Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Analyzing the Top 10 Benefits of Unified Security

Providing collaborative intelligence from the cloud

Of all the strategies and tactics available to prevent breaches, deter data leakage and theft, control access and secure beyond the so-called network perimeter, the one that is emerging as an achievable and affordable best practice is that of unified security from the cloud.

But if you look across the web, you will no doubt come across various versions of what constitutes “unified,” what is “protected,” and, what is “security from the cloud?” Luckily this means that the concept of unified security from the cloud is becoming more and more of a best practice. In general, the practice of unified security is the centralization of all security functions under one umbrella across the enterprise. This means more than ensuring data encryption. It means more than access policies. It means more than intrusion detection, malware blocking, data review. It’s more than ensuring compliance to the various regulatory bodies that provide general guidelines. It is the sum of all these things… and more.

So what is unified security? In short, it is an enterprise-powered tactical strategy that not only centralizes various security toolsets, but creates the seamless means to create cooperative functionality between them all. And as a cloud-based security initiative, this creates several tangible benefits that will allow any-sized company to upgrade their protection, but expand their protection beyond the network-centric traditional models of perimeter security.

To properly expand visibility, unified security is typically comprised of several solutions including system log archiving (the collection and storage of all online activity), identity management (administration of users, passwords and applications), access management (enforcement of identity rules and channeled access to data) and SIEM (the  intelligence that correlates and contextualizes all activity).

True unified security is also more than the solutions it comprises; it includes the analysis, management, and the implementation of access and intelligence policies that transform it from passive to proactive and immediately responsive. And by developing and managing these security features, solutions and policies from the cloud is more than the obvious cost savings, it allows for the exponential expansion of  real time visibility over a broader landscape and facilitates a more secure transaction compatibility with the way modern enterprises exchange, process and share  information.

To that end, the following are 10 benefits of implementing unified security from the cloud.

10. Right size as the situation dictates – In today’s business landscape, change is often fast and evolutionary. Being able to keep up is a major challenge for IT and IT security. One of the hallmarks of a cloud-based implementation is the flexibility and agility to adjust its scope quickly and without the oppressive costs and time of a consultant or IT service. Considering the hoops of fire and Herculean strength needed to expand coverage to a new department or division, on-premise security initiatives may require the purchase of new expensive servers, resource-heavy reconfiguration and re-prioritization of core competency projects.   With the cloud’s natural economies of scale, these costs are already absorbed and changes are more fluid and immediate. And with unified security, it’s more than just applying a sensor or agent on a server to collect new data. The changes to right size affect more than a single solution, —you must consider the constant fluctuation of change within an enterprise-the ebb and flow of staffing, the adjustment of new, updated and retired applications, and all the moving parts that come with incorporating vendors, suppliers and customers into the permission and protection mix. Unified security from the cloud creates the freedom and necessary speed to evolve with a company’s changing situation on an as-needed basis without an Act of Congress while still ensuring the adjustments across all the entire security landscape.

9. Make compliance easier: One of the substantial drains of time and energy go into the process of proving to various regulatory bodies that various slices of data are free from prying keyboards. Some companies go so far as dedicating personnel to simply comb through logs and find and report upon instances of breach and questionable activities. As I’ve insisted many times before, this practice is akin to looking for the horse in a gigantic haystack long after its left the barn (no matter how often sys-logs are reviewed, it is done in a rear-view mirror. These are events that have already occurred. And the damage is already done).

When evaluating what organizations like PCI and HIPAA require, the scope is more than just continuous monitoring (see blog regarding continuous monitoring satisfies compliance, but not security). They require proof of compliance for everything from firewall configuration to vulnerability scans, from data storage protocols to the development of identity authentication, password management and access privileges. I've identified about 20 common critical controls that are typically required by all compliance agencies. Unified security consolidates all the capabilities so that the reporting is considerably more streamline and accessible. Instead of four or five solutions each requiring four or five reports, logins and the physical coordination, collection and review for reporting, compliance is achieved by an automated model (see the white paper Mapping Compliance Requirements). It is the multiple collaborative and concurrent layers of security that support the automations, create better accuracy and significantly reduce the time previously dedicated to compliance reporting.

8. Easier, faster to deploy and find ROI. Forrester noted that 73% of major software implementations don’t get past phase 1. Whether a result of scope creep, budget issues or flagging executive buy-in, the promise of ROI for on premise security initiatives are difficult; not to mention the drag on IT productivity and lack of measurable results. And it’s those results we depend on to drive ROI and solve the business need (see the article: Is your security initiative “one inch into a mile”? ) It’s no secret that way too many companies view security solutions as a “nice to have” luxury or a grudgingly purchased cost center. But this is a different business environment than even that of 5 years ago; beyond the drivers of compliance and industry required governance IT security must be built into the fabric of every online facet of the business. Ignore reality at your own peril.

Assuming that security investments are not simply a luxury, the question remains how do you find ROI in a prevention initiative? On-premise point solutions are expensive. There’s no getting around that fact. Installing them is expensive. Configuring them is expensive. Maintaining them is expensive. In fact, Gartner estimates the annual cost to own and manage traditional on-premise security software applications can be 4X the initial purchase. Each and every move is a significant bite out of the any potential ROI gain in productivity. It might be more than 3 years before the investment starts paying off in any tangible way. Now the cloud, especially the unified security configuration, removes all of the waiting time. As a multi-tenant deployment, there is no hardware to buy, no software to install. Your complex, planned multi-phased, multi-year rollout can be fused a single week (sometimes “installation-to-insight” in minutes). Therefore the cloud version is providing the immediate benefits and immediate returns. Moreover, unified cloud security removes the complexity in configuration, installation and deployment because it is already built and easily customized to fit any sized organization.

We’ll deal with cost later on, but in terms of ROI, because there are no capital expenditures and the ability to keep investment minimized and output maximized means you can realign resources based on immediate business needs. The ROI is the elimination of negative impact—no compliance fines, no trust-busting breaches while waiting for the system to be fully functional, reduced risks and liabilities may decrease various insurance costs, no employees slipping away unnoticed with a database of your customers, no having to put out malware fires, no excessive time management conflicts from multi-sourced coordination, no de-centralized shadow IT, etc..

7. Better safeguard against BYOD: It may be the buzzword of the moment, but it is a trend that will continue to proliferate. Employees are increasingly using their own potentially-unsanctioned devices (smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices) to access your network, applications and data. (Read the blog “The Genie, the bottle and BYOD).  Users love the mobility and the immediacy of these devices, but forget these devices are just hand-held computers prone to the same intrusions, attacks, viruses and risks as the computers used in the office. The larger problem is many users don’t see that, so every time they sign on to your network or download an app, it creates a wider and wider vulnerability gap for the enterprise network. However, by implementing unified security (that includes access control and identity management), you can minimize what an employee (or supplier, partner or any other group) can see and what tools they can access. Additionally unified security policies can create an alert every time one of these unsanctioned devices tries to access the enterprise. Based on your protocols and administrative policies, the system can grant access or block for these mobile devices. It is one way in which identity management, access management; log management and SIEM work seamlessly together and prevent unwarranted access or careless usage issues.

6. Security-as-a-service offers continuous tribal knowledge (expertise) without adding headcount. One of the constant impediments to shrinking the vulnerability gap is recruiting and retaining the specific type of talent necessary to maintain an enterprise-level security initiative. But The MSPAlliance reports that the unemployment rate for such professionals is less than 1%--and the salary for these specialists has doubled in the past three years. Security-as-a-service is the “secret” value-add that accompanies a cloud-based deployment.  Having an expert that understands more than what a denial of service/brute force attack looks like can be invaluable; one that knows how to read in between the lines; that understands context and can trigger an alert or dismiss a possible threat as harmless—and to do it without any additional personnel costs to a company is a huge benefit.

We will be continuing this list next week with our entries of 5 through our number one benefit. However, in case you can’t wait, here’s a preview...

5. Control applications and who gets to use them

4. Know what’s happening faster, more completely

3. Real time actionable information

2. One single, centralized management component

1. More protection, less cost

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
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud competition for database hosts is fierce. How do you evaluate a cloud provider for your database platform? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Chris Presley, a Solutions Architect at Pythian, gave users a checklist of considerations when choosing a provider. Chris Presley is a Solutions Architect at Pythian. He loves order – making him a premier Microsoft SQL Server expert. Not only has he programmed and administered SQL Server, but he has also shared his expertise and passion with b...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...