The flexibility, scalability, and capacity to change, add, or delete software components without impacting other areas of the program are all features of the microservices design.
It enables you to expand or troubleshoot certain functions or services without affecting the other components, in addition to quicker software development cycles, fewer teams, and flexible programming language choices.
In general, microservices enable the division of substantial monolithic applications into separate, independently deployable services. Nevertheless, because there are more components due to these smaller independent services, there is more complexity and difficulty in safeguarding them.
The hardware, service or application, communication, cloud, virtualization, and orchestration layers are often included in a typical microservices setup. Each of them has unique security demands, measures, and difficulties.
Difficulties with Microservices Security
Microservices often have sophisticated access restrictions, more traffic to watch, and a wider attack surface. They are also typically geographically dispersed systems. Also, the majority of cloud-based microservices run in environments that contain a variety of security settings and restrictions.
Traditional firewalls might not offer sufficient protection because of the vast amount of exposed APIs, ports, and components. These problems increase the susceptibility of microservices installations to a variety of online dangers, including man-in-the-middle, injection attacks, cross-site scripting, DDoS, and others. Hence cloud native application security is extremely important.
Another issue with microservices is network security. The identification and access control, in particular, take a new level of complexity. Insecure programming and faults in service discovery mechanisms are examples of further vulnerabilities.
Microservices are more difficult to secure than monolithic apps, but you may still effectively safeguard them by developing a robust plan and adhering to recommended practices.
Best Practices for Microservices Security
Using a mix of best practices, technologies, and controls to safeguard the entire ecosystem is one of the best approaches. Depending on the type of services, apps, users, environment, and other considerations, the actual strategy may vary.
If you want to employ microservices, you must make sure that all requirements for the services, connections, and data are being met in terms of security.
Let’s now examine some sound microservices security procedures.
Containers are widely used in microservices architecture, and securing them from the inside out is crucial to minimize the attack surface and associated risks. One of the essential security principles for container-based applications is the least privilege principle. This principle involves granting the bare minimum of authorization and access required for a process to execute its tasks.
Following the least privilege principle involves several practices, such as avoiding the use of privileged accounts or sudo to execute services or perform other operations. Instead, it is best practice to limit the permissions granted to containerized services or applications to only the necessary ones. This can include restricting access to sensitive files, avoiding the installation of unnecessary packages, and regulating resource usage to prevent abuse or resource exhaustion attacks.
To implement the least privilege principle, developers must adopt several solutions such as container orchestration tools that support role-based access control (RBAC) and resource limits, service meshes that provide mTLS authentication and authorization, and identity and access management (IAM) solutions.
Implementing multi-factor authentication improves front-end security. In addition to their login and password, users will also need to supply another form of identification, such as a code texted to their phones or a predetermined email address. Since they won’t be able to do the second authentication, the strategy makes it more difficult for attackers who could be using stolen or compromised credentials to access the microservices.
Access Token and User Authorization
Authorization and access control are critical requirements for many apps and services that deploy microservices. An authorization framework like OAuth 2.0 and OpenID can ensure the security of your microservices by processing tokens securely. This enables programs from other parties to access user data or other services.
During deployment, the main application often requests the user’s permission to allow the third-party service to access the necessary resources. When the user grants permission, the program generates an access token for the session. This token is used to authenticate subsequent requests, ensuring that only authorized requests are processed.
The microservices often consist of a number of parts that are dispersed over several networks and reachable by a variety of clients and systems. The vulnerability and security threats rise when the microservices are exposed. Making a solitary, secure entry point that enables you to concentrate all access from clients and other systems is one technique to safeguard them.
Deploy an API gateway to check all incoming requests for security flaws before forwarding them to the proper microservices to achieve this. Between the client apps and the microservices is the API gateway. Then, it restricts access to the microservices while offering extra request management features like monitoring, request routing, caching, SSL termination, protocol translation, authentication, and more.
When two microservices interact, effective methods require authentication and authorization requests.
To protect the interservice connections, you can primarily employ three different methods. They include Mutual Transport Layer Security (mTLS, or Mutual TLS), JSON Web Token (JWT), and Trust the network.
Due to the dispersed nature of microservices, you must have a solid monitoring strategy in place for each component.
By using continuous monitoring, you can quickly identify and resolve security threats. Prometheus, Statsd, InfluxDB, Logstash, and other tools for monitoring microservices all contribute to this.
Microservices depend on distributed components to offer advantages like increased flexibility and deployment choices. Organizations must change internal security rules and tactics to a more cloud-native and distributed approach when utilizing microservices, though.
Reduce the attack surface while securing the environment for microservices, APIs, applications, and data.
Automate Security Practices
Automate security operations, including patch deployment, vulnerability scanning, monitoring, policy enforcement, and other tasks. Check the updates as well to make sure they are safe and don’t create any new vulnerabilities.
Following upgrades, the security software should ideally run checks on all containers and microservices to determine whether there may have been any potential security flaws.
The use of microservices can be greatly beneficial to organizations as they offer advantages like increased flexibility and deployment choices. So it is wise to consider using them. However, organizations that use microservices have to be ready to change internal security rules and tactics to a more cloud-native and distributed approach.
While the tradeoff may seem not insignificant, the change allows you to reduce the attack surface while securing the environment for microservices, APIs, applications, and data. Thus, all in all, it becomes a worthwhile investment.