@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Dalibor Siroky, James Carlini, John Walsh, APM Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Security Series | Sarbanes Oxley Compliance

Ensuring SOX compliance for SaaS applications

Security #1 Concern for Cloud Adoption
An analysis of several CIO surveys about cloud adoption reveals two things.

  1. There is a growing adoption toward Cloud Computing
  2. Security concerns remain on top of CIOs' minds

Either as a SaaS provider or an IT services provider who develops applications on PaaS platforms, we should address the security concerns,  and this series of articles aims to do this.

Sarbanes Oxley & Cobit IT Security Controls
In 2001, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002.This act affects how public companies report financials, and significantly impacts IT. Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requires more than documentation and/or establishment of financial controls

COBIT stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. While the COBIT guidelines have been around since 1996, the guidelines and best practices have almost become the de facto standard for auditors and SOX compliance, mostly because the COBIT standards are platform independent.

While these acts are complex enough  to  have an certified auditor to do the assessment, but there are  much required IT Controls that can be exercised  on  the SaaS Enabled applications or the applications built on PaaS platform.

Certifying the Cloud Applications with these controls  will make a big difference for CEO,CIO of the organizations to have confidence on Cloud sourcing and will act as a big differentiator in winning the clients for the cloud.

1. SOX COBIT  Control /  Changes To Application Configuration & Business Logic

All the configuration changes to the application  whether requested by the Cloud consumer or done by the SaaS Provider should be logged and reported on, some of the important attributes to be logged are :

  • Application level Access Control Changes
  • Which Event Changed the Configuration
  • Date and Timestamp
  • Operation Performed
  • Transaction Type
  • User ID

Who is the Actual User In A SaaS Applcation
In a multi-tenant world,  the Logging of events should be based on the  actual real life user who sit across some part of the globe and issue the commands and not the  internal  software user which actually runs the  script.

For example in a SqlAzure PaaS database , certain configuration script may run with dbo account, but we should log the actual user who triggered the configuration change and not dbo. We need to be careful in  using the built in functions like,  CURRENT_USER to log changes, as these may be internal Sql Server user id and not the physical ID of a person who invoked the command from external to the system.

Ideally the front end application captures the user's identify and  forward the same to the back-end logging process, so that the actual user is logged.

2. SOX COBIT IT Control /  Security Violation Report

All the  attempts for unauthorized  access to the application should be logged and reported. Some of the important information to be logged are,

  • Time Stamp
  • IP Address

In a virtualized environment, some times capturing the IP address using the standard functions may give wrong values which cannot be tracked back, so the actual end user IP address should be trapped and logged. We should consider  capturing details like static IP or a Elastic IP (EC2) which can be traced back rather than virtual IPs which may be assigned and reclaimed over a period.

3. SOX COBIT IT Control / Changes To Application Data
Here is the most important transaction logging of all the important functions of the application, so that we get the complete coverage and accountability of who performed what functions. We should log both the successful as well as failed transactions. Again most of the details that needs to be logged are :

  • Application Menu Option or function that is affected (Like Accounts Payable)
  • Date and Timestamp
  • Operation Performed (Create New Purchase Order)
  • Transaction Type like (Read, Insert, Delete, Update)
  • User ID

4. SOX COBIT IT Control / Fine Grained Access To Data
Apart from  strict authentication and authorization needs, multi tenancy  requires  data segregation among its tenants and also within a particular tenant, so that each user able to see only the data that the user is entitled to look into it. This is  the most important aspect of SaaS security and a strict compliance and adherence and reporting on it is necessary. While there could be some out of the box features that can help in Fine Grained Access (like the Oracle Virtual Private Database),  it is required that the database design itself supports this property so that the application is fully complaint.

Security compliance on the ground rules of SOX/Audit and other governing acts is very important for any enterprise application and for Cloud enabled application it is even more important and in fact an utmost priority.  There should be no tolerance on auditing, logging and reporting aspects of the SaaS applications and  a 100% compliance only will enforce  confidence and a more rapid adoption of Cloud.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...