Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ed Featherston, Rostyslav Demush, Jamie Madison, Jason Bloomberg, Greg Pierce

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Chris Soghoian on Privacy in the Cloud

Privacy, Encryption, and Government Back Doors in the Web 2.0 Era

Chris Soghoian is giving a Berkman lunchtime talk called: “Caught in the Cloud: Privacy, Encryption, and Government Back Doors in the Web 2.0 Era,” based on paper he’s just written. In the interest of time, he’s not going to talk about the “miscreants in government” today.

Pew says that “over 69% of Americans use webmail services, store data online, or other use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is in the cloud.” Chris’ question: Why have cloud providers failed to provide adequate security for the customers. (”Cloud computing” = users’ data is stored on a company server and the app is delivered through a browser.)

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

He says that providers are moving to the cloud because they don’t have to worry about privacy. Plus they can lock out troublesome users or countries. It lets them protect patented algorithms. They can do targeted advertising. And they can provide instant updates. Users get cheap/free software, auto revision control, easy collaboration, and worldwide accessibility. Chris refers to “Cloud creep”: the increasing use of cloud computing, its installation on new PCs, etc. Vivek Kundra switched 38,000 DC employees over to Google Docs becore he became Federal CIO. “It’s clear he’s Google-crazy.” Many people may not even know they’ve shifted to the cloud. Many cloud apps now provide offline access as well. HTML 5 (Firefox 3.5) provide offline access without even requiring synchronizers such as Google Gears. 

Chris says that using a single browser to access every sort of site — from safe to dangerous — is bad practice. Single-site browsers avoid that. E.g., Mozilla Prism keeps its site in its own space. With Prism, you have an icon on your desktop for, e.g., Google Docs. It opens in a browser that can’t go anywhere else; it doesn’t look like a cloud app. “It’s a really cool technology.” Chris uses it for online banking, etc.

Conclusion of Part 1 of Chris’ talk: Cloud services are being used increasingly, and users don’t always know it.

Part 2

We use encryption routinely. SSl/TLS is used by banks, e-commerce, etc. But the cloud providers don’t use SSL for much other than the login screen. Your documents, your spreadsheets, etc., can easily be packet-sniffed. Your authentication cookies can be intercepted. That lets someone login, modify, delete, or pretend to be you. “This is a big deal.” (The “Cookie Monster” tool lets you hijack authentication cookies. AIMJECT lets you intercept IM sessions; you can even interject your own messages.)

This problem has been wn since August 2007, and all the main cloud providers were notified. It took Google a year to release a fix, and even so it hasn’t been turned on by default. Facebook, Yahoo mail, Microsoft, etc. don’t even offer SSL. Google says it doesn’t turn it on by default because it can slow down your computer, because it has to decrypt your data. But Google does require you to use it for Google Health, because the law requires it. To get SSL for gmail, you have to go 5 levels down to set it.

So, why doesn’t Google provide SSL bu default? Because it takes “vastly more processing power,” and thus is very expensive for Google. SSL isn’t a big deal when done on your computer (the client computer), but for cloud computing, it would all fall on Google’s shoulders. “If 100% of Google’s customers opt to use SSL, it sees no new profits, but higher costs.” “And Google is one of the better ones.” The only better one, in Chris’ view, is Adobe, which turns it on by default for its online image editing service. [Here's a page that tells you how to turn on SSL for a Google Accounts account.]

Chris thinks that cloud computing security may be a type of “shrouded attribute,” i.e. am attribute that isn’t considered when making a buying decision. But, Chris says, defaults matter. E.g., if employees opt employees into a 401K, no one opts out, but if you leave it to employees to opt in, fewer than half do. Facebook, for example, seems to blame the user for not turning privacy features off. “Users should be given safe services by default.”

Part 3: Fixing it

Chris draws analogies to seatbelts and tobacco legislation. He recommends that we go down the cigarette pathway first: Raise publice awareness so that they demand mandatory warnings for insecure apps. E.g., “WARNING: Email messagew that you write can be read, intercepted or stolen. Click here to turn on protection…” [Chris' version was better. Couldn't type fast enough.]

Or, if necessary, we could pass regulations mandating SSL. T he FTC could rule that companies that claim their services are safe are lying.

Q: [me] How much crime does this enable?

A: The tools are out there. But there's no data because intercepting packets leaves no traces.

Q: How about OpenID?
A: The issue of authentication cookies is the same.

Q: Should we have a star rating system?
A: Maybe.

Q: The lack of data about the crime is a problem for getting people to act. Maybe you should look at the effect on children: Web sites aimed for children, under 18 year olds using Facebook…
A: Good idea! Although Google’s terms of service don’t allow people under 18 to use any of their services.

Q: People also feel there’s safety in numbers.

Q: How much more processing power would SSL require from Google?
A: Google custom builds its servers. Adding in a new feature would require crypto-co-processor cards. I don’t think they have those. They’d have to deploy them.

Q: There are GreaseMonkey scripts that require FB to use SSL. Worthwhile?
A: FB won’t accept SSL connections.

Q: Google Chrome’s incognito mode? Does it help with anything?
A: It helps with porn. That cleans up your history, but it doesn’t encrypt traffic.

Q: The vast majority of people where I live don’t lock their house doors. And [says someone else] people don’t lock their mailboxes even though they contain confidential docs.
A: Do you walk around with your ATM PIN number on your forehead? Your bank uses SSL because it’s legally responsible for electronic break-ins, whereas Google isn’t.
A: The risk is small if you’re using a wired ethernet connection or a protected wifi connection.

Q: With seatbelts and smoking, your life’s at risk. For Gmail, the risk seems different. There aren’t data, screaming victims, etc. It makes the demand for regulation harder to stimulate.
A: The analogy doesn’t work 100%. But I think the disanalogy works in my favor: It’s hard to have a cigarette that doesn’t harm you, but it’s easy to have a secure SSL connection.

Q: Shouldn’t business care about this?
A: Yes, CIO’s can make that decision and turn on encryption for the entire org. Consumers have to be their own CIOs.

[from the IRC] Maybe the govrnment wants Google to be insecure to enable snooping.
A: Allow me to put on my tin foil hat. Last year the head of DNI said that the gov’t collects vast amounts of traffic. We don’t know how they’re doing it, which networks they’re collecting data from. If Google and AT&T, etc., turned on SSL be default, the gov’t’s job would be much harder. Google has other reasons to keep SSL off, but it works out to the gov’t’s benefit.

Does Adobe’s online wordprocessor, Buzzword, offer SSL for its docs?
A: Don’t know. [It does] [Tags: ]

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By David Weinberger

David is the author of JOHO the blog (www.hyperorg.com/blogger). He is an independent marketing consultant and a frequent speaker at various conferences. "All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and never write something I don't believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don't know about. Put differently: All I'll hide are the irrelevancies."

@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
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...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...