With No Power Comes More Responsibility

By on Oct 29, 2020

You’ve more than likely heard the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility.” Alternatively called the “Peter Parker Principle” this phrase became well known in popular culture mostly due to Spider-Man comics and movies – where Peter Parker is the protagonist. The phrase is so well known today that it actually has its own article in Wikipedia. The gist of the phrase is that if you’ve been empowered to make a change for the better, you have a moral obligation to do so.

However, what I’ve noticed as I talk to customers about cloud security, especially security for the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a phenomenon I’m dubbing the “John McClane Principle” – the name has been changed to protect the innocent 🙂

The John McClane Principle happens when someone has been given responsibility for fixing something but at the same time has not been empowered to make necessary changes. At the surface this scenario may sound absurd, but I bet many InfoSec teams can sympathize with the problem. The conversation goes something like this:

  • CEO to InfoSec: You need to make sure we’re secure in the cloud. I don’t want to be the next [insert latest breach here].
  • InfoSec to CEO: Yeah, so I’ve looked at how we’re using the cloud and the vast majority of our problems are from a lack of processes and knowledge. We have a ton of teams that are doing their own thing in the cloud, and I don’t have complete visibility into what they’re doing.
  • CEO to InfoSec: Great, go fix it.
  • InfoSec to CEO: Well the problem is I don’t have any say over those teams. They can do whatever they want. To fix the problem they’re going to have change how they use the cloud. We need to get buy-in from managers, but those managers have told me they’re not interested in changing anything because it’ll slows things down.
  • CEO to InfoSec: I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Good luck, and we better not have a breach.

That’s when “with no power comes more responsibility” rings true.

And why is that? The reason being is that IaaS has fundamentally changed how we consume IT and along with that how we scale security. No longer do we submit purchase requests and go through a long, lengthy processes to spin up infrastructure resources. Now anyone with a credit card can spin up the equivalent of a data center within minutes across the globe.

The agility however introduced some unintended changes to InfoSec and in order to scale, cloud security cannot be the sole responsibility of one team. Rather cloud security must be embedded in process and depends on collaboration between development, architects, and operations. These teams now have a more significant role to play in cloud security, and in many cases are the only ones who can implement change in order to enhance security. InfoSec now acts as Sherpas instead of gatekeepers to make sure every team is marching to the same, secure pace.

However, as John McClane can tell you the fact that more teams look after cloud security doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better solution. In fact, having to coordinate across multiple teams with different priorities can make security even more complex and slow you down. Hence the need for a streamlined security solution that facilitates collaboration between developers, architects, and InfoSec but at the same time provides guardrails, so nothing slips throw the cracks.

With that, I’m excited to announce our new cloud security service built especially for customers moving and developing applications in the cloud. We call it MVISION Cloud Native Application Protection Platform – or just CNAPP because every service deserves an acronym.

What is CNAPP? CNAPP is a new security service we’ve just announced today that combines solutions from Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and Application Protection into a single solution. Now in beta with a target launch date of Q1, 2021, we built CNAPP to provide InfoSec teams broad visibility into their cloud native applications. For us, the goal wasn’t how do we slow things down to make sure everything is secure; rather how do we enable InfoSec teams the visibility and context they need for cloud security while allowing dev teams to move fast.

Let me briefly describe what features CNAPP has and list some features that are customer favorites.

CSPM

The vast majority of breaches in IaaS today are due to service misconfigurations. Gartner famously said in 2016 that “95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.”Just last year Gartner updated that quote to say “99% of cloud security failures will be the customers’ fault.” I’m waiting for the day when Gartner’s says “105% will be the customer’s fault.”

Why is the percentage so high? There are multiple reasons, but we hear a lot from our customers that there is a huge lack of knowledge on how to secure new services. Each cloud provider is releasing new services and capabilities at a dizzying pace with no blockers for adoption. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t matched pace of having a workforce that knows and understands how best to configure these new services and capabilities. CNAPP provides customers with the ability to immediately audit all cloud services and benchmark those services against best security practices and industry standards like CIS Foundations, PCI, HIPPA, and NIST.

Within that audit (we call it a security incident), CNAPP provides detailed information on how to reconfigure services to improve security, but the service also provides the ability to assign the security incident to dev teams with SLAs so there’s no ambiguity on who owns what and what needs to change. All of these workflows can be automated so multiple teams are empowered in near real-time to find and fix problems.

Additionally, CNAPP has a custom policy feature where customers can create policies for identifying risky misconfigurations unique to their environments as well as integrations with developer tools like Jenkins, Bitbucket, and GitHub that provide feedback on deployments that don’t meet security standards.

CWPP

IaaS platforms have become catalysts for Open Source Software (OSS) like Linux (OS), Docker (container), and Kubernetes (orchestration). The challenge with using these tools is the inherit risk of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) found in software libraries and misconfigurations in deploying new services. Another famous quote by Gartner is that “70% of attacks against containers will be from known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that could have been remediated.” But how does the InfoSec team quickly spot those vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, especially in ephemeral environments with multiple developer teams pushing frequent releases into CI/CD pipelines?

Based on our acquisition of NanoSec last year, CNAPP provides full workload protection by identifying all compute instances, containers, and container services running in IaaS while identifying critical CVEs, misconfigurations in both repository and production container services, and introducing some new protection features. These features include application allow listing, OS hardening, and file integrity monitoring with plans to introduce nano-segmentation and on-prem support soon.

Customer Favorites

We’ve had a great time working jointly with our customers to release CNAPP. I’d like to highlight some of the use cases that have proven to be game changers for our customers.

  • In-tenant DLP scans: many of our customers have legitimate use cases for publicly exposed cloud storage services (sometimes referred to as buckets), but at the same time need to ensure those buckets don’t have sensitive data. The challenge with using DLP for these services is many solutions available in the market copy the data into the vendor’s own environment. This increases customer costs with egress charges and also introduces security challenges with data transit. CNAPP allows customers to perform in-tenant DLP scans where the data never leaves the IaaS environment, making the process more secure and less expensive.
  • MITRE ATT&CK Framework for Cloud: the language of Security Operation Centers (SOC) is MITRE, but there is a lot of nuance in how cloud security incidents fit into this framework. With CNAPP we built an end-to-end process that maps all CSPM and CWPP security incidents to MITRE. Now InfoSec and developer teams can work more effectively together by automatically categorizing every cloud incident to MITRE, facilitating faster responses and better collaboration.
  • Unified Application Security: CNAPP is built on the same platform as our MVISION Cloud service, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB). Customers are now able to get detailed visibility and security control over their SaaS applications along with applications they are building in IaaS with the same solution. Our customers love having one console that provides a holistic picture of application risk across all teams – SaaS for consumers and IaaS for builders.

There are a lot more features I’d love to highlight, but instead I invite you to check out the solution for yourself. Visit https://mcafee.com/CNAPP for more information on our release or request a demo at https://mcafee.com/demo. We’d love to get your feedback and hear how MVISION CNAPP can help you become more empowered and responsible in the cloud.

This post contains information on products, services and/or processes in development. All information provided here is subject to change without notice at McAfee’s sole discretion. Contact your McAfee representative to obtain the latest forecast, schedule, specifications, and roadmaps.

About the Author

Rich Vorwaller

Rich Vorwaller is Director of Production Management for Public Cloud Security at McAfee. He brings over 12 years working in cybersecurity industry specializing in startups and cloud security. Prior to joining McAfee, Rich was Principal Product Manager at Shape Security (acquired by F5 networks) and held various product manager positions at Symantec, Alert Logic, Sophos, ...

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Categories: Cloud Security

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