@CloudExpo Authors: John Worthington, Liz McMillan, Stackify Blog, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Proverb: When a Door Closes, Just Make Sure You Don't Leave a Window Open

Not every employee leaves a company with a gold watch and a handshake.

Earlier this month I attended a local cloud developers group, and I met a gentleman who consults with companies to engage in deep dive forensic examinations of their networks. He looks for the virtual fingerprints of misdeeds, fraud, and misdoings that can be used for e-discovery in legal cases. He essentially gets down to the bits and bytes of how much information flows to certain IP addresses to ascertain whether or not proprietary data has been tampered or stolen.

He confirmed something that I long believed to be true. One of the greatest threats to an organization comes from within. Not everyone who exits a company leaves with a handshake and a gold watch. Often time there are hard feelings; that the employer wronged the former employee and that employee will exact a matter of revenge or feel justified to extract some sort of perceived compensation. This includes everything from the outright theft of sales leads and databases, to accessing their company email account to send “nasty-grams” to customers and other employees, to malicious sabotage. I am aware of several specific incidents where someone knowingly introduced malware into the company network.

Now this isn’t meant for you to look sideways at the person sitting in the next cubicle. However, access policies  needs to be a part of any company’s  internal risk assessment and security policy.

One of the easiest ways to prevent the disgruntled employees is to bar their access. Seems straight-forward enough, right? If it were the case, it really wouldn’t continually rank as one of the top threats to networks. The problem is that there are so many moving parts to properly dismiss an employee.  Sure there’s someone watching them pack up their physical belongings and making sure they don’t leave a little goodbye gift on the network on their way out. But if the tap is left on, the employee can come in hours, days or weeks later and create unnecessary havoc.

And the more diverse the enterprise (multiple divisions, brands, franchises, etc…), the harder it is to keep tabs on the coming and going of legitimate employee access.

Case in point:  I know of a national enterprise that franchises their individual locations to independent operators. Each franchisee is free to hire and fire their own staffs. Every staff member has a corporate email account and is allotted certain access to corporately managed applications. So, we are talking thousands of employees with a large enough churn rate to raise some issues with corporate headquarters.

There is a definitive need to promote franchise autonomy while still assuring adherence to corporate access and usage policies. The quick answer is a policy of provisioning and de-provisioning. There are plenty of solutions that accomplish this. Identity management and access management is not a new concept…even via the cloud. The trick is to create an easy-to-use, cost effective process to create self-service that allows the franchisee to add new employees and automatically give them certain rights based on their role. Conversely, when an employee leaves the company, there must be an equally simple way to retire the account and prevent anyone from using that account to access corporate information.

The key word is automatically.

So before the termination paperwork reaches the headquarters in Fort Meyers, Florida, the franchise manager in Rhode Island or Honolulu can inactivate the employee’s access via self-service. With a single keystroke in the IDM solution and their access to email ceases; their ability to get on the network and access files is blocked; their accounts to every application is removed. Even if  a manager forgets, the central system can take steps to assess usage. If an account is dormant for 10 days or 3 weeks (examples not hard and fast rules), it is marked for inactivity and retired.

But bolting the door behind them, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to pick the lock. This is part of our cautionary tale that keeps the forensic investigator busy.

This is also where the benefit of unified security comes into play. You’ve used your IDM investment to remove the credentials, but that doesn’t mean the motivated insider won’t try. Because of continuous monitoring practices (in real time) you can generate alerts if anyone tries to access retired accounts, tries to change a password, or generates multiple login failures in a short period of time. A system that leverages IDM with SIEM and log management, not only receives the alert, but sees the IP address (and other identifying attributes) of who is attempting access.

Now for argument’s sake, let’s say they were particularly bright and used some shadow IT shenanigans to back door into your network. Real time monitoring will still catch the access attempt and also recognize if any proprietary asset is changed, downloaded or modified. In that it is real time and not simply logged, gives you a strong chance to repel or immediately respond to the attack. As I have said in several blogs, unless you have the budget, the IT sophistication and the resources, having all of these concurrent initiatives can be seen as a luxury—unless you package them as a security as a service platform from the cloud. The ability to leverage a variety of capabilities—have them “talk” to one another across multiple information silos, physical locations, various applications and divisions. When you can centralize them, it creates a unique advantage that strengthens your position to ensure  a former employee cannot take advantage of your sensitive data and proprietary assets.

And before I forget…make sure in your written employment policies you address BYOD. That way you retain the option/right to completely or partially wipe their personal devices upon termination of employment.

I’ll leave you with another old proverb: “The key that opens is also the key that locks.”

Kevin Nikkhoo

Cloud Access

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
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...
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.
"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.
"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.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
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...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, 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.
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
"We work around really protecting the confidentiality of information, and by doing so we've developed implementations of encryption through a patented process that is known as superencipherment," explained Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels Inc., 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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., 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.
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...