Welcome!

SOA & WOA Authors: Plutora Blog, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Cloud Security: Encryption Is Key

Cloud security should include a blend of traditional security elements combined with new “cloud-adjusted” security technologies

Today, with enterprises migrating to the cloud, the security challenge around protecting data is greater than ever before. Keeping data private and secure has always been a business imperative. But for many companies and organizations, it has also become a compliance requirement and a necessity to stay in business. Standards including HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI DSS and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act all require that organizations protect their data at rest and provide defenses against data loss and threats.

Public cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than as a product, and is usually categorized into three service models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS). When it comes to public cloud security, all leading cloud providers are investing significant efforts and resources in securing and certifying their datacenters. However, as cloud computing matures, enterprises are learning that cloud security cannot be delivered by the cloud provider alone. In fact, cloud providers make sure enterprises know that security is a shared responsibility, and that cloud customers do share responsibility for data security, protection from unauthorized access, and backup of their data.

Actually, this "shared responsibility" makes sense most of the time. The responsibility of cloud providers offering Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) reasonably extends to the network and the infrastructure they provide. In fact, a typical agreement between you and your cloud provider will usually state that "...you acknowledge that you bear sole responsibility for adequate security..." So businesses hosting their applications in the cloud understand that they must share responsibility for ensuring the security of their data.

As cloud computing becomes increasingly more mainstream, it's harder to distinguish the generic security issues that an IT manager needs to tackle, from those that are specific to cloud computing. Issues such as roles and responsibilities, secure application development, least privilege and many more apply equally well in traditional on-premise environments as they do in the cloud.

When an IT application is moved to a public cloud, all of the old security risks associated with it in the past still exist but, in addition, there are new risk vectors. Previously your servers and your data were physically protected within your server room. Now the "virtual servers" and "virtual storage devices" are accessible to you, the customer, via a browser; raising the concern that hackers may attempt to access the same. Here are some new risks scenarios to consider when migrating to the cloud:

  1. Snapshotting your virtual storage by gaining access to your cloud console.
    A malicious user might gain access to your cloud console by stealing your credentials or by exploiting vulnerabilities in cloud access control. In any case, once inside your account, a "snapshot" of your virtual disks will allow an attacker to move a copy of your virtual storage to his or her preferred location and abuse the data stored on those virtual disks. This risk is in our opinion the most obvious reason to deploy data encryption in the cloud, but surprisingly enough, not all companies are aware of the threat and unknowingly expose their cloud-residing data to this significant risk.
  2. Gaining access from a different server within the same account.
    Gaining access to sensitive data from a different virtual server inside the same account can be achieved by an attacker exploiting a vulnerability on that other server (such as a misconfiguration), or by one of your other cloud system administrators (a "malicious insider" from a different project in your own organization) using credentials or exploiting one of many known web application vulnerabilities to launch an attack on your virtual server. Unencrypted data can be exposed and stolen using this method.
  3. The insider threat.
    Though this scenario gets mentioned a lot, it's unlikely that a cloud provider employee will be involved in data theft. The more realistic scenario is an accidental incident related to an insider with physical access to the data center. One well-known example is the HealthNet case where 1.9 million customer records of HealthNet, a major US health insurer, were lost after its IT vendor misplaced nine server drives following a move to a new data center. According to HIPAA rules, disk-level encryption would have negated the incident impact.

The industry consensus is that encryption is an essential first step in achieving cloud computing security. An effective solution needs to meet four critical needs: High security, convenient management, robust performance and regulatory compliance. Data at rest is no longer between the proverbial "four walls" of the enterprise; the data owner is managing their own data with browsers and cloud APIs, and the concern is that a hacker can do the same. As such, cloud encryption is recognized as a basic building block of cloud security, though one difficult question has remained - where to store the encryption keys, since the keys cannot safely be stored in the cloud along with the data.

Protecting Content with Cloud Encryption and Key Management
Encryption technology is only as secure as the encryption keys. You have to keep your keys in a safe place. You need a cloud key management solution that can support encryption of your data and should supply the encryption keys for files, databases (whether the complete database or at the column, table, or tablespace level), or disks. This is actually the trickiest security question when implementing encryption in the cloud and requires thought and expertise. For example, database encryption keys are often kept in a database "wallet," which is often a file on your virtual disk. The concern is that hackers will attack the virtual disk in the cloud, and from there get access to the wallet, and through the wallet access the data.

Conclusion
Encrypting sensitive data in the cloud is an absolute must. Cloud security should include a blend of traditional security elements combined with new "cloud-adjusted" security technologies. Encryption should be a key part of your cloud security strategy due to the new cloud threat vectors (but also due to regulations such as the Patriot Act), and you should pay specific attention to key management.

More Stories By Ariel Dan

Ariel Dan is co-founder and Executive Vice President at Porticor cloud security. Follow him on twitter: @ariel_dan

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
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...
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...
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...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
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.
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
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 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!
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.
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
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.
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 ...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
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.
"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.
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
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.