App Security Cycle of Pain

02 May 2023


Due to a lack of data flow visibility enterprise app teams have to enforce policies they have no way to verify. And when problems arise they have few tools to help remediate them.

 App Security Cycle of Pain

With the move to cloud native architecture, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) have become the veins and arteries of application data flow, circulating customer-owned information between enterprise owned regions and to third-party data processors. The need for stringent and effective API security policies is self-evident, but enterprises struggle with creating and maintaining these policies because they lack visibility into the very data flows they are trying to secure. This conundrum triggers a costly "cycle of pain" that drains significant resources and disrupts operational productivity.

The Cycle of Pain Unveiled

The cycle of pain typically begins when engineering teams are tasked with creating data flow maps to guide compliance teams. These maps are a representation of how data is expected to move within the applications, serving as the foundation upon which high-level policies are created. However, this foundational step is inherently flawed. The maps are, at best, temporal snapshots, and fail to account for mistakes, corner cases, or unanticipated interactions between APIs. As applications adapt to rapidly evolving market demands, they continually introduce new functionalities, and these modifications can shift the data flow in ways the original maps do not capture.

Despite being fundamentally flawed and static representations of a dynamic reality, these maps become the primary resource for compliance teams. They use them to create policies that specify where data can and cannot go in accordance with privacy laws and other regulations like PCI (Payment Card Industry) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). But given their source, these policies are inherently predisposed to inaccuracies and inefficiencies.

The third phase of the cycle involves these policies being passed to the security teams for implementation. These teams, responsible for securing the company's data, must implement the high-level policies in firewalls, Cloud Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPP), and API security platforms. These technologies, while crucial to the security infrastructure, unfortunately offer no visibility into the different types of data being transmitted, leaving no room to validate if the implementation adheres to the intended policies.

The final phase sees the inevitable fallout of these systemic flaws when compliance audits uncover policy implementation failures. These failures trigger engineering fire-drills that disrupt product roadmaps and inflate operational costs. In essence, the cycle of pain results from the fundamental disconnect between policy creation and implementation, compounded by the lack of data visibility and accurate monitoring of data flow within APIs.

The High Cost of the Cycle

The implications of this cycle extend far beyond non-compliance. Companies stand to lose millions of dollars due to lost productivity, costly disruptions to the product roadmap, potential fines from regulatory bodies, and reputational damage. The cycle of pain is not just about data and security—it's a multi-faceted business issue.

This cycle could be mitigated, if not entirely circumvented, if compliance policies were developed from actual data flow, and if security implementations could be continually monitored and authorized based on the real-time flow of data in APIs. It goes without saying, you can't secure what you can't see, and here too continuous observability, and data access authorization are critical to breaking the cycle.

The Solution: Caber Continuous Authorization and Observability (Caber CA/CO)

This is where Caber CA/CO steps in, a solution designed to redefine the approach to API data flow security. Caber CA/CO provides real-time visibility into data flows, enabling companies to devise robust and accurate compliance policies based on actual data movements rather than relying on potentially flawed, static maps.

Caber CA/CO empowers security teams by offering observability into API data flows. This continuous visibility allows for constant validation of policy adherence, leading to timely rectifications whenever discrepancies occur. As a result, it eradicates the risk of surprise audit failures and the subsequent expensive fire-drills, thus helping preserve the product roadmap and productivity.


, Caber CA/CO's authorization feature ensures that data only flows where it should, providing an extra layer of security and reinforcing policy implementation. By combining these features, Caber CA/CO not only provides a solution to the problems plaguing API security but also offers a proactive strategy that prevents the issues from arising in the first place.

In conclusion, while the cycle of pain caused by lack of API data flow visibility can be a drain on enterprises, solutions like Caber CA/CO offer a path to pain relief. By enabling continuous authorization and observability, businesses can create dynamic, accurate policies and maintain security implementations that align with these policies, thereby reducing costs, avoiding compliance failures, and preserving productivity.

Share this post :