Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Noel Wurst, David H Deans

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 InfoQ.com: 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 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
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay sa...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting an...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
AppZero has announced that its award-winning application migration software is now fully qualified within the Microsoft Azure Certified program. AppZero has undergone extensive technical evaluation with Microsoft Corp., earning its designation as Microsoft Azure Certified. As a result of AppZero's work with Microsoft, customers are able to easily find, purchase and deploy AppZero from the Azure Marketplace. With just a few clicks, users have an Azure-based solution for moving applications to the...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud is becoming the de-facto way for enterprises to leverage common infrastructure while innovating and one of the biggest obstacles facing public cloud computing is security. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Aliber, a global marketing executive at Verizon, discussed how the best place for web security is in the cloud. Benefits include: Functions as the first layer of defense Easy operation –CNAME change Implement an integrated solution Best architecture for addressing network-l...
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.