Alain Penel, Regional Vice President – Middle East, Fortinet, discusses how organisations can leverage the performance and flexibility of the cloud without compromising visibility or security.
Attacking web applications is the most common tactic used in data breaches, accounting for 52% of compromises. This trend has been true for several years in a row. And due to organisations’ growing reliance on web applications, this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. The reality is that every new application deployed in the cloud expands the potential attack surface and the number of possible entry points into the network.
As organisations increasingly rely on web applications to compete in the digital marketplace, this potential exposure through compromised web applications continues to grow. Part of the difficulty in addressing this challenge, however, is that many organisations lack centralised visibility into their cloud environments, which only compounds legitimate concerns about being blindsided by a breach.
Organisations are looking to overcome this challenge so they can continue to leverage the benefits of dynamic scalability, flexibility, cost advantages and agile development strategies that the cloud uniquely offers. And organisations are seeking these benefits without compromising visibility or their critical security profile.
The other side of the security challenge is one of expectations. Enterprises that choose to host their applications in the cloud often erroneously assume that they don’t need to worry about security. What they need to understand is that while the cloud provider secures the underlying infrastructure, the customer is responsible for securing their applications and data.
Moving from DevOps to DevSecOps
To do this, organisations need to start by expanding their DevOps teams to focus on DevSecOps. In a complex cloud environment, security cannot be effectively implemented and managed at arm’s length by the central IT team. Instead, the cloud requires an immediate security response to the constant evolution of development tools and strategies.
DevOps teams do not have the bandwidth or the inclination to select security tools, properly configure them, or provide the sort of ongoing maintenance and optimisation that such tools require.
Adding advanced cloud native security tools to the DevSecOps toolkit means that security can be more effectively and deeply integrated into an organisation’s architecture and application development efforts without adding undue burdens related to the selection, deployment, configuration and management of security.
Cloud security’s unique requirements
Security specialists who understand the unique requirements of the cloud also understand that re-purposing existing on-premises security tools does not address the challenges of the cloud’s threat environment. Instead, security solutions need to be explicitly designed for Internet-facing applications and deeply integrated into the cloud infrastructure using cloud APIs to ensure their ability to leverage cloud controls and functions.
Those cloud security specialists also need tools designed to effectively protect web applications against all the risks in the OWASP Top 10 list, as well as against unknown and zero-day exploits. In addition, unprotected APIs also constitute serious security risks. They require specific security rules to protect all APIs against malicious actors, including those that support mobile applications and B2B communications. And this is just the start. Cloud security risks span the full range of threats associated with other environments, including botnets and malware which also need to be guarded against.
In addition, just as with on-premises environments, cloud security also needs to address compliance requirements, be able to leverage automation to accelerate detection and response cycles and implement Machine Learning to minimise workloads caused by false positives by continually raising the bar for security.
The power of the web application firewall
The web application firewall (WAF) is one of the most essential cloud security tools available, addressing all of the challenges highlighted above. WAFs protect against external and internal attacks, monitor and control access to web applications, secure APIs, block botnets and malware, and collect information for compliance and analytics purposes.
And for maximum architectural flexibility and consistent protection, organisations need to look for WAF solutions from top-tier vendors that come in physical, virtual and cloud-native form factors so they can be easily deployed into any environment or process.
Standardising on a WAF solution from a single vendor, such as Fortinet’s FortiWeb solution, provides maximum flexibility in terms of deployment. Not only does this approach simplify management, orchestration and policy enforcement, but it also means that every implementation, regardless of form factor or deployment location, can cross-correlate threat intelligence and coordinate threat responses for a more effective overall security posture.
WAF as a Service
In addition to standard form factors, FortiWeb is also available as a cloud-based service, which reduces overhead related to updating, management and configuration. Web applications, for example, can include a call to the FortiWeb Cloud WAF-as-a-Service to provide proper inspection and security for certain functions without having to continually manage configurations or updates as web application development requirements evolve.
In addition to including the same up-to-date threat research and content as every other FortiWeb WAF deployment, FortiWeb Cloud WAF-as-a-Service is fast and easy to deploy and manage and provides flexible, on-demand pricing, which because of its unique deployment model, can include price advantages for using solutions deployed within a local cloud region.