All organizations are going through digital transformation (opens in a new tab) one way or another. Whether they have embraced hybrid working since the start of the pandemic or are introducing AI and machine learning into their workloads, integrating technology into a business is critical to surviving in today’s world. Cloud-native development: A way to build and run scalable, adaptable applications anywhere—in public, private, or hybrid clouds (opens in a new tab) – is carving out its place as a disruptive big wave that many organizations are embracing as part of their digital transformation efforts.
Looking at the state of cloud-native development, there are about 6.5 million cloud-native developers around the world; that’s 1.8 million more than in mid-2019, representing 44% of back-end developers according to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Additionally, 46% of developers use open source Kubernetes (opens in a new tab) in development, which has become the gold standard for container orchestration.
Despite all the benefits that cloud-native architectures can provide, enterprises are recognizing the changes they must make to their security posture to ensure that applications (opens in a new tab) They’re safe. Nearly 60% of organizations have increased security concerns since going cloud-native. Because of this, developers are four times more likely to hijack security protocols when developing these applications. Kubernetes committers are also enhancing the security of their containers to help reduce the surface area for intrusions like sandbox escape attacks. The consequence is that malicious code can be executed from a sandbox outside the container environment.
While the cybersecurity of cloud-native development (opens in a new tab) is a complex subject, understanding its qualities is vital to help strengthen a company’s services and improve its security posture. Practitioners should consider these five crucial aspects when it comes to secure cloud-native development:
1. Consider resources carefully
While there are several resources for cloud-native developers to build their applications, knowing the right approach is essential to maintaining security. It is critical that developers consider what content they can trust, its quality, and how long it will serve them well. More importantly, they need to know if it contains any security risks or malicious code and if it is actively maintained and fixed in a timely manner.
Now more than ever, developers must exercise caution and choose resources wisely. Companies can help their developers by providing “sensible defaults” for choosing software (opens in a new tab) to sustain and support your applications. Healthy defaults involve providing a selected default setting to ensure an optimal experience that can be played across multiple machines. This is important because developers are fully supported in their role and provided resources that the company knows can be trusted.
2. Use safe and stable base images
The software that comes in a container image is highly dependent on the base image chosen. Base images provide the foundation for applications to run, including shared libraries such as SSL and libc, and allow developers to focus on their applications rather than the entire container. Base images also often tend to contain more software than the applications added on top, and with more software comes increased security liability.
Companies should approach choosing a secure and stable base image very carefully, considering things like how often it is updated, whether the software ecosystem is large enough to build it on, and whether the base image is easy to use. for developers. These aspects are crucial as security becomes an afterthought if the base image is not built properly with security in mind.
3. Look for cloud-native buildpacks
Borrowing from the best platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings of the previous generation, cloud-native build packs allow developers to create secure, optimized, and hardened containers for code effortlessly.
Kubernetes is the cloud-native container orchestration standard. Still, it leaves many essential aspects of running complex applications to its users, such as handling certificates or selecting and configuring logins. What end users want is an all-in-one, easy-to-use, and reliable PaaS (opens in a new tab) with good support for components of different sizes, and this is what buildpacks provide.
4. The importance of patching early and often
Often, if software goes into production with no known vulnerabilities, chances are some will be discovered later. Software must be kept up to date to avoid breaches, and this means deploying updates in a timely manner but in an easy and non-intrusive manner. This is well understood with respect to operating systems and is equally true for containers.
With this in mind, organizations need to ensure containers are updated with the latest security patches. The same rules should apply to the runtimes and infrastructure underpinning containers. For example, the kernel must be updated using technologies such as live patching that reduce unplanned downtime to be seamlessly deployed to production.
5. Don’t forget about automation
When a vulnerability is identified, the solution must be deployed quickly and reliably, requiring automation throughout the deployment process. Over the past decade, the industry has made great strides in automating the way it builds software; however, continuous patch delivery does not always meet the same standard. This is due to automation gaps, which have affected the time it takes to deploy security fixes to applications.
In the future, organizations must rely on automation to efficiently respond to breaches and minimize the disruption they can cause. If the software is more difficult to patch, it will happen less frequently, but this would not worry organizations if they adopted automation.
As more organizations turn to cloud-native development because of the benefits it can bring to the business, they can’t forget the importance of minimizing security risks. The consequences of a breach can be far-reaching, so developers need to ensure that security is built in from the beginning of an application’s development and is regularly updated and patched. While cloud-native security sounds complex in theory, it doesn’t have to be in practice with these five steps.
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