Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Automic Blog, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Dalibor Siroky, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Erasing the Identity Blind Spot

Using collaborative, integtated ID and Access create key visibility

Security is not an all-or-nothing proposition. And that’s part of the problem. It creates blind spots; gaps in vulnerability. Partly because of the inherent complacency that after a company institutes a new security initiative that hackers will be held at bay, or the employees won’t be tempted to make off with a database or a hundred other internal or external threats.

I have long promoted that security is as much about planning and process as it is about the various solutions that are deployed to protect networks, data, and other assets.

Security is no longer a wall. Stick up a firewall and your customer/user data won’t get leaked. Actually it’s more like a sandwich.  And good security initiatives are like a good Dagwood sandwich - layered and integrated. But even the best sandwiches have holes (if they didn’t, you’d be eating a brick).

So, just as you wouldn’t eat the bread, then eat the meat, then the cheese, and then dip your fingers in the mustard, you shouldn’t deploy firewalls in parallel with intrusion detection, identity management, access management, etc…  The key term here is in “parallel.” As part of your strategic planning, you must recognize that although each has a certain and important function, if they are simply working in parallel and not collaboratively, you are creating significant blind spots.

To illustrate I want to focus on a typical internal threat of unregulated user access.  What happens when employees use web access to process corporate data, including on their own devices? This issue is more than just updating sales call results via salesforce.com or logging in to social media to post about an upcoming promotion. It’s about control and maintaining the control of the IT environment.

With so much data shared beyond the traditional firewall, cloud identity management (credentialing and authorization) is a good starting point, but if you simply allow users a means to enter the castle, what they do once inside still creates risk. Strong identity management not only provides the credentialing gatekeeper (user name, passwords), but must apply use roles-based provisioning to further segment users. In earlier blogs I’ve discussed how not all users are created equal and therefore should not be allowed generic universal access. To further mix my metaphors, think of it like a hotel. Only guests are allowed passed a certain point-and each has access to their own personal space. But only certain guests are allowed into premium areas such as spas or penthouse rooms. The same is true for users and the assets on your extended network.

It is important to recognize that every single user has a unique relationship to your IT environment. Employees, partners, customers, etc… each have their own agenda and their own needs. Credentialing gets them in the door. Provisioning gets them a proverbial room in the hotel. But as mentioned earlier on, that still leaves blind spots. The next obvious step is to integrate access management (single sign on) that automatically leverages roles based provisioning.

By having a single-sign on portal based off of an Active Directory or LDAP controlled identity manager does two things. It provides access to only the relevant applications that a user might need based on their role. Marketing would not see the MySQL apps, Research would not get ADP. However they might need to access Workday or Concur to help manage their timecards. But their identity limits them to just their responsibility (or if they run a department, their subordinates as well). The second provision is that access management can also control non-SAML based (Security Assertion Markup  Language) applications and websites. Not every application is cloud SaaS these days. Upwards of 85% of all applications are non-SAML based (including the legacy application sitting on your server right now!), but still require the same protections. Now you still need SAML, or OAuth or Liberty federation for some applications (especially SaaS that contains sensitive data like GoogleApps or Office365, but to get maximum benefit from integrate IDM/AM you need to incorporate all the apps.

For instance, take Wordpress. It requires a user name and password. It’s not federated via SAML. Although you may not be sharing state secrets on your blog site, it still can be hijacked for disreputable purposes, or be used as a gateway to gain entry into the network. Putting it under the protection of single sign on (under the provisioned protection of identity management), the passwords are secure and the access is limited to only those who need to see it on a user-centric portal. And practically every legacy application is the same way (do you still have MSOffice 2007 on each workstation?).

This plays into two camps of benefit. One is based on productivity and accountability; but that’s on the user (or at least the user’s boss!). To the IT administrator it is all about regaining and maintaining control; not just who gets to see what, but when and how (and leaving the necessary information trail to remediate issues or provide compliance reporting). But in terms of covering those blind spots, you cover all the application (or intranets) directly controlled on your servers, all your SaaS and web-based apps, and all relevant websites.  You now have the visibility to know Rodney from business development is certainly spending a lot of time on Facebook. But if we take this coverage to next logical level and truly erase blind spots, you should think of unifying IDM/AM with other security initiatives such as real time intrusion detection and event archiving as well. That way the visibility extends to knowing when Rodney is logging on and if it is truly him; whether he is using assets at the office, at home or on the road---or if it is someone spoofing his account from an IP address in Outer Mongolia.

There are obviously a great many benefits of an integrated identity and access management deployment, especially when managed from the cloud (security as a service). The cost, the resources, the expanded enterprise capabilities alone make it quite attractive and highly manageable for a SMB or mid-sized company. The CBS Morning Show just did a story on how smaller companies are now squarely in the sights of hackers because of the lower security barriers. The kind of initiative I have described above is typically based on one or the other enterprise solution being on premise (very expensive!). However, evolution and revolution from the cloud is currently available and ready to leverage and collaborate with any existing security plan. (I should know, right?)

Obviously the cure to removing blind spots is better visibility. Better visibility can only be achieved when you can see the entire playing field in front of you. And that can only be achieved when you security solutions work together. And now that is a fast and attainable achievement from the cloud.

Kevin Nikkhoo
Who is now craving a Dagwood sandwich
www.cloudaccess.com

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
"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.
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...
"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.
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...
"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.
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.
"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...
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...
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...
"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...
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...
"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.
"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.
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...
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...
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...
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.
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.
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...