What is Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)?

CLOUD WORKLOAD PROTECTION PLATFORM (CWPP)

A Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is a security solution designed to protect the server workloads running in the cloud environment from threats nd vulnerabilities such as malware, malicious intrusions, and unauthorized applications. CWPPs facilitate visibility and security control for all the various elements of the hybrid multicloud networks, including on-premise servers, virtual machines (VMs), containers, and serverless workloads. A workload- centric approach allows CWPPs to provide consistent protection for cloud assets regardless of location, whether in a private cloud, public cloud, or datacenter.

Ideally, a CWPP should be capable of integrating seamlessly with related security modules, such as Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP) as part of a complete cloud-native solution for holistic management of network security, compliance, and governance.

What is a Cloud Workload?

The term “cloud workload” refers to an application, service, or feature that uses computing power hosted on cloud servers. Cloud workloads are facilitated by a variety of underlying components, such as VMs, containers, microservices, storage buckets, Hadoop nodes, Software as a Service (Saas), Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), and so on. This means today’s hybrid multicloud network is vastly more complicated than legacy data centers, in which workloads were entirely hosted on-premise in VMs or bare metal machines. Organizations must now ensure the security and integrity of services not merely “at home,” but also for containers in private clouds and public clouds, often hosted by multiple Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

What is Cloud Workload Protection?

As cloud computing becomes more widely used, hackers are increasingly targeting cloud components as potentially vulnerable points in an organization’s network, with threats such as cyber attacks, malware, ransomware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and so on. Breaches can be devastating, costing organizations millions of dollars in damages and lost time.

To ensure cloud-based applications function correctly and without security risks, their workloads must be protected everywhere through the cloud environment, even as data and dependencies migrate across infrastructures. Security strategies for each cloud infrastructure element may differ; after all, the threat to a VM isn’t the same as the threat to a container. Also, cloud security is not properly handled by legacy systems focused on endpoint protection or access control. Therefore new cloud-native tools are needed to properly protect workloads for organizations running private and public clouds.

The CWPP provides exactly this protection to the hybrid multicloud environment, ensuring organizations can secure themselves at the workload and endpoint levels to avoid cyber threats.

How Does Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) Work?

Discovery

Comprehensive CWPP protection begins with the discovery of workloads, to ensure coverage of all processes and asset deployed in both on-premise and off-premise cloud environments.

Vulnerability Assessment

After discovery, the CWPP can perform vulnerability assessments by comparing the workloads to defined security policies and known vulnerabilities to identify potential security issues. Potential threats might come originate in insecure APIs, third-party vulnerabilities, account hijacking, and insider threats, etc.

Security Enforcement and Remediation

Next, the CWPP provides security controls to address any vulnerabilities identified in the scan. Remediations might include integrity protection, memory protection, host-based intrusion prevention, applying security patches, and implementing allowlists to keep out unauthorized users.

Runtime Protection

In addition to addressing any security concerns identified in the vulnerability assessments, CWPPs also use a variety of capabilities to protect cloud workloads from security threats at runtime. These may include behavioral monitoring, intrusion detection, system integrity checks, application controls, network segmentation, and anti-malware software for the prevention of host-based intrusion.

The Importance of Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) Solutions

Legacy security products employing endpoint protection may suffice for datacenters and desktops, but they were not designed to secure cloud workloads. Using the wrong tools for the job can leave your network vulnerable to data breaches and attacks.

Proper cloud security must begin from the ground up, with purpose-built tools capable of meeting the security needs of the contemporary hybrid multicloud environment.

The realities of today’s complicated cloud computing landscape make cloud-native security tools an absolute necessity. Here are three major security challenges that arise uniquely from the cloud transformation:

  • Multicloud environments: The majority of firms use a variety of cloud service providers to meet business demands. As a result, most organizations now operate in a hybrid multicloud environment. This patchwork of multiple infrastructures makes it challenging for security professionals to identify and govern the locations of apps and data across the environment.
  • Hybrid environments: Cloud-native applications are not always easy to transfer from legacy platforms, due to differences in infrastructure and outdated configurations. Organizations cannot simply “copy and paste” their on-premises applications into the cloud, meaning that most end up in a hybrid environment with some core functionality still located on-premises in data centers.
  • CI/CD strategy: the need to respond agilely to changing market demands pushes organizations to adopt a strategy of “continuous innovation and continuous development” (CI/CD) or “DevOps” Customers benefit from the swiftness of product delivery, but there is the potential downside if speed becomes a trade-off for security. Security testing is no longer a discrete, pre-deployment milestone in the software lifecycle. As developers work to shift left on security, they must have tools that proactively facilitate security for each deployment.

Benefits of Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)

Security

Cloud architecture have unique security concerns, and CWPPs employ cloud-native security architecture to provide visibility, protection, and security controls that legacy tools cannot. CWPPs offer essential protection for cloud-based applications in world where connectivity is always on.

Visibility

The challenge of harmonizing information between datacenters and public CSPs is significant, but CWPPs can provide comprehensive and consolidated visibility of both on-premise and off-premise workloads. Uniting inputs from disparate environments into a single platform helps organizations make sense of the complexity, which simplifies the tasks of monitoring and management. This helps teams minimize risk and respond more efficiently when threats arise.

Compliance

Many enterprises face mandates for industry-specific security standards such as SOC 2, FISMA, ISO 27001, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. CWPPs help organizations meet compliance goals by employing automated scanning for violations and vulnerabilities, ensuring sensitive data remains private and protected.

Flexibility

The ability to scale resources up and down on demand is one of the most important benefits of using cloud-based delivery. CWPPs help organizations take advantage of this scaling by enforcing security along the way, allowing teams to be confident their networks will remain secure as they leverage the flexibility of the cloud.

Agility

CWPPs can offer proactive workload scanning that integrates with DevOps to shift toward a DevSecOps approach. Workloads can be automatically configured to and safeguarded, helping developers incorporate security in the CI/CD cycle with a minimum of time and effort.

Shared responsibility

Cloud service providers such as Amazon and Google are excellent at maintaining the security of their infrastructure, but customers are responsible for securing their own application layer and data.

CWPPs facilitate this division of responsibility by securing hosted workloads and protecting assets from any attacks that bypass vendors’ defenses. CWPPs provide tools that allow for easier management, monitoring, remediation and security auditing in cases when vulnerabilities are found—whether on the side of the hosting provider’s infrastructure or on client-side systems.

Cost

Shifting away from datacenters and into the cloud can provide savings via flexible, use-based billing models, which can be lower in cost than maintaining local servers. CWPP facilitates these savings by enabling companies to “lift-and-shift” to the cloud securely. CWPP vendors may also offer flexible delivery and payment structures, for associated savings on the security platforms themselves, too.

Cloud Workload Protection Platform Challenges

The challenges of using a comprehensive CWPP are minimal, but before choosing a provider, buyers should consider any potential shortcomings of the platform.

A CWPP is not designed to secure every single facet of operations; therefore, users must take responsibility for protection in other critical areas (e.g. security posture management, access management, governance, ticketing and issue tracking, etc.)

Some additional challenges of using a CWPP include the following:

  • Lateral threat movements can be difficult to detect with this type of program.
  • Initial setup requires time and investment from an organization’s security team
  • The manual deployment of agents at each security step could be a hassle for large companies (in cases of agent-based architecture; some security platforms are entirely agentless)
  • Integration capabilities differ. Check with potential CWPPs regarding compatibility with other tools like security monitoring and access management systems to be sure your entire operation will work seamlessly.

Despite these caveats, investing in a CWPP remains hands-down the best way to protect your cloud workload against cyber threats.

What Is the Difference Between CWPP and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)?

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPMs) are complimentary security products that work alongside CWPPs. While CWPPs assess and secure cloud-based applications against risk, CSPMs identify misconfigurations and compliance issues in the cloud environment in which those workloads run. These two cloud security solutions work in alignment, so they are ideally deployed as components in an integrated cloud security platform with a single unified user experience.

Table 1. CSPM VS CWPP

Sr. No Parameters CSPM CWPP
01 Definition Evaluate cloud infrastructure postures against best practices and security infractions, with remedial procedures supplied through automation. Host-centric solutions handle the hybrid cloud environment’s workload protection requirements.
02 Visibility Continuous monitoring of cloud deployments and execution of security measures Continuous monitoring of cloud deployments and execution of security measures
03 Data Protection Finding and recognizing cloud-based applications and resources. Allowing applications and ensuring application integrity
04 Threat Protection Recognizing and prioritizing hazards and notifications Checking up on the workload and identifying any hazards
05 Policies The cloud-based management of risk prioritization, visualization, and modeling Protection for containers and Kubernetes
06 Data Independence Compliance with industry- and region-specific regulations, such as GDPR and FISMA, is constantly monitored. Serverless Protection
07 Providers Caveonix, Microsoft, Netskope, OpsCompass, Obsidian, MacAfee, and Orca Caveonix, Deep Security, Palo Alto Networks, Check Point, and Symantec
08 Products Bitglass, BMC's Cipher Cloud, Amazon Web Services Accurics, and CloudPassage. CloudGuard IaaS, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, Prisma Cloud, and Symantec.