Twistlock Improves Cloud-Native Security With Discovery Tool

EXCLUSIVE: The container security vendor wants to make it easier for organizations to discover what cloud-native services are actually running across an enterprise's multicloud deployments, in a bid to help improve security.

Twistlock Cloud Discovery

There is a simple truism in much of IT, and that is that organizations can't manage what they're not aware of. As organizations increasingly make use of distributed teams that use cloud-native services, there is a nontrivial risk of application sprawl.

On Nov. 13, container security vendor Twistlock announced its new open-source cloud-native discovery tool, in an effort to help identify and locate applications running on different public cloud services. The Cloud Discovery tool's initial release supports scanning on the three major public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

"Most customers tend to have a multicloud cloud strategy and then you combine that with the fact that everybody has got multiple accounts for different projects or business units, and so forth," John Morello, chief technology officer at Twistlock, told eWEEK. "You get this big equation where organizations try to figure out all the possible things that could be out there deployed and running.

"We created with Cloud Discover is this open-source tool that tries to make it really easy for you to go out there and to enumerate all those things that exist throughout the environment," he said.

How It Works

Morello explained that Cloud Discovery is just a standard Docker container that can run wherever the user wants it to, whether it's on their own desktop or in a cloud instance. Cloud Discovery runs as an interactive tool or as a service that is continuously scanning to provide results about what cloud-native services are running in a given cloud.

"You basically give Discovery just a very simple JSON configuration that lists the cloud accounts and basic credentials to access those accounts," Morello said. "It [Discovery] goes out there and talks to all the underlying metadata API, and pulls back in all the information about all the services that you actually have deployed."

Cloud Discovery will also provide information about the metadata associated with all the different cloud-native services that an organization has deployed, according to Morello. That data can be used not just for inventory purposes, but also to help identify possible misconfiguration.

"You can kind of think about Cloud Discovery as a modern way to discover everything that you got out there and record that data in a really developer-friendly manner, and then you can do whatever you need to remediate from a security perspective,” he said.

While some security people might have concerns about inputting cloud security credentials into a tool, Morello said Cloud Discovery only uses the cloud credentials as a runtime parameter that only persists in memory. He noted that the credentials are not stored and are discarded after being used. Additionally, Morello said that the cloud credentials that Cloud Discovery needs do not require any kind of elevated privilege. 

"They just require the ability to have read access to a small subset of the API that AWS, GCP or Azure makes available to do the things that are required to enumerate registries and repositories and so forth," he said. "We don't require any kind of administrative write access."

Cloud Discovery also provides the ability to scan a set of IP ranges, to discover installed cloud-native technologies like Kubernetes and Docker registries, and to look for credential weaknesses, such as no authentication or insecure configurations. The risk of unauthenticated Kubernetes instances is one that security provider Lacework reported on in a report released on June 18. Lacework found 21,169 publicly facing container orchestration platform dashboards, including Kubernetes. 

While Twistlock's Cloud Discovery open-source tool can discover potential misconfiguration, it doesn't currently look for hard-coded credentials, which is another possible issue that can occur with cloud-native deployments.

Cloud Discovery is an open-source project that is freely available on GitHub. Twistlock’s most recent commercial release is version 2.5 of its namesake platform that was announced in June, providing users with visibility into serverless environments. Morello noted that the next major release of Twistlock's core commercial platform is in development and will include multiple new capabilities.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.