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Archive for February, 2010

Virtual Networking/Nexus 1000v Virtual Switch Blogger Roundtable/WebEx Logistics – March 2nd.

February 25th, 2010 3 comments

About a year before I started working at the Jolly Green Giant (Cisco) I had a rather loud and addictive hobby that was focused on proving that Cisco would offer a “third party” virtual switch for VMware environments.  This sort of unhealthy fascination also dovetailed with another related to “Project California” which later became the UCS (Unified Computing System.)  Both are now something I talk about in my day job quite a bit.

So I don’t normally directly blog about specific work-related stuff here, but I’m going to make a quasi-exception.

The PM’s from our SAVBU (Server and Virtualization Business Unit) who own the Nexus 1000v and UCS product lines asked me if I’d get together a bunch of bloggers, analysts, end users, pundits, crusaders, super heroes, networking and security geeks and have a discussion about virtual networking — specifically the 1000v.

Of course they ask me to do this on the first day of the RSA Security Conference. At 9am. In the morning. Nice.

They didn’t tell me what they wanted me to say because honestly I think they want to see just how flustered the group above can get me…

So here’s the addy to the WebEx: https://ciscosales.webex.com/ciscosales/onstage/g.php?t=p&d=203474089

The event starts at 9am PST and I’ve got a room that can hold 8 people physically (or so I’m told) in our building across the street from Moscone at 201 3rd Street, San Francisco.  If you plan to attend physically, the first 8 folks can meet me downstairs at the Chevy’s Mexican restaurant and we’ll go up at 8:30 SHARP.  Otherwise, dial-in and have a good time.

It’s scheduled for an hour.

Talk/see you then.  With the folks that have already said they’d participate, it ought to be fun.  No, you don’t have to be a fanboy.

/Hoff

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Six Year Old Rationalizes the Cloud

February 22nd, 2010 6 comments

My youngest, Olivia, was interested in a video promo I was filming today for the RSA Security Conference on Cloud Computing.  She mentioned that she wanted to film a spot on Cloud, too.  Who am I to argue?

Direct link here.  Embedded below.

…she gets rather upset about people’s poor password practices around 6:25 or so.  Way to make a security daddy proud! ;)

Next up, virtualization!

/Hoff

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Don’t Hassle the Hoff: Recent Press & Podcast Coverage & Upcoming Speaking Engagements

February 19th, 2010 No comments

Here is some of the recent coverage from the last couple of months or so on topics relevant to content on my blog, presentations and speaking engagements.  No particular order or priority and I haven’t kept a good record, unfortunately.

Important Stuff I’m Working On:

Press/Technology & Security eZines/Website/Blog Coverage/Meaningful Links:

Recent Speaking Engagements/Confirmed to  speak at the following upcoming events:

  • Govt Solutions Forum Feb 1-2 (panel |n DC)
  • Govt Solutions Forum Feb 24 D.C.
  • ESAF, San Francisco, March 1
  • Cloud Security Alliance Summit, San Francisco, March 1
  • RSA Security Conference March 1-5 San Francisco
  • Microsoft Bluehat Buenos Aires, Argentina – March 16-19th
  • ISSA General Assembly, Belgium
  • Infosec.be, Belgium
  • Codegate, South Korea, April 7-8
  • SOURCE Boston, April 21-23
  • Shot the Sherrif – Brazil – May 17th
  • Gluecon , Denver, May 26/27
  • FIRST, Miami, FL,  June 13-18
  • SANS DC – August 19th-20th

Conferences I am tentatively attending, trying to attend and/or working on logistics for speaking:

  • InterOp April 25-29 Vegas
  • Cisco Live – June 27th – July 1st Vegas
  • Blackhat 2010 – July 24-29 Vegas
  • Defcon
  • Notacon

Oh, let us not forget these top honors (buahahaha!)

  • Top 10 Sexy InfoSec Geeks (link)
  • The ThreatPost “All Decade Interview Team” (link)
  • ‘Cloud Hero’ and ‘Best Cloud Presentation’ – 2009 Cloudies Awards (link), and
  • 2010 RSA Social Security Bloggers Award nomination (link) ;)

[I often get a bunch of guff as to why I make these lists: ego, horn-tooting, self-aggrandizement. I wish I thought I were that important. ;) The real reason is that it helps me keep track of useful stuff focused not only on my participation, but that of the rest of the blogosphere.]

/Hoff

Comments on the PwC/TSB Debate: The cloud/thin computing will fundamentally change the nature of cyber security…

February 16th, 2010 2 comments

I saw a very interesting post on LinkedIn with the title PwC/TSB Debate: The cloud/thin computing will fundamentally change the nature of cyber security…

PricewaterhouseCoopers are working with the Technology Strategy Board (part of BIS) on a high profile research project which aims to identify future technology and cyber security trends. These statements are forward looking and are intended to purely start a discussion around emerging/possible future trends. This is a great chance to be involved in an agenda setting piece of research. The findings will be released in the Spring at Infosec. We invite you to offer your thoughts…

The cloud/thin computing will fundamentally change the nature of cyber security…

The nature of cyber security threats will fundamentally change as the trend towards thin computing grows. Security updates can be managed instantly by the solution provider so every user has the latest security solution, the data leakage threat is reduced as data is stored centrally, systems can be scanned more efficiently and if Botnets capture end-point computers, the processing power captured is minimal. Furthermore, access to critical data can be centrally managed and as more email is centralised, malware can be identified and removed more easily. The key challenge will become identity management and ensuring users can only access their relevant files. The threat moves from the end-point to the centre.

What are your thoughts?

My response is simple.

Cloud Computing or “Thin Computing” as described above doesn’t change the “nature” of (gag) “cyber security” it simply changes its efficiency, investment focus, capital model and modality. As to the statement regarding threats with movement “…from the end-point to the centre,” the surface area really becomes amorphous and given the potential monoculture introduced by the virtualization layers underpinning these operations, perhaps expands.

Certainly the benefits described in the introduction above do mean changes to who, where and when risk mitigation might be applied, but those activities are, in most cases, still the same as in non-Cloud and “thick” computing.  That’s not a “fundamental change” but rather an adjustment to a platform shift, just like when we went from mainframe to client/server.  We are still dealing with the remnant security issues (identity management, AAA, PKI, encryption, etc.) from prior  computing inflection points that we’ve yet to fix.  Cloud is a great forcing function to help nibble away at them.

But, if you substitute “client server” in relation to it’s evolution from the “mainframe era” for “cloud/thin computing” above, it all sounds quite familiar.

As I alluded to, there are some downsides to this re-centralization, but it is important to note that I do believe that if we look at what PaaS/SaaS offerings and VDI/Thin/Cloud computing offers, it makes us focus on protecting our information and building more survivable systems.

However, there’s a notable bifurcation occurring. Whilst the example above paints a picture of mass re-centralization, incredibly powerful mobile platforms are evolving.  These platforms (such as the iPhone) employ a hybrid approach featuring both native/local on-device applications and storage of data combined with the potential of thin client capability and interaction with distributed Cloud computing services.*

These hyper-mobile and incredibly powerful platforms — and the requirements to secure them in this mixed-access environment — means that the efficiency gains on one hand are compromised by the need to once again secure  diametrically-opposed computing experiences.  It’s a “squeezing the balloon” problem.

The same exact thing is occurring in the Private versus Public Cloud Computing models.

/Hoff

* P.S. Bernard Golden also commented via Twitter regarding the emergence of Sensor nets which also have a very interesting set of implications on security as it relates to both the examples of Cloud and mobile computing elements above.

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The Automated Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API (A6) Becomes: CloudAudit

February 12th, 2010 No comments

I’m happy to announce that the Automated Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API (A6) working group is organizing under the brand of “CloudAudit.”  We’re doing so to enable reaching a broader audience, ensure it is easier to find us in searches and generally better reflect the mission of the group.  A6 remains our byline.

We’ve refined how we are describing and approaching solving the problems of compliance, audit, and assurance in the cloud space and part of that is reflected in our re-branding.  You can find the original genesis for A6 here in this series of posts. Meanwhile, you can keep track of all things CloudAudit at our new home: http://www.CloudAudit.org.

The goal of CloudAudit is to provide a common interface that allows Cloud providers to automate the Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance (A6) of their environments and allow authorized consumers of their services to do likewise via an open, extensible and secure API.  CloudAudit is a volunteer cross-industry effort from the best minds and talent in Cloud, networking, security, audit, assurance, distributed application and system architecture backgrounds.

Our execution mantra is to:

  • Keep it simple, lightweight and easy to implement; offer primitive definitions & language structure using HTTP(S)
  • Allow for extension and elaboration by providers and choice of trusted assertion validation sources, checklist definitions, etc.
  • Not require adoption of other platform-specific APIs
  • Provide interfaces to Cloud naming and registry services

The benefits to the cloud provider are clear: a single reference model that allows automation of many functions that today incurs large costs in both manpower and time and costs business.  The base implementation is being designed to require little to no programmatic changes in order for implementation.  For the consumer and interested/authorized third parties, it allows on-demand examination of the same set of functions.

Mapping to compliance, regulatory, service level, configuration, security and assurance frameworks as well as third party trust brokers is part of what A6 will also deliver.  CloudAudit is working closely with other alliance and standards body organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance and ENISA.

If you want to know who’s working on making this a reality, there are hundreds of interested parties; consumers as well as providers such as: Akamai, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, NetSuite, Rackspace, Savvis, Terremark, Sun, VMware, and many others.

If you would like to get involved, please join the CloudAudit Working Group or visit the homepage here.

Here is the slide deck from the 2/12/10 working group call (our second) and a link to the WebEx playback of the call.

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Pimping the Security Non-Cons: Troopers 2010

February 12th, 2010 No comments

My friends at ERNW in Germany are putting on another fantastic security conference this year. I was lucky enough to attend Troopers ’08 in Munich and this year it’s in Heidelberg.  Check out the details here.

TROOPERS10 – This time it’s a home match.

This year we’re bringing back the action right to the place where everything started: Heidelberg, Germany.

In 2007 the idea of a security conference without the usual product presentations, marketing blabla, and bull*ht-bingo was born – just pure practical IT security. After an enthusiastic response from our audiences in Munich we decided to evolve the concept into a full-blown conference combined with a series of workshops and round tables.

We’re inviting (C)ISOs, IT auditors, sysadmins, security consultants and everyone who is involved with IT security to come to Heidelberg and get in touch with leading experts from all over the world. A number of workshops on monday and tuesday covers highly relevant topics in detail, on wednesday and thursday you’ll learn about the latest developments, threats and achievements from world class security evangelists, experts and hackers. And on friday we seat you on round tables right next to the speakers and fellow experts. You’ll be able to discuss your own strategies and concerns with them face-to-face. You will be listened to, because in the end of the day we’re all the same: TROOPERS in the infosec world.

I’ll be posting a couple of other excellent conferences shortly.
/Hoff

Categories: Conferences Tags:

Microsoft Azure Going “Down Stack,” Adding IaaS Capabilities. AWS/VMware WAR!

February 4th, 2010 4 comments

It’s very interesting to see that now that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) players like Amazon Web Services are clawing their way “up the stack” and adding more platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities, that Microsoft is going “down stack” and providing IaaS capabilities by way of adding RDP and VM capabilities to Azure.

From Carl Brooks’ (@eekygeeky) article today:

Microsoft is expected to add support for Remote Desktops and virtual machines (VMs) to Windows Azure by the end of March, and the company also says that prices for Azure, now a baseline $0.12 per hour, will be subject to change every so often.

Prashant Ketkar, marketing director for Azure, said that the service would be adding Remote Desktop capabilities as soon as possible, as well as the ability to load and run virtual machine images directly on the platform. Ketkar did not give a date for the new features, but said they were the two most requested items.

This move begins a definite trend away from the original concept for Azure in design and execution. It was originally thought of as a programming platform only: developers would write code directly into Azure, creating applications without even being aware of the underlying operating system or virtual instances. It will now become much closer in spirit to Amazon Web Services, where users control their machines directly. Microsoft still expects Azure customers to code for the platform and not always want hands on control, but it is bowing to pressure to cede control to users at deeper and deeper levels.

One major reason for the shift is that there are vast arrays of legacy Windows applications users expect to be able to run on a Windows platform, and Microsoft doesn’t want to lose potential customers because they can’t run applications they’ve already invested in on Azure. While some users will want to start fresh, most see cloud as a way to extend what they have, not discard it.

This sets the path to allow those enterprise customers running HyperV internally to take those VMs and run them on (or in conjunction with) Azure.

Besides the obvious competition with AWS in the public cloud space, there’s also a private cloud element. As it stands now, one of the primary differentiators for VMware from the private-to-public cloud migration/portability/interoperability perspective is the concept that if you run vSphere in your enterprise, you can take the same VMs without modification and move them to a service provider who runs vCloud (based on vSphere.)

This is a very interesting and smart move by Microsoft.

/Hoff

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