What Is a Cloud Native Security Platform?

3 min. read

Application development methodologies are moving away from the traditional “waterfall” model toward more agile continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes with end-to-end automation. This new approach brings a multitude of benefits, such as shorter time to market and faster delivery, but it also introduces security challenges since traditional security methodologies weren’t designed to address these modern application workflows. As developer teams embrace cloud native technologies, security teams find themselves scrambling to keep up. Limited prevention controls, poor visibility and tools that lack automation yield incomplete security analytics—all of these things increase the risk of compromise and the likelihood of successful breaches in cloud environments. Meanwhile, the demand for an entirely new approach to security emerges. Enter cloud native security platforms (CNSPs).

Before we dive into what a CNSP is, let’s first understand what “cloud native” refers to.

What Does ‘Cloud Native’ Mean?

The term “cloud native” refers to an approach to building and running applications that takes full advantage of a cloud computing delivery model instead of an on-premises data center. This approach takes the best of what cloud has to offer – scalability, deployability, manageability and limitless on-demand compute power – and applies these principles to software development, combined with CI/CD automation, to radically increase productivity, business agility and cost savings.

Cloud native architectures are made up of cloud services, such as containers, serverless security, platform as a service (PaaS) and microservices. These services are loosely coupled, meaning they are not hardwired to any infrastructure components, allowing developers to make changes frequently without affecting other pieces of the application or other team members’ projects – all across technology boundaries, such as public, private and multi-cloud deployments.

In short, “cloud native” refers to a methodology of software development that is essentially designed for cloud delivery and exemplifies all the benefits of the cloud by nature.

The Beginnings of Cloud Native Security

As more organizations have embraced DevOps and developer teams have begun to update their application development pipelines, Security teams quickly realized their tools were ill-suited for the developer-driven, API-centric, infrastructure-agnostic patterns of cloud native security. As a result, cloud native security point products began to hit the market. These products were each engineered to address one part of the problem or one segment of the software stack, but on their own, they could not collect enough information to accurately understand or report on the risks across cloud native environments. This forced security teams to juggle multiple tools and vendors, which increased cost, complexity and risk in addition to creating blind spots where the tools overlapped but didn’t integrate.

Enter Cloud Native Security Platforms

Solving this problem requires a unified platform approach that can envelop the entire CI/CD lifecycle and integrate with the DevOps workflow. This platform approach, which Gartner calls Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP), provides total visibility across silos, and ensures security, cloud infrastructure, and DevOps teams can deliver full-stack security. With CNSPs (the term can be used interchangeably with CNAPP), a single platform can protect applications at runtime while also integrating security into development workflows to identify and fix flaws early in the application lifecycle. Just as cloud native approaches have fundamentally changed how the cloud is used, CNSPs are fundamentally restructuring how the cloud is secured.

CNSPs share context about infrastructure, PaaS, users, development platforms, data and application workloads across platform components to enhance security. They also:

  • Provide unified visibility for SecOps and DevOps teams.

  • Deliver an integrated set of capabilities to respond to threats and protect cloud native applications.

  • Automate the remediation of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations consistently across the entire build-deploy-run lifecycle.

To dive deeper into the properties that define a CNSP, read Core Tenets of a Cloud Native Security Platform.

CNSPs and the Future

In the past, organizations that wanted to embrace new compute options were stifled by the need to buy more security products to support those options. Stitching together disparate solutions in an attempt to enforce consistent policies across technology boundaries became more of a problem than a solution. CNSPs, however, provide coverage across the continuum of compute options, multi-cloud and the application development lifecycle. This allows organizations to choose the right compute options for any given workload, granting them freedom without worry over how to integrate solutions for security. CNSPs epitomize the benefits of a cloud native strategy, enabling agility, flexibility and digital transformation.

Click here to learn more about the evolution of cloud native security and see how Prisma Cloud delivers the industry’s only comprehensive protection platform for cloud native applications.


Cloud Native Security Platform FAQs

A cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) secures various workloads across the cloud environment, including virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions. CWPPs offer protection capabilities such as threat detection, vulnerability management, network segmentation, and system integrity monitoring to ensure workload security throughout their lifecycle.

Container security involves safeguarding the entire lifecycle of containers—from the application development to the runtime operation—against threats and vulnerabilities. It encompasses securing container images, registries, orchestration environments like Kubernetes, and the containers themselves through strategies like network segmentation, access control, and continuous monitoring.

Microservices security focuses on protecting the independently deployable, loosely coupled services that comprise a microservices architecture. It addresses the unique security challenges of service discovery, inter-service communication, and distributed data management. Ensuring robust access control, encryption in transit, and service-level authentication are critical in this context.

Application security posture management involves continuously identifying, monitoring, and improving the security of applications. It encompasses practices such as static and dynamic analysis, software composition analysis, and penetration testing to ensure applications are designed, developed, and deployed free from vulnerabilities and in compliance with security standards.

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) automatically identifies and remediates risks across cloud infrastructures, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. By continuously scanning cloud environments against security and compliance benchmarks, CSPMs help organizations enforce a consistent security posture and prevent configuration drift.

DevSecOps integration embeds security practices within the DevOps pipeline. It involves automating security checks, threat modeling, and vulnerability assessments into the continuous integration and delivery processes. By integrating security into the early stages of application development, DevSecOps ensures that security considerations keep pace with rapid deployment cycles.

CI/CD security integrates automated security measures into the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment pipeline. It ensures that security checks, such as static and dynamic code analysis, dependency scanning, and compliance monitoring, are performed as code is integrated and deployed, safeguarding the software delivery process against vulnerabilities.

Kubernetes security involves protecting the orchestration platform and the containerized applications it manages. It includes securing the Kubernetes API server, implementing role-based access controls, hardening node security, managing network policies, and ensuring proper secrets management, all while maintaining the integrity and resilience of the deployment environment.

API security encompasses the practices and tools designed to prevent the exploitation of APIs. It includes securing the API from unauthorized access, enforcing rate limiting, and input validation to protect against common vulnerabilities such as injections and misconfigurations, ensuring data is transmitted securely.

Zero Trust architecture advocates for 'never trust, always verify' as a security model, where no entity, internal or external, is trusted by default. It requires strict identity verification, micro-segmentation, and least privilege access controls to minimize the attack surface and reduce lateral movement within the network.
Service mesh security provides comprehensive protection for inter-service communication within a microservices architecture. It enforces secure service-to-service communication through mutual TLS, implements fine-grained access control policies, and provides encryption to secure data in transit, ensuring a robust defense against man-in-the-middle attacks.
Immutable infrastructure is a model where components are replaced rather than changed. Once a component is deployed, it is never modified; if changes are needed, a new component is deployed. This reduces the risk of configuration drift and provides a predictable, repeatable deployment process enhancing security and reliability.

Infrastructure as code (IaC) security involves managing and provisioning infrastructure through code with automated tools, ensuring consistent and repeatable environments. IaC security focuses on enforcing compliance, preventing drift from secure baselines, and scanning infrastructure templates for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities before deployment.