Cloud Security Automation

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Organizations working towards adopting cloud computing report that security and compliance are two of the top three barriers they face: 35% of cybersecurity professionals stated security is their biggest barrier, while 31% reported compliance (Statista).

Cloud security is a major undertaking since the attack surface is in a constant state of flux. Cloud architectures are becoming more complex, and the introduction of multi-cloud usage only adds to this complexity. The security perimeter extends beyond the network to every device, user, and application. Moreover, cloud native applications rely on containers and infrastructure as code (IaC) for deployment, which can be a risk without built-in security, as misconfigurations could be introduced to an organization at scale through IaC deployments.

Traditional security tools and methods are often incapable of securing these modern environments. Over 78% of cloud native production workloads are deployed as containers or serverless applications, while over 50% are also deployed with some form of IaC. The adoption of containers, serverless applications, and IaC means that security is increasingly shifting left to developers, presenting the opportunity for human error or simply overlooking security steps that present bottlenecks to the development process.

Cloud security automation is a way to maintain your security posture in complex cloud environments. By automating cloud security, enterprises can empower developers to secure complex architecture instantaneously and automatically, all while streamlining the road to deployment.

What is cloud security automation?

Infrastructure teams leverage tools and processes to implement cloud security automation, taking many lower level or repetitive tasks off their to-do list, so they can focus on higher priority items. It includes methods for automating cloud infrastructure provisioning and cloud native application deployment. Production environments are monitored for security misconfigurations or other vulnerabilities, and remediation steps are predefined to manage incident response processes. Finally, security monitoring automatically feeds intelligence to DevSecOps teams so they can address threats and secure critical resources.

Benefits of automating cloud security

In addition to decreasing the amount of manual tasks involved with security, here’s how cloud security automation can help advance your cloud strategy:

Speed: Infrastructure provisioning and cloud native application deployment happen quickly. Engineering and security team resources are often a limiting factor for security, which means security tasks can either delay releases or get skipped in an initial release and patched in later. Using automation allows enterprises to automate configurations and other manual processes as well as integrate scans and testing from the start of development to deployment.

Accuracy: Human error is the most common source of misconfigurations. Creating a repeatable hardening process, with identical configurations for development, QA, and production environments, simplifies the process of deploying new secure environments while minimizing the chance for guesswork or human error.

Scalability: Once a process is automated, it can run in any location at any time with minimal need for additional intervention.

Improved security: Security automation protects infrastructure and applications while detecting threats and automatically responding to them. This reduces the need to depend on humans to monitor and remediate vulnerabilities.

Compliance: Automating checks and reports allow you to prove compliance without impeding the development process or taking up valuable engineering resources.

Visibility: Enterprises can automatically understand what’s going on in their cloud environment in terms of infrastructure configuration changes, data, and network access.

Alerting: Alerts can be triggered based on threat detection to help you quickly understand and respond to incidents.

Which elements of cloud security can be automated?

There are many tools available that automate security in cloud environments. The best place to start depends on your team’s workflows and needs, but here are some common elements of cloud security most organizations can automate with minimal effort or disruption to existing workflows:

  • Cloud security configuration & drift management
    This entails writing predefined security configurations that allow you to deploy instances without manual involvement. By writing scripts for security groups, access controls, DNS names, and other resource configurations, developers only need to work with scripts, not instances, to make changes. Infrastructure provisioning is perhaps the most vulnerable period in an instance’s lifecycle, so automating it vastly reduces the potential for errors.

  • IaC
    IaC allows organizations to control cloud environment configurations more efficiently than is possible with manual infrastructure builds. Since IaC allows infrastructure provisioning and management through code, it enables teams to use DevOps best practices to work closely on the deployment of cloud infrastructure and applications. The major hyperscalers support IaC templates such as AWS CloudFormation, Azure Resource Management, or third-party platforms like Terraform, which means you can automate deployments along with security configurations in a consistent way.

  • Container deployments
    Container images can be automatically scanned in several places: during the build phase, upon being pushed to registries, and at deployment to  staging and production environments. Configuration hardening guidelines and standards can be implemented in images, and orchestration tools can then automate the implementation of standards.

  • Vulnerability scanning
    This includes the continuous scanning of applications running in the cloud environment, new applications being deployed, IaC templates, cloud instances, and everything in between.

  • Reporting
    One of the key advantages of cloud computing is the ability to monitor and store logs centrally using services like Azure Log Analytics, Azure Monitor, AWS CloudTrail, and Google Cloud’s operations suite. Security teams can automate reporting and even policy enforcement to continuously monitor and remediate assets and environments.

  • Remediation
    When vulnerabilities or misconfigurations are discovered, having automation tools in place makes it simpler to take remediation actions. Without automation, updating configurations across thousands of servers and instances can be nearly impossible, but with an automation script in place, the only change required is a single line to ensure a patched version is running instead.

The Snyk platform has all of these capabilities, making it a great choice for Cloud Security.

Automated security monitoring across all cloud environments

With enterprise architectures consisting of a multitude of applications spread across on-premise, private cloud, and public cloud environments, it’s critical for DevSecOps teams to be able to monitor everything in a single interface so they can secure assets and defend against attacks.

Tools like AWS CodeDeploy and Azure DevOps help integrate the development and deployment processes, with features like:

Versatility: Deploy applications across multiple cloud or on-premise environments.

Policy maintenance: Maintain and enforce policies across environments.

Management: Centralized consoles give DevOps teams visibility into deployment status and application health.

Automated security monitoring extends these automated deployment tools by giving you ways to apply consistent security policies across environments, detect intrusions, and stay compliant with regulatory or internal standards.

How Snyk can help automate your cloud security

Snyk’s Developer Security platform is an automated cloud security monitoring tool that stands out for its developer-centric approach. Snyk helps automate your cloud security by building security into applications before you bring them to market. Snyk tools support shift left and DevSecOps principles by integrating directly into developer workflows to automate secure code development. They scan code for insecure libraries and third-party dependencies and build automated protections into code. As code is committed, Snyk applies dynamic scanning and analysis to create automated feedback loops that deliver information about bugs and vulnerabilities back to developers.

Here are some of the Snyk tools that help with cloud security automation:

IaC

Snyk IaC helps developers build secure infrastructure configurations as they write and deploy applications. This allows developers to address cloud issues by automatically connecting them to the relevant IaC source code in Git workflows, ensuring faster remediation. Simply fix, retest, and redeploy.

Container security, including run-time security with Sysdig

Snyk Container simplifies the process of container security by guiding developers to the most secure base images available, scanning images and prioritizing vulnerabilities based on context and exploitability, and presenting findings in a developer-friendly way that matches vulnerabilities to the corresponding Dockerfile command. Snyk’s recent partnership with Sysdig extends Snyk’s capabilities by allowing end-to-end container security from code development to the runtime environment.

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