The widespread adoption of microservices has been a game-changer for businesses, allowing them to rapidly deploy new applications and services with unprecedented speed and agility that were previously unattainable with traditional, monolithic architectures. Just like every new software development and deployment method, Microservices have also unearthed some security challenges. As companies continue to scale their operations, they often encounter limitations with standard network tools, firewalls, and central monitoring resources. However, by exploring innovative approaches, organizations can effectively enhance their security measures and safeguard their systems from potential vulnerabilities. Fortunately, recent technological advancements have paved the way for novel and promising approaches to security. As organizations increasingly adopt microservices architecture, it is crucial to ensure that security concerns are effectively addressed to fully leverage the benefits of this approach. In this blog post, we will outline a comprehensive strategy for implementing security for microservices that will enable developers to confidently build and deploy microservices-based applications.
Security challenges associated with Microservices
As organizations continue to adopt microservice architecture, it is important to consider the security challenges that come with it. Here are the most pressing security challenges for microservices:
Increased Attack Surface
When multiple services are simultaneously active, the attack surface grows exponentially due to the proliferation of accessible ports and exposed APIs. Because each microservice in a microservices-based program interacts independently with one another via well-defined APIs, these APIs are more exposed to attacks. To combat this security threat, it is essential that all microservices be properly secured.
Segmentation and Isolation
A microservices-based program must have this as one of its primary characteristics. Building, testing, extending, deploying, and maintaining a microservices-based application should all be done independently of one another, without disrupting the operation of any other components. Isolation at the database level is also recommended. This necessitates the separation of data for each microservice so that no one service can see what another service is doing with its data. The security of your microservices-based program can be improved by enforcing layer-by-layer isolation.
The implementation of fault tolerance in microservices-based applications is comparatively more intricate than that of monolithic applications. Services must be resilient against interruptions and timeouts. If this kind of service failure continues to mount, it will eventually cause aggregated failures across the rest of the application's services. Therefore, fault tolerance is essential so that your services can recover from outages. Otherwise, it can cause your whole application to become unstable.
To implement an effective microservice architecture, communication and collaboration between the development and operations teams are crucial. They should be familiar with the procedures and the potential threats to security. The phases of application development—designing, coding, distributing, and maintaining are decoupled from one another. However, security problems emerge when the apps get released without adequate testing. Frequent updates to apps built with microservices improve agility but lower security. Because of how frequently apps are developed and released, they may not be thoroughly tested.
Traditional Logging Becomes Ineffective
The DevOps microservices ecosystem is widely distributed. The independence of distributed and stateless microservices leads to an increase in logs. An abundance of logs can make it difficult to identify new problems. To ensure efficient logging in a microservices environment with multiple hosts, it's important to centralize logs by sending them to a single external location. Effective microservices security requires correlating user logging events across multiple platforms, even if they differ. This necessitates a higher viewpoint that is independent of any single API or service.
7 Ways to Secure Microservice Architecture
With each Microservice having its own endpoints, adopting security measures is the only strategic move towards gaining the agility, scalability, resiliency, and enhanced security of the application without compromising the communication between each Microservice. Try and employ these 7 techniques, as suggested by our architects to guarantee a secure microservices ecosystem.
Integrate Security into The Design
When updating legacy, large-scale systems, most firms turn to application architectures based on microservices. Therefore, the design process provides an excellent chance to strengthen the security of existing applications. For the successful microservices adoption, it is important for the development and operations teams to align with the DevSecOps concept. Additionally, they should establish a strong relationship with all the stakeholders and security groups to gain an understanding of security processes and how to address potential security risks right at the beginning. This method of addressing security is simpler, more efficient, and less expensive than waiting to implement it until the software is nearly complete.
Use API Gateway
Microservices should only interact via well-defined and secured APIs. API gateways act as a centralized entry point for data and route it to the appropriate microservices. Token-based authentication is commonly used by the API gateway to control services' access to and manipulation of data. To enhance security, it is recommended to position the API gateway behind a firewall. This will provide an additional layer of protection. Additionally, it also ensures that all microservices utilized in a given application are secured.
Practice Defense In Depth
Organizations must adopt a defense-in-depth strategy to ensure their security is fool-proof. The days of relying on one specific firewall to secure your enterprise-wide system are long gone. An organization can improve its software security by taking the "defense in depth" approach and deploying multiple layers of security controls. Add technical controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection schemas, anti-virus, multi-wall access controls, and tighten them with non-technical practices such as policies, compliance, and team upskilling to secure your networks and the application.
As there are many potential entry points in a microservices design, it is necessary to fortify the vulnerable areas with multiple layers of protection. A multi-layered strategy for cybersecurity is created by adding separate layers of protection, which provides greater assurance without adding unnecessary complexity.
Ensure Container Security
Containers have become a popular solution for development teams grappling with the complexities of microservice-based applications, which can comprise numerous components. By leveraging containers, teams can streamline deployments and enhance overall efficiency. Container security plays a pivotal role in ensuring the security of microservices and facilitating the implementation of cloud-native security measures.
The security of containers extends well beyond the images upon which they are built. The platform comprises of the container registry, which stores images, and the orchestration tools. To mitigate the risk of multiple microservices utilizing the same base image, it is crucial to monitor the container registry for vulnerable images. To ensure secure deployment of microservices, it is advisable to eliminate misconfigurations and other risks that may be associated with container orchestration tools.
Embrace a DevSecOps Model
Microservices allow for faster software deployment because teams can roll out new features in small increments rather than having to redeploy the complete application. This allows DevOps teams to speed up application development, but it also poses potential security threats. Because of this, it's essential to adopt a mindset that prioritizes security testing from the start of the development process. Therefore, it is essential to adopt a DevSecOps strategy, where security measures are incorporated directly into the development process, as well as the build and continuous integration environment, to minimize potential dangers. With DevSecOps, developers and operators work together to ensure that software is both reliable and safe without slowing down the development process. The DevSecOps methodology can cut down on the time and money required for delivering secure software by eliminating the need for developers to reinstate security controls after deployment.
Scan for Dependencies
The utilization of a multitude of open-source components is a common practice, alongside the implementation of microservices architecture. It's a well-established fact that the open-source code utilized by an application often surpasses the custom code that development teams create. As organizations increasingly rely on third-party dependencies, it's important to recognize that these components can introduce vulnerabilities that may significantly impact an application's risk profile. It can be challenging for developers to monitor the whereabouts of third-party components and guarantee their safety when using microservices, especially when those components are built with widely varying technology frameworks. When using an open source security management application, development teams are better able to identify and address security flaws in the software they're relying on.
Secure with Multi-Factor Authentication
To achieve a comprehensive microservices security approach, it is imperative to ensure the protection of both endpoints and frontend applications. Securing a microservice application is of utmost importance, as user authentication and access control play a critical role in ensuring its safety.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an effective strategy that has been widely recognized for its ability to thwart malicious activity. In the realm of microservices applications, a robust security protocol is paramount. As such, users are required to complete a two-step authentication process to access their accounts. Try employing tools like OAuth2 or JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) to implement authentication and authorization. This process entails inputting their user credentials followed by a distinctive verification code. An efficient multi-factor authentication procedure can alert you to any suspicious activity by raising a red flag.
As organizations continue to embrace microservice architecture, ensuring the security of these services becomes paramount. Implementing a secure microservice architecture requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all aspects of security. By adopting a security-first mindset and leveraging the latest tools and technologies, organizations can confidently deploy microservices that are resilient to attacks and protect sensitive data.
At Qentelli, we have a track record of helping organizations successfully adopt microservices and reap the benefits of this innovative approach. With the appropriate strategies in place, organizations can confidently leverage the benefits of microservices while maintaining a robust security posture. If you're interested in integrating security into microservice architecture to guarantee higher-quality products, please drop us a firstname.lastname@example.org