issues identified in vulnerability assessments, Cloud Workload Protection Platform solutions must also protect against common security threats to the cloud and on-premises workloads. This includes runtime protection, malware detection and remediation, and network segmentation.
A comprehensive Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) solution should enable you to discover workloads in your on-premises and public cloud environments. In addition, you should add the ability to manage any unmanaged workloads you find out.
From a security standpoint, you should do a vulnerability assessment by comparing the workload with a set of relevant policies. Afterward, based on the vulnerability assessment results, you should be able to implement security features such as integrity protection, whitelisting, memory protection, and host-based intrusion prevention.
It should be noted that anti-malware is less critical in pure security. Anti-malware may be strictly regulated by the regulations governing your industry, but it may be necessary.
- Include in the CI/CD pipeline: Workload protections are not consistently enforced at runtime as a natural and ideally invisible part of application development. You can increase the prevalence and effectiveness of security by moving it to the left side of the application process.
- Line up
- with CSPM Solutions: CWPP should be closely related to Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), ideally as part of the same solution. CWPP assesses workloads and suggests ways to secure them. CSPM is intended to perform the same function for cloud accounts where those workloads are deployed. The two solutions naturally fit together, so they need to be part of the same user experience.
- Connect the CWPP solution to the infrastructure: The CWPP solution should be seamlessly connected to the rest of your security infrastructure. While CWPP focuses on protecting the workloads running applications, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) focuses on protecting the data that applications use and store. From a different perspective, if a Security Operations Center (SOC) can detect attacks originating from or propagating to the cloud, it can significantly enrich their perspective on complex attacks. However, until the SOC detects and fixes cloud-native threats and vulnerabilities, researchers will be partially blind to certain types of attacks.
What Are the Advantages of Using Cloud Workload Protection?
The challenge with cloud-based applications is that a workload can move across several different environments, all owned and maintained by other vendors and technologies. CWPPs can provide workload protection in these environments.
Implementing workload protection through a CWPP has many benefits:
- Agility: Cloud Workload Protection Platform solutions are designed to integrate with DevOps CI/CD pipelines, allowing them to be automatically configured to secure workload-based applications. This will enable developers to incorporate security into their DevOps practices without adding unnecessary complexity.
- Visibility: CWP provides faster and more accurate detection, response, threat search, and investigation, with complete visibility into workload and container events to ensure everything is visible in your cloud environment.
- Monitor workload behavior: Monitoring workload behavior is an integral part of cloud workload protection. CWPPs provide two essential aspects of workload security through workload monitoring, detection and response. A CWPP can detect an intrusion wherever it occurs and send an alert by monitoring workload behavior.
- General protection: CWP secures your entire cloud infrastructure across all workloads, containers, and Kubernetes applications in any cloud. A cloud workload protection platform (CWP) automates security and detects and blocks suspicious activity.
- Unified log management and monitoring: When each part of the workload has a different security technology, it can take time to monitor them. A CWPP provides a single-window of what is happening in each part of the workload in any environment.
- Memory protection: Memory protection, which is only available in a few CWPPs, is an evolving security control gaining traction as hackers develop new techniques to exploit memory vulnerabilities and circumvent traditional security methods.
- System hardening and vulnerability management: A CWPP removes unnecessary applications, permissions, programs, accounts, functions, code that may pose security risks. can help you eliminate potential attack vectors by identifying
- Up-to-date threat intelligence: Some CWPPs distribute threat intelligence to their client base, acting as an early warning system for new threats.
- Flexibility: One of the most significant benefits of the cloud is scaling resources up and down on demand. CWPPs are cloud-based and enable organizations to achieve the same application and workload security flexibility.
- Frictionless: A CWPP must support continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows that allow you to secure workloads at DevOps speed without sacrificing performance.
- Compliance: Data protection regulations require organizations to implement specific security controls to protect the sensitive data they hold adequately. CWPP solutions will automatically scan for vulnerabilities and compliance violations that put this protected data at risk and apply security controls to ensure compliance.
What Are the Security Challenges of Cloud Workloads?
Because public cloud deployments follow a shared security model, cloud computing necessitates security precautions from customers and providers. Security is the responsibility of both the cloud computing provider and the customer in their respective control areas.
In general, the provider is responsible for the security of the cloud. This includes physical access and infrastructure.
In turn, the client is responsible for security in the cloud. This includes their applications, identity management, data, and encryption. In addition, the unique features and capabilities of the cloud pose new security challenges for customers when migrating workloads:
- Expanded Attack Surface: More systems distributed across various external locations means more risk and a raised attack surface. Security is no longer just about protecting physical data centers and servers. Owning a cloud presence means additional responsibility for securing virtual servers, remote applications, cloud workloads, containers, and networking between environments.
- Visibility: Blind spots in your environment can lead to violations. Cloud workloads are demanding visibility for several reasons. First and foremost, traditional security tools are not designed to provide granular visibility. For example, Linux logs make it challenging to uniquely identify host-generated events versus container-generated events because visibility is limited to the host. Containers then present additional visibility challenges as they are short-lived and complicate data collection and incident investigation because forensic evidence is lost when a container is terminated. Finally, deployment across cloud environments results in decentralized container controls that limit public visibility.
- Performance: Traditional solutions and manual processes are no longer sufficient due to the dynamic nature of cloud workloads and containers. Rapid deployment and scaling result in a constantly changing attack surface, and security solutions must match the speed of DevOps without sacrificing performance.
How is Cloud Workload Protection Different from Application Security and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) Solutions?
Application security refers to applications deployed locally on desktops where users access each application instance. Vulnerabilities in applications on the desktop are only found as vulnerabilities in application code, so the rest of the environment can be ignored. Historically, IT organizations could secure applications by securing the desktop and preventing threats from reaching it.
However, cloud-based applications require a different form of application security. The abstraction between user and application creates more opportunities for vulnerabilities, especially if an organization does not control part of the environment using the public cloud.
Because a cloud-based application cannot function unless all workload components are operational, businesses must secure and monitor all workload elements, not just the application.
Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPPs) enable multiple public cloud providers and customers to ensure the security of their workloads as they move through their domains. CWPP can be used to protect workloads in two ways:
- Micro-segmentation: Implementing a network security technique known as micro-segmentation is one way to ensure workload protection. Micro-segmentation is a technique for dividing a computing infrastructure into different security segments down to the level of individual workloads and then defining security controls for each part. Physical firewalls, for example, are being phased out in favor of network virtualization technology, which enables micro-segmentation to define flexible security policies that isolate and protect workloads. For example, endpoint protection is designed to prevent threats from entering an environment, while micro-segmentation prevents malware from passing from server to server within the environment.
- Bare metal hypervisor: A hypervisor is a type of virtualization software that allows for the creation and management of virtual machines by decoupling software from the computer hardware. A bare-metal hypervisor is installed directly between a physical machine’s hardware and operating system. Because a hypervisor constructs virtual machines that are separated from one another, an attack on one of the virtual machines is limited to that server and does not affect workloads on other virtual machines.
Some CWPP solutions support hypervisor-enabled security layers specifically designed to protect cloud workloads. For example, both Cloud Security Attitude Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workplace Protection (CWPP) solutions are intended to improve the cybersecurity of cloud environments. In fact, CSPM is an essential component of CWPP.
A CSPM is intended to address the common issue of cloud security misconfigurations. CSPM searches cloud environments for incorrectly configured security settings, as well as violations of corporate security policies or regulatory compliance requirements.
CWPP is intended to provide comprehensive and targeted protection for on-premises or cloud workloads. CSPM is appropriate because securing the workload means securing the application and ensuring the correct configuration is an integral part of application security.
What Are the Core Requirements of the Cloud Workload Protection Platform?
The security landscape is evolving, and legacy security systems are no longer adequate for organizations that use the cloud as a component of their computing infrastructure. Businesses must plan for workload protection across multiple cloud environments. A cloud workload protection platform can consolidate and present security alerts to you through a dashboard and provide visibility into multiple environments while responding to these alerts.
Given the challenges mentioned above, cloud workload security solutions must address the following essential areas:
- Runtime Protection: While image scanning is essential and good practice, it is blind to attacks because attackers can exploit vulnerabilities or misconfigure images before they are patched. It can be compromised when a virtual machine or container starts, even if the image is appropriately configured and validated. As a result, thorough runtime protection is needed to secure containers and the hosts they run.
- Visibility: You cannot detect, stop or respond to something you cannot see. Workload events need to be captured, analyzed, and stored, including container events. This gives security products and teams the visibility they need to detect and stop threats as they arise and hunt and investigate.
- Simplicity: Companies need to meet the security requirements of the cloud without increasing the number of products they deploy and manage. Ideally, it should use the same platform for different cloud needs to help provide adequate security without adding more complexity to the environment.
- Performance: With cloud workloads, it is even more critical that a solution protects while having minimal performance impact on systems, teams, and workflows. DevOps requires speed, and delays and inconveniences can lead to dangerous behavior, from weak passwords to the use of untrusted images.