Cloud Providers and Security “Edge” Services – Where’s The Beef?
Previously I wrote a post titled “Oh Great Security Spirit In the Cloud: Have You Seen My WAF, IPS, IDS, Firewall…” in which I described the challenges for enterprises moving applications and services to the Cloud while trying to ensure parity in compensating controls, some of which are either not available or suffer from the “virtual appliance” conundrum (see the Four Horsemen presentation on issues surrounding virtual appliances.)
Yesterday I had a lively discussion with Lori MacVittie about the notion of what she described as “edge” service placement of network-based WebApp firewalls in Cloud deployments. I was curious about the notion of where the “edge” is in Cloud, but assuming it’s at the provider’s connection to the Internet as was suggested by Lori, this brought up the arguments in the post
above: how does one roll out compensating controls in Cloud?
The level of difficulty and need to integrate controls (or any “infrastructure” enhancement) definitely depends upon the Cloud delivery model (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) chosen and the business problem trying to be solved; SaaS offers the least amount of extensibility from the perspective of deploying controls (you don’t generally have any access to do so) whilst IaaS allows a lot of freedom at the guest level. PaaS is somewhere in the middle. None of the models are especially friendly to integrating network-based controls not otherwise supplied by the provider due to what should be pretty obvious reasons — the network is abstracted.
So here’s the rub, if MSSP’s/ISP’s/ASP’s-cum-Cloud operators want to woo mature enterprise customers to use their services, they are leaving money on the table and not fulfilling customer needs by failing to roll out complimentary security capabilities which lessen the compliance and security burdens of their prospective customers.
While many provide commoditized solutions such as anti-spam and anti-virus capabilities, more complex (but profoundly important) security services such as DLP (data loss/leakage prevention,) WAF, Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP,) XML Security, Application Delivery Controllers, VPN’s, etc. should also be considered for roadmaps by these suppliers.
Think about it, if the chief concern in Cloud environments is security around multi-tenancy and isolation, giving customers more comfort besides “trust us” has to be a good thing. If I knew where and by whom my data is being accessed or used, I would feel more comfortable.
Yes, it’s difficult to do properly and in many cases means the Cloud provider has to make a substantial investment in delivery platforms and management/support integration to get there. This is why niche players who target specific verticals (especially those heavily regulated) will ultimately have the upper hand in some of these scenarios – it’s not socialist security where “good enough” is spread around evenly. Services like these need to be configurable (SELF-SERVICE!) by the consumer.
An example? How about Google: where’s DLP integrated into the messaging/apps platforms? Amazon AWS: where’s IDP integrated into the VMM for introspection?
I wrote a couple of interesting posts about this (that may show up in the automated related posts lists below):
- GooglePOPs – Cloud Computing and Clean Pipes: Told Ya So…
- Re-branding Managed Services and SaaS For Security In the Cloud…1995 Never Looked So Shiny
- Clean Pipes – Less Sewerage or More Potable Water?
My customers in the Fortune 500 complain constantly that the biggest providers they are being pressured to consider for Cloud services aren’t listening to these requests — or aren’t in a position to respond.
That’s bad for everyone.
So how about it? Are services like DLP, IDP, WAF integrated into your Cloud providers’ offerings something you’d like to see rather than having to add additional providers as brokers and add complexity and cost back into Cloud?