Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Victoria Livschitz, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

A Cloud Security Conversation with the SMB

Why the cloud makes sense for companies with limited resources and modest budgets

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. His name is AJ and he was particularly grouchy. He had just spent the last 12 work hours scouring month-old machine logs so that he could compile a quarter-end audit that met his company’s compliance requirement. AJ is the Director of IT for what would be considered an SMB. It’s a modest home warranty related company that deals with homeowner end users, finance and loan offices, mortgage companies and manufacturers. It does roughly 15-20 million in business each year and employs about 60 direct employees and maybe 100 contracted agents. AJ has a staff of three other IT professionals, but given the workload, could easily double that headcount.

AJ is very proud of his jack-of-all-IT-trades status. He is proficient at writing code as he is virtually installing access on contractor home devices or planning strategic IT footprint expansion. And it's this proficiency that has been making him grumpy. Because he can work some sort of magic with just about any application, the bosses have him wear many different hats. In fact, one of his online IT forum handles is “The Maddest Hatter.” But it is this reliance on his tribal knowledge and multidisciplinary acumen that keep the C-Levels saying “that sounds like it’s right up AJ’s alley.” AJ’s biggest problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day and he can only prioritize so many projects that are interspersed with hair-on-fire emergencies.

Now when I called AJ, it was not to sell him anything, but to see if he wanted to play a round of golf this weekend. However, the conversation soon turned dark, as he said that he would probably be in the office all weekend catching up on the work he would have been doing if not for the pesky audits.  I asked him if that were a regular happenstance, working through the weekend. He said it happened once or twice a month. If it wasn’t compliance, it was server repair, or backup tapes, or investigating why the website submission page transmits gobbledigook (his word, not mine).

“So what about your security policies?” I snuck in the question.

“What about them? Raul and Savino (his techs) usually take care of it-the provsioning, password stuff, whatever. I just step in when the feds come knocking and ask about compliance. Man PCI is just burying me.” (note...most of his company's users pay for service online using credit card--see last week's blog about PCI)

I sighed. “So you don’t know who’s accessing your network, if they’re friendlies. What they are looking at?”

“I know what you’re trying to do…you’re trying to sell me SIEM and Log Management. You know I’ve got it covered.”

“Do you? How secure are those home agents computers? Are they monitored by anything more than virus software? Do you know what sites they’re visiting, how open their networks are before they sign in an access your network? Heck are they using unsecured smartphones?”

“I know. I know. But I thought this call was about golf.”

“Just trying to help a buddy out.

I know from experience that too many SMBs do not enforce data security policies. Like AJ, they are spread too thin or don’t have the necessary budget to afford a holistic solution. Without these security controls they run the risk of losing data, stagnate employee (and agent) productivity, and open themselves up to a myriad of breaches, sabotages and carelessness. Any of which could bring their modest enterprise to a screeching halt.

For company’s like AJ’s, security-as-a-service is making more and more sense. It provides best of breed capabilities for a fraction of the cost. I told AJ that for what he pays currently in support and maintenance, I could provide an enterprise-class holistic solution-one that provides all the tools, plus 24/7 monitoring vigilance. And this is not to displace any person or process currently in house. They might have the expertise, but typically don’t have the bandwidth or the budget or the buy-in. Too many company’s like AJ’s do the bare minimum to maintain compliance, but that certainly leaves them vulnerable. In fact, the all the automated and outsourced functionalities can provide the breathing room to address not only business need and revenue generating priorities, but to allow a transformation from an infrastructure-based organization to a information-based one. AJ knows this and often crosses swords with the C-levels in that they need to upgrade security protocols because it is a matter of when (not if) a major security issue will occur and cost them not only dollars, but reputation as well.

Cloud-based security is not just a benefit for SMBs.  The residual benefit of cloud security is that IT no longer has to be in the Identity Management business, but still reap all the benefits and efficiencies. No more time dedicated to resetting passwords or setting up role based access every time someone is hired, fired or moved. It doesn’t have to be in the log monitoring business, but still is effectively and securely protected from intrusion and attack with 24/7/365 monitoring. IT department is no longer a compiler of data, but a conduit of information and evaluator of compliance audits and reports that meet the various industry standards and government requirements.

The good news is AJ is slotting cloud security migration for his 2013 budget. So I just may let him win the next time we hit the links…but don’t tell him that!

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.