The term “cloud workload” may refer to the components used by applications residing in the cloud, including computing, storage, and networking. Cloud workloads require the implementation of unique cloud security measures, which differ from traditional IT environments.
Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPPs) provide the capabilities needed to secure workloads deployed in private, public, or hybrid clouds. CWPP solutions are designed to secure the application and any associated cloud resource.
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A workload consists of resources and processes that are required to run an application. Cloud workloads often include an application as well as data generated by and served to the application. Additionally, a cloud workload includes all network resources needed to connect several different components of the application and to connect users to the application.
Many organizations have workloads that consist of multiple compute options as well as cloud service providers (CSPs). To properly protect cloud workloads, organizations must secure multiple types of cloud infrastructure—virtual machines (VMs), serverless workloads, and containers—across both public and private clouds.
The Importance of CWPP Solutions
In a DevOps environment, cloud applications are pushed to production rapidly and undergo frequent changes. Because many of these applications are public facing, they are difficult to monitor and secure.
CWPP offers a low-friction, scalable solution for putting in place cloud workload protection. CWPP solutions can help control the fallout of sub-standard security practices during the fast development cycles typical of DevOps.
CWPP tools help with the following issues in cloud development:
Gartner defines the following four essential features of CWPP solutions:
In addition, there are some additional principles CWPPs should follow to provide more value:
Gartner defines the following eight layers of CWPP controls:
The foundational layers: hardening, configuration and vulnerability management
These layers require hardening images according to industry standards. They also require hardening and configuring systems according to the guidelines of the organizations. Additionally, systems should be patched promptly.
The infrastructure layers: network firewalls, microsegmentation, and visibility
These layers secure workloads by firewalling and segmenting the communication of workloads with other resources. They also support microsegmentation of east-west traffic in data centers and monitor communication flows. There are solutions that offer additional security in the form of network traffic encryption.
The system integrity assurance layer
This layer consists of the following two phases:
The application control/allowlisting layer
CWPP tools use application controls to manage the executables that are allowed to run on the server, in order to implement a deny-by-default policy. This layer blocks any malware executables by default. The majority of CWPP tools provide built-in features for application control.
The memory protection layer
This layer prevents vulnerability exploits by combining operating system functions with application control. The capabilities offered in this layer can help mitigate threats when there are no available patches.
Layers that are executable independently of the workload
Required controls for CWPP include endpoint protection for workloads, host-based IPS, threat detection, behavioral profiling, and antivirus.
Calico Enterprise and Calico Cloud offer four ways to implement pod-level workload access controls. This can help protect containerized environments from outside threats, while enabling applications and workloads to securely communicate with resources—whether they are outside the cluster, behind a firewall, or other control point.
Calico Enterprise and Calico Cloud provide:
Calico’s common network policy model uses Kubernetes constructs like labels and selectors to provide granular, pod-based control and restrict access to specific external resources.
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