Scaling in Java without Sacrificing Security or Performance

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, businesses of all sizes are facing new cybersecurity challenges. With threats ranging from phishing attacks to ransomware, all businesses must protect their data and systems from malicious actors. However, many businesses also face pressure from customers and higher-ups alike to deliver high performance in a fast-paced business environment. 

Scaling a product while maintaining security and performance can be a delicate and challenging task. This is especially true in java ecosystems, which are complex and difficult for humans to interact with. In this post, we’ll explore how to find the right balance for busy security engineers working on scaling in java ecosystems. 

The Importance of Security

The first and most obvious reason why security is crucial for businesses is to protect sensitive data. This data could include customer information, financial data, and intellectual property, among other things.

If this data is breached, the consequences can be severe, but vary by company. Some companies (usually the richer ones) can weather the storm with relative ease. They pay a lump sum to remediate their systems, and most likely collect a cyber insurance check to cover their losses. For smaller and less prepared companies, the data loss, reputation damage and regulatory penalties could be crippling.

This was all well and good as long as attackers mostly targeted fortune 500 level companies. But as technology has improved over time, so too have threat actors. These days, attackers see a potential payday in just about every company running java operations in the cloud. 

The Need for Performance

On the other hand, businesses need to prioritize performance in order to remain competitive. With so much competition in most industries, customers have high expectations for fast, reliable service. If a website is slow to load or an app is buggy, customers may quickly become frustrated and move on to a competitor. Or customers may demand additional features be added, which improve the usability of the product, but slow down the response time and widen the attack surface. To remain competitive, businesses need to be able to deliver high performance consistently, while keeping their vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in check.

Context Matters — Scaling in Java Runtime Environments

If you are working with Java applications, you are probably aware that JVMs (Java Virtual Machines) are incredibly memory-hungry. Even without running security tools, your application is likely eating up a ton of memory. This means that adding security tools on top of that can significantly increase memory usage, cost and time when payloads are being sent back and forth. When multiple users are using your app concurrently, the memory usage can quickly add up. 

To optimize balance in your program, the best place to start is the performance side of your security platform. Finding a security platform that operates within the context of the JRE, the Java Runtime Environment, is essential.

By leveraging the JRE, there’s no more transferring of HTTP payloads across the web. Instead, the security platform analyzes bytecode, which is far more efficient. When you perform security and runtime together, you gain full context of the application and can detect anything that could compromise your data as it’s being executed. This efficient analysis can handle many processes using only one gigabyte of memory, whereas the same amount of memory may only handle a small number of HTTP requests. By streamlining the performance side of your security platform with a Java-specific solution, you can significantly improve the security of your apps without sacrificing performance.

Waratek’s average impact on performance at scale is less than 2 percent

Leveraging Application Layer Security for Java Apps

At the end of the day, layering security measures over systems at the network layer will always make a system heavier — more sluggish and less responsive. Like adding more armor on a tank, the more hits you can absorb, the slower you move. What’s more, walls can always be cracked with enough effort and resources. But scaling in java doesn’t have to be difficult. Build security measures directly into the application layer — where they have full context of the user, application logic, and domain information — to achieve more effective security while gaining efficiency in performance. This means performing the security as the code executes, in memory, rather than sending it off to a third party to be analyzed myopically — it’s secured in totality.

To speak with a Waratek representative about building java security measures into your application layer, click here.

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