Click here to close now.


Containers Expo Blog Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

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 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 - 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
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
"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 interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.