Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Database Security in the Cloud

Database security in the cloud is a complex subject, yet entirely possible today

We often get requests for best practices related to relational database security in the context of cloud computing. People want to install their database of choice, whether it be Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL, or IBM DB2…

This is a complex question but it can be broken down by asking “what’s new in the cloud?” Many techniques that have existed for ages remain important, so let’s briefly review database security in general.

Database Security in Context
A database usually does not stand alone; it needs to be regarded in the light of the environment it inhabits. From the security perspective, it pays to stop and think about:

  • Application security. The application which uses the database (“sits atop” the DB) is itself open to various attacks. Securing the application will close major attack vectors to the data, such as SQL injection
  • Physical security. In the cloud context, it means choose a cloud provider that has implemented and documented security best practices
  • Network security. Your cloud environment and 3rd part security software should include network security techniques such as firewalls, virtual private networks, and intrusion detection and prevention
  • Host security. In the cloud, your instances (a.k.a virtual servers) should use an up-to-date and patched operating system, virus and malware protection, and monitor and log all activities

Having secured everything outside the database, you are still left with threats to the database itself. They often involve:

  • Direct attacks on the data itself (in an attempt to get at it)
  • Indirect attacks on the data (such as at the log files)
  • Attempts to tamper with configuration
  • Attempts to tamper with audit mechanisms
  • Attempts to tamper with the DB software itself (e.g. tamper with the executables of the database software)

So far, these threats are recognizable to any database security expert with years of experience in the data center. So what changes in the cloud?

Data at Rest in the Cloud
At the end of the day, databases save “everything” on disks, often in files that may represent tables, configuration information, executable binaries, or other logical entities.

Defending and limiting access to these files is of course key. In the “old” data center, this was usually done by placing the disks in a (hopefully) secure location, i.e. in a room with good walls and restricted access. In the cloud, virtual disks are accessible through a browser, and also to some of the employees of the cloud provider; obviously some additional thinking is required to secure them.

Besides keeping your access credentials closely guarded, it is universally recommended that virtual disks with sensitive data should always be encrypted.

There are two basic ways to defend these files:

  • File-level encryption. Basically you need to know which specific files you wish to protect, and encrypt them by an appropriate technique
  • Full disk encryption. This encrypts everything on the disks

Full disk encryption today is the best practice. It ensures nothing is forgotten.

Encryption Keys in the Cloud
Encrypting your data at rest on virtual disks is definitely the right way to go. You should also consider were the encryption keys are kept, since if an attacker gets hold of the keys they will be able to decrypt your data.

It is recommended to avoid solutions that keep your keys right next to your data, since then you actually have no security.

It is also recommended to avoid vendors that tell you “don’t trust the cloud, but trust us, and let us save your keys”. There are a number of such vendors in the market. The fact is that cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace or Google – know their stuff. If you do not trust them with your precious data, why trust cloud vendor X?

One approach that does work from a security perspective – you can keep all your keys back in your data center. But that is cumbersome; in fact you went out to the cloud because you wanted to move out of the data center.

A unique solution does exist. Porticor provides its unique key management solution which allows you to trust no one but yourself, yet enjoy the full power of a pure cloud implementation. For more on this, see this white paper. This solution also fully implements full disk encryption, as noted above.

Database security in the cloud is a complex subject, yet entirely possible today.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Gilad Parann-Nissany

Gilad Parann-Nissany, Founder and CEO at Porticor is a pioneer of Cloud Computing. He has built SaaS Clouds for medium and small enterprises at SAP (CTO Small Business); contributing to several SAP products and reaching more than 8 million users. Recently he has created a consumer Cloud at G.ho.st - a cloud operating system that delighted hundreds of thousands of users while providing browser-based and mobile access to data, people and a variety of cloud-based applications. He is now CEO of Porticor, a leader in Virtual Privacy and Cloud Security.

CloudEXPO Stories
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by FTC, CUI/DFARS, EU-GDPR and the underlying National Cybersecurity Framework suggest the need for a ground-up re-thinking of security strategies and compliance actions. This session offers actionable advice based on case studies to demonstrate the impact of security and privacy attributes for the cloud-backed IoT and AI ecosystem.
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chief Architect at Cedexis, covered strategies for orchestrating global traffic achieving the highest-quality end-user experience while spanning multiple clouds and data centers and reacting at the velocity of modern development teams.
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in this new hybrid and dynamic environment.