Application Visibility in Incident Response: How to Keep Unchecked Workload Sprawl In Check!

Application Visibility in Incident Response: How to Keep Unchecked Workload Sprawl In Check!

Just a few years ago, migrating to cloud was not a priority IT choice for enterprises. Today, the IT landscape is changing rapidly, and cloud is now becoming the preferred method of accessing and delivering technology because of its greater scalability. In fact, 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020.

With this rapid adoption of cloud, visibility is a necessity to manage and monitor your applications and workloads.  Lack of adequate visibility and control are among the primary cloud challenges for today’s organizations. In fact, 33 percent of cloud security pros said that lack of visibility into infrastructure security is their biggest operational headache.

Things can go awry quickly if not all applications are monitored and accounted for in the cloud, resulting in an increase in unknown future risks - including unchecked workload sprawl.

But wait, what exactly is Workload Sprawl?

Workload sprawl, also referred to as cloud sprawl, is when excess workloads are running in an organization, often without the organization’s knowledge. An example is if a developer tests a portion of a system in Amazon Web Services (AWS) but forgets to delete the workload. Or, an employee uses a personal Dropbox to store company documents so they can work from home. Unchecked workload sprawl occurs when the organization fails to adequately monitor and manage those workloads and applications in the cloud, and is often the result of Shadow IT.

Don’t let Shadow IT overshadow your IR.

Shadow IT refers to any application deployed within an organization, most likely by an employee or department, without the approval from the IT department. 

Shadow IT is more often than not the culprit for an increase in attack surface and unchecked workload sprawl, and it is on the rise - with Gartner predicting that by 2020, one-third of successful attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources.

Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Experian Data Breach Resolution explained, “As we have seen in our incident response service that we do for clients, about 80 percent of all the breaches we service have a root cause in some type of employee negligence.” 

For example, the marketing department can deploy cloud-based, single-purpose marketing applications in an instant or developers could have various testing workloads in AWS or other third party clouds that the security team is unaware of. These applications that exist outside of vision of the IR teams could expose you to a data breach, IP theft, or spin you out of compliance.

Your Incident Response needs to be up to par.

Speaking of IR, the majority of security teams are still following IR plans that pre-date the adoption of public cloud, and are mostly manual. This outdated IR workflow puts your organization at major risk because security teams are unable to identify and isolate unknown workloads or applications quickly, if at all, particularly if they are unaware the application even exists. 

Even if the IR team has implemented workload automation and maintained inventory control, how do they know what those applications are doing, and how they are behaving? While you are trying to answer these questions, the incident is becoming longer and the risk is increasing. IR teams need to discover and understand exactly what happened to remediate quickly. 

Furthermore, IR budgets have not been adjusted to keep up with the changing IT landscape, inhibiting them from being able to sufficiently monitor, maintain and secure all of the moving parts that make up today’s complex IT infrastructures. 

So, how do you manage unchecked workload sprawl?

Simple: Application Visibility

If you do not have visibility of your applications in cloud, you can’t protect them. If a security team is unable to see what is happening between the application relationships, or how it is behaving, or even worse, if they do not know the relationship exists, they cannot efficiently mitigate risk or respond to an incident quickly.

While IR workflow automation enables security teams to speed up and refine the IR process, visibility of application relationships and workload interactions can monitor and detect threats, and provide incident response almost immediately.

So, how do you achieve Application Visibility in your Cloud?

vArmour Application Controller helps security teams solve these challenges with its vArmour Security Graph technology, an enterprise-wide relationship database that visualizes and discovers how and what applications are interacting. This gives security teams the ability to gain visibility and control of application relationships and workload interactions in one place. 

Application Controller integrates seamlessly into your automated workflows or processes, including CI/CD pipelines, cloud orchestration and SOAR systems, to provide the comprehensive visibility you need to secure applications across cloud to reduce vulnerabilities, monitor and detect threats, respond to incidents quickly and efficiently and achieve continuous compliance.

The Application Controller also provides rapid policy creation and continuous monitoring for compliance. Stay tuned for more on those topics in our next blog in the Application Discovery series. 

In the meantime, get started with our free trial today.