Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Steve Watts, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton

Blog Feed Post

Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOs

Cloud Security Cloud Key Management Cloud Encryption CIO  infoq cloud security Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOsfrom With the news stories of possible data breaches at enterprises like Target, and the current trend of companies migrating to cloud environments for the flexibility, scalability, agility, and cost-effectiveness they offer, CIOs have been asking hard questions about cloud security.

As CIO, protecting your data (and your users) is one of your key responsibilities. Whether you already have some cloud projects running or are starting your first cloud project, these questions and answers may provide you with solutions and introduce some new techniques.

InfoQ: Is the cloud safe?

Gilad: The cloud, by definition, is not more or less safe than your own data center. As an interesting note, the recent media storm around the NSA, which started as a “cloud computing security” story, has morphed into a more general discussion. It turns out the NSA is able to eavesdrop on physical servers in physical data centers and has actually done so at many of the world’s most secure organizations.

Today, cloud computing has been discovered as safe and effective for a wide range of projects and data types, ranging across most vertical industries and market niches. Regulated, sensitive areas such as finance, health, legal, retail or government – are all in various stages of going to the cloud..

However, just like certain security precautions are taken in the physical world, cloud security also entails taking the appropriate precautions.

InfoQ: How does migrating to the cloud change my risks?

Gilad: Migrating applications and data to the cloud obviously shifts some responsibilities from your own data center to the cloud provider. It is an act of outsourcing. As such, it always involves a shift of control. Taking back control involves procedures and technology.

Cloud computing may be seen – in some aspects – as revolutionary; yet in other aspects it is evolutionary. Any study of controlling risks should start out by understanding this point. Many of the things we have learned in data centers evolve naturally to the cloud. The need for proper procedures is unchanged. Many of the technologies are also evolving naturally.

You should therefore start by mapping out your current procedures and current security-related technologies, and see how they evolve to the cloud. In many cases you’ll see a correspondence.

You’ll find however, that some areas really are a revolution. Clouds do not have walls, so physical security does not map well from the data center to the cloud. Clouds involve employees of the cloud service provider, so you need to find ways to control people who do not work for you. These are significant changes, and they require new technology and new procedures.

InfoQ: What are the most important aspects of a cloud security policy?

Gilad: Continuing the themes of evolution and revolution, some aspects of cloud security will seem familiar. Firewalls, antivirus, and authentication – are evolving to the world of cloud computing. You will find that your cloud provider often offers you solutions in these areas; and traditional vendors are evolving their solutions as well.

Some aspects may change your current thinking. Since clouds do not have walls, and cloud employees could see your data – you must create metaphoric walls around your data. In cloud scenarios, data encryption is the recognized best practice for these new needs.

Incidentally, data encryption also helps with a traditional data center need – most data breaches happen from the inside, so the threat is not just from cloud employees. However, there is no question that the threat from cloud insiders has shined a new spotlight on the need for data encryption.

InfoQ: What is the best practice for encrypting cloud data?

Gilad: You should encrypt data at rest and in motion. Encrypting “in motion” is already well known to you – the standards of HTTPS/SSL and IPSEC apply equally well in the data center and in the cloud.

Encrypting “at rest” means that the data must be encrypted when it resides on a disk, in a database, on a file system, in storage, and of course if it is backed up. In the real world, people have not always done this in data centers – often relying on physical security as a replacement. In the cloud, physical security is no alternative – you must encrypt sensitive data.

This actually means data must be encrypted constantly as it is being written, and decrypted only when it is going to be used (i.e. just before a specific calculation, and only in memory). Standards such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) are commonly used for data encryption at rest.

InfoQ: Does cloud encryption singlehandedly protect data?

Gilad: If data is properly encrypted it is, in a sense, locked and cannot be used if it falls into the wrong hands. Unless, of course, those hands have a key.

Proper management of encryption keys is as important as the encryption itself. In fact, if you keep your encryption keys to yourself – you keep ownership of your data. This is an interesting and fundamental point – in the cloud you are outsourcing your infrastructure, but you can maintain ownership by keeping the encryption keys.

If encryption keys are stored alongside the data, any breach that discloses the data will also disclose the key to access it. If encryption keys are stored with cloud providers, they own your data.

Think of your data like a safe deposit box – would you leave your key with the banker? What if he gets robbed? What if his employees are paid to make copies of your key?

A best practice is split key encryption. With this method, your data is encrypted (e.g. with AES), and then the encryption key is split into parts. One part is managed with a cloud security provider and one part stays only with you. This way, only you control access to your data.

Even if your encrypted data is compromised, the perpetrators will not be able to decrypt it and it will be useless to them.

InfoQ: How can encryption keys be protected while they are in use?

Gilad: Keys in use in the cloud do not have to be vulnerable. They can be protected using homomorphic key management. This cryptographic technique gives the application access to the data store without ever exposing the master keys to the encryption – in an unencrypted state. It also ensures that if such (encrypted) keys are stolen, they can still never be used to access your data store

InfoQ: Is cloud data encryption in compliance with regulations?

Gilad: Regulations like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and many others (GLBA, FINRA, PIPEDA, et al) require or encourage cloud data to be properly encrypted and encryption keys to be properly managed. Some of these regulations even provide for a sort of “safe harbor” – that is, if your data is breached, but you can prove that you took the necessary steps to encrypt it and maintain control of the encryption keys, you may save the financial burden, the bureaucratic reporting requirements, and the damage to reputation involved with such an event.

InfoQ: Is cloud security cost-prohibitive and will it harm system performance?

Gilad: The cloud is often chosen for its lower operational overhead, and sometimes for actual dollar savings, compared with traditional data centers. Securing a cloud project does not need to negate the cloud’s ease of use nor make the project prohibitively expensive.

There are security solutions that require no hardware and, therefore, no large cap-ex investment. Pay-as-you-go business models make it easy to scale security up (or down) with the size of your project, as you add (or remove) virtual machines and data.

Performance can also be good. Modern cloud security virtual appliances and virtual agents – are optimized for cloud throughput and latency. You’ll be able to dial up performance as your cloud project scales up. To take a concrete example – data encryption – good solutions will include a capability to stream data as it is being encrypted (or decrypted), and do so inside your cloud account. Such approaches mean that virtual CPUs available in your cloud will be able to handle your performance needs with low latency.

InfoQ: Is there a way to protect cloud backups and disaster recovery?

Gilad: Data must be secured throughout its lifecycle. Properly encrypting data while it is in use, but then offering hackers unencrypted replicas as backups defeats the purpose of encrypting in the first place. You must encrypt and own the encryption keys for every point of the lifecycle of your information. Fortunately solutions that are built for the cloud do exist, and they should cover backups as well as primary copies.

InfoQ: What it more secure: a public cloud or a private cloud?

Gilad: Public and private clouds each have pros and cons in terms of ownership, control, cost, convenience and multi-tenancy. We have found that private clouds often require security controls similar to public ones. Use cases may involve users external to your company; or large “virtual” deployments with multiple internal projects, each with a need for strong security segregation. Your data can be properly encrypted, your keys can be properly managed, and you can be safe in all the major cloud scenarios: private, public, or hybrid.

InfoQ: If my data is in the cloud, my security is in the cloud, and my backup is in the cloud, what do I control?

Gilad: If you use encryption properly and maintain control of the encryption keys, you have replaced your physical walls with mathematical walls. You will own your data. Even though you do not control the physical resources, you maintain control of what they contain. This is one reason why encryption in the cloud is the best practice.

By properly using multiple regions or even multiple cloud providers, you can also ensure that you always have availability and access to your project and your data.

By combining such techniques, you do take back control. As CIO and owner of your data, you must always control your data – from beginning to end. Your control does not need to be sacrificed when you migrate to the cloud, though it may need to be managed differently.




The post Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOs appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.

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 - 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
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...