The Top 5 Challenges of Microservices Security

Over the past few years, the development and deployment of microservices have become the leading method of application development.

Unfortunately, security testing has not evolved quickly enough to address the risks introduced by this mass adoption of microservices.  

The common practice is to test for vulnerabilities in each microservice, the reason is that every instance of microservice exposes its own set of entry points, APIs, and communication paths that create exposure to additional attack vectors that are currently not addressed.

microservices arhitecture

Engineers and architects are challenged by security issues that arise with microservices, if these concerns are not addressed in the SDLC, vulnerabilities will appear in applications production runtime.

The top 5 security challenges of microservices-based applications are:

  1. Infrastructure design and multi-cloud deployments
  2. Segmentation and isolation
  3. Identity management and access control
  4. Data management
  5. The rapid rate of application changes

1. Infrastructure design and multi-cloud deployments

Microservices are distributed over many data centers, cloud providers, and host machines. 

Building infrastructure across many cloud environments increases the risk of losing control and visibility of the application components.

2. Segmentation and isolation

Decoupled application components perform their duty in co-dependence with many other services. 

All these components establish and maintain communication channels over different infrastructure layers, so often cross-service communication is skipped when testing for security vulnerabilities, the result of this is significant exposure in the interfaces between these services.

3. Identity management and access control

Microservices expose new entry points to both internal and external actors.

Access controls need to be regulated for all entities, whether legitimate or illegitimate.

It’s important to have an administrative interface that can help you manage users, applications, groups, devices, and APIs from one central location, giving you real-time visibility into what’s happening in your environment.

4. Data management

Data generated in a microservices architecture moves, changes, and is continuously interacted with. Data is also stored in different places and for different purposes. Owners of data assets need insight into the life cycle and the dynamics of data to avoid breaches.

Can you be sure that your data is secure?

Data leaks can happen regardless of the communication channel’s exposure. Malicious actors can chain vulnerabilities to break through to private assets.

5. The rapid rate of application changes

Application development in modern SDLC forces the code base and data stores to grow over time. Development methodologies push iterative and incremental development, putting microservices under the constant workload.

How can you know at any time that new code coming through the development pipeline will not expose your application to the new sets of vulnerabilities and dangerous attack vectors?

Security testing must keep up with the pace of the SDLC, to enhance DevSecOps.

Decomposing applications into microservices increases the application’s attack surface because of newly added entry points and connections between instances that are now spread out over many environments, because of that microservices security requires non-trivial and ready-made solutions.

NexDAST integrates automated AI-powered Dynamic Application Security Testing into the SDLC to scan applications built atop of the complex microservices architecture each time the application code is packaged to a running application and forwarded to the testing phase.

NexDAST provide you with real-time reports with zero false positives in no time, where you can see reported vulnerabilities with a reproducible proof-of-concept and ranked by the severity of the impact they make on an application, this confirms the overall health and capacity of an application to handle production runtime without being exposed to vulnerabilities, regardless of the scope and the complexity of the underlying microservices architecture mesh.