What Is a Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)?

Gui Alvarenga - July 5, 2022

What Is a Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)?

A cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) is a unified cloud security solution that offers continuous threat monitoring and detection for workloads operating in the public cloud. A CWPP has automatic security features to protect activity across online and physical locations, including servers and virtual machines.

Take a closer look at how and why cloud workload protection platforms work, what to look for in a public cloud security service, and a few things to consider before implementing a new risk solution.

How Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPPs) Work

Public and hybrid cloud computing offer significant benefits to businesses of all sizes, regardless of industry. Statista reports half of enterprises conducted workloads in the public cloud in 2020, with 46% of those workloads including data.

Unfortunately, the popularity of cloud-based workloads attracts more than eager administrations — the public cloud is a haven for security threats. External attackers can easily breach and bypass network perimeters.

Public cloud workload protection relies on both the cloud provider and user. The provider oversees the cloud itself, while businesses and individuals must find their own security solutions for the work they complete within that cloud.

Put broadly, cloud workload protection platforms work by breaking down security “walls” that accumulate when companies use multiple different servers, platforms and machines. When workloads are fractured across so many different areas — called silos — you can’t get a full overview of your company’s security situation.

How CWPPs Bridge the Security Gap

Without comprehensive visibility into each part of your workload, including the public cloud, it’s harder to detect, track, mitigate and prevent potential data breaches, unauthorized cloud access and other costly vulnerabilities. The goals of CWPPs are to bridge that gap by providing a single point of cloud security for internal workloads.

Some main features and uses of cloud workload protection platforms include the following:

  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Container and Kubernetes security orchestration
  • Runtime protection
  • CI/CD pipeline security
  • Security posture and compliance
  • Whitelisting
  • Cloud network security
  • Visibility and Discovery
  • Intrusion prevention
  • Microsegmentation
  • Application security

The CWPP’s combination of tools and services work to detect and mitigate public cloud threats that could cost your company in terms of significant workload data time, expensive data breaches or even legal costs associated with lack of security compliance.

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Key Requirements of a CWPP

Virtual threats are very real and very active, and no industry or business size is safe. For example, the Better Business Bureau reported in 2022 that data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.24 million, up from $3.86 million in 20reason21. Many had to close their doors permanently.

The best way to protect your company’s workload is through pairing a comprehensive CWPP solution with end-to-end coverage, including endpoint security. The CWPP interface should balance speed, performance, cost efficiency and ease of use.

Look for the following features when choosing a CWPP for your workplace:

Easy-to-Use Capabilities

Choose a CWPP that is easy to learn, manage and maintain without having to allocate too much extra time or resources.

This is especially important if your company’s current workload is distributed across multiple different silos, machines, servers and clouds. Businesses relying on multicloud and hybrid cloud operations should migrate workloads where they can to better optimize CWPP visibility.

While any new security solution requires initial and ongoing training to learn how to use and maintain it, overly complex platforms could cause more harm than good. By focusing on simplicity and performance in a CWPP, you set your team up for an easier transition as they learn the ins and outs of the platform’s essential infrastructure.

Comprehensive Cloud Workload Protection (CWP)

Public cloud investments are essential, but it’s not a choice to make lightly. With so much cost and workplace security riding on this decision, your CWPP should go beyond basic cloud environment protection and adapt with as many different systems as possible to minimize costs and simplify security operations.

CWPPs are an integral part of your company’s hazard mitigation plan, but they’re only effective when the platform has full visibility of all public cloud operations instead of segregating tasks in different security silos.

Take a robust security approach by requiring CWPP offerings to protect physical machines in addition to virtual interfaces, including protection capabilities for containers.

Fast, Reliable Performance

With the cost of cybercrime rising rapidly, a fast and reliable CWPP has never been more critical.

Look for platforms balancing unwavering performance with continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and DevOps-matching speeds. After all, a CWPP does your business little good if high performance comes at the cost of cloud workload performance or sluggish cloud computing.

Up-to-Date Cloud Security and Managed Services

Risk protection is only effective if a CWPP takes security consistency as important as its specific security controls. Your cloud solution should quickly identify vulnerable operational areas through continuous monitoring.

Security threats and cybercrimes constantly evolve with changing technology. Hackers and other cybercriminals stay informed on the latest security trends and technologies, meaning you can’t afford to overlook trending cybercriminal tactics.

CWPPs with human-managed services offer even more comprehensive security, enhancing threat intelligence and response time.

Benefits and Risks of a CWPP

In an era of distributed workforces and virtual collaboration, a cloud workload protection platform should be a nonnegotiable part of your security infrastructure.

Benefits of Using a CWPP

Integrating cloud infrastructure into business operations gives your team more flexibility, scalability and remote support than working on a private server alone. Unfortunately, many companies unintentionally weaken defenses by using multiple private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud platforms, making it nearly impossible to get a clear, comprehensive view of deep security threats.

CWPPs streamline processes by letting your team use and rely on the public cloud with peace of mind.

Additional security benefits of a CWPP are as follows:

  • Total workload visibility for faster risk detection
  • Sophisticated threat response strategies for more targeted applications
  • The ability to migrate and support legacy tools when moving to a cloud-based workflow
  • Better insights into daily operations and potential risks
  • Comprehensive runtime protection from breaches and attacks

Challenges of Using a CWPP

The challenges of using a CWPP are minimal, but there are still a few things worth considering before choosing a CWPP provider:

No matter how comprehensive the program, CWPPs can’t secure every part of your operations, such as those off the cloud. You’re responsible for securing protection for other critical areas of operation or working with a CWPP that includes additional protection, such as endpoint security.

Additional challenges of using a CWPP include the following:

  • CWPPs may not detect lateral threat movement, a more complex type of breach.
  • Initial setup takes some time, investment and training.
  • A CWPP may require manual agent deployment for each security action.

Not all CWPPs are created equal. For example, some target specific security niches and subsets, depending on the provider and your industry.

Determine what you need from a CWPP before investing in a service. Invest in the right protection for cloud workload security and look for a CWPP that covers everything your workforce depends on, such as specific container support, industry-specific cyber threats and integration with other cloud tools.

Determining Your Unique Security Needs

Some CWPPs offer better protection than others. While a good CWPP can identify possible emerging risks, make sure the platform you invest in has all the relevant features and security tools you need for your specific workflow. For example, if Kubernetes is an essential part of your team’s operations, you need a CWPP that goes beyond basic container support.

Fortunately, several free tools exist to help gauge your company’s unique security risks, such as the Federal Communications Commission’s cybersecurity planning tool and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Resilience Review (CRR) and free cyber hygiene vulnerability scanning services.

How to Get the Most From a CWPP

Get the most out of CWPP protection by implementing these strategies:

  • Adopt a zero-trust security approach: Always approach your company’s security as if a breach or cyberattack is a guarantee, not just a possibility. Implementing a zero-trust model for all networks, servers, equipment and applications means treating every person or device that attempts to access your network as a threat by requiring authentication, even for previously connected users.
  • Make security a collaboration: Make security a community effort by having regular cybersecurity training for employees to teach safe cyber practices, including threat escalation action plans for all cloud and non-cloud platforms. Plan to update and repeat training as each new security risk emerges.
  • Stay educated and vigilant: Stay aware of trending threats and security risks in your industry to keep security mitigation protocols current, and keep other security tools up to date, including endpoint security, physical access security and administrative controls for onsite tech. Limit employee access to nonessential functions and data.

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CrowdStrike Can Help Protect Your Cloud Workload

CrowdStrike can help protect your company with a single integrated platform with unified security tools encompassing all your needs — from endpoint to public cloud workload security.

We put together a guide on what to look for while selecting a CWPP that can help you identify the right solution that will fit your needs: What you Need to Know When Selecting a Cloud Workload Protection Platform

Learn more about CrowdStrike security options and experience the difference of a unified, fast, reliable and advanced cloud-native workload protection platform.

GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR

Guilherme (Gui) Alvarenga, is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the Cloud Security portfolio at CrowdStrike. He has over 15 years experience driving Cloud, SaaS, Network and ML solutions for companies such as Check Point, NEC and Cisco Systems. He graduated in Advertising and Marketing at the Universidade Paulista in Brazil, and pursued his MBA at San Jose State University. He studied Applied Computing at Stanford University, and specialized in Cloud Security and Threat Hunting.