Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Cloud computing security’

My Information Security Magazine Cover Story: “Virtualization security dynamics get old, changes ahead”

November 4th, 2013 2 comments

ISM_cover_1113This month’s Search Security (nee Information Security Magazine) cover story was penned by none other than your’s truly and titled “Virtualization security dynamics get old, changes ahead”

I hope you enjoy the story; its a retrospective regarding the beginnings of security in the virtual space, where we are now, and we we’re headed.

I tried very hard to make this a vendor-neutral look at the state of the union of virtual security.

I hope that it’s useful.

You can find the story here.

/Hoff

Enhanced by Zemanta

Security As A Service: “The Cloud” & Why It’s a Net Security Win

March 19th, 2012 3 comments
Cloud Computing Image

Cloud Computing Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve been paying attention to the rash of security startups entering the market today, you will no doubt notice the theme wherein the majority of them are, from the get-go, organizing around deployment models which operate from “The Cloud.”

We can argue that “Security as a service” usually refers to security services provided by a third party using the SaaS (software as a service) model, but there’s a compelling set of capabilities that enables companies large and small to be both effective, efficient and cost-manageable as we embrace the “new” world of highly distributed applications, content and communications (cloud and mobility combined.)

As with virtualization, when one discusses “security” and “cloud computing,” any of the three perspectives often are conflated (from my post “Security: In the Cloud, For the Cloud & By the Cloud…“):

In the same way that I differentiated “Virtualizing Security, Securing Virtualization and Security via Virtualization” in my Four Horsemen presentation, I ask people to consider these three models when discussing security and Cloud:

  1. In the Cloud: Security (products, solutions, technology) instantiated as an operational capability deployed within Cloud Computing environments (up/down the stack.) Think virtualized firewalls, IDP, AV, DLP, DoS/DDoS, IAM, etc.
  2. For the Cloud: Security services that are specifically targeted toward securing OTHER Cloud Computing services, delivered by Cloud Computing providers (see next entry) . Think cloud-based Anti-spam, DDoS, DLP, WAF, etc.
  3. By the Cloud: Security services delivered by Cloud Computing services which are used by providers in option #2 which often rely on those features described in option #1.  Think, well…basically any service these days that brand themselves as Cloud… ;)

What I’m talking about here is really item #3; security “by the cloud,” wherein these services utilize any cloud-based platform (SaaS, PaaS or IaaS) to delivery security capabilities on behalf of the provider or ultimate consumer of services.

For the SMB/SME/Branch, one can expect a hybrid model of on-premises physical (multi-function) devices that also incorporate some sort of redirect or offload to these cloud-based services. Frankly, the same model works for the larger enterprise but in many cases regulatory issues of privacy/IP concerns arise.  This is where the capability of both “private” (or dedicated) versions of these services are requested (either on-premises or off, but dedicated.)

Service providers see a large opportunity to finally deliver value-added, scaleable and revenue-generating security services atop what they offer today.  This is the realized vision of the long-awaited “clean pipes” and “secure hosting” capabilities.  See this post from 2007 “Clean Pipes – Less Sewerage or More Potable Water?”

If you haven’t noticed your service providers dipping their toes here, you certainly have seen startups (and larger security players) do so.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Qualys
  • Trend Micro
  • Symantec
  • Cisco (Ironport/ScanSafe)
  • Juniper
  • CloudFlare
  • ZScaler
  • Incapsula
  • Dome9
  • CloudPassage
  • Porticor
  • …and many more

As many vendors “virtualize” their offers and start to realize that through basic networking, APIs, service chaining, traffic steering and security intelligence/analytics, these solutions become more scaleable, leveragable and interoperable, the services you’ll be able to consume will also increase…and they will become more application and information-centric in nature.

Again, this doesn’t mean the disappearance of on-premises or host-based security capabilities, but you should expect the cloud (and it’s derivative offshoots like Big Data) to deliver some really awesome hybrid security capabilities that make your life easier.  Rich Mogull (@rmogull) and I gave about 20 examples of this in our “Grilling Cloudicorns: Mythical CloudSec Tools You Can Use Today” at RSA last month.

Get ready because while security folks often eye “The Cloud” suspiciously, it also offers up a set of emerging solutions that will undoubtedly allow for more efficient, effective and affordable security capabilities that will allow us to focus more on the things that matter.

/Hoff

Related articles by Zemanta

Enhanced by Zemanta

Clouds, WAFs, Messaging Buses and API Security…

June 2nd, 2011 3 comments
An illustration of where a firewall would be l...

Image via Wikipedia

In my Commode Computing talk, I highlighted the need for security automation through the enablement of APIs.  APIs are centric in architectural requirements for the provisioning, orchestration and (ultimately) security of cloud environments.

So there’s a “dark side” with the emergence of APIs as the prominent method by which one now interacts with stacks — and it’s highlighted in VMware’s vCloud Director Hardening Guide wherein beyond the normal de rigueur deployment of stateful packet filtering firewalls, the deployment of a Web Application Firewall is recommended.

Why?  According to VMware’s hardening guide:

In summary, a WAF is an extremely valuable security solution because Web applications are too sophisticated for an IDS or IPS to protect. The simple fact that each Web application is unique makes it too complex for a static pattern-matching solution. A WAF is a unique security component because it has the capability to understand what characters are allowed within the context of the many pieces and parts of a Web page.

I don’t disagree that web applications/web services are complex. I further don’t disagree that protecting the web services and messaging buses that make up the majority of the exposed interfaces in vCloud Director don’t require sophisticated protection.

This, however, brings up an interesting skill-set challenge.

How many infrastructure security folks do you know that are experts in protecting, monitoring and managing MBeans, JMS/JMX messaging and APIs?  More specifically, how many shops do you know that have WAFs deployed (in-line, actively protecting applications not passively monitoring) that did not in some way blow up every app they sit in front of as well as add potentially significant performance degradation due to SSL/TLS termination?

Whether you’re deploying vCloud or some other cloud stack (I just happen to be reading these docs at the moment,) the scope of exposed API interfaces ought to have you re-evaluating your teams’ skillsets when it comes to how you’re going to deal with the spotlight that’s now shining directly on the infrastructure stacks (hardware and software) their private and public clouds.

Many of us have had to get schooled on web services security with the emergence of SOA/Web Services application deployments.  But that was at the application layer.  Now it’s exposed at the “code as infrastructure” layer.

Think about it.

/Hoff

[Update 6/7/11 – Here are two really timely and interesting blog posts on the topic of RESTful APIs:

Mark’s post has some links to some videos on secure API deployment]

Enhanced by Zemanta

On the CA/Ponemon Security of Cloud Computing Providers Study…

April 29th, 2011 4 comments
CA Technologies

Image via Wikipedia

CA recently sponsored the second in a series of Ponemon Institute cloud computing security surveys.

The first, released in May, 2010 was focused on responses from practitioners: “Security of Cloud Computing Users – A Study of Practitioners in the US & Europe

The latest titled “Security of Cloud Computing Providers Study (pdf),” released this week, examines “cloud computing providers'” perspectives on the same.  You can find the intro here.

While the study breaks down the  survey in detail in Appendix 1, I would kill to see the respondent list so I could use the responses from some of these “cloud providers” to quickly make assessments of my short list of those to not engage with.

I suppose it’s not hard to believe that security is not a primary concern, but given all the hype surrounding claims of “cloud is more secure than the enterprise,” it’s rather shocking to think that this sort of behavior is reflective of cloud providers.

Let’s see why.

This survey qualifies those surveyed as such:

We surveyed 103 cloud service providers in the US and 24 in six European countries for a total of 127 separate providers. Respondents from cloud provider organizations say SaaS (55 percent) is the most frequently offered cloud service, followed by IaaS (34 percent) and PaaS (11 percent). Sixty-five percent of cloud providers in this study deploy their IT resources in the public cloud environment, 18 percent deploy in the private cloud and 18 percent are hybrid.

…and offers these most “salient” findings:

  • The majority of cloud computing providers surveyed do not believe their organization views the security of their cloud services as a competitive advantage. Further, they do not consider cloud computing security as one of their most important responsibilities and do not believe their products or services substantially protect and secure the confidential or sensitive information of their customers.
    -
  • The majority of cloud providers believe it is their customer’s responsibility to secure the cloud and not their responsibility. They also say their systems and applications are not always  evaluated for security threats prior to deployment to customers.
    -
  • Buyer beware – on average providers of cloud computing technologies allocate 10 percent or less of their operational resources to security and most do not have confidence that  customers’ security requirements are being met.
    -
  • Cloud providers in our study say the primary reasons why customers purchase cloud  resources are lower cost and faster deployment of applications. In contrast, improved security  or compliance with regulations is viewed as an unlikely reason for choosing cloud services. The majority of cloud providers in our study admit they do not have dedicated security  personnel to oversee the security of cloud applications, infrastructure or platforms.

  • Providers of private cloud resources appear to attach more importance and have a higher  level of confidence in their organization’s ability to meet security objectives than providers of  public and hybrid cloud solutions.
    _
  • While security as a “true” service from the cloud is rarely offered to customers today, about  one-third of the cloud providers in our study are considering such solutions as a new source  of revenue sometime in the next two years.

Ultimately, CA summarized the findings as such:

“The focus on reduced cost and faster deployment may be sufficient for cloud providers now, but as organizations reach the point where increasingly sensitive data and applications are all that remains to migrate to the cloud, they will quickly reach an impasse,” said Mike Denning, general manager, Security, CA Technologies. “If the risk of breach outweighs potential cost savings and agility, we may reach a point of “cloud stall” where cloud adoption slows or stops until organizations believe cloud security is as good as or better than enterprise security.”

I have so much I’d like to say with respect to these summary findings and the details within the reports, but much of it I already have.  I don’t think these findings are reflective of the larger cloud providers I interact with which is another reason I would love to see who these “cloud providers” were beyond the breakdown of their service offerings that were presented.”

In the meantime, I’d like to refer you to these posts I wrote for reflection on this very topic:

/Hoff

Enhanced by Zemanta