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Posts Tagged ‘A6’

Dear Verizon Business: I Have Some Questions About Your PCI-Compliant Cloud…

August 24th, 2010 5 comments

You’ll forgive my impertinence, but the last time I saw a similar claim of a PCI compliant Cloud offering, it turned out rather anti-climatically for RackSpace/Mosso, so I just want to make sure I understand what is really being said.  I may be mixing things up in asking my questions, so hopefully someone can shed some light.

This press release announces that:

“…Verizon’s On-Demand Cloud Computing Solution First to Achieve PCI Compliance” and the company’s cloud computing solution called Computing as a Service (CaaS) which is “…delivered from Verizon cloud centers in the U.S. and Europe, is the first cloud-based solution to successfully complete the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) audit for storing, processing and transmitting credit card information.”

It’s unclear to me (at least) what’s considered in scope and what level/type of PCI certification we’re talking about here since it doesn’t appear that the underlying offering itself is merchant or transactional in nature, but rather Verizon is operating as a service provider that stores, processes, and transmits cardholder data on behalf of another entity.

Here’s what the article says about what Verizon undertook for DSS validation:

To become PCI DSS-validated, Verizon CaaS underwent a comprehensive third-party examination of its policies, procedures and technical systems, as well as an on-site assessment and systemwide vulnerability scan.

I’m interested in the underlying mechanicals of the CaaS offering.  Specifically, it would appear that the platform – compute, network, and storage — are virtualized.  What is unclear is if the [physical] resources allocated to a customer are dedicated or shared (multi-tenant,) regardless of virtualization.

According to this article in The Register (dated 2009,) the infrastructure is composed like this:

The CaaS offering from Verizon takes x64 server from Hewlett-Packard and slaps VMware’s ESX Server hypervisor and Red Hat Enterprise Linux instances atop it, allowing customers to set up and manage virtualized RHEL partitions and their applications. Based on the customer portal screen shots, the CaaS service also supports Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 operating system.

Some details emerge from the Verizon website that describes the environment more:

Every virtual farm comes securely bundled with a virtual load balancer, a virtual firewall, and defined network space. Once the farm is designed, built, and named – all in a matter of minutes through the CaaS Customer Management Portal – you can then choose whether you want to manage the servers in-house or have us manage them for you.

If the customer chooses to manage the “servers…in-house (sic)” is the customer’s network, staff and practices now in-scope as part of Verizon’s CaaS validation? Where does the line start/stop?

I’m very interested in the virtual load balancer (Zeus ZXTM perhaps?) and the virtual firewall (vShield? Altor? Reflex? VMsafe-API enabled Virtual Appliance?)  What about other controls (preventitive or detective such as IDS, IPS, AV, etc.)

The reason for my interest is how, if these resources are indeed shared, they are partitioned/configured and kept isolated especially in light of the fact that:

Customers have the flexibility to connect to their CaaS environment through our global IP backbone or by leveraging the Verizon Private IP network (our Layer 3 MPLS VPN) for secure communication with mission critical and back office systems.

It’s clear that Verizon has no dominion over what’s contained in the VM’s atop the hypervisor, but what about the network to which these virtualized compute resources are connected?

So for me, all this all comes down to scope. I’m trying to figure out what is actually included in this certification, what components in the stack were audited and how.  It’s not clear I’m going to get answers, but I thought I’d ask any way.

Oh, by the way, transparency and auditability would be swell for an environment such as this. How about CloudAudit? We even have a PCI DSS CompliancePack ;)

Question for my QSA peeps: Are service providers required to also adhere to sections like 6.6 (WAF/Binary analysis) of their offerings even if they are not acting as a merchant?

/Hoff

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You Can’t Secure The Cloud…

April 30th, 2010 3 comments

That’s right. You can’t secure “The Cloud” and the real shocker is that you don’t need to.

You can and should, however, secure your assets and the elements within your control that are delivered by cloud services and cloud service providers, assuming of course there are interfaces to do so made available by the delivery/deployment model and you’ve appropriately assessed them against your requirements and appetite for risk.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, cheap or agile, and lest we forget, just because you can “secure” your assets does not mean you’ll achieve “compliance” with those mandates against which you might be measured.

Even if you’re talking about making investments primarily in solutions via software thanks to the abstraction of cloud (and/or virtualization) as well adjusting processes and procedures due to operational impact, you can generally effect compensating controls (preventative and/or detective) that give you security on-par with what you might deploy today in a non-Cloud based offering.

Yes, it’s true. It’s absolutely possible to engineer solutions across most cloud services today that meet or exceed the security provided within the walled gardens of your enterprise today.

The realities of that statement come crashing down, however, when people confuse possibility with the capability to execute whilst not disrupting the business and not requiring wholesale re-architecture of applications, security, privacy, operations, compliance, economics, organization, culture and governance.

Not all of that is bad.  In fact, most of it is long overdue.

I think what is surprising is how many people (or at least vendors) simply suggest or expect that the “platform” or service providers to do all of this for them across the entire portfolio of services in an enterprise.  In my estimation that will never happen, at least not if one expects anything more than commodity-based capabilities at a cheap price while simultaneously being “secure.”

Vendors conflate the various value propositions of cloud (agility, low cost, scalability, security) and suggest you can achieve all four simultaneously and in equal proportions.  This is the fallacy of Cloud Computing.  There are trade-offs to be found with every model and Cloud is no different.

If we’ve learned anything from enterprise modernization over the last twenty years, it’s that nothing comes for free — and that even when it appears to, there’s always a tax to pay on the back-end of the delivery cycle.  Cloud computing is a series of compromises; it’s all about gracefully losing control over certain elements of the operational constructs of the computing experience. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a painful process for many.

I really enjoy the forcing function of Cloud Computing; it makes us re-evaluate and sharpen our focus on providing service — at least it’s supposed to.  I look forward to using Cloud Computing as a lever to continue to help motivate industry, providers and consumers to begin to fix the material defects that plague IT and move the ball forward.

This means not worrying about securing the cloud, but rather understanding what you should do to secure your assets regardless of where they call home.

/Hoff

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More On High Assurance (via TPM) Cloud Environments

April 11th, 2010 14 comments
North Bridge Intel G45
Image via Wikipedia

Back in September 2009 after presenting at the Intel Virtualization (and Cloud) Security Summit and urging Intel to lead by example by pushing the adoption and use of TPM in virtualization and cloud environments, I blogged a simple question (here) as to the following:

Does anyone know of any Public Cloud Provider (or Private for that matter) that utilizes Intel’s TXT?

Interestingly the replies were few; mostly they were along the lines of “we’re considering it,” “…it’s on our long radar,” or “…we’re unclear if there’s a valid (read: economically viable) use case.”

At this year’s RSA Security Conference, however, EMC/RSA, Intel and VMware made an announcement regarding a PoC of their “Trusted Cloud Infrastructure,” describing efforts to utilize technology across the three vendors’ portfolios to make use of the TPM:

The foundation for the new computing infrastructure is a hardware root of trust derived from Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), which authenticates every step of the boot sequence, from verifying hardware configurations and initialising the BIOS to launching the hypervisor, the companies said.

Once launched, the VMware virtualisation environment collects data from both the hardware and virtual layers and feeds a continuous, raw data stream to the RSA enVision Security Information and Event Management platform. The RSA enVision is engineered to analyse events coming through the virtualisation layer to identify incidents and conditions affecting security and compliance.

The information is then contextualised within the Archer SmartSuite Framework, which is designed to present a unified, policy-based assessment of the organisation’s security and compliance posture through a central dashboard, RSA said.

It should be noted that in order to take advantage of said solution, the following components are required: a future release of RSA’s Archer GRC console, the upcoming Intel Westmere CPU and a soon-to-be-released version of VMware’s vSphere.  In other words, this isn’t available today and will require upgrades up and down the stack.

Sam Johnston today pointed me toward an announcement from Enomaly referencing the “High Assurance Edition” of ECP which laid claims of assurance using the TPM beyond the boundary of the VMM to include the guest OS and their management system:

Enomaly’s Trusted Cloud platform provides continuous security assurance by means of unique, hardware-assisted mechanisms. Enomaly ECP High Assurance Edition provides both initial and ongoing Full-Stack Integrity Verification to enable customers to receive cryptographic proof of the correct and secure operation of the cloud platform prior to running any application on the cloud.

  • Full-Stack Integrity Verification provides the customer with hardware-verified proof that the cloud stack (encompassing server hardware, hypervisor, guest OS, and even ECP itself) is intact and has not been tampered with. Specifically, the customer obtains cryptographically verifiable proof that the hardware, hypervisor, etc. are identical to reference versions that have been certified and approved in advance. The customer can therefore be assured, for example, that:
  • The hardware has not been modified to duplicate data to some storage medium of which the application is not aware
  • No unauthorized backdoors have been inserted into the cloud managment system
  • The hypervisor has not been modified (e.g. to copy memory state)
  • No hostile kernel modules have been injected into the guest OS
This capability therefore enables customers to deploy applications to public clouds with confidence that the confidentiality and integrity of their data will not be compromised.

Of particular interest was Enomaly’s enticement of service providers with the following claim:

…with Enomaly’s patented security functionality, can deliver a highly secure Cloud Computing service – commanding a higher price point than commodity public cloud providers.

I’m looking forward to exploring more regarding these two example solutions as they see the light of day (and how long this will take given the need for platform-specific upgrades up and down the stack) as well as whether or not customers are actually willing to pay — and providers can command — a higher price point for what these components may offer.  You can bet certain government agencies are interested.

There are potentially numerous benefits with the use of this technology including security, compliance, assurance, audit and attestation capabilities (I hope also to incorporate more of what this might mean into the CloudAudit/A6 effort) but I’m very interested as to the implications on (change) management and policy, especially across heterogeneous environments and the extension and use of TPM’s across mobile platforms.

Of course, researchers are interested in these things too…see Rutkowska, et. al and “Attacking Intel Trusted Execution Technology” as an example.

/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

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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Recording & Playback of WebEx A6 Working Group Kick-Off Call from 1/8/2010 Available

January 10th, 2010 No comments

If you’re interested in the great discussion and presentations we had during the kickoff call for the A6 (Automated Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API) Working Group, there are two options to listen/view the WebEx recording:

Topic: A6 API Working Group – Kickoff Call-20100108 1704
Create time: 1/8/10 10:07 am
File size: 33.23MB
Duration: 1 hour 1 minute
Description: Streaming recording link:
https://ciscosales.webex.com/ciscosales/ldr.php?AT=pb&SP=MC&rID=41631852rKey=178e8b04941e5672
Download recording link:
https://ciscosales.webex.com/ciscosales/lsr.php?AT=dw&SP=MC&rID=41631…

MAKE SURE YOU VIEW THE CHAT WINDOW << It contains some really excellent discussion points.

We had two great presentations from representatives from the OGF OCCI group and CSC’s Trusted Cloud Team.

I’ll be setting up regular calls shortly and a few people have reached out to me regarding helping form the core team to begin organizing the working group in earnest.

You can also follow along via the Google Group here.

/Hoff

In need of a cool logo for the group by the way… ;)

The A6 (Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API) Working Group is Live. Please join & read the intro.

November 16th, 2009 No comments

For those of you following along at home, the A6 (Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API) Working Group is Live.

I’ve setup the Google group so please join & read the introduction here.

Hope to see you there.

/Hoff

Categories: A6 Tags: , , ,

Transparency: I Do Not Think That Means What You Think That Means…

October 12th, 2009 7 comments

vizziniHa ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a cloud war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against Werner when availability is on the line!”

As an outsider, it’s easy to play armchair quarterback, point fingers and criticize something as mind-bogglingly marvelous as something the size and scope of Amazon Web Services.  After all, they make all that complexity disappear under the guise of a simple web interface to deliver value, innovation and computing wonderment the likes of which are really unmatched.

There’s an awful lot riding on Amazon’s success.  They set the pace by which an evolving industry is now measured in terms of features, functionality, service levels, security, cost and the way in which they interact with customers and the community of ecosystem partners.

An interesting set of observations and explanations have come out of recent events related to degraded performance, availability and how these events have been handled.

When something bad happens, there’s really two ways to play things:

  1. Be as open as possible, as quickly as possible and with as much detail as possible, or
  2. Release information only as needed, when pressured and keep root causes and their resolutions as guarded as possible

This, of course, is an over-simplification of the options, complicated by the need for privacy, protection of intellectual property, legal issues, compliance or security requirements.  That’s not really any different than any other sort of service provider or IT department, but then again, Amazon’s Web Services aren’t like any other sort of service provider or IT department.

So when something bad happens, it’s been my experience as a customer (and one that admittedly does not pay for their “extra service”) that sometimes notifications take longer than I’d like, status updates are not as detailed as I might like and root causes sometimes cloaked in the air of the mysterious “network connectivity problem” — a replacement for the old corporate stand-by of “blame the firewall.”  There’s an entire industry cropping up to help you with these sorts of things.

Something like the BitBucket DDoS issue however, is not a simple “network connectivity problem.”  It is, however, a problem which highlights an oft-played pantomime of problem resolution involving any “managed” service being provided by a third party to which you as the customer have limited access at various critical points in the stack.

This outage represents a disconnect in experience versus expectation with how customers perceive the operational underpinnings of AWS’ operations and architecture and forces customers to reconsider how all that abstracted infrastructure actually functions in order to deliver what — regardless of what the ToS say — they want to believe it delivers.  This is that perception versus reality gap I mentioned earlier.  It’s not the redonkulous “end-of-cloud” scenarios parroted by the masses of the great un(cloud)washed, but it’s serious nonetheless.

As an example, BitBucket’s woes of over 20+ hours of downtime due to UDP (and later TCP) DDoS floods led to the well-documented realization that support was inadequate, monitoring insufficient and security defenses lacking — from the perspective of both the customer and AWS*.  The reality is that based on what we *thought* we knew about how AWS functioned to protect against these sorts of things, these attacks should never have wrought the damage they did.  It seems AWS was equally as surprised.

It’s important to note that these were revelations made in near real-time by the customer, not AWS.

Now, this wasn’t a widespread problem, so it’s understandable to a point as to why we didn’t hear a lot from AWS with regards to this issue, but after this all played out, when we look at what has been disclosed publicly by AWS, it appears the issue is still not remedied and despite the promise to do better, a follow-on study seems to suggest that the problem may not yet be well understood or solved by AWS (See: Amazon EC2 vulnerable to UDP flood attacks) (Ed: After I wrote this, I got a notification that this particular issue has been fixed which is indeed, good news.)

Now, releasing details about any vulnerability like this could put many many customers at risk from similar attack, but the lack of transparency  of service and architecture means that we’re left with more questions than answers. How can a customer (like me) today defend themselves against an attack like this in the lurch of not knowing what causes it or how to defend against it? What happens when the next one surfaces?

Can AWS even reliably detect this sort of thing given the “socialist security” implementation of good enough security spread across its constituent customers?

Security by obscurity in cloud cannot last as the gold standard.

This is the interesting part about the black-box abstraction that is Cloud, not just for Amazon, but any massively-scaled service provider; the more abstracted the service, the more dependent upon the provider or third parties we will become to troubleshoot issues and protect our assets.  In many cases, however, it will simply take much more time to resolve issues since visibility and transparency are limited to what the provider chooses or is able to provide.

We’re in the early days still of what customers know to ask about how security is managed in these massively scaled multi-tenant environments and since in some cases we are contractually prevented from exercising tests designed to understand the limits, we’re back to trusting that the provider has it handled…until we determine they don’t.

Put that in your risk management pipe and smoke it.

The network and systems that make up our cloud providers offerings must do a better job in stopping bad things from occurring before they reach our instances and workloads or customers should simply expect that they get what they pay for.  If the provider capabilities do not improve, combined with less visibility and an inability to deploy compensating controls, we’re potentially in a much worse spot than having no protection at all.

This is another opportunity to quietly remind folks about the Audit, Assertion, Assessment and Assurance API (A6) API that is being brought to life; there will hopefully be some exciting news here shortly about this project, but I see A6 as playing a very important role in providing a solution to some of the issues I mention here.  Ready when you are, Amazon.

If only it were so simple and transparent:

Inigo Montoya: You are using Bonetti’s Defense against me, ah?
Man in Black: I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
Inigo Montoya: Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro?
Man in Black: Naturally… but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don’t you?
Inigo Montoya: Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa… which I have.

/Hoff

*It’s only fair to mention that depending upon a single provider for service, no matter how good they may be and not taking advantage of monitoring services (at an extra cost,) is a risk decision that comes with consequences, one of them being longer time to resolution.

Variety & Darwinism In Solutions Is Innovation, In Standards It’s A War?

September 5th, 2009 6 comments

I find it quite interesting that in the last few months or so, as Cloud has emerged as a full-fledged business opportunity, we’ve seen the rise of many new companies, strategies and technologies. For the most part, hype aside, people praise this as innovation and describe it as a natural evolutionary process.

Strangely enough, with the emergence of new opportunity comes the ever-present push to standards.  Many see standards introduced too early as an innovation squasher; it inhibits free market evolution, crams down the smaller players, and lets the big fish take over — especially when the standards are backed by said big fish.  The open versus proprietary debate is downright religious.

Cloud Computing is no different.

We’ve seen many “standards” float to the surface recently — some backed by vendors, others by groups of concerned citizenry.  Many Cloud providers have published their API’s in an attempt to standardize interfacing to their offerings.  Some are open, some are proprietary.  Some are even open-sourced.  Some are simply de facto based upon the deployment of a set of technology, solutions and an ecosystem built around supporting it.  Professional standards organizations are also now getting involved.

In J. Nicholas Hoover’s blog post titled “Groups Seek Cloud Computing Standards,” Gartner’s David Cearly said :

“Community participation, deliberate action, and planning must be a vital part of any successful standards process…Otherwise, he said, cloud standards efforts could fail miserably.”

“Standards is one of those things that could absolutely strangle and kill everything we want to do in cloud computing if we do it wrong,” he said. “We need to make sure that as were approaching standards, we’re approaching standards more as they were approached in the broader internet, just in time.”

I suppose that depends upon how you measure success…

Tom Nolle wrote an interesting piece titled: “Multiple Standards Cloud Spoil Cloud Computing” in which he lists 7 standards bodies “competing” for Cloud, wondering out loud why if they all have similar interests, do they exist separately.  After he talks about the difference between those focused on Public and Private Clouds, he bemoans the bifurcation and then plugs the one he finds best ;)

So now we have live public cloud services with incomplete standards and evolving private cloud standards with no implementations.

The best hope for a unification is the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum. Its Unified Cloud Architecture tackles standards by making public cloud computing interoperable. Their map of cloud computing shows the leading public cloud providers and a proposed Unified Cloud Interface that the body defines, with a joking reference to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as “One API to Rule them All.”

So make that 8 players…

This week we’ve seen the release of the VMware-sponsored and DMTF-submitted vCloud. We also saw RedHat introduce their Deltacloud API.  We have the Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI) standards work which getting underway within the Open Grid Forum (OGF.)  There’s a veritable plethora of groups, standards and efforts at play.

Some of it is likely duplicative.

Some of it is likely vendor-fed.

The reality is that unlike others, I find it refreshing.

I think it’s great that we have multiple efforts.

It would, for sure, be nice if we could all agree and have one focused set of work, but that’s simply not reality.  It will be confusing for all concerned in the short term.

The Open vs. mostly-open debates will continue, but this NORMAL.  In the end, we end up with a survival of the marketed-fittest.  The standards that win are the standards that are most optimally muscled, marketed and adopted.

Simon Wardley wrote a piece called “The Cloud Computing War” which to me read like an indictment of the process (I admit my review may be colored by what I perceive as FUD regarding VMware’s vCloud,) but I can’t help but to shrug it off and instead decide to focus on where and whom I will decide to pitch my tent.

I’ve already done so with the Cloud Security Alliance (not a standards body) and I’m looking at using vCloud to find a home for my A6 concept.

A Cloud standards war?  War is such an ugly term.  It’s just the normal activity associated with disruptive innovation and the markets sorting themselves out.  The standards arena is simply where the dirty laundry gets exposed.  Get used to it, there’s enough mud/FUD flinging that you can expect several loads ;)

/Hoff

Follow-On: The Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API (A6)

August 16th, 2009 6 comments

Update 2/1/10: The A6 effort is in full-swing.  You can find out more about it at the Google Groups here.

A few weeks ago I penned a blog discussing an idea I presented at a recent Public Sector Cloud gathering that later inherited the name “Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API (A6)”

The case for A6 is straightforward:

…take the capabilities of something like SCAP and embed a standardized and open API layer into each IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offering [Ed: At the API layer of each deployment model] to provide not only a standardized way of scanning for network vulnerabilities, but also configuration management, asset management, patch remediation, compliance, etc.

This way you win two ways: automated audit and security management capability for the customer/consumer and a a streamlined, cost effective, and responsive way of automating the validation of said controls in relation to compliance, SLA and legal requirements for service providers.

Much discussion ensued on Twitter and via email/blogs explaining A6 in better detail and with more specificity.

The idea has since grown legs and I’ve started to have some serious discussions with “people” (*wink wink*) who are very interested in making this a reality, especially in light of business and technical use cases bubbling to the surface of late.

To that end, Ben (@ironfog) has taken the conceptual mumblings and begun work on a RESTful interface for A6. You can find the draft documentation here.  You can find his blog and awesome work on making A6 a reality here.  Thank you so much, Ben.

NOTE: The documentation/definitions below are conceptual and stale. I’ve left them here because they are important and relevant but are likely not representative of the final work product.

A6 API Documentation – Draft 0.11

I’m thinking of pulling together a more formalized working group for A6 and push hard with some of those “people” above to get better definition around its operational realities as well as understand the best way to create an open and extensible standard going forward.

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me ( choff @ packetfilter . com ) and let’s capitalize on the momentum, need and fortuitous timing to make A6 work.

Thanks,

/Hoff

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