An Ode To Glass

May 18th, 2013 1 comment

hoff-glassGoogle Glasses reviewed, often spiced with profanity
A technology, profound, previews dystopic humanity

Augmentation, extension, lensless optics you blink through
Winking gestures, #hashtagged pictures, an earpiece you talk to

It gives you directions, sends you tweets, you’ll hangout!
Wifi and bluetooth, “PEACOCK!” its users all shout

“Don’t diss the tech, man,” the fanbois decree
You’ve nothing to fear…except privacy

They’re a curious bunch, these intrepid explorers
While last week’s cool toys now lay dusty and choreless

Want lunch? Movie review? Need directions? A clue?
You needn’t ask, they’ll just Glass it for you.

They look down when they speak and up when they Glass
Don’t take offense, they’re not being an ass

There’s two planes of existence, “outside Glass” and thus “through”
They live on one side, on the other, there’s you

The worldwide web at you pupil-tips, it sounds quite the perk
Til you end up all cross-eyed, like Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”

Glassdebating on Twitter…it seems to last for hours
Those in technorapture post pics of themselves in showers

The experience, transcendent, it seems quite zen
But the users seem to be just middle-aged white men

We’ve already got Aspies, the socially inept
Now we’ll bear witness with those with whom you’ve slept

They’ll be segregated seating; “Glass OK” and “No Glass”
The have’s and the have-not’s, it’s gonna be crass

As social interaction becomes more and more abstracted,
people wearing Glass will converse with others much distracted

Are you recording?  Is that thing on?  Are you Googling me as we speak?
At first it seems quite quaint, a parlor trick for geeks

And then as comfort and fashion sense collide and people will withdraw,
alas some good technology, will not seem cool much more

You’ll pull out a smart phone, look like a T-Rex
While a Glasshole whispers snidely “Bet he still codes in hex!”

Those who hold out will proudly boast along with loud retort:
“Hey man, I’m not tethered, this ain’t Minority Report!”

“OK Glass” is a statement, a command, so stop hating.
To some it’s a class thing, a tech thing, to some it’s berating

If your perspective is at just one end of the spectrum,
the schism of your prism could have you kicked in the rectum

At the end of the day, it’s a magnificent tool
some think it obtuse, some think it quite cool

For me and my smartphone with my old school connection
I feel no need for this UX inflection

I have some serious things I’ll say about this after being accosted for my opinions — which I actually researched by having Adrian let me use his Glass.

I’ll talk about that soon.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen these:

and

…you really ought to :)

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Video Of My ’12 Microsoft Bluehat Talk: Sh*t My Cloud Evangelist Says

April 10th, 2013 3 comments

Topi Biru - de Bono Blue Hat1

For those of you who haven’t seen me speak, Bluehat generally brings out the best in me and happens to capture it on video and make it available for you!

Here you go (link if you can’t see the embedded video below):

Enjoy!

/Hoff

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Intel TPM: The Root Of Trust…Is Made In China

February 22nd, 2013 8 comments

This is deliciously ironic.

Intel‘s implementation of the TCG-driven TPM — the Trusted Platform Module — often described as a hardware root of trust, is essentially a cryptographic processor that allows for the storage (and retrieval) and attestation of keys.  There are all sorts of uses for this technology, including things I’ve written of and spoken about many times prior.  Here’s a couple of good links:

But here’s something that ought to make you chuckle, especially in light of current news and a renewed focus on supply chain management relative to security and trust.

The Intel TPM implementation that is used by many PC manufacturers, the same one that plays a large role in Intel’s TXT and Mt. Wilson Attestation platform, is apparently…wait for it…manufactured in…wait for it…China.

<thud>

I wonder how NIST feels about that?  ASSurance.

Intel_TPMROFLCoptr.  Hey, at least it’s lead-free. o_O

Talk amongst yourselves.

/Hoff

 

 

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Incomplete Thought: Where Is the Technology Disruption Forcing REAL Change In Security?

January 24th, 2013 15 comments

In the networking world, we’ve seen how virtualization technologies and operational models such as cloud have impacted the market, vendors and customers in what amounts to an incredibly short span of time.

What’s popped out of that progression is the hugely disruptive impact of Software Defined Networking and corresponding Network Function Virtualization.  These issues are forcing both short and long term disruption in the networking space.  Behemoths have had to pivot…almost overnight.  We haven’t seen this behavior for a while.

I’m curious as to what people see in terms of technology that they feel is truly disruptive to the Security industry.  That means you. :)

I understand many use cases, trends and operational shifts such as BYOD, Mobility, Cloud, etc. as well as amplification of “older” issues such as DDoS, Malware, WebApp attacks, etc., but I’m curious if you think we are really seeing truly security technology disruption impact that is innovative versus incremental advancement (on either the offensive or defensive side of the coin.)

You have an opinion?

/Hoff

 

 

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Wanna Be A Security Player? Deliver It In Software As A Service Layer…

January 9th, 2013 1 comment

As I continue to think about the opportunities that Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) bring into focus, the capability to deliver security as a service layer is indeed exciting.

I wrote about how SDN and OpenFlow (as a functional example) and the security use cases provided by each will be a differentiating capability back in 2011: The Killer App For OpenFlow and SDN? SecurityOpenFlow & SDN – Looking forward to SDNS: Software Defined Network Security, and Back To The Future: Network Segmentation & More Moaning About Zoning.

Recent activity in the space has done nothing but reinforce this opinion.  My day job isn’t exactly lacking in excitement, either :)

As many networking vendors begin to bring their SDN solutions to market — whether in the form of networking equipment or controllers designed to interact with them — one of the missing strategic components is security.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, unfortunately, and as such, predictably there are also now startups entering this space and/or retooling from the virtualization space and stealthily advertising themselves as “SDN Security” companies :)

Like we’ve seen many times before, security is often described (confused?) as a “simple” or “atomic” service and so SDN networking solutions are designed with the thought that security will simply be “bolted on” after the fact and deployed not unlike a network service such as “load balancing.”  The old “we’ll just fire up some VMs and TAMO (Then a Miracle Occurs) we’ve got security!” scenario.  Or worse yet, we’ll develop some proprietary protocol or insertion architecture that will magically get traffic to and from physical security controls (witness the “U-TURN” or “horseshoe” L2/L3 solutions of yesteryear.)

The challenge is that much of Security today is still very topologically sensitive and depends upon classical networking constructs to be either physically or logically plumbed between the “outside” and the asset under protection, or it’s very platform dependent and lacks the ability to truly define a policy that travels with the workload regardless of the virtualization, underlay OR overlay solutions.

Depending upon the type of control, security is often operationalized across multiple layers using wildly different constructs, APIs and context in terms of policy and disposition depending upon it’s desired effect.

Virtualization has certainly evolved our thinking about how we should think differently about security mostly due to the dynamism and mobility that virtualization has introduced, but it’s still incredibly nascent in terms of exposed security capabilities in the platforms themselves.  It’s been almost 5 years since I started raging about how we need(ed) platform providers to give us capabilities that function across stacks so we’d have a fighting chance.  To date, not only do we have perhaps ONE vendor doing some of this, but we’ve seen the emergence of others who are maniacally focused on providing as little of it as possible.

If you think about what virtualization offers us today from a security perspective, we have the following general solution options:

  1. Hypervisor-based security solutions which may apply policy as a function of the virtual-NIC card of the workloads it protects.
  2. Extensions of virtual-networking (i.e. switching) solutions that enable traffic steering and some policy enforcement that often depend upon…
  3. Virtual Appliance-based security solutions that require manual or automated provisioning, orchestration and policy application in user space that may or may not utilize APIs exposed by the virtual networking layer or hypervisor

There are tradeoffs across each of these solutions; scale, performance, manageability, statefulness, platform dependencies, etc.  There simply aren’t many platforms that natively offer security capabilities as a function of service delivery that allows arbitrary service definition with consistent and uniform ways of describing the outcome of the policies at these various layers.  I covered this back in 2008 (it’s a shame nothing has really changed) in my Four Horsemen Of the Virtual Security Apocalypse presentation.

As I’ve complained for years, we still have 20 different ways of defining how to instantiate a five-tupule ACL as a basic firewall function.

Out of the Darkness…

The promise of SDN truly realized — the ability to separate the control, forwarding, management and services planes — and deploy security as a function of available service components across overlays and underlays, means we will be able to take advantage of any of these models so long as we have a way to programmatically interface with the various strata regardless of whether we provision at the physical, virtual or overlay virtual layer.

It’s truly exciting.  We’re seeing some real effort to enable true security service delivery.

When I think about how to categorize the intersection of “SDN” and “Security,” I think about it the same way I have with virtualization and Cloud:

  • Securing SDN (Securing the SDN components)
  • SDN Security Services (How do I take security and use SDN to deliver security as a service)
  • Security via SDN (What NEW security capabilities can be derived from SDN)

There are numerous opportunities with each of these categories to really make a difference to security in the coming years.

The notion that many of our network and security capabilities are becoming programmatic means we *really* need to focus on securing SDN solutions, especially given the potential for abuse given the separation of the various channels. (See: Software Defined Networking (In)Security: All Your Control Plane Are Belong To Us…)

Delivering security as a service via SDN holds enormous promise for reasons I’ve already articulated and gives us an amazing foundation upon which to start building solutions we can’t imagine today given the lack of dynamism in our security architecture and design patterns.

Finally, the first two elements give rise to allow us to do things we can’t even imagine with today’s traditional physical and even virtual solutions.

I’ll be starting to highlight really interesting solutions I find (and am able to talk about) over the next few months.

Security enabled by SDN is going to be huge.

More soon.

/Hoff

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NIST’s Trusted Geolocation in the Cloud: PoC Implementation

December 22nd, 2012 3 comments

I was very interested and excited to learn what NIST researchers and staff had come up with when I saw the notification of the “Draft Interagency Report 7904, Trusted Geolocation in the Cloud: Proof of Concept Implementation.”

It turns out that this report is an iteration on the PoC previously created by VMware, Intel and RSA back in 2010 which utilized Intel’s TXT, VMWare’s virtualization platform and the RSA/Archer GRC platform, as this one does.

I haven’t spent much time to look at the differences, but I’m hoping as I read through it that we’ve made progress…

You can read about the original PoC here, and watch a video from 2010 about it here.  Then you can read about it again in its current iteration, here (PDF.)

I wrote about this topic back in 2009 and still don’t have a good firm answer to the question I asked in 2009 in a blog titled “Quick Question: Any Public Cloud Providers Using Intel TXT?” and the follow-on “More On High Assurance (via TPM) Cloud Environments

At CloudConnect 2011 I also filmed a session with the Intel/RSA/VMware folks titled “More On Cloud and Hardware Root Of Trust: Trusting Cloud Services with Intel® TXT

I think this is really interesting stuff and a valuable security and compliance capability, but is apparently still hampered with practical deployment challenges.

I’m also confused as to why RSA employees were not appropriately attributed under the NIST banner and this is very much a product-specific/vendor-specific set of solutions…I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a NIST-branded report like this.

At any rate, I am interested to see if we will get to the point where these solutions will have more heterogeneous uptake across platforms.

/Hoff

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On Puppy Farm Vendors, Petco and The Remarkable Analog To Security Consultancies/Integrators…

December 5th, 2012 No comments
Funny Attention Dogs And Owners Sign

Funny Attention Dogs And Owners Sign (Photo credits: www.dogpoopsigns.com)

Imagine you are part of a company in the “Pet Industry.”  Let’s say dogs, specifically.

Imagine further that regardless of whether you work on the end that feeds the dog, provides services focused on grooming the dog, sells accessories for the dog, actually breeds and raises the dog or deals with cleaning up what comes out the other end of the dog, that you also simultaneously spend your time offering your opinions on how much you despise the dog industry.

Hmmmm.

Now, either you’re being refreshingly honest, or you’re simply being shrewd about which end of the mutt you’re targeting your services toward — and sometimes it’s both ends and the middle — but you’re still a part of the dog industry.

And we all know it’s a dog-eat-dog world…in the Pet business as it is in the Security business.  Which ironically illustrates the cannibalistic nature of being in the security industry whilst trying to distance oneself by juxtaposing the position of the security community.

Claiming to be a Dog Whisperer in an industry of other aimless people shouting and clapping loudly whilst looking to perpetuate bad dog-breeding practices so they can sell across the supply chain is an interesting tactic.  However, yelling “BAD DOG!” and wondering why it continues to eat your slippers doesn’t change behavior.

You can’t easily dismantle and industry but you can offer better training, solutions or techniques to make a difference.

Either way, there’s a lot of tail wagging and crap to clean up.

Lots to consider in this little analog.  For everyone.

/Hoff

P.S. @bmkatz points us all to this amazing resource you may find useful.

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Are Flat Networkers Like Flat Earthers Of Yore?

December 4th, 2012 11 comments

Lori Macvittie is at the Gartner DC conference today and tweeted something extraordinary from one of the sessions focused on SDN (actually there were numerous juicy tidbits, but this one caught my attention:

Amazing, innit?

To which my response was:

Regardless of how one might “feel” about SDN, the notion of agility in service delivery wherein the network can be exposed and consumed as a service versus a trunk port and some VLANs is…the right thing.  Just because the network is “flat” doesn’t mean it’s services are or that the delivery of said services are any less complex.  I just wrote about this here: The Tyranny Of Taming (Network) Traffic: Steering, Service Insertion and Chaining…

“Flat networks” end up being carved right back up into VLANs and thus L3 routing domains to provide for isolation and security boundaries…and then to deal with that we get new protocols to deal with VLAN exhaustion, mobility and L2 stretch and…

It seems like some of the people at the Gartner DC show (from this and other tweets as I am not there) are abjectly allergic to abstraction beyond that which they can physically exercise dominion.

Where have I seen this story before?

/Beaker

CloudPassage: Security & The Cloud 2012…

November 29th, 2012 No comments

Like cowbell, I’m a sucker for MOAR INFOGRAPHICS!

CloudPassage has created a cool one based upon respondent data from a survey about security and the Cloud with some interesting data points.

I will ask for the raw demographics/statistics data that generated it:

The Tyranny Of Taming (Network) Traffic: Steering, Service Insertion and Chaining…

November 29th, 2012 No comments

You know what’s hard?

Describing the difficulties to anyone who doesn’t work inside of an actual “networking” company why the notions of traffic steering, services insertion and chaining across multiple physical boxes and/or combinations of physical and virtual service instantiations is freaking difficult.

12/3/12 [Ed: I realized I didn't actually define these terms.  Added below.]

What do I mean by these terms?  Simplified definitions here:

  • Traffic Steering: directing and delivering traffic (flows/packets, tagged or otherwise) from one processing point to another
  • Service Insertion: addition of some form of processing (terminated or mirrored,) delivered as a service, that is interposed dynamically between processing points
  • Service Chaining: chaining (serialized or parallelized) and insertion of services with other services.
I didn’t get into the nuances of these capabilities with things like state, flow to service mapping tables, replication across flow/state tables in “clustered” processing points, etc., but I spoke to some of them in the “Four Horsemen of the Virtualization Security Apocalypse” presentation. See Pwnie #1 – War | Episode 7: Revenge Of the UTM Clones.

Now, with that out of the way and these terms simply defined, I suppose the “networking is simple” people are right.

I mean, all you have to do is agree on a common set of protocols, a consistent tagging format, flow and/or packet metadata, disposition mechanisms, flow redirection mechanisms beyond next hop unicast, tunneling, support for protocols other than unicast, state machine handling across disparate service chains, performance/availability/QoS telemetry across network domains and diameters, disparate control and data planes, session termination versus pass-through deltas, and then incidental stuff like MAC and routing table updates with convergence latencies across distributed entities, etc.

…and support for legacy while we’re at it.

It ain’t nuthin’ but a peanut, right?

Oh, this just must be an issue with underlay (physical) networks, right?

Overlays have this handled, right?

All these new APIs and control planes are secure by default, too, right?

Uh-huh.

Glad we’ve got this covered, apparently:

Things need to change dramatically at networking companies

This is true, by the way.

However, allow me to suggest that networking companies have experience, footprint, capabilities and relationships and are quite motivated to add value, increase feature velocity, reduce complexity in deployment and operation, and add more efficiency to their solutions.

Change is good.

See 18:45 if you want the juicy bits.

/Hoff