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How to Ensure Your Cloud Applications Are Developed Securely

January 3, 2022

How to Ensure Your Cloud Applications Are Developed Securely

The cloud has made application development faster and more effective. Research shows that the cloud has decreased app development time by 31% and quality assurance costs by 34% compared to traditional, on-premise methods.

With the freedom of unlimited storage and processing power, many organizations choose to develop on top of the cloud infrastructure. Between AWS, Azure, Google, Oracle, and IBM, the development of cloud-based applications has never been easier or more accessible.

While the increase in cyber solutions leads to more potential applications, it also leaves organizations with some concerns. App development is often referred to as “the last frontier of security” because cybersecurity experts are still to find ways to maintain cybersecurity services without compromising the innovation or speed of the cloud.

In part one of our series on cloud app security, we will dive into the difference between on-premise and cloud solutions and a couple of tips to keep your data safe in this newer and faster environment.

How Development Is Changing in the Cloud

When comparing on-premise solutions with the cloud, there are plenty of similarities between the two. They both develop with the same languages and use the same frameworks.

However, the cloud is different in a few specific differences that make it more attractive to organizations and developers.

Faster Development

On-prem is traditionally prolonged development and takes about a year to develop an application. This prolonged pace makes it easy to plan regular testing ahead of time.

However, the pace is much faster when developing on the cloud. The idea is to get the developer’s workstation’s features from the different state test environments to the staging environment without any delays. It usually happens within two to three weeks.

Developer Access to Infrastructure

With traditional solutions, developers did development and operations handled infrastructure changes. The operations would build servers and prepare the environment, while the developers would write the new code.

On the other hand, developers have the freedom to do all the infrastructure for the tasks needed in the cloud environment. For example, they can change fiber rules, build servers, and change network settings. It all becomes a matter of permissions.

Less Control Over Architecture

In the past, everything was under the developer's control, with the feasibility and flexibility to do all the changes they needed.

The cloud is where new technologies, such as containers and serverless functions come to life. Developers use infrastructures that they do not control, like managing databases or load balancers.

While on-prem and cloud may share some similarities, their fundamental differences make the cloud much faster and more agile. Organizations that work in the cloud the same way they did with on-premises solutions will find limited benefits for developers.

On the other hand, organizations that let their developers experiment, try new services and technologies and give them a free hand will find more advantages in the cloud.

Two Security Guardrails for App Development

For organizations to get the most out of the cloud, they need to allow the developers the flexibility to try new databases, architecture forms and builds. However, how can companies ensure that they maintain their security with this level of experimentation?

The placement of specific “guardrails” provides organizations with significant protection against security vulnerabilities while getting the most from the cloud.

Organizations that identify and fix potential vulnerabilities as close to the developer’s desktop as possible reduce the cost to fix the issues and face a potential security lapse. Companies balance safety, speed, and innovation with specific policies and technology controls.

Technical Controls: The first security guardrail companies can put up is technical controls. These controls ensure that developers do not accidentally put the company at risk or provide an opening for hackers.

For example, organizations can stop developers from opening ports or using open storage.

Also, creating buckets and putting some boundaries between operation and developers can help keep data safe. By setting up boundaries, developers can do what they want as long as they do not break production.

Quality Gates: The second guardrail is automated security testing activated at specific points throughout development. Much like security gates in an airport, all software development is tested at certain times and must go through the security gate to ensure no vulnerabilities.

These gates are different testing points at critical phases in application development. Some are performed at the developer’s desktop, others during the test environment, while still others in the production environment.

By testing throughout the entire application development process, problems can be identified as quickly as possible and sent back to the developer to fix should any of them fail.

Maintain a Secure Cloud Environment

To make the most of agile and innovative cloud technology, developers need the freedom to explore new tools, frameworks, and architecture. However, this leaves organizations open to potential security concerns and vulnerabilities. To maintain freedom and flexibility without compromising security, organizations must place certain security controls to keep data safe.

With the proper technical controls and application security testing throughout the agile development cycle, companies can balance their developers' need for exploration with their own need for security.

Need help with ensuring a secure environment during application development? We can help. Reach out to our Cybrella experts today to see how our solutions provide the tools and protocols that can make the most of your application development in the cloud.

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