Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Stackify Blog, Aruna Ravichandran, Dalibor Siroky, Kevin Jackson, PagerDuty Blog

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Article

Setting the Stage for Cybersecurity with Threat Intelligence

Effective cybersecurity requires an understanding of what assets need to be protected

Ransomware is the latest example of the increasingly sophisticated and damaging inventions of hackers. Individuals and organizations of all sizes are finding that their data has been locked down or encrypted until a ransom is paid. One program, CryptoLocker, infected more than 300,000 computers before the FBI and international law enforcement agencies disabled it. A few days later, Cryptowall showed up to take its place. Companies paid $1.3 billion last year in insurance to help offset the costs of combatting data attacks like these.

Other examples include highly customized malware, advanced persistent threats and large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Security professionals must remain ever vigilant to both known and new threats on the rise. However, with proper visibility into the extended network and robust intelligence, an attack can often be detected and stopped before it causes significant damage. By using the network to gain intelligence, cyber defenders can gain greater visibility of adversary actions and quickly shut them down.

Since an attack can be broken down into stages, it is helpful to think of a response to an attack in stages as well: before, during and after. This is standard operating procedure for anyone in the security profession. Let's examine each stage:

Before: Cyber defenders are constantly on the lookout for areas of vulnerability. Historically, security had been all about defense. Today, teams are developing more intelligent methods of halting intruders. With total visibility into their environments - including, but not limited, to physical and virtual hosts, operating systems, applications, services, protocols, users, content and network behavior -defenders can take action before an attack has even begun.

During the attack, impact can be minimized if security staff understands what is happening and how to stop it as quickly as possible. They need to be able to continuously address threats, not just at a single point in time. Tools including content inspection, behavior anomaly detection, context awareness of users, devices, location information and applications are critical to understanding an attack as it is occurring. Security teams need to discover where, what and how users are connected to applications and resources.

After the attack, cyber defenders must understand the nature of the attack and how to minimize any damage that may have occurred. Advanced forensics and assessment tools help security teams learn from attacks. Where did the attacker come from? How did they find a vulnerability in the network? Could anything have been done to prevent the breach? More important, retrospective security allows for an infrastructure that can continuously gather and analyze data to create security intelligence. Compromises that would have gone undetected for weeks or months can instead be identified, scoped, contained and remediated in real time or close to it.

The two most important aspects of a defensive strategy, then, are understanding and intelligence. Cybersecurity teams are constantly trying to learn more about who their enemies are, why they are attacking and how. This is where the extended network provides unexpected value: delivering a depth of intelligence that cannot be attained anywhere else in the computing environment. Much like in counterterrorism, intelligence is key to stopping attacks before they happen.

Virtual security, as is sometimes the case in real-world warfare, is often disproportionate to available resources. Relatively small adversaries with limited means can inflict disproportionate damage on larger adversaries. In these unbalanced situations, intelligence is one of the most important assets for addressing threats. But intelligence alone is of little benefit without an approach that optimizes the organizational and operational use of intelligence.

Security teams can correlate identity and context, using network analysis techniques that enable the collection of IP network traffic as it enters or exits an interface, and then add to that threat intelligence and analytics capabilities.

This allows security teams to combine what they learn from multiple sources of information to help identify and stop threats. Sources include what they know from the Web, what they know that's happening in the network and a growing amount of collaborative intelligence gleaned from exchange with public and private entities.

Cryptowall will eventually be defeated, but other ransomware programs and as-yet-unknown attacks will rise to threaten critical data. Effective cybersecurity requires an understanding of what assets need to be protected and an alignment of organizational priorities and capabilities. Essentially, a framework of this type enables security staff to think like malicious actors and therefore do a better job of securing their environments. The security team's own threat intelligence practice, uniting commercial threat information with native analysis of user behavior, will detect, defend against and remediate security events more rapidly and effectively than once thought possible.

More Stories By Greg Akers

Greg Akers is the Senior Vice President of Advanced Security Initiatives and Chief Technology Officer within the Threat Response, Intelligence and Development (TRIAD) group at Cisco. With more than two decades of executive experience, Akers brings a wide range of technical and security knowledge to his current role.

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.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
How is DevOps going within your organization? If you need some help measuring just how well it is going, we have prepared a list of some key DevOps metrics to track. These metrics can help you understand how your team is doing over time. The word DevOps means different things to different people. Some say it a culture and every vendor in the industry claims that their tools help with DevOps. Depending on how you define DevOps, some of these metrics may matter more or less to you and your team.
For many of us laboring in the fields of digital transformation, 2017 was a year of high-intensity work and high-reward achievement. So we’re looking forward to a little breather over the end-of-year holiday season. But we’re going to have to get right back on the Continuous Delivery bullet train in 2018. Markets move too fast and customer expectations elevate too precipitously for businesses to rest on their laurels. Here’s a DevOps “to-do list” for 2018 that should be priorities for anyone w...
If testing environments are constantly unavailable and affected by outages, release timelines will be affected. You can use three metrics to measure stability events for specific environments and plan around events that will affect your critical path to release.
In a recent post, titled “10 Surprising Facts About Cloud Computing and What It Really Is”, Zac Johnson highlighted some interesting facts about cloud computing in the SMB marketplace: Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective for an SMB, compared to running its own IT system. 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t have with their on-premises service
DevOps failure is a touchy subject with some, because DevOps is typically perceived as a way to avoid failure. As a result, when you fail in a DevOps practice, the situation can seem almost hopeless. However, just as a fail-fast business approach, or the “fail and adjust sooner” methodology of Agile often proves, DevOps failures are actually a step in the right direction. They’re the first step toward learning from failures and turning your DevOps practice into one that will lead you toward even...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
While walking around the office I happened upon a relatively new employee dragging emails from his inbox into folders. I asked why and was told, “I’m just answering emails and getting stuff off my desk.” An empty inbox may be emotionally satisfying to look at, but in practice, you should never do it. Here’s why. I recently wrote a piece arguing that from a mathematical perspective, Messy Desks Are Perfectly Optimized. While it validated the genius of my friends with messy desks, it also gener...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
The enterprise data storage marketplace is poised to become a battlefield. No longer the quiet backwater of cloud computing services, the focus of this global transition is now going from compute to storage. An overview of recent storage market history is needed to understand why this transition is important. Before 2007 and the birth of the cloud computing market we are witnessing today, the on-premise model hosted in large local data centers dominated enterprise storage. Key marketplace play...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task ...
Following a tradition dating back to 2002 at ZapThink and continuing at Intellyx since 2014, it’s time for Intellyx’s annual predictions for the coming year. If you’re a long-time fan, you know we have a twist to the typical annual prediction post: we actually critique our predictions from the previous year. To make things even more interesting, Charlie and I switch off, judging the other’s predictions. And now that he’s been with Intellyx for more than a year, this Cortex represents my first ...
"Grape Up leverages Cloud Native technologies and helps companies build software using microservices, and work the DevOps agile way. We've been doing digital innovation for the last 12 years," explained Daniel Heckman, of Grape Up in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Toyota Production System, a world-renowned production system is based on the "complete elimination of all waste". The "Toyota Way", grounded on continuous improvement dates to the 1860s. The methodology is widely proven to be successful yet there are still industries within and tangential to manufacturing struggling to adopt its core principles: Jidoka: a process should stop when an issue is identified prevents releasing defective products
Defining the term ‘monitoring’ is a difficult task considering the performance space has evolved significantly over the years. Lately, there has been a shift in the monitoring world, sparking a healthy debate regarding the definition and purpose of monitoring, through which a new term has emerged: observability. Some of that debate can be found in blogs by Charity Majors and Cindy Sridharan.
We seem to run this cycle with every new technology that comes along. A good idea with practical applications is born, then both marketers and over-excited users start to declare it is the solution for all or our problems. Compliments of Gartner, we know it generally as “The Hype Cycle”, but each iteration is a little different. 2018’s flavor will be serverless computing, and by 2018, I mean starting now, but going most of next year, you’ll be sick of it. We are already seeing people write such...
It’s “time to move on from DevOps and continuous delivery.” This was the provocative title of a recent article in ZDNet, in which Kelsey Hightower, staff developer advocate at Google Cloud Platform, suggested that “software shops should have put these concepts into action years ago.” Reading articles like this or listening to talks at most DevOps conferences might make you think that we’re entering a post-DevOps world. But vast numbers of organizations still struggle to start and drive transfo...
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.