Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Nate Vickery, Gopala Krishna Behara, Sridhar Chalasani, Tirumala Khandrika, Karthick Viswanathan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Peeling the Layers of the Cloud Security Onion By @Skytap | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

To ensure you’re properly assessing a vendor, use an industry standard framework

​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!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Skytap Blog

Author: Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, customers release better software faster. In this blog, we publish engaging, thought provoking stories that revolve around agile enterprise applications and cloud-based development and testing.

@CloudExpo Stories
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning 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 busin...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, described how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launching ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...