Traditional vs. Cloud-Native Cybersecurity: What's the Difference?

Today’s workforces are more geographically dispersed than ever, especially as more employees are working remotely. As businesses transition toward hybrid, cloud, and multi-cloud environments, their IT staff encounter new security issues that traditional cybersecurity programs are ill-suited to handle.

Traditional cybersecurity applies perimeter defense to protect an organization’s networks, applications, and data. Functional tools such as firewalls are the hallmark of traditional security efforts, setting up a presumptive trusted zone inside the perimeter. 

Cloud-native cybersecurity solutions provide a more data- and user-centric approach to ransomware protection. Cloud-native security focuses on data encryption, role-based access controls, and identity management. Rather than limiting efforts to block attacks on the edges, cloud-native security considers threats to data end-to-end, from user to cloud systems.

What Is Meant by Traditional Cybersecurity?

Traditional cybersecurity protects on-premise systems, including physical and virtual resources, from attack. Typically managed by an on-site IT team, efforts concentrate on preventing external access to internal systems by blocking threats at the network perimeter. Traditional cybersecurity also frequently involves physical backups and business continuity resources that IT teams must manage and maintain.

While traditional cybersecurity gives organizations complete control over their environments and full autonomy in deciding how best to protect network resources and sensitive data, it has downsides. 

  • Cost: Staffing internal IT security teams and managing physical IT assets requires significant financial commitments
  • Skills: Effective on-premise security demands highly-trained security staff, who are in high demand and can be hard to recruit and retain
  • Time: Demands on IT security staff—from hardware, firmware, and software maintenance to threat identification to remediation—can overtax personnel, leaving gaps in protection

What Is Cloud-Native Cybersecurity?

Cloud-native security focuses on the data moving through cloud systems. Unlike traditional cybersecurity, which places responsibility for security on the organization, cloud security operates on a shared responsibility paradigm. As a result, organizations can rely on their cloud providers’ security expertise, although they retain responsibility for many aspects of their security program.

Cloud-native security is a holistic, end-to-end process. It has these advantages:

Advanced automation and analytical tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to ensure that data moving through cloud systems is secure. 

Effectively limiting exposure to potential attacks and data breaches through encryption and data access policies to protect against unauthorized access. 

Ensuring business continuity with distributed, automated backups that reduce costs and staffing resources

What Is the Difference between Traditional and Cloud-Native Cybersecurity?

While both security paradigms share common goals, they have several functional differences:

Network-Centric vs. Data-Centric

Traditional security focuses on creating a defensive perimeter; cloud-native security protects data as it traverses cloud networks.

Manual vs. Automatic

Traditional security relies more heavily on manual IT staff effort; cloud-native security applies automated data analytics and rule-based threat identification and remediation.

Local vs. Distributed

Traditional security has more local components, including physical backups; cloud-native security enhances security with geographically dispersed backups.

Broad Access vs. Zero Trust

Cloud-native security applies Zero-Trust authentication protocols at every stage; traditional security allows broader access based on a single login.

What’s Better: Traditional or Cloud-Native Cybersecurity?

The traditional cybersecurity model may be best for organizations that wish to keep systems on-site and maintain tight control of every security aspect. But fewer and fewer organizations have fully on-premise networks and systems, so the need for cloud-native security is increasing. Organizations with any amount of cloud-based assets must take advantage of cloud-native security solutions, including those offered by their cloud providers and advanced third-party tools that extend the capabilities of program-specific solutions. 
CylancePROTECT® is cloud-native, AI-based Endpoint Protection that blocks cyberattacks and provides controls for safeguarding against sophisticated threats—no human intervention, Internet connections, signature files, heuristics, or sandboxes required.