|By Lisa Lorenzin||
|October 18, 2012 02:00 PM EDT||
A wealth of security information exists in our networks from a variety of sources - policy servers, firewalls, switches, networking infrastructure, defensive components, and more. Unfortunately, most of that information is locked away in separate silos due to differences in products and technologies, as well as by companies' organizational boundaries. Further complicating the issue, information is stored in different formats and communicated over different protocols.
An open standard from the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) offers the capability to centralize communication and coordination of information to enable security automation. The Interface for Metadata Access Points - IF-MAP for short - is like Facebook for network and security technology, allowing real-time sharing of information across a heterogeneous environment.
IF-MAP, part of TCG's Trusted Network Connect (TNC) architecture, makes it possible for any authorized device or system to publish information to a Metadata Access Point (MAP), a clearinghouse for information about who's on the network, what endpoint they're using, how they're behaving, and many other details of the network. Systems can also search the MAP for relevant information and subscribe to any updates to that information. Just as IP transformed communications, IF-MAP revolutionizes the way systems share data.
Security automation is any part of a security system that is able to operate without - or with only limited - administrative involvement. As shown in Figure 1, a security administrator can define a unified security policy that applies to different types of protective mechanisms, such as next-generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), unified threat management (UTM) systems, and more. Best-of-breed components from multiple vendors can share information using a standard information bus.
Figure 1: Effective security automation includes several protection mechanisms.
This coordination can extend beyond front-line access control products to back-end systems such as authorization databases, virtualization technology, and reputation systems. A policy server might create and modify policy based completely on the information received from other resources in the environment.
Logs from multiple sources can be collected and correlated by a security information and event management (SIEM) system, which itself acts as both a consumer of information and a provider of real-time intelligence based on that information. Security operations personnel can easily oversee activities in the network and provide human intervention in cases where full automation may not be achievable or desirable. Security automation enhances fundamental security solutions, adding dynamic, responsive, intelligent decision-making.
Establishing Network Trust
One of the basic solutions enabled by the TNC architecture is Comply to Connect, which incorporates Network Access Control (NAC) principles - an endpoint must first show its compliance with selected endpoint health requirements before being granted access to the network. Figure 2 shows a common Comply to Connect scenario.
Figure 2: The TNC architecture enables evaluation and enforcement of compliance at admission.
The endpoint, on the left, is a device attempting to access a protected network. The enforcement point is a guard that grants or denies access based on instructions from the policy server. The policy server is really the brains of the operation; it looks at the configured policy and decides what level of access should be granted. Then it informs the enforcement point, which executes those instructions.
Many enforcement options exist; the example in Figure 2 shows a wireless access point and a switch, but environments may also use a firewall or a virtual private network (VPN) gateway. Each of these has its own pros and cons; for example, a wireless access point with 802.1X can totally block unauthorized users. But while it provides admission control, it doesn't offer enforcement deeper in the network. For that reason, most NAC solutions support a combination of different enforcement points, which can be used individually or in combination.
The security policy controlling the compliance check shown in Figure 2 is quite simple: every Windows 7 endpoint on the network must have a self-encrypting drive (SED), up-to-date anti-virus protection, and a personal firewall. When a new Windows 7 endpoint comes on the network, the enforcement point will query it and then consult the policy server. If the endpoint complies with security policy, it is given access to the production network. Another endpoint that does not have an SED may be given only limited access to the network. That way, if either endpoint is lost or stolen, protected information is only on the endpoint that could store it securely on an SED.
Expanding Network Trust Evaluation
Behavior monitoring is another way to evaluate an endpoint. Many security-related sensor devices are already deployed in networks to monitor behavior: intrusion detection systems, leakage detection systems, endpoint profiling systems, and more. The TNC architecture lets users integrate those existing systems with each other and with the NAC solution by sharing information via a MAP.
Figure 3 shows an approach to check behavior. Security sensors in the network monitor behavior, and a security policy identifies acceptable behavior.
Figure 3: Behavior checking enables automated response to changes in the endpoint's activity.
Once an endpoint has connected to the network, even if it has passed authentication and compliance checks, it could behave in an unauthorized fashion. If the endpoint starts violating security policy by trying to spread a worm, that traffic is detected and stopped by an IPS sensor.
Even more important, that sensor publishes information to the MAP about the attack it stopped. The MAP notifies the policy server, which evaluates its security policy and instructs the enforcement point to move the endpoint to a remediation network until it can be addressed.
The end result is an entire network security system that is working together. Each part performs its function, and each piece is integrated with the whole using the open IF-MAP standard.
Extending Security to Mobile Devices
TNC standards have enabled NAC to evolve into a foundation technology for business requirements such as mobile security and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). A common scenario in today's connected world occurs when a mobile user accesses the Internet and social networks on a personal device, such as a smartphone, which they also use to access their corporate network. If the smartphone inadvertently becomes infected with malware, corporate data on that device is now at risk. And it's even worse when the user connects their smartphone to the corporate network; the attacker, who has taken control of the device, can access sensitive information.
This situation occurs when a company's security team lacks the tools to accommodate employees using their own consumer devices to improve productivity. Without the appropriate technology, the IT team cannot:
- detect malware on the mobile device
- protect the user from cloud-based threats
- control access based on user identity, device, and location
- coordinate security controls to protect sensitive information
This clearly needs a new approach!
Addressing the new requirements of BYOD and providing broad protection involves flexible deployment models that can be tailored to individual environments and security context, and coordination to keep users protected against the dynamic threat landscape.
Security automation makes it possible to detect and address compromised mobile devices; protect the user from malicious sites and applications; restrict network and resource access based on user identity, device, and location; and correlate endpoint activity monitoring across the corporate network infrastructure.
Leveraging Standard Network Security Metadata
These capabilities are enabled by TNC's standardization of basic metadata for network security. Metadata is the information stored in a MAP, representing anything that is known about the network: traffic flows, scan results, user authentications, or other events. In the case above, metadata represents information about network components and applicable security policies. The MAP is a clearinghouse for metadata; MAP clients can publish metadata to it, search it for specific metadata, and/or subscribe to metadata about endpoints in the network.
These inquiries include common things that it might be helpful to know about an endpoint - the type of device, identity of the user operating the device, role assigned to that user, association between the MAC address and IP address of the endpoint, location of the endpoint, and any events related to that endpoint.
Extending Security Automation to Other Use Cases
While standard metadata is useful for out-of-box interoperability, much more information about an endpoint or a network is available. IF-MAP can be extended by creation of vendor-specific metadata, similar to Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) in RADIUS, enabling anyone to publish anything that can be expressed in XML!
Imagine a manufacturing line, where a physical process is controlled by a digital component called a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). An operator display panel, the Human Machine Interface (HMI), is typically physically remote from the actual process that needs monitoring. As changes in the process occur, the operator display updates in real-time.
Many HMIs use a legacy protocol called Modbus to poll the PLC, retrieve these process variables, and display them. Originally designed to be run over a serial connection, Modbus has been ported to TCP. One of the problems with the Modbus protocol and many others in this space is that there are zero security features in the protocol - no authentication, no authorization - which means no way of knowing whether a requestor is authorized to gain access requested, or even who is sending data the request. If an endpoint (or intruder) can ping the PLC, it can issue commands to it!
Many control systems components operate this way. Until now, they have been small islands of automation with very little interconnection to other systems. Running over a serial bus required physical serial connections - typically, the operator had to be present in front of the machine to affect it, so physical security was sufficient. And once these systems are in place, they are designed to stay in production for decades. So now these systems are getting more and more interconnected with the enterprise network - and, by extension, to external networks - and they encounter the same types of security issues as enterprise systems.
Overlaying Security onto Industrial Control Systems
A single manufacturing line could have hundreds, or even thousands, of these PLCs. Replacing them is out of the question, as is retro-fitting them to add on security. But what if a transparent security overlay was inserted to protect these legacy components?
Deployment and lifecycle management for such an overlay would be a huge challenge - unless there was a mechanism for provisioning certificates, communication details, and access control policies to the overlay components. That's exactly what one manufacturing company has done with IF-MAP, by using vendor-specific metadata for provisioning of certificate information and access control policy, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: IF-MAP enabled security overlay protects industrial control system components.
The first step is to add the overlay protection. In this case, the enforcement points are customized components, designed for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks, that can create an OpenHIP "virtual private LAN" on top of standard IP networks. This requires no changes to the underlying network, protects communications between SCADA devices, and is completely transparent to the protected SCADA devices.
A MAP and a provisioning client enable centralized deployment, provisioning, and lifecycle management for the myriad enforcement points. The provisioning client publishes metadata to the MAP to define the HMIs and PLCs and to specify security policies that allow them to talk to each other, but do not allow external access to them.
For example, when an HMI comes into the network and queries for a PLC, the HMI does an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) lookup. The enforcement point receives that traffic, searches the MAP, and finds the access control policy determining whether this specific HMI can talk to that particular PLC. Enforcement points can be moved around the network without requiring manual reconfiguration or reprovisioning, since all of the provisioning is centralized via the MAP.
This is not just a neat thought experiment - it is actually in production deployment on hundreds of endpoints in critical manufacturing lines today!
The Future of Security Automation
We've barely scratched the surface of security automation. For one thing, it goes far beyond access control. Imagine...
- A content management database (CMDB) receives notification of a new device on the network and scans the new endpoint, then updates its data store
- An analysis engine observes some behavior on the network and requires more information about the associated endpoint, so it requests an investigation by another component such as an endpoint profiler or vulnerability scanner
- Carrier routers redirect traffic through deep packet inspection based on suspicious user activity
- A security administrator modifies an existing security policy, or adds a new policy, and various policy servers / sensors are notified, triggering a re-evaluation of the network's endpoints
- An application server publishes a request for bandwidth for a particular user based on the service the user is accessing, and network infrastructure components change QoS settings for those traffic flows based on that request
- An IF-MAP enabled OpenFlow switch controller makes packet-handling decisions based on information from other network components
- An analysis system determines that there's an attack underway; in addition to triggering a response, it notifies security administrators of the attack taking place, populating a dashboard with information to create a "heat map" of the attack
All of these are examples of a common three-step process: sensing, analysis, and response. Security automation is enabled by the abstraction and coordination of these functions across multiple disparate components in the network.
Imagine the power gained by linking together information from all of the various infrastructure and security technologies in a network and using that information to make dynamic, intelligent, automated decisions. That's the true promise of security automation - and the realization of that promise is in its infancy.
Developers want to create better apps faster. Static clouds are giving way to scalable systems, with dynamic resource allocation and application monitoring. You won't hear that chant from users on any picket line, but helping developers to create better apps faster is the mission of Lee Atchison, principal cloud architect and advocate at New Relic Inc., based in San Francisco. His singular job is to understand and drive the industry in the areas of cloud architecture, microservices, scalability ...
Apr. 23, 2017 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,140
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
Apr. 23, 2017 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,235
This recent research on cloud computing from the Register delves a little deeper than many of the "We're all adopting cloud!" surveys we've seen. They found that meaningful cloud adoption and the idea of the cloud-first enterprise are still not reality for many businesses. The Register's stats also show a more gradual cloud deployment trend over the past five years, not any sort of explosion. One important takeaway is that coherence across internal and external clouds is essential for IT right n...
Apr. 23, 2017 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,279
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Apr. 23, 2017 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,963
To more closely examine the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization. This annual study consists of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
Apr. 23, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,103
Is your application too difficult to manage? Do changes take dozens of developers hundreds of hours to execute, and frequently result in downtime across all your site’s functions? It sounds like you have a monolith! A monolith is one of the three main software architectures that define most applications. Whether you’ve intentionally set out to create a monolith or not, it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of the different architectural approaches and deciding which one makes the most s...
Apr. 22, 2017 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,443
Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications. Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services – everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has m...
Apr. 22, 2017 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 4,609
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Apr. 22, 2017 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,221
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
Apr. 22, 2017 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 5,888
We'd all like to fulfill that "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" cliché. But in reality, every job (even if it's our dream job) comes with its downsides. For you, the constant fight against shadow IT might get on your last nerves. For your developer coworkers, infrastructure management is the roadblock that stands in the way of focusing on coding. As you watch more and more applications and processes move to the cloud, technology is coming to developers' rescue-most r...
Apr. 22, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,929
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
Apr. 22, 2017 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,409
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Apr. 22, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 8,608
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Apr. 21, 2017 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 6,782
In large enterprises, environment provisioning and server provisioning account for a significant portion of the operations team's time. This often leaves users frustrated while they wait for these services. For instance, server provisioning can take several days and sometimes even weeks. At the same time, digital transformation means the need for server and environment provisioning is constantly growing. Organizations are adopting agile methodologies and software teams are increasing the speed ...
Apr. 21, 2017 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,096
Even for the most seasoned IT pros, the cloud is complicated. It can be difficult just to wrap your head around the many terms and acronyms that make up the cloud dictionary-not to mention actually mastering the technology. Unfortunately, complicated cloud terms are often combined to the point that their meanings are lost in a sea of conflicting opinions. Two terms that are used interchangeably (but shouldn't be) are hybrid cloud and multicloud. If you want to be the cloud expert your company ne...
Apr. 21, 2017 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,154
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Apr. 21, 2017 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 5,629
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Apr. 19, 2017 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,213
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
Apr. 18, 2017 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,259
The human body is the most complex machine ever created! With a complex network of interconnected organs, millions of cells and the most advanced processor, human body is the most automated system in this planet. In this article, we will draw comparisons between working of a human body to that of a datacenter. We will learn how self-defense and self-healing capabilities of our human body is similar to firewalls and intelligent monitoring capabilities in our datacenters. We will draw parallels b...
Apr. 16, 2017 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,688
Cloud adoption is often driven by a desire to increase efficiency, boost agility and save money. All too often, however, the reality involves unpredictable cost spikes and lack of oversight due to resource limitations. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO and Founder of CloudHealth Technologies, will tackle the question: “How do you build a fully optimized cloud?” He will examine: Why TCO is critical to achieving cloud success – and why attendees should be thinking holisticall...
Apr. 16, 2017 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,786