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Posts Tagged ‘Jericho Forum’

Why Amazon Web Services (AWS) Is the Best Thing To Happen To Security & Why I Desperately Want It To Succeed

November 29th, 2012 15 comments

Many people who may only casually read my blog or peer at the timeline of my tweets may come away with the opinion that I suffer from confirmation bias when I speak about security and Cloud.

That is, many conclude that I am pro Private Cloud and against Public Cloud.

I find this deliciously ironic and wildly inaccurate. However, I must also take responsibility for this, as anytime one threads the needle and attempts to present a view from both sides with regard to incendiary topics without planting a polarizing stake in the ground, it gets confusing.

Let me clear some things up.

Digging deeper into what I believe, one would actually find that my blog, tweets, presentations, talks and keynotes highlight deficiencies in current security practices and solutions on the part of providers, practitioners and users in both Public AND Private Cloud, and in my own estimation, deliver an operationally-centric perspective that is reasonably critical and yet sensitive to emergent paths as well as the well-trodden path behind us.

I’m not a developer.  I dabble in little bits of code (interpreted and compiled) for humor and to try and remain relevant.  Nor am I an application security expert for the same reason.  However, I spend a lot of time around developers of all sorts, those that write code for machines whose end goal isn’t to deliver applications directly, but rather help deliver them securely.  Which may seem odd as you read on…

The name of this blog, Rational Survivability, highlights my belief that the last two decades of security architecture and practices — while useful in foundation — requires a rather aggressive tune-up of priorities.

Our trust models, architecture, and operational silos have not kept pace with the velocity of the environments they were initially designed to support and unfortunately as defenders, we’ve been outpaced by both developers and attackers.

Since we’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as perfect security, “survivability” is a better goal.  Survivability leverages “security” and is ultimately a subset of resilience but is defined as the “…capability of a system to fulfill its mission, in a timely manner, in the presence of attacks, failures, or accidents.”  You might be interested in this little ditty from back in 2007 on the topic.

Sharp readers will immediately recognize the parallels between this definition of “survivability,” how security applies within context, and how phrases like “design for failure” align.  In fact, this is one of the calling cards of a company that has become synonymous with (IaaS) Public Cloud: Amazon Web Services (AWS.)  I’ll use them as an example going forward.

So here’s a line in the sand that I think will be polarizing enough:

I really hope that AWS continues to gain traction with the Enterprise.  I hope that AWS continues to disrupt the network and security ecosystem.  I hope that AWS continues to pressure the status quo and I hope that they do it quickly.

Why?

Almost a decade ago, the  Open Group’s Jericho Forum published their Commandments.  Designed to promote a change in thinking and operational constructs with respect to security, what they presciently released upon the world describes a point at which one might imagine taking one’s most important assets and connecting them directly to the Internet and the shifts required to understand what that would mean to “security”:

  1. The scope and level of protection should be specific and appropriate to the asset at risk.
  2. Security mechanisms must be pervasive, simple, scalable, and easy to manage.
  3. Assume context at your peril.
  4. Devices and applications must communicate using open, secure protocols.
  5. All devices must be capable of maintaining their security policy on an un-trusted network.
  6. All people, processes, and technology must have declared and transparent levels of trust for any transaction to take place.
  7. Mutual trust assurance levels must be determinable.
  8. Authentication, authorization, and accountability must interoperate/exchange outside of your locus/area of control
  9. Access to data should be controlled by security attributes of the data itself
  10. Data privacy (and security of any asset of sufficiently high value) requires a segregation of duties/privileges
  11. By default, data must be appropriately secured when stored, in transit, and in use.

These seem harmless enough today, but were quite unsettling when paired with the notion of “de-perimieterization” which was often misconstrued to mean the immediate disposal of firewalls.  Many security professionals appreciated the commandments for what they expressed, but the the design patterns, availability of solutions and belief systems of traditionalists constrained traction.

Interestingly enough, now that the technology, platforms, and utility services have evolved to enable these sorts of capabilities, and in fact have stressed our approaches to date, these exact tenets are what Public Cloud forces us to come to terms with.

If one were to look at what public cloud services like AWS mean when aligned to traditional “enterprise” security architecture, operations and solutions, and map that against the Jericho Forum’s Commandments, it enables such a perfect rethink.

Instead of being focused on implementing “security” to protect applications and information based at the network layer — which is more often than not blind to both, contextually and semantically — public cloud computing forces us to shift our security models back to protecting the things that matter most: the information and the conduits that traffic in them (applications.)

As networks become more abstracted, it means that existing security models do also.  This means that we must think about security programatticaly and embedded as a functional delivery requirement of the application.

“Security” in complex, distributed and networked systems is NOT a tidy simple atomic service.  It is, unfortunately, represented as such because we choose to use a single noun to represent an aggregate of many sub-services, shotgunned across many layers, each with its own context, metadata, protocols and consumption models.

As the use cases for public cloud obscure and abstract these layers — flattens them — we’re left with the core of that which we should focus:

Build secure, reliable, resilient, and survivable systems of applications, comprised of secure services, atop platforms that are themselves engineered to do the same in way in which the information which transits them inherits these qualities.

So if Public Cloud forces one to think this way, how does one relate this to practices of today?

Frankly, enterprise (network) security design patterns are a crutch.  The screened-subnet DMZ patterns with perimeters is outmoded. As Gunnar Peterson eloquently described, our best attempts at “security” over time are always some variation of firewalls and SSL.  This is the sux0r.  Importantly, this is not stated to blame anyone or suggest that a bad job is being done, but rather that a better one can be.

It’s not like we don’t know *what* the problems are, we just don’t invest in solving them as long term projects.  Instead, we deploy compensation that defers what is now becoming more inevitable: the compromise of applications that are poorly engineered and defended by systems that have no knowledge or context of the things they are defending.

We all know this, but yet looking at most private cloud platforms and implementations, we gravitate toward replicating these traditional design patterns logically after we’ve gone to so much trouble to articulate our way around them.  Public clouds make us approach what, where and how we apply “security” differently because we don’t have these crutches.

Either we learn to walk without them or simply not move forward.

Now, let me be clear.  I’m not suggesting that we don’t need security controls, but I do mean that we need a different and better application of them at a different level, protecting things that aren’t tied to physical topology or addressing schemes…or operating systems (inclusive of things like hypervisors, also.)

I think we’re getting closer.  Beyond infrastructure as a service, platform as a service gets us even closer.

Interestingly, at the same time we see the evolution of computing with Public Cloud, networking is also undergoing a renaissance, and as this occurs, security is coming along for the ride.  Because it has to.

As I was writing this blog (ironically in the parking lot of VMware awaiting the start of a meeting to discuss abstraction, networking and security,) James Staten (Forrester) tweeted something from @Werner Vogels keynote at AWS re:invent:

I couldn’t have said it better myself :)

So while I may have been, and will continue to be, a thorn in the side of platform providers to improve the “survivability” capabilities to help us get from there to there, I reiterate the title of this scribbling: Amazon Web Services (AWS) Is the Best Thing To Happen To Security & I Desperately Want It To Succeed.

I trust that’s clear?

/Hoff

P.S. There’s so much more I could/should write, but I’m late for the meeting :)

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Cloud: Security Doesn’t Matter (Or, In Cloud, Nobody Can Hear You Scream)

January 25th, 2010 9 comments

In the Information Security community, many of us have long come to the conclusion that we are caught in what I call my “Security Hamster Sine Wave Of Pain.”  Those of us who have been doing this awhile recognize that InfoSec is a zero-sum game; it’s about staving off the inevitable and trying to ensure we can deal with the residual impact in the face of being “survivable” versus being “secure.”

While we can (and do) make incremental progress in certain areas, the collision of disruptive innovation, massive consumerization of technology along with the slow churn of security vendor roadmaps, dissolving budgets, natural marketspace commoditzation and the unfortunate velocity of attacker innovation yields the constant realization that we’re not motivated or incentivized to do the right thing or manage risk.

Instead, we’re poked in the side and haunted by the four letter word of our industry: compliance.

Compliance is often dismissed as irrelevant in the consumer space and associated instead with government or large enterprise, but as privacy continues to erode and breaches make the news, the fact that we’re putting more and more of our information — of all sorts — in the hands of others to manage is again beginning to stoke an upsurge in efforts to somehow measure and manage visibility against a standardized baseline of general, common sense and minimal efforts to guard against badness.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how “secure” Cloud providers suggest they are.  It doesn’t matter what breakthroughs in technology sprout up in the face of this new model of compute. The only measure that counts in the long run is how compliant you are.  That’s what will determine the success of Cloud.  Don’t believe me? Look at how the leading vendors in Cloud are responding today to their biggest (potential) customers — taking the “one size fits all” model of mass-market Cloud and beginning to chop it up and create one-off’s in order to satisfy…compliance.

Why?  Because it’s easier to deal with the vagaries of trust and isolation and multi-tenant environments by eliminating the latter to increase the former. If an auditor/examiner doesn’t understand or cannot measure your compliance to those things he/she is tasked to evaluate you against, you’re sunk.

The only thing that will budge the needle on this issue is how agile those who craft the regulatory guidelines are or how you can clearly demonstrate why your compensating controls mitigate the risk of the provider of service if they cannot. Given the nature and behavior of those involved in this space and where we are with putting our eggs in a vaporous basket, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  Movement in this area is glacial at best and in many cases out of touch with the realities of just how disruptive Cloud Computing is.  All it will take is one monumental cock-up due to a true Cloudtastrophe and the Cloud will hit the fan.

As I have oft suggested, the core issue we need to tackle in Cloud is trust, since the graceful surrender of such is at the heart of what Cloud requires.  Trust is comprised of Security, Control, Service Levels and Compliance.  It’s relatively easy to establish where we are today with the first three, but the last one is MIA.  We’re just *now* seeing movement in the form of SIGs to deal with virtualization.  Cloud?

When the best you have is a SAS-70, it’s time to weep.  Conversely, wishing for more regulation will simply extend the cycle.

What can you do?  Simple. Help educate your auditors and examiners. Read the Cloud Security Alliance’s guidelines. Participate in making the Automated Audit, Assertion, Assessment, and Assurance API (A6) a success so we can at least gain back some visibility and transparency which helps demonstrate compliance, since that’s how we’re measured.  Ultimately, if you’re able, focus on risk assessment in helping to advise your constituent business customers on how to migrate to Cloud Computing safely.

There are TONS of things one can do in order to make up for the shortcomings of Cloud security today.  The problem is, most of them erode the benefits of Cloud: agility, flexibility, cost savings, and dynamism.  We need to make the business aware of these tradeoffs as well as our auditors because we’re stuck.  We need the regulators and examiners to keep pace with technology — as painful as that might be in the short term — to guarantee our success in the long term.

Manage compliance, don’t let it manage you because a Cloud is a terrible thing to waste.

/Hoff

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JERICHO FORUM AND CLOUD SECURITY ALLIANCE JOIN FORCES TO ADDRESS CLOUD COMPUTING SECURITY

May 27th, 2009 6 comments

At the RSA conference I left the Cloud Security Alliance launch early in order to attend the Jericho Forum’s session on Cloud Computing.  It seems we haven’t solved the teleportation issue yet.  Maybe in the next draft…

We had a great session at the Jericho event with myself, Rich Mogull and Gunnar Peterson discussing Jericho’s COA and Cloud Cube work.  The conclusion of the discussion was that ultimately that Jericho and the CSA should join forces.

Voila:

JERICHO FORUM AND CLOUD SECURITY ALLIANCE JOIN FORCES TO ADDRESS CLOUD COMPUTING SECURITY

London and San Francisco, 21 May 2009 – Jericho Forum, the high level independent security expert group, and the Cloud Security Alliance, a not-for-profit group of information security and cloud computing security leaders, announced today that they are working together to promote best practices for secure collaboration in the cloud.  Both groups have a single goal: to help business understand the opportunity posed by cloud computing and encourage common and secure cloud practices.     Within the framework of the new partnership, both groups will continue to provide practical guidance on how to operate securely in the cloud while actively aiming to align the outcomes of their work.  

“This is good news for the industry” said Adrian Seccombe, CISO and Senior Enterprise Information Architect at Eli Lilly and Jericho Forum board member.  “The Cloud represents a compelling opportunity to achieve more with less but at the same time presents considerable security challenges.  For business to get the most out of it, this new development must be addressed responsibly and with eyes fully open.  Working together we believe that the Cloud Security Alliance and Jericho Forum can bring clear leadership in this important area and dispel some of the hype and confusion stirred up in the cloud.”

"The Cloud represents a fundamental shift in computing with limitless potential.  Solving the new set of risk issues it introduces is a shared responsibility of cloud provider and customer alike," said Jim Reavis, Co-founder of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).  "The Jericho Forum has shown early leadership in articulating and addressing the de-perimeterisation concept.  We are proud to join forces with them to provide pragmatic guidance for safely leveraging the cloud today as well as a clear vision for a future of pervasive and secure cloud computing."

Jericho Forum has lead the way for the last five years in the way de-perimeterisation is tackled and more recently in developing secure collaborative architectures. Last year the group published a Collaboration Oriented Architectures framework presenting a set of design principles allowing businesses to protect themselves against the security challenges posed by increased collaboration and the business potential offered by Web 2.0.  The Cloud Security Alliance has engaged, noted and well-recognised experts within crucial areas such as governance, law, network security, audit, application security, storage, cryptography, virtualization and risk management to provide authoritative guidance on how to adopt cloud computing solutions securely. 

Both groups recently published initial guidelines for cloud computing.   The Jericho Forum published a Cloud Cube Model designed to be an essential first tool to help business evaluate the risk and opportunity associated with moving in to the cloud.  A video presentation of this is available on YouTube (see(http://www.youtube.com/jerichoforum) and an accompanying Cloud Cube Model positioning paper is downloadable from the Jericho Forum Web site (http://www.opengroup.org/jericho/cloud_cube_model_v1.0.pdf).   At RSA in San Francisco, Cloud Security Alliance announced its formation and published an inaugural whitepaper, “Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing”,  downloadable from  http://www.cloudsecurityalliance.org/guidance/). 

About Jericho Forum

Jericho Forum is an international IT security thought-leadership group dedicated to defining ways to deliver effective IT security solutions that will match the increasing business demands for secure IT operations in our open, Internet-driven, globally networked world.  Members include many leading organisations from both the user and vendor community including IBM, Symantec, Boeing, AstraZeneca, Qualys, BP, Eli Lilly, KLM, Cap Gemini, Motorola and Hewlett Packard.  

Together there aim is to:

·         Drive and influence development of new architectures, inter-workable technology solutions, and implementation approaches for securing our de-perimeterizing world

·         Support development of open standards that will underpin these technology solutions.

A full list of member organisations can be seen at http://www.opengroup.org/jericho/memberCompany.htm.

About Cloud Security Alliance

The Cloud Security Alliance is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing. The Cloud Security Alliance is led by industry practitioners and supported by founding charter companies PGP Corporation, Qualys, Inc. and Zscaler, Inc. For further information, the Cloud Security Alliance website is www.cloudsecurityalliance.org

It’s great to see things moving along.  Previously we also announced that the CSA and ISACA have joined forces to promote security best practices in Cloud Computing.

In case you’ve not seen it, we’re looking for volunteers to work on specific areas of the v2.0 guidance targeted for October, 2009.  You can also contribute your thoughts on the existing guidance via our CSA Google Group.