Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Vormetric Blog, Carmen Gonzalez

Blog Feed Post

Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOs

Cloud Security Cloud Key Management Cloud Encryption CIO  infoq cloud security Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOsfrom InfoQ.com: With the news stories of possible data breaches at enterprises like Target, and the current trend of companies migrating to cloud environments for the flexibility, scalability, agility, and cost-effectiveness they offer, CIOs have been asking hard questions about cloud security.

As CIO, protecting your data (and your users) is one of your key responsibilities. Whether you already have some cloud projects running or are starting your first cloud project, these questions and answers may provide you with solutions and introduce some new techniques.

InfoQ: Is the cloud safe?

Gilad: The cloud, by definition, is not more or less safe than your own data center. As an interesting note, the recent media storm around the NSA, which started as a “cloud computing security” story, has morphed into a more general discussion. It turns out the NSA is able to eavesdrop on physical servers in physical data centers and has actually done so at many of the world’s most secure organizations.

Today, cloud computing has been discovered as safe and effective for a wide range of projects and data types, ranging across most vertical industries and market niches. Regulated, sensitive areas such as finance, health, legal, retail or government – are all in various stages of going to the cloud..

However, just like certain security precautions are taken in the physical world, cloud security also entails taking the appropriate precautions.

InfoQ: How does migrating to the cloud change my risks?

Gilad: Migrating applications and data to the cloud obviously shifts some responsibilities from your own data center to the cloud provider. It is an act of outsourcing. As such, it always involves a shift of control. Taking back control involves procedures and technology.

Cloud computing may be seen – in some aspects – as revolutionary; yet in other aspects it is evolutionary. Any study of controlling risks should start out by understanding this point. Many of the things we have learned in data centers evolve naturally to the cloud. The need for proper procedures is unchanged. Many of the technologies are also evolving naturally.

You should therefore start by mapping out your current procedures and current security-related technologies, and see how they evolve to the cloud. In many cases you’ll see a correspondence.

You’ll find however, that some areas really are a revolution. Clouds do not have walls, so physical security does not map well from the data center to the cloud. Clouds involve employees of the cloud service provider, so you need to find ways to control people who do not work for you. These are significant changes, and they require new technology and new procedures.

InfoQ: What are the most important aspects of a cloud security policy?

Gilad: Continuing the themes of evolution and revolution, some aspects of cloud security will seem familiar. Firewalls, antivirus, and authentication – are evolving to the world of cloud computing. You will find that your cloud provider often offers you solutions in these areas; and traditional vendors are evolving their solutions as well.

Some aspects may change your current thinking. Since clouds do not have walls, and cloud employees could see your data – you must create metaphoric walls around your data. In cloud scenarios, data encryption is the recognized best practice for these new needs.

Incidentally, data encryption also helps with a traditional data center need – most data breaches happen from the inside, so the threat is not just from cloud employees. However, there is no question that the threat from cloud insiders has shined a new spotlight on the need for data encryption.

InfoQ: What is the best practice for encrypting cloud data?

Gilad: You should encrypt data at rest and in motion. Encrypting “in motion” is already well known to you – the standards of HTTPS/SSL and IPSEC apply equally well in the data center and in the cloud.

Encrypting “at rest” means that the data must be encrypted when it resides on a disk, in a database, on a file system, in storage, and of course if it is backed up. In the real world, people have not always done this in data centers – often relying on physical security as a replacement. In the cloud, physical security is no alternative – you must encrypt sensitive data.

This actually means data must be encrypted constantly as it is being written, and decrypted only when it is going to be used (i.e. just before a specific calculation, and only in memory). Standards such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) are commonly used for data encryption at rest.

InfoQ: Does cloud encryption singlehandedly protect data?

Gilad: If data is properly encrypted it is, in a sense, locked and cannot be used if it falls into the wrong hands. Unless, of course, those hands have a key.

Proper management of encryption keys is as important as the encryption itself. In fact, if you keep your encryption keys to yourself – you keep ownership of your data. This is an interesting and fundamental point – in the cloud you are outsourcing your infrastructure, but you can maintain ownership by keeping the encryption keys.

If encryption keys are stored alongside the data, any breach that discloses the data will also disclose the key to access it. If encryption keys are stored with cloud providers, they own your data.

Think of your data like a safe deposit box – would you leave your key with the banker? What if he gets robbed? What if his employees are paid to make copies of your key?

A best practice is split key encryption. With this method, your data is encrypted (e.g. with AES), and then the encryption key is split into parts. One part is managed with a cloud security provider and one part stays only with you. This way, only you control access to your data.

Even if your encrypted data is compromised, the perpetrators will not be able to decrypt it and it will be useless to them.

InfoQ: How can encryption keys be protected while they are in use?

Gilad: Keys in use in the cloud do not have to be vulnerable. They can be protected using homomorphic key management. This cryptographic technique gives the application access to the data store without ever exposing the master keys to the encryption – in an unencrypted state. It also ensures that if such (encrypted) keys are stolen, they can still never be used to access your data store

InfoQ: Is cloud data encryption in compliance with regulations?

Gilad: Regulations like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and many others (GLBA, FINRA, PIPEDA, et al) require or encourage cloud data to be properly encrypted and encryption keys to be properly managed. Some of these regulations even provide for a sort of “safe harbor” – that is, if your data is breached, but you can prove that you took the necessary steps to encrypt it and maintain control of the encryption keys, you may save the financial burden, the bureaucratic reporting requirements, and the damage to reputation involved with such an event.

InfoQ: Is cloud security cost-prohibitive and will it harm system performance?

Gilad: The cloud is often chosen for its lower operational overhead, and sometimes for actual dollar savings, compared with traditional data centers. Securing a cloud project does not need to negate the cloud’s ease of use nor make the project prohibitively expensive.

There are security solutions that require no hardware and, therefore, no large cap-ex investment. Pay-as-you-go business models make it easy to scale security up (or down) with the size of your project, as you add (or remove) virtual machines and data.

Performance can also be good. Modern cloud security virtual appliances and virtual agents – are optimized for cloud throughput and latency. You’ll be able to dial up performance as your cloud project scales up. To take a concrete example – data encryption – good solutions will include a capability to stream data as it is being encrypted (or decrypted), and do so inside your cloud account. Such approaches mean that virtual CPUs available in your cloud will be able to handle your performance needs with low latency.

InfoQ: Is there a way to protect cloud backups and disaster recovery?

Gilad: Data must be secured throughout its lifecycle. Properly encrypting data while it is in use, but then offering hackers unencrypted replicas as backups defeats the purpose of encrypting in the first place. You must encrypt and own the encryption keys for every point of the lifecycle of your information. Fortunately solutions that are built for the cloud do exist, and they should cover backups as well as primary copies.

InfoQ: What it more secure: a public cloud or a private cloud?

Gilad: Public and private clouds each have pros and cons in terms of ownership, control, cost, convenience and multi-tenancy. We have found that private clouds often require security controls similar to public ones. Use cases may involve users external to your company; or large “virtual” deployments with multiple internal projects, each with a need for strong security segregation. Your data can be properly encrypted, your keys can be properly managed, and you can be safe in all the major cloud scenarios: private, public, or hybrid.

InfoQ: If my data is in the cloud, my security is in the cloud, and my backup is in the cloud, what do I control?

Gilad: If you use encryption properly and maintain control of the encryption keys, you have replaced your physical walls with mathematical walls. You will own your data. Even though you do not control the physical resources, you maintain control of what they contain. This is one reason why encryption in the cloud is the best practice.

By properly using multiple regions or even multiple cloud providers, you can also ensure that you always have availability and access to your project and your data.

By combining such techniques, you do take back control. As CIO and owner of your data, you must always control your data – from beginning to end. Your control does not need to be sacrificed when you migrate to the cloud, though it may need to be managed differently.

 

 

 

The post Answering Common Cloud Security Questions from CIOs appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Gilad Parann-Nissany

Gilad Parann-Nissany, Founder and CEO at Porticor is a pioneer of Cloud Computing. He has built SaaS Clouds for medium and small enterprises at SAP (CTO Small Business); contributing to several SAP products and reaching more than 8 million users. Recently he has created a consumer Cloud at G.ho.st - a cloud operating system that delighted hundreds of thousands of users while providing browser-based and mobile access to data, people and a variety of cloud-based applications. He is now CEO of Porticor, a leader in Virtual Privacy and Cloud Security.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
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...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
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.
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.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
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 ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
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.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, 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 it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...