|By Gilad Parann-Nissany||
|July 10, 2014 11:46 AM EDT||
Cloud computing security issues are constantly a top concern for IT leaders migrating to the cloud. There are many issues related to data security in the cloud and more than one approach to cloud security. Focusing on Infrastructure as a Service cloud security, there are five issues that repeatedly concern customers that are resolved by implementing the best practices discussed at a high level below. Cloud security best practices are technology related, but also focuses on P3: Process, People, Products.
1. Choose your cloud wisely
Infrastructure clouds come in many variations. Some are big (like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google, or HP) and some are smaller but more focused on specific needs such as addressing compliance (Firehost and Layered Technologies are two examples, but there are many more).
A cross-platform concern in every Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) deployment is that data security is a shared responsibility. When shortlisting cloud providers, make sure specific certification such as ISO 27001 or SOC3 are in place. If you have specific regulatory concerns such as HIPAA safe harbor or PCI DSS compliance, ensure your cloud provider can support these specific requirements. Ask to speak with customers with a similar use case and similar size (or bigger). Learn from their lessons and make a decision accordingly.
2. Encrypt your data
As we’ve written before, encryption becomes your virtual walls in a cloud deployment. In your datacenter, your physical servers are protected by the 4 walls and the tight access security policy. In a shared cloud infrastructure, those measures are basically nonexistent.
This is where data encryption steps in. Data encryption allows you to segregate and isolate your environment from other companies (or adversaries) running on the same infrastructure. Data encryption in the cloud takes multiple forms: some more secure than others.
Freeware encryption tools might seem attractive at first, but they have two major issues:
- They don’t scale well
- In many cases, the encryption key is stored on the virtual disk along with the encrypted data, which renders the entire solution useless.
In a compliance use case, these drawbacks might pose serious issues.
Research and test more than one encryption solution, and learn carefully about the security posture of the encryption provider.
3. Focus on encryption keys
Although it sounds strange at first, cloud encryption can be easily achieved. The challenge lies=s not with the actual encryption, but with the encryption keys.
The Heartbleed bug, discovered a few weeks ago, exposed a weakness in Open SSL’s SSL/TLS protocol, allowing anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. As a result, many encrypted servers in the cloud unknowingly exposed their encryption key, which resided in memory of a server impacted by heartbleed.
To mitigate with such sophisticated attack vectors, the encryption keys should be secured throughout their life cycle: while in the key management system and while in use in the cloud. Emerging technologies such as split-key encryption and homomorphic key management can be used to avoid such attacks.
When researching encryption and key management technologies, look for cloud-enabled innovative technologies, and verify how encryption keys are managed and secure throughout the life cycle of the key usage.
4. Automate cloud security as much as possible
One of the clouds’ most important benefits is its ability to automatically scale an infrastructure environment up or down, in a single geography or across multiple geographies. When it comes to cloud security, the paradigm shifts. You’ll hear experts telling you about the need to “keep security under your control,” and that security automation means sacrificing trust.
While true for traditional security systems, new – cloud based – security solutions do enable automation using secure, RESTful API tools.
Automating data security actually reduces risk and configuration mistakes. Assuming the software vendor can prove automation is done securely, it is a best practice for IaaS cloud security.
5. Train your employees
Implementing the latest and greatest security toys is fun. Training employees may not seem as exciting. Yet, in many cases, a trained employee will be more efficient in stopping an attack than most technologies. (Art Gilliland gave a great pitch on “defense in depth” during RSA 2014 – see the video here).
A common modern attack pattern would start by identifying and infiltrating privileged users’ accounts (such as database administrator, or system administrators), and once access is gained, getting to end user data stored on those databases becomes a much simpler task for the attacker.
By educating users on risks and security best practices, the access of the attacker can be avoided. In addition, the cloud brings additional potential attack vectors, such as disk snapshots, or identity theft to the online portal, managing all servers. When training employees, always keep cloud in mind, together with your business tools and processes.
Cloud Security Best Practices Lead to Successful Deployments
There are many considerations surrounding cloud security. These best practices do not eliminate the risks or remove the need to always be kept abreast of the latest development. They do, however, ensure that your cloud will be more secure and enable you to comply with laws and industry regulations while taking advantage of the many business benefits of the cloud. Much of this, when explored from such a high level seems like common sense, and yet, the news is filled with stories of companies large and small who failed to properly manage their encryption keys or permitted their employees or vendors to enable access by attackers (a la recent breaches at Ebay and Target). Implementing these best practices will ensure that yours isn’t listed among the news-making breaches.
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 26, 2014 01:15 PM EST Reads: 730
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 26, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 697
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 26, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 699
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 26, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 520
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 26, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 575
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 26, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 588
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 26, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 349
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,134
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,188
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 25, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,386
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,240
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 25, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,273
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,598
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,477
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,616
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,629
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, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 23, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,817
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,751
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), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 23, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,776
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 platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,573