What is CNAPP?

(Challenges, Benefits & Solutions Explained)

What is a Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP)?

CNAPP is a security architecture that provides complete end-to-end cloud security via a single holistic platform. It unifies functionality for otherwise discrete capabilities such as:

Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

Support for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) via DevSecOps

By harmonizing multiple security capabilities into a central control set, a CNAPP streamlines the complex process of managing cloud network security–including threat detection, risk remediation, and ongoing monitoring of security and compliance posture. Workload security and configuration controls can be accessed in a single user interface, with data shared between modules.

CNAPPs provide visibility across multiple network components—VMs, orchestrators, private and public clouds—thereby uniting previously siloed cloud stacks into a shared layer of abstraction. This helps teams better or chestrate a multi-cloud response and manage security posture and policies at a holistic level.

CNAPPs also extended cloud-native security over the whole software lifecycle, from development to runtime, which facilitates a DevSecOps approach to CI/CD.

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Challenges in Cloud Application Security

As organizations adopt a cloud-first philosophy, the digital transformation from datacenters to hybrid multicloud environments gives rise to new challenges in cybersecurity, compliance, and governance. The flexibility that makes cloud architecture powerful also makes it more difficult to secure, overwhelming the capabilities of legacy security architectures.

Cloud-native challenges include:

Increased Attack Surface

Cloud architecture is by nature amorphous and dynamic. There is no longer a fixed perimeter of protection, as with datacenters. Rather, the complexity and scope of the cloud environment give rise to a larger attack surface requiring new tools to secure.


Because existing applications can’t simply be “copied and pasted” into the cloud, most organizations employ a mixture of both on-premises and off premises infrastructures, often with multiple public clouds. The technical challenge of achieving visibility across this assemblage of components is difficult, as it requires harmonizing data from disparate cloud stacks to remove blind spots and integrate siloed data.

Lack of Holistic Insight

Attempting to manually understand data from diverse clouds can feel like “comparing apples to oranges.” And if cloud stacks remain siloed, it is difficult or impossible to properly manage security risk at an enterprise-wide level. Without a view across the entire cloud estate, existing tools cannot offer users the insights associated with attaining a complete view of security posture.


The cloud environment is hyperdynamic, with new instances spinning up and down in real-time. In this ever-changing landscape, manual tools and processes are too slow to keep pace with the speed of risk. Continuous cloud security therefore requires new innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to keep up.

Patchwork Security Tools

The traditional solution to network security has been to compile a “portfolio” of individual tools as point solutions for particular tasks. However, point solutions do not inherently share logs, events, and policies, so users must manually align disparate security data from multiple unintegrated sources—a task that was difficult enough with data centers, but exponentially more complex in the hyperdynamic cloud, given a patchwork of multiple cloud stacks with unique toolsets.

CSP Limitations

Although cloud service providers (CSPs) such as Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud provide security have excellent reputations for protecting the security of their cloud infrastructures, their responsibility does not extend to the customer’s application layers. Therefore, customers must take responsibility for securing their own workloads and data, which requires external tools with greater capabilities than the CSP offerings.

Expenses and Inefficiencies

Enterprises employing a portfolio of unintegrated point tools are locked into multiple contracts with multiple vendors. Users require additional training to stay fluent with the full portfolio tools and must patch and maintain a diversity of components.

The Benefits of Having a CNAPP

A CNAPP addresses the above challenges by providing end-to-end cloud-native protection,allowing security teams to take a holistic approach to mitigating risk and maintaining security and compliance posture. Some benefits include:

Unified Visibility

The foundation of comprehensive cloud security is visibility, as you cannot secure what you cannot see. Blind spots can hinder threat mitigation by concealing the true state of risk. A CNAPP platform should provide the user with comprehensive information from every stack of every cloud. Ideally, this information should be united into a single layer of abstraction, allowing users to see a holistic view of all cloud assets from a single pane of glass.

Integrated Functionality

A key feature of CNAPPs is the ability to unite otherwise separate security tools, wiring together CSPM, CWPP, CIEM, and other capabilities in a single package. By removing friction between modules, a CNAPP enables components to “talk to” one another by sharing data, controls, and definitions. This fosters efficiencies such as the ability to address security findings and recommended solutions together in a single workflow, rather than presenting an isolated finding and asking users to manually remediate the risk.


In the hyperdynamic cloud, workloads and infrastructures change so rapidly that humans cannot manually keep up. Using API-integration, CNAPPs can interface with orchestrators and containers to monitor events and settings in near real-time. Employing advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) allows CNAPP platforms to identify and remediate issues quickly. This reduces vulnerabilities and shortens exposure time, for security coverage that keeps up with the speed of the cloud.

DevSecOps for CI/CD

CNAPPs go beyond the fundamentals of CWPP and CSPM by adding the new capability to continuously secure the entire DevOps loop from coding to testing to deployment. CNAPPs take a proactive approach to security and compliance from the outset by employing features such as pre-deployment scanning of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and container images. Automation of routine security checks removes bottlenecks created by time-intensive manual processes. These efficiencies free up teams to focus on development, speeding CI/CD, and helping teams shift left for DevSecOps.

Features of CNAPP

The exact components and capabilities may vary with CNAPP vendor, but platforms generally share these three fundamental modules:

Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP)

The CWPP module provides security to the server workloads running in the cloud environment, protecting cloud applications from threats and vulnerabilities such as malware and malicious intrusions.

The CWPP performs discovery of cloud workloads and vulnerability assessments to identify potential security issues, such as insecure APIs, account hijacking, and unauthorized applications.

Risks are then remediated with the appropriate fix, such as applying security patches or deploying zero-trust network segmentation. CWPPs also protect cloud workloads at runtime using strategies such as behavioral monitoring, intrusion detection, system integrity checks, and anti-malware software.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)

The CSPM module delivers continuous security protection and compliance assurance by managing posture across the breadth of cloud infrastructures, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

The CSPM monitors configurations of cloud assets, to proactively ensure they are configured and deployed correctly. CSPMs detect vulnerabilities and misconfigurations such as unencrypted data, publicly open ports, or overprivileged credentials and recommend the appropriate remediation strategies based on security best practices and/or required compliance frameworks (such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC 2, ISO 27001, etc.)

The insights of the CSPM guide IT teams toward hardening security posture and help reduce Mean Time to Remediation (MTTR) when incidents do occur.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

The CIEM module is an identity-centric solution to managing cloud access privileges and data governance concerns. CIEM analysis gives visibility into which users are accessing which cloud assets. Identity can be managed across multiple clouds from multiple providers, simplifying governance across the complexity of the hybrid multicloud environment.

Risk is minimized by enforcing the principle of least privilege, whereby users are given permission to access only as much as they need, at the time they need it. Account audits can track the levels of entitlement for each user and identify dormant or orphaned accounts. Proactive scans help ensure that new accounts are configured correctly.

By unifying CWPP, CSMP, and CIEM into a holistic platform, the CNAPP approach removes friction and increases efficiency for users. Sharing data and controls makes workflows easier,and ultimately helps harden security posture enterprise-wide.

CNAPP with Caveonix

Caveonix Cloud is the industry’s most sophisticated CNAPP platform, offering a complete solution to hybrid multi-cloud security, compliance, and governance from development through runtime.

Hybrid Multicloud Visibility

Caveonix employs a lightweight agentless architecture with API integration to achieve 100% transparency into all hybrid cloud assets–containers, Kubernetes, VMs, and serverless functions—regardless of whether they live on-premises or in public clouds. Real-time monitoring ensures the ability to keep abreast of the current state of your network, unlike competitors’ tools that read from event logs after the fact, resulting in monitoring that moves slower that the state of risk.

Unified Platform Approach

Competitors offer security “platforms” that share branding, but lack the fundamental integrations found in Caveonix, which was programmed from the ground up to share data planes and control planes across modules. This simplifies controls to a single pane of glass and fosters efficiencies that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, such as combining CSPM risk detection and CWPP remediation into a single automated workflow.

Zero Trust Microsegmentation

Caveonix Cloud performs continuous discovery, policy management, and enforcement orchestration across workloads and clouds for both East-West and North-South communications. Zero trust microsegmentation can be deployed in any hybrid, public or private cloud environment.

Advanced Insight

Caveonix’s proprietary Neural-InsightTM Engine employs artificial intelligence for advanced risk analytics, incorporating real-world business impact and temporal risk scores for security recommendations that deliver the greatest payoff with the fewest resources.

Automated Remediation

Caveonix delivers industry-leading MTTR, with exposure windows reduced to as little as 30 seconds. Combining Neural-InsightTM AI with our DefenseBot™ Robotic Process Automation allows the platform to interpret AI risk models, identify the ideal remediation strategy, and automatically deploy it, proactively keeping your cloud environment secure and compliant.

Compliance Solutions

Caveonix offers immediate “out of the box” value with built-in support for 30+ global compliance controls to help enterprises meet compliance requirements in sensitive sectors such as finance, healthcare, and government, as well as customization flexibility, whatever your needs.