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What is CNAPP, and what does it mean to developers?

What is CNAPP, and what does it mean to developers?

Thanks to Agile software development, your applications’ attack surface now sprawls across  your cloud and your applications, making it more gnarly than ever. Securing that attack surface has become a nightmare steeped in a bowl of migraine. 

We get it. That’s why Contrast Security is partnering with Wiz, a leader in offering cloud security with its Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). As a launch partner for the Wiz Integrations (WIN) platform, Contrast brings the power of the Contrast Secure Code Platform to WIN, so that customers can seamlessly integrate Contrast’s Application Security (AppSec) and protections into their existing Wiz workflows.  

The integration delivers a robust, efficient method for strengthening security across customers’ cloud and applications. Contrast’s innovative “shift-smart” approach leverages the appropriate technology at the optimal part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to automatically harden development stacks and provide accurate, actionable feedback. This dynamic data stream from Contrast is then seamlessly integrated with Wiz's CNAPP, providing comprehensive, real-time insights into potential security risks and implications for the entire stack.

For more details on the Wiz integration, check out the press release

For a deep dive into CNAPP and its importance to developers, read on.

What is CNAPP, and what does it mean for developers?

The term CNAPP describes solutions that secure cloud-native applications throughout their life cycle. It’s an advancement of the siloed approach, in which each application’s development stage has an independent security tool.

CNAPPs are a combination of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) and Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS) into one holistic platform.

In this article, we’ll look at the features and benefits of CNAPPs, how they address the shortcomings of siloed security tools, and why developers should adopt them for their projects.

Adopting a CNAPP

Organizations must deliver secure software faster and more regularly as the software market grows more competitive. Consequently, these organizations leverage new technologies and software development methodologies that embrace collaboration, automation and speed. However, this speed-driven approach to working with cloud applications has introduced security challenges that traditional cloud security solutions are currently not equipped to handle.

Traditionally, a cloud-based application is secured using different tools at each stage of its development lifecycle, each independent of one another. Developers can use in-house security tools to limit permissions to make commits, access the pipeline after a commit and alter environment variables. 

However, this approach doesn’t provide sufficient security for enterprise workloads. While siloed security tools can secure some stages of development, they can’t guarantee end-to-end security for distributed cloud-native environments because they only secure certain stages.

This is where CNAPPs come into the picture. CNAPPs meet your security needs in ways that traditional approaches to security can’t, by offering:

  • Support for cloud-native environments. Traditional methods of cloud security aren’t well-suited to cloud-native applications and environments, as they rely on strictly defined parameters that lead to a “castle-and-moat” style approach to security: i.e., a network security model that only allows those on a network to access data, while blocking everybody outside the network. Think of an organization’s network as the castle and the network perimeter as the moat: Once the drawbridge is lowered and someone crosses it, they have free rein inside the castle grounds. Similarly, once a user connects to a network in this model, they are able to access all the applications and data within that network. CNAPPs, in contrast, are built with interconnectivity in mind, and as such are beneficial to cloud-native infrastructures, including those that use containers and serverless security.
  • Complete infrastructure visibility. CNAPPs provide end-to-end visibility over your architecture, security mechanisms and overall application performance. This is a significant improvement from traditional, silo-driven security approaches.

What is a CNAPP?

A CNAPP is a category of continuous, end-to-end security solutions that integrate and centralize different security functions for cloud-native environments. A CNAPP’s responsibilities include runtime protection, cloud configuration monitoring and artifact scanning.

For a solution to be categorized as a CNAPP, it must be capable of the following:

  • Identifying, analyzing and stopping potential attacks in real time.
  • Tracking, monitoring, controlling and analyzing cloud environment workloads.
  • Tracking artifacts throughout an application’s life cycle. 

There are several differences between CNAPPs and traditional solutions for handling cloud security. The most significant differences are related to implementation and presence throughout the development life cycle.

Traditional cloud security solutions provide security at a specified application development stage, each requiring a tool that’s independently configured and deployed. The visibility provided by each tool is also limited to its corresponding stage. 

CNAPPs, on the other hand, provide comprehensive security throughout an application’s life cycle, offering a centralized command center for configuring components and monitoring security. This unified approach ensures no security gaps and creates context by correlating common issues.

Benefits of CNAPP

Increased visibility

Agile software development has drastically increased the surface of potential attacks in size and complexity. A CNAPP’s ability to provide a unified view simplifies the task of identifying, analyzing and stopping these threats. Additionally, it can provide you with detailed reports about each component's security posture and stage because the information is not sourced from siloed tools.

Ability to create context 

CNAPPs can easily share context between development and production. This reduces false alerts by allowing the correlation of information gathered from different stages and environments. Conversely, siloed tools result in more false alerts, as they don’t share context.

Easy to automate 

CNAPP solutions can be embedded into a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. This enables you to monitor the security of artifacts moving through the automated steps throughout your entire pipeline.

Reduced misconfigurations

CNAPPs keep track of the configurations as builds move from one stage to another. Consequently, CNAPPs capture threats posed by accidental configurations or configuration drifts.

Reduced complexity

CNAPPs provide a unified security view and control mechanism, reducing the complexity of securing an application’s artifacts from code to deployment. Additionally, CNAPPs also provide an end-to-end workflow that you can easily understand.

CNAPP implementation for developers

Organizations can aggregate Application Security (AppSec) by using CNAPPs. To do this, they first need to clarify all the steps an application has to go through from development to production. They should also determine the area to be secured at each stage, such as artifact scanning, configuration monitoring and build access, among others.

An organization can use a CNAPP to secure each of these steps sequentially. Doing so mitigates the risk of security blindspots in the application’s life cycle. Organizations should also consider the role developers play at each stage and grant them role-based permissions. Developers should be granted access to logs related to their builds so that they can debug and collaborate easily. 


Traditionally, development teams handle cloud-based AppSec using siloed tools to secure workloads at different stages of development. However, this approach is inadequate for cloud-native environments, which inherently have a bigger and more complex attack surface.

A CNAPP delivers end-to-end continuous security for cloud-native environments by providing runtime protection, cloud configuration monitoring and artifact scanning.

This holistic approach provides more visibility and minimizes the chances of security blind spots. CNAPPs benefit developers by reducing the time spent securing workloads and increasing collaboration among different teams involved in the application development process.

Don’t let your apps get left behind. See the Contrast Secure Code Platform approach. Request a demo today. 

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Omair Dawood, Principal Product Marketing Manager, Contrast Security

Omair Dawood, Principal Product Marketing Manager, Contrast Security