How to access the powerful security benefits of application modernization

September 20, 2023
John Bruggeman
Consulting CISO

Application modernization helps organizations overcome the vulnerabilities of legacy software. But app modernization presents its own set of security challenges.

Network security is a double-edged sword in application modernization (updating legacy apps to run smoothly in cloud environments). On the one hand, improved security is one of the core benefits of app modernization. On the other hand, it can be one of the most significant hurdles organizations must clear to securely modernize legacy applications successfully.

The forces driving the need for modernization—the disruptor economy, data compliance regulations, and the push for speedy and elastic cloud-native development—are also pushing cybersecurity to adapt. Development is no longer linear, DevSecOps requires a coordinated team approach. Therefore, security processes that once worked in a linear model need to adapt to the process of continuous deployment.

This post will explore the primary benefits of modernizing applications. Additionally, we will review some of the challenges of cloud security and how cybersecurity itself is changing to address these areas of friction.

How application modernization boosts security

Application modernization offers vital benefits to overall cybersecurity. In addition to organizational benefits—such as improved agility, the ability to prioritize innovation, and enhanced user experience—companies can expect the following:

  • Strengthened overall security posture.
  • Improved defenses against malware, data leaks, and breaches.
  • AI and machine learning capabilities powering next-gen threat detection.
  • Improved compliance management and latest data compliance regulations addressed.

Learn more: The methods and motivations behind cloud application modernization efforts

The challenges of cloud security

Identity and access management (IAM)

Before complex network structures became common, a single firewall was often effective in securing an organization’s data centers. However, as data centers migrate off-premises and into the Cloud, this approach is no longer effective. Each cloud environment, each application, and in fact, each user represents a potential security risk. While firewalls still very much have a place in cloud security, the overall emphasis of cybersecurity has necessarily shifted to become identity based.

Identity and access management (IAM) is complex, especially for larger organizations that may host thousands of cloud-based identities. Managing and monitoring so many users is a tall order for in-house IT departments who, understandably, have bigger fish to fry (like innovation and supporting mission-critical ops). Nonetheless, identity management is vital, as user identities and their permissions are common targets of hackers.

Learn more: Zero trust networks (ZTN): What are they and how do I implement one?

Tensions between IT security and DevOps

In a report from GitLab, 42% of respondents said that security tests come too late in the development cycle. DevOps’ focus (and arguably its purpose) is to speed up application development through continuous deployment, emphasizing speed and efficiency. In contrast, cybersecurity teams focus on control and risk mitigation.

These two objectives can appear to be at odds and can cause tension between Development and Security teams. Ultimately, each team aims to maximize its respective performance. The development of DevSecOps (development, security, operations) provides an approach that accounts for both operations’ approaches. DevSecOps integrates and automates these three key functions, where possible, making your application modernization journey successful.

Solutions to cloud security issues

Cloud identity management

Robust IAM control must be in place to increase the enterprise’s application security posture.

  • Embrace a zero-trust approach that enforces ID authentication with MFA.
  • Establish and enforce identity governance protocols across the digital estate, on-prem and in the Cloud using CASB (cloud access security broker).


For cloud security to be effective, every employee must become a firewall. Training and security leadership has never been more critical. Organizations should adopt the following practices:


Automated tools powered by AI offer a unique opportunity to implement security tools and testing sooner in development. Developers don’t have to run these tools themselves, with automated and integrated DevSecOps guidance from the security team as part of the process.

DevSecOps and shifting left

The development cycle itself has become a challenge to security and vice versa. When software development was more linear, following the waterfall method, the natural place for security was neatly at the end of the process. However, as DevOps becomes increasingly circular and embraces agile app development techniques, it no longer makes sense for security to be an afterthought. Security must be involved much earlier in the process and integrate with development itself.

This situation has led to the rise of DevSecOps methodology. This framework aims to implement security earlier into the application development process, or “shift security left” on the X axis of the development timeline. DevSecOps promises to merge speed and security and reduce friction between DevOps and security in the process.

Making sense of application security for your organization

App modernization is not optional for most companies—therefore, application security must become a priority. A failure to migrate operations to the Cloud may result in dire consequences in the form of a significant security breach, slowing infrastructure, or being outpaced by digitally mature competitors. Without question, modernized applications are far more secure than legacy apps. But, as we’ve discussed, the move to a cloud-native methodology poses specific challenges, causing IT leaders to rethink cybersecurity and move toward a DevSecOps framework.

What is abundantly clear is that organizations must embrace security partnerships to establish and maintain a strong security posture. CBTS security experts continuously train to stay apprised of developing cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Our portfolio of security solutions includes managed security, assessments and testing, cloud security, and zero trust setup and support. Speak to one of our experts to learn more about how modernizing your applications can boost your company’s overall security.

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