What is Runtime Security

What is Runtime Security?

Runtime security refers to the measures and practices employed to protect an application and workload while it is executing or running. It focuses on detecting, preventing, and responding to threats and vulnerabilities that occur during the actual operation of software or a system in real-time. Runtime security is essential in today’s interconnected and constantly evolving threat landscape. It complements other security measures implemented during the development and deployment phases of software by providing protection when the application or system is actively in use.

Overall, the goal of runtime security is to minimize the risk of security breaches, protect sensitive data, and ensure the continued safe operation of applications and systems during their execution.

Cloud Runtime Security Background

While the concept of runtime-based security is not new, its introduction to the broader cloud security context is. From the onset, solutions such as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) were built to rely on runtime data and real-time analysis to provide effective threat detection, response, and protection mechanisms.

The transition to the cloud, however, has introduced unique security challenges. As cloud-native cyber threats become more frequent and complex, traditional security measures no longer suffice. When runtime is used to approach cloud security holistically, it has the capacity to streamline detection and response processes, reduce vulnerability and posture findings to critical only, and save endless hours for DevSecOps and AppSec teams. More so, it is found that these different cloud security segments such as: Vulnerability/Posture/Secret Management as well as attack detection deeply affect each other by means only detectable via runtime. For example, the existence of a running and exploitable CVE on an application can strengthen an attack hypothesis on the same application.

Cloud Runtime security is emerging as a strategic imperative that can empower companies to proactively and accurately counteract cloud threats.

Cloud Runtime Security – Definition

Cloud runtime security consists of a comprehensive set of tools and methodologies designed to monitor, detect, and respond to risks, threats and attacks during the operational or “runtime” phase of cloud-hosted applications and services. While pre-deployment checks remain crucial, cloud runtime security aims to offer protection when cloud environments are most vulnerable – during active operation. Cloud runtime security can alter or enhance a multitude of cloud security use-cases: from cloud detection and response, to vulnerability management, posture management, API security, Cloud Identity security, and more.

Why is Cloud Runtime Security so Important?

While cloud security controls such as static code analysis and pre-deployment vulnerability assessments are essential first steps to cloud security, they predominantly identify known vulnerabilities. Modern malware and data breaches in cloud environments often present in unique ways. They are often fileless and operating only in memory or via APIs, they do not leave a trace on disk.

These distinctive attributes make it increasingly difficult to investigate runtime anomalies by using traditional methods like logs digestion or APIs without a cloud-native sensor. In today’s dynamic digital world, cloud runtime security must be proactive and provide continuous protection against both known vulnerabilities and these unique, evolving threats in real-time.

Enter eBPF: The Tech Enabler for Runtime Security

The readiness for robust cloud runtime security is driven by the threat landscape but also by recent technological advancements that make enterprise-grade runtime security capabilities possible. At large, this is owing to Extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF). eBPF transforms the game by permitting light-weight sensor capabilities without the need for a traditional heavy and hard to maintain agent. With eBPF, cloud runtime security becomes more efficient, nimble, and less intrusive, aligning perfectly with the dynamic nature of cloud environments.

As a key enabler, eBPF revolutionizes cloud runtime security with its ability to efficiently run in the kernel space through a sandbox environment. As such, it provides deep, real-time insights without the performance drawbacks of traditional security tools. It can monitor network traffic, system calls, and even application-specific events, making it highly versatile. Its agility and minimal impact make it ideal for dynamic cloud environments, where it adeptly keeps pace with evolving architectures and threat landscapes. eBPF’s contribution to expanding cloud runtime security, while maintaining system efficiency, marks it as a crucial tool in modern cloud security.

Shift Right: The Journey to the Cloud with Cloud Runtime Security

The rapidly changing cloud cyber landscape has illuminated static security tools as partial only in safeguarding cloud environments. Tools such as CSPM offer a robust defense against known vulnerabilities, but cannot suffice for today’s cloud environments. Cloud runtime security is crucial for companies moving from on-premises to dynamic cloud environments like Kubernetes. It provides essential real-time protection, enabling them to navigate the cloud’s complexity and dynamism confidently. This ensures continuous safeguarding of data and applications in agile cloud settings. Moreover, runtime security drastically eases regulatory standards in a heavily regulated digital world, making runtime security essential for cloud migration. The transition to cloud runtime security signifies not just an adoption of new tools, but a strategic shift towards a more comprehensive and proactive approach to cloud security.

Key Components of Cloud Runtime Security:

  1. Runtime Detection of Incidents: Detecting potential workload attacks can be done effectively with rule-based detection mechanisms combined with anomalies scouting and behavioral baseline deviations. A cloud-native sensor is the only method to provide these at scale and in real time, with the capacity to monitor, aggregate, and contextualize effectively.
  2. Runtime-based Response: Upon detection of threats, cloud runtime security tools can either quarantine the affected entity or terminate the malicious process, preventing potential breaches.
  3. Continuous Runtime Monitoring: Real-time monitoring provides a granular view of the cloud environment, aiding both in threat detection and resource optimization.
  4. Runtime Vulnerability Management: Threats are ranked based on severity and potential impact unique to the specific company’s environment, ensuring the most pressing vulnerabilities receive immediate attention.
  5. Runtime Posture Enhancement: Leverage runtime insights to enforce compliance requirements, pinpoint critical misconfigurations, and harden your environment using runtime activation data.
  6. Runtime Non-Human Identities Management: Runtime insights can guide you on the machine source for a chain of actions, and what is their purpose.

Looking Ahead: The Role of Cloud Runtime Security

As the cloud continues to be an integral part of modern business infrastructure, the combination of foundational static security tools and the agile, real-time capabilities of cloud runtime security will vastly improve the ability of organizations to protect cloud environments. The responsibility now lies with businesses to recognize this evolving need and to invest in tools and practices that promise uninterrupted and secure cloud operations.

Related Content

Cloud Security

How Transitioning from Military CISO to Startup CEO Made me a Better Leader

Transitioning from IDF's CISO to a startup CEO is no easy task. Sharing my experiences and thoughts on this unusual shift.

Dror Kashti | 4 min read
Read More
Cloud Security

The Cloud Security Alphabet Soup

One complaint I often hear from stakeholders across the cloud security ecosystem is that there are way too many overlapping acronyms in cloud security. It’s confusing for buyers and counterproductive for the industry. Even worse, companies have deployed an alphabet soup of products, yet they are still exposed. Something’s got to give.

Dror Kashti | 3 min read
Read More
Cloud Security

Cloud Security Predictions – 2024

Just like New Year’s resolutions, predictions are a rite of passage, an opportunity for us to take stock of our hopes and concerns for the coming year.

Eyal Fisher | 3 min read
Read More