What Are Cloud-Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP)?

A CNAPP is an end-to-end cloud-native security solution. It provides a central control plane that unifies all security capabilities to protect cloud environments, making your security cloud native.

Secure cloud workloads and configurations using a single control plane
CNAPPs centralize the capabilities offered by cloud security posture management (CSPM), Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS), cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs), and Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM), providing centralized access to workload, network, and container security capabilities.

A CNAPP provides multiple security capabilities via a single control plane. Notable capabilities include automation, identity-entitlement management, orchestration security, and API identification and protection. These capabilities are especially useful for securing Kubernetes workloads.

In this article:

Why Is CNAPP Important?

The term CNAPP consists of two elements that explain its importance:

  • Cloud native – Cloud environments introduce a variety of new security challenges. These environments are dynamic and transient, often involving unique and unpredictable interactions. Traditional agent-based security approaches are insufficient for protecting these temporary, containerized, and serverless environments.
  • Application protection – While cloud security tools typically focus on helping security teams understand and manage cloud infrastructure, security tools today also need to secure cloud applications.

Gartner and other industry experts recommend that organizations approach cloud native security holistically, considering both cloud native applications and the underlying infrastructure. There are many ways applications can be exposed to risk in the cloud, including unintentional public internet exposure, permissive access rights, and traditional cybersecurity risks like malware and unauthorized access.

Point solutions developed for specific aspects of the cloud native landscape have a narrow focus and struggle to correlate signals between different parts of a cloud environment. They tend to generate a large number of low-priority alerts, leading to alert fatigue. A CNAPP can monitor and enforce security across an entire cloud application profile, giving organizations visibility into security issues that have real business impact.

Key Components and Features Of CNAPP

CNAPP combines several cloud security solutions into a unified platform. Here are the key technologies included in the CNAPP stack:

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

CSPM provides continuous visibility into an organization’s cloud security posture. It automates the process of detecting and remediating potential security risks in the cloud environment. With CSPM, businesses can ensure that their cloud configurations align with best practices, regulatory standards, and their security policies.

CSPM not only identifies misconfigurations but also provides actionable insights to rectify them. It helps businesses maintain compliance with industry regulations, reducing the risk of penalties and reputational damage.

Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS)

CSNS protects the network layer of cloud services. It involves monitoring network traffic for potential threats, enforcing security policies, and isolating workloads to prevent lateral movements in the event of a breach.

CSNS is crucial for maintaining the integrity of a cloud environment, especially given the distributed nature of cloud-native applications. It offers features such as microsegmentation, intrusion detection and prevention, and virtual firewalling.

Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)

CWPP secures workloads running in the cloud environment. It provides runtime protection for workloads, detecting and responding to threats in real time. CWPP also offers vulnerability management, ensuring that workloads are free from known vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.

CWPP is particularly relevant for businesses that use containers and serverless architectures, providing security that’s tailored to these specific workload types.

Related content: Read our guide to CWPP

Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM)

Given the popularity of Kubernetes in managing containerized applications, it’s crucial to have a dedicated component for securing Kubernetes environments. KSPM provides visibility into the security posture of Kubernetes clusters, identifying misconfigurations and potential security risks.

KSPM also provides automated remediation, helping businesses rectify security issues quickly and efficiently. Additionally, it helps enforce security policies, ensuring that Kubernetes environments align with the organization’s security standards.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

CIEM focuses on managing access entitlements in the cloud environment. It provides visibility into who has access to what resources, helping businesses identify over-privileged identities and enforce the principle of least privilege.

CIEM also helps manage access rights across multi-cloud environments, ensuring that access control policies are consistently enforced. It also plays a role in helping maintain compliance with regulations, many of which have specific requirements related to access control.

Related content: Read our guide to cloud native architecture

CNAPP Benefits

Here are three benefits of CNAPP:

1. Cloud-native security
Cloud native has several aspects: securing cloud-native infrastructure, securing cloud platforms, and continuous security for cloud applications. Cloud-native security is necessary because modern organizations using cloud-native workloads cannot rely on conventional security solutions. These traditional solutions are for networks with clearly-defined parameters.

CNAPP is built with modern cloud-native infrastructure in mind, encompassing containers and serverless security. CNAPP integrates with CI/CD pipelines and offers protection across private and public clouds and on-premises.

2. Improved visibility
There are many cloud-native monitoring and scanning tools available for cloud-based workloads. However, CNAPP stands out because it can contextualize information. It also provides end-to-end visibility across an organization’s application infrastructure.

A CNAPP solution provides granular details and end-to-end visibility on technology stacks, identities, and configurations. These capabilities can allow organizations to prioritize alerts that present the most risk.

3. Tighter controls
A common risk to enterprise applications is the misconfiguration of secrets, containers, cloud workloads, or Kubernetes clusters. Organizations can enable CNAPP platforms to proactively detect, scan, and readily remediate compliance and security risks caused by misconfigurations.

CNAPP with Calico

Calico Cloud is the industry’s only SaaS for active security for cloud-native applications running on containers, Kubernetes, and cloud. It enables organizations to prevent attacks using zero trust, and to detect, troubleshoot, and automatically remediate exposure risks from security issues in build, deploy, and runtime stages across multi-cloud and hybrid deployments.

Calico Cloud offers unique features for the following use cases:

  • Zero-trust workload security – Zero-trust workload access controls; identity-aware microsegmentation for workloads; workload-based IDS/IPS, DDoS, DPI, and WAF; firewall and SIEM integration; Envoy-based application-level security
  • Container security – Image assurance, runtime threat defense, configuration security
  • Compliance – Data-in-transit encryption; evidence and audit reports; PCI DSS, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, FIPS, and custom frameworks
  • Full-stack observability powered by eBPF – Dynamic Service and Threat Graph, Dynamic Packet Capture, application-level observability, DNS Dashboard

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