What Is a CNAPP?

The advent of distributed, cloud-native applications has expanded the software landscape and provided numerous user benefits. However, it has also increased the attack vectors available to hackers and scammers, increasing the security threats companies must safeguard against.

Historically, companies have used multiple vendors and tools for coverage against different vulnerabilities. Currently, security vendors have been consolidating solutions into a cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) that secures cloud workloads and containers and enforces secure posture and compliance. A CNAPP combines threat detection and response, security monitoring, alerting, and actions to help ensure your organization is secure and meets  compliance requirements.

The Importance of a CNAPP

Without a CNAPP, your enterprise may miss critical software package upgrades or overlook a system misconfiguration in your application’s critical path. As a result, your organization could lose certifications or suffer a security breach. CNAPPs bring significant benefits:

  • Unified cloud security that includes cloud workload protection (CWP), cloud security posture management (CSPM), cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM), and infrastructure as code (IaC)
  • Single pane of glass to visualize security threats/alerts and respond quickly
  • A standardized security monitoring tool that can be applied to bespoke deployment strategies (such as serverless, Kubernetes, or multi-cloud)
  • A centralized source of truth for team compliance that helps organizations move toward a more robust security posture

Considerations When Choosing a CNAPP Tool

When evaluating CNAPP solutions, consider your organization’s needs. Because the market for full-fledged CNAPP products is extensive, your decision-making process should include the use of a rubric for the following aspects.

A Unified Platform

The ability to view threats and security vulnerabilities across an organization’s cloud landscape is essential for any CNAPP offering. A CNAPP that lets you see cloud-based, on-premises, and hybrid environments — all in one platform — ensures you’ll be alerted to any issues. A unified platform typically combines:

  • Cloud Security Posture Management: Monitoring and responding to threats and maintaining compliance across the cloud
  • Container Security: Security and monitoring of containerized applications, including IaC, image scanning, container and code scanning, and pre-runtime protection
  • Cloud Workload Protection: Securing machines and serverless systems
  • Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management: Controlling and mapping out permissions models in multi-cloud environments

Different Agent Options

How a CNAPP solution gathers the information from your cloud components — whether it’s through installed agents or by agentless means — will also impact its effectiveness. A good CNAPP solution:

  • Runs on individual machines or within distributed environments to monitor threats and security vulnerabilities in real time
  • Provides an alternative agentless option for systems where an agent can’t easily be installed

Threat Intelligence

A CNAPP solution should let you know the who, what, and why of cyberattacks. Threat intelligence helps you decide how to mitigate an incident or prevent one from happening in the first place.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR provides action in response to discovered vulnerabilities. A CNAPP with strong MDR capabilities will help your enterprise develop incident response plans.

Threat Hunting

A good CNAPP solution includes threat hunting, acting as a watchdog that searches for malicious threats present within your company’s network.

Best CNAPP Tools

In this section, we’ll highlight the CNAPP offerings from the top cybersecurity software companies and discuss what sets them apart.

CloudGuard Native Application Protection by Check Point

Te,l Aviv, Israel | 1993 |

Check Point focuses on providing valuable context across a customer’s application life cycle through its CloudGuard CNAPP solution and is heavily focused on cloud network security. 

  • Focuses on the small percentage of security-related alerts that are responsible for a company’s biggest risks
  • Offers the standard set of protection capabilities with the addition of web application and API protection (WAAP)
  • Offers WAAP that runs off of contextual AI, providing an automated defense to attacks against web applications

Lightspin CNAPP (Lightspin, Part of Cisco Outshift)

Tel Aviv, Israel | 2020 |

Lightspin seeks to address the challenges of dealing with a dynamic and complicated cloud environment by contextualizing cloud risks and giving true context to ensure faster remediation.

  • Provides a graphical representation of IT assets in an organization
  • Offers cloud security controls via CSPM and Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM)
  • Offers free external attack surface management for five domains
  • Provides root cause analysis and a remediation hub to improve your company’s security posture

CrowdStrike Falcon Cloud Security by CrowdStrike

Austin, TX | 2011 |

CrowdStrike provides a comprehensive range of cybersecurity options. CrowdStrike Falcon® Cloud Security is a complete and unified CNAPP solution in a single and unified platform.

  • Comprehensive threat detection and response across cloud, hybrid, and on-premises environments
  • Robust security that includes workload protection, container security, IaC, software composition analysis (SCA), and cloud identity protection
  • Threat intelligence monitoring for over 280 adversary organizations across the globe
  • Industry-first MDR solution for cloud, including cloud threat hunting
  • A combination of agent-based and agentless security

Cyscale CNAPP by Cyscale

London, U.K. | 2019 |

Cyscale offers a cloud-native CSPM solution aimed at maximum cloud protection for your entire stack and across any cloud environment.

  • Compliance checks, with an emphasis on U.S.- and European-based regulations and standards
  • Platform centered on a trademarked Security Knowledge Graph, a data model mapping of networks of cloud entities
  • Built-in compliance templates
  • Support for large compliance frameworks and benchmarks (such as PCI DSS and the CIS Benchmarks)

Lacework CNAPP by Lacework

Mountain View, CA | 2014 |

A data-driven security firm, Lacework provides a CNAPP solution that aims to inform developers of costly errors before they make it to production, helping you correlate data to secure your build and increase productivity.

  • Utilizes behavior-based threat detection unique to each environment to reduce time to investigate incidents
  • Creates alerts and events around anomalous activity learned from data-driven insights
  • Learns about your infrastructure, from continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to workloads
  • Identifies risks based on the unique makeup of your cloud environment

Microsoft Defender for Cloud by Microsoft

Redmond, WA | 1975 |

Microsoft is a global provider of software products, applications, and associated security products. Microsoft Defender for Cloud aims to protect customers from cyber threats and safeguard their cloud workloads.

  • Multi-cloud offering supporting GCP and AWS in addition to Microsoft Azure
  • Combination of CSPM and CWP with DevSecOps
  • Streamlined integration of add-ons with other Microsoft products
  • Seamless integration with GitHub and Azure Pipelines

Prisma Cloud by Palo Alto Networks

Santa Clara, CA | 2005 |

Palo Alto Networks started with network security tools like firewalls and DNS security. Now, their Prisma Cloud CNAPP offers a fast, integrated, prevention-first approach.

  • Bundles together components including CSPM, CWP, and CIEM; however, these are not integrated in a single platform
  • Includes additional tools specific to network security, such as network anomaly detection
  • Offers deployable WAAP to protect on-premises and cloud networks

Sysdig CNAPP by Sysdig

San Francisco, CA | 2013 |

Sysdig, a major open-source contributor, aims to reduce costs and target gaps in cloud security.

  • Tighter feedback loops between developers and security teams
  • Tuned alerting by intersecting the parts of your system that are actually in use and at risk
  • Falco, the open-source foundational product, serves as the base of the CNAPP
  • Falco is built in the open and available for scrutiny/improvement by the public

Uptycs CNAPP by Uptycs

Waltham, MA | 2016 |

As a cybersecurity startup, Uptycs is built around its CNAPP and extended detection and response (XDR) products.

  • Aligns with the DevSecOps phases
  • Includes cloud detection and response (CDR), which rolls up different security findings to give anomaly detection across cloud offerings
  • Incorporates XDR, which brings together monitoring for employee workstations and source code repositories

Wiz CNAPP by Wiz

New York, NY | 2020 |

Wiz is a rapidly growing cybersecurity firm focused on cloud-native solutions. Wiz CNAPP simplifies cloud security and secures practices across the workload.

  • Offers a comprehensive agentless approach to extend its agentless capabilities; however, it lacks runtime protection
  • Helps ensure robust compliance with a variety of industry regulations
  • Uses a graph-based tool to provide a view of your entire IT infrastructure at a glance, showing how the different aspects of your system are connected
  • Lets you view vulnerable combinations of unsecured components in your infrastructure

Zscaler Posture Control by Zscaler

San Jose, CA | 2007 |

A Silicon Valley cybersecurity startup turned publicly traded company, Zscaler provides a 100% agentless CNAPP solution.

  • Is designed for use by all members of your IT organization, from CIO/CISO down to developers
  • Provides a comprehensive cloud access security broker (CASB) solution
  • Offers agentless deployment that takes little setup time
  • Includes development integration tools, such as CLI scanners for workstations
  • Provides a tool set to monitor database security via configuration management database (CMBD) integration
  • Integrates a Zero Trust connectivity component to ensure employees are securely connecting to their company’s infrastructure