|By Skytap Blog||
|February 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST||
Peeling Back the Layers of the Cloud Security Onion
I had the chance to sit down with Lee Slaughter, Skytap's Manager of Information Security, to discuss security in the cloud, the efforts that make up a thorough due diligence when choosing a cloud provider, and how to keep up with external and internal threats to your business.
Noel: Last year, Charles Babcock wrote a piece for InformationWeek on the list of the top 9 worst cloud security threats that was put out by the Cloud Security Alliance. As I read through them, I noticed that the threats were predominantly related to malicious insiders and outsiders, data breaches, denial of service attacks, etc.
One of the listed threats (#8) was "insufficient due diligence." That's...obviously a really important one. What are some of the ways that an organization looking for a cloud services provider can make sure they do their own due diligence, and are there any areas that are often or easier overlooked?
Lee: Due diligence of a cloud vendor should be an extension of the security risk assessment program that is internal to your organization. First, you must scope and classify the vendor's service(s) according to the value of the asset you're looking to outsource. The value of the asset directly correlates to the amount of scrutiny that is placed on the assessment.
For example, you're looking for cloud vendors that could host your SaaS web site. Let's say that this site is mission critical for your organization because it delivers your product to your customers. It's so important that you're requiring a 99.9% uptime on that site, because you can calculate the unbelievable dollar amount that is lost when the site goes down, even for minutes. What assurances can those vendors give you that they can live up to the 99.9% uptime SLA that they signed up to provide?
To ensure you're properly assessing a vendor, use an industry standard framework. You most likely have some sort of standard that you certify or align to, so you can use the same for this purpose. ISO27k or NIST are very commonly used frameworks. Ask your vendor if they certify or align to these, and ensure their security certifications are scoped to protect the things relevant to you and your systems or data that reside in their cloud. If the vendor only aligns to these standards, ask for more details. Other factors that determine level of scrutiny include the laws and/or regulations that you are obligated to follow. Make sure you're not violating any of these obligations by putting this asset in the cloud.
Noel: This list of threats, like most warnings regarding the cloud, brings up both the good and the bad of "Shadow IT." You've mentioned that "there's a balance between enabling your employees to be happy and agile, and locking things down as much as possible." This seems like another area where a thorough due diligence period has to be taken seriously, but what else have you seen be effective in combatting Shadow IT from getting out of control/visibility.
Lee: Security management/staff require a good understanding of the business and should have enough visibility into the organization to know what product/services will be offered in the future. Questions such as, "Does a law/regulation require us to do this in a certain way?" or "What happens if someone gets unauthorized access to this system?" should be asked. Determine the threshold for control of a system or data based on its value. If the value of an asset is at the top of your scale, then your controls around that system/data should leave no room for shadow IT.
Noel: I think one of the reasons that people fear or are reluctant to embrace cloud technologies is the widespread front page news that hacks/breaches/leaks tend to make. We've seen the impacts that these attacks and/or oversights can have, and a recent study showed that "15% of logins for business apps used by organizations had been breached by hackers." Where would you say the fault often lies in these breaches? The cloud provider is likely quick to be blamed when the app itself was hacked, but what are some other potential, or even likely reasons that should be considered when investigating the security hole or failure?
Lee: As for fault in the 15% of breached logins, that depends. Cloud companies, who have been hacked and login credentials were stolen in usable form, are 100% at fault. By "usable form", I mean credentials that were NOT hashed and salted. Security should be practiced in many layers, often called the "security onion." If a company has a breach in outer area(s), the exposure should be limited. Many companies have what I call the M&M model of security...the hard coating that protects the outside, but nice and soft in the middle...meaning they don't have those necessary internal controls for prevention or detection of a breach.
Other reasons for breached logins would have nothing to do with the vendor at all. Unsuspecting users quite often fall for phishing scams that result in the bad guys getting the login credentials. Additionally, with so many apps and sites that require usernames and passwords, users typically re-use passwords and/or usernames. If one vendor with failing security controls allows an attacker to obtain those credentials, there's a good chance that those same credentials can be used for other apps/sites. This is where a password manager can come in handy to enable the use of different passwords for all of your apps but without having to remember all of them.
Noel: That same study said, "A quarter of all files in cloud storage apps are shared with one or more people outside of the organization." This reminds me of one of the areas of Skytap that I've always thought was really cool - the ability to only share certain data with teams that truly need it.
For instance, not exposing production data and environments with test/QA teams, instead, providing them with relevant mock test data. The production data never even enters the cloud. What ways can security teams ensure that controls are not just established, but monitored and maintained in regards to sensitive data?
Lee: This goes back to the risk assessment I discussed earlier. When certain data or systems are deemed to be of the highest sensitivity, you must rely on the features available through your cloud vendor to ensure you're addressing every possible risk that you identify during the assessment.
To ensure that controls are monitored and continuously improved, you must create a security program around those controls. This requires that you have a series of defined standards and procedures on the right way to do things. A defined, mature, control leaves no room for ambiguity in the steps that are taken to ensure security of data or systems. The controls should be monitored for any deviation of expected outcome and tweaked for improvement as necessary.
Noel: You often hear or read about how hackers are often "one step ahead" of software security, but that seems like somewhat of a negative assumption. How are you, and Skytap's other security-minded pros, utilizing the latest technology or even just forward-thinking strategies to combat this assumption that the cloud will always be risky business?
Lee: I'm actually in that camp as well. Hackers are and will always be one step ahead. Hackers get their foot in the door by tricking users and/or using a vulnerability to gain access. There will ALWAYS be at least one user that clicks that malicious link within an email and there will ALWAYS be zero-day vulnerabilities that are not foreseen or preventable. The security industry is shifting to doing more than the old ways of doing things - harden the outside and buy technology and implement processes for prevention of breaches. The shift is now to how fast can you detect and react to a breach. We all still need to do the things we've been doing, while increasing our focus on incident detection and response.
Want to know more about how Skytap addresses security and compliance? Click here to learn how our extensive security measures make Skytap enterprise-ready!
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Apr. 29, 2017 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,511
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. 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 June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Apr. 29, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,491
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
Apr. 29, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,806
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Apr. 29, 2017 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 9,353
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
Apr. 29, 2017 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,289
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Apr. 29, 2017 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,580
Building a cross-cloud operational model can be a daunting task. Per-cloud silos are not the answer, but neither is a fully generic abstraction plane that strips out capabilities unique to a particular provider. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Wolf, VP & Chief Technology Officer, Global Field & Industry at VMware, will discuss how successful organizations approach cloud operations and management, with insights into where operations should be centralized and when it’s best to decentraliz...
Apr. 29, 2017 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 926
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Apr. 29, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,062
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud 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. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Apr. 28, 2017 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,385
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Apr. 28, 2017 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,766
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Apr. 28, 2017 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,504
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Apr. 28, 2017 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,530
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Apr. 28, 2017 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,190
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Apr. 28, 2017 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,658
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
Apr. 28, 2017 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,448
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
Apr. 28, 2017 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,965
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
Apr. 28, 2017 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,346
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Apr. 28, 2017 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,211
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
Apr. 28, 2017 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,083
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
Apr. 28, 2017 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 904