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COTS Cloud security reference design and related NIST workshop

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NISTSince the beginning of the modern Cloud movement (which we trace to November 2006 — see here if you want to know why) technologists have been seeking ways to mitigate key risks. Top on our list include

1) The increased risk due to multi-tenancy

2) The mission needs of availability (including the need for always available path to resources)

3) New and at times nuanced challenges regarding data confidentiality

4) New challenges regarding integrity of data.

There are many other policy related risks that planners must consider, including how to establish the best user authentication methods and how to ensure compliance with regulations and laws of the geography that holds the data. But for a technologist, the four above are a continual concern, and if those technical concerns are mitigated it makes other concerns so much easier to deal with.

That is why we read with such great pleasure a recent announcement that NIST is continuing to work with industry to ensure advancements are being made in cloud security. The NIST National Cyber Center of Excellence (NNCOE) in Rockville, MD is a focal point for many great industry/government interactions, including a workshop at their facility January 14 that we are especially excited about.

This workshop is on the topic of  Trusted Geo location in the Cloud. It is a proof of concept implementation that uses technology that has proven to be the most scalable technology on the globe: Intel processors.  Technologists presenting and discussing these developments come from Intel, EMC-RSA, NIST and the NCCoE. This will be a great workshop that includes hands-on demonstrations of this technology, and we believe it will show ways to help mitigate all four of the challenges we  provide above.

Following the workshop the NCCoE will have a two day cloud computing event (details can be found on that here)

From the workshop flyer:

An upcoming workshop to be held at the NIST National Cyber Center of Excellence (NNCOE) facility in Rockville, MD on Monday, January 14th on Trusted Geo location in the Cloud : Proof of Concept Implementation.

There is a very interesting workshop being provided to a technical audience next week on Monday the 14th by NIST and private industry on a cloud use case embracing the security challenges involving Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing technologies and geolocation.

The motivation behind this use case is to improve the security of cloud computing and accelerate the adoption of cloud computing technologies by establishing an automated hardware root of trust method for enforcing and monitoring geolocation restrictions for cloud servers. A hardware root of trust is an inherently trusted combination of hardware and firmware that maintains the integrity of the geolocation information and the platform. This information is accessed using secure protocols to assert the integrity of the platform and confirm the location of the host.

At the heart of the solution is a reference design provided through the utilization of commercial off the shelf (COTS) products provided by Intel, VmWare and RSA Archer. The use case is of significant relevance to US Federal agencies in solving the security problem in question: improving the security of virtualized infrastructure cloud computing technologies by enforcing geolocation restrictions.

NIST now moves in conjunction with private industry in a workshop specific to this research (attached to this email) that explains and details how to implement this trusted cloud solution on January 14th at the NIST National Cyber Center of Excellence (NCCOE).

Audience 

This workshop and IR document has been created for security researchers, cloud computing practitioners, system integrators, and other parties interested in techniques for solving the security problem in question: improving the security of virtualized infrastructure cloud computing technologies by enforcing geolocation restrictions. 2:00 PM – 2:15 PM  NCCoE Introduction NIST 
2:15 PM – 2:30 PM  Trusted Cloud Description NIST 
2:30 PM – 2:45 PM  Trusted Geolocation in the Cloud Implementation – Trusted Measurement and Remote Attestation Intel Corporation 
2:45 PM – 3:00 PM  Trusted Geolocation in the Cloud Trusted – Monitoring of Measurements in a Governance, Risk, and Compliance Dashboard EMC-RSA 
3:00 PM – 3:15 PM  Trusted Cloud Demonstration Intel, EMC-RSA, and NIST 
3:15 PM – 4:00 PM  Questions and Answers / Hands-on Session Intel, EMC-RSA, and NIST 

 

Participation from all parties is welcomed and to register for this workshop: Please send an email with the attendee’s name, affiliation, and email address in the body of the message to [email protected], with the subject “Trusted Location in the cloud” by January 13, 2013.

This workshop is now part of their Big Data and Cloud Computing Workshop to be held at the NIST HQ in Gaithersburg, MD on January 15-17. http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/cloudbdworkshop.cfm

The importance of this secure cloud computing proof of concept can be found in the NIST Draft publication at the following link to the publication which details this reference design and clearry delineates how to stand up this secure cloud structure. The NIST Interagency Report (NISTIR) is a public/ private collaboration with co-authors from both NIST and private industry authors and is now taking public comments: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/ir7904/draft_nistir_7904.pdf

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Background Information taken from NISTIR 7904:

Shared cloud computing technologies are designed to be very agile and flexible, transparently using whatever resources are available to process workloads for their customers. However, there are security and privacy concerns with allowing unrestricted workload migration. Whenever multiple workloads are present on a single cloud server, there is a need to segregate those workloads from each other so that they do not interfere with each other, gain access to each other’s sensitive data, or otherwise compromise the security or privacy of the workloads. Imagine two rival companies with workloads on the same server; each company would want to ensure that the server can be trusted to protect their information from the other company.

Another concern with shared cloud computing is that workloads could move from cloud servers located in one country to servers located in another country. Each country has its own laws for data security, privacy, and other aspects of information technology (IT). Because the requirements of these laws may conflict with an organization’s policies or mandates (e.g., laws, regulations), an organization may decide that it needs to restrict which cloud servers it uses based on their location. A common desire is to only use cloud servers physically located within the same country as the organization. Determining the approximate physical location of an object, such as a cloud computing server, is generally known as geolocation. Geolocation can be accomplished in many ways, with varying degrees of accuracy, but traditional geolocation methods are not secured and they are enforced through management and operational controls that cannot be automated and scaled, and therefore traditional geolocation methods cannot be trusted to meet cloud security needs.

The motivation behind this use case is to improve the security of cloud computing and accelerate the adoption of cloud computing technologies by establishing an automated hardware root of trust method for enforcing and monitoring geolocation restrictions for cloud servers. A hardware root of trust is an inherently trusted combination of hardware and firmware that maintains the integrity of the geolocation information and the platform. The hardware root of trust is seeded by the organization, with the host’s unique identifier and platform metadata stored in tamperproof hardware. This information is accessed using secure protocols to assert the integrity of the platform and confirm the location of the host.

NIST now moves in conjunction with private industry in a workshop specific to this research (attached to this email) that explains and details how to implement this trusted cloud solution on January 14th at the NIST National Cyber Center of Excellence (NCCOE). This workshop is now part of their Big Data and Cloud Computing Workshop to be held at the NIST HQ in Gaithersburg, MD on January 15-17. http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/cloudbdworkshop.cfm

Here is the link to the publication from both NIST and private industry authors that is now taking public comments: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/ir7904/draft_nistir_7904.pdf

For media interviews and comments, please contact:

Kevin Fiftal

Intel Corporation

 

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.