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The Extended Enterprise Perimeter By @E_deSouza | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

The explosive growth of cloud traffic has fundamentally changed the means by which today’s contemporary businesses operate

Redefining the Extended Enterprise Cloud Perimeter with Network-Centric Security

Cloud has become an extension of today's enterprise and the traditional perimeter has long disappeared. Increasing business requirements for agility and flexibility make the cloud-extended enterprise ideal for a workforce that works anywhere, anytime and any place. This is especially true as organizations are increasingly made up of third-party resources, partners and suppliers compared to just employees.

However, traditional security models are not equipped to deal with the fluid nature of data and network flows that extend from the enterprise into a mix of multiple clouds. This not only creates concerns about network resiliency and availability, it puts key business transactions, assets and access to critical work streams at business risk. As organizations continue to embrace cloud models, IT and InfoSec teams need to find a way to reinvent security so that they have seamless visibility across their enterprise and into the different cloud models their businesses are using. This is where adopting a data and network-centric approach is pivotal.

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The explosive growth of cloud traffic has fundamentally changed the means by which today's contemporary businesses operate. In 2013, cloud accounted for 54% of total data center traffic, and, by 2018, cloud will account for 76% of total data center traffic[1]. It has left many IT and Information Security teams struggling to address the risk vectors presented by the cloud as in most cases cloud has been driven by business user demands. Therefore, IT and InfoSec typically have only started to address the cloud-extended enterprise as cloud consumption has reached critical mass.

IT and InfoSec must adapt and consider an alternative means to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their business services, data and users. Doing so becomes so much more important in a climate where data breaches are targeting both business and personal information and hacktivisim is on the rise[2]. It's clear that traditional perimeter-based security has failed to keep up with the demands of modern enterprises and the techniques and technologies used by attackers have far outpaced traditional security.

Cloud is effectively distributed computing without hierarchical, organizational or geographic constraint. For the ‘extended cloud enterprise' to operate effectively, network policies must extend from the enterprise into the cloud, and contextual access control becomes pivotal as does a data-centric approach in which security policies are tightly aligned to the type of data that is being exchanged.

While there isn't any one formula that will work for all organizations, the following are some key considerations for organizations in the throes of having to re-invent their security to address the needs of the cloud-extended enterprise.

Start first with a data classification model as it will enable security policies to be based on key attributes of the data - whether it is subject to regulation or contains PII, whether it is subject to a industry standards such as PCI or contains intellectual IP or whether it has a near publicly accessible profile. An example of a baseline data classification scheme for the cloud-extended enterprise can be found at Cloud Data Protection Cert[3]. A major component of implementing a data protection scheme is educating business users on why protecting data matters and getting them to map their assets, preferably by digitally tagging, to your organization's scheme.

Many organizations today have not used network diagrams to map data flows, and as a result they lack visibility to where their key information is traversing. Use firewalls that provide multi-tenant edge security that integrates with firewall policies in an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud environment. This enables your organization to extend the same network policies into a public cloud environment and have an additional level of control and visibility across the cloud-extended enterprise.

In a SaaS environment, using a cloud web gateway can instill a higher degree of confidence by enforcing consistent threat management across web streams, and more easily identifying and addressing key activities for data loss prevention on data leaving your organization per the classification scheme outlined above.

Data protection measures such as encryption and tokenization are critical protection measures and they should be implemented before migrating data to public cloud environments. Protection measures should be linked to the data attributes of your organization's data classification scheme and when applying encryption, apply in transit and at rest.

Managing user identities becomes more complex in the cloud-extended enterprise, which now needs to factor in the provider's computing resources and personnel. Think of ‘who' (in terms of user context) and ‘what' (in terms of digital assets) with ‘whom' (the CSP) as fundamentals in your cloud extended enterprise security framework. Leverage a centralized identity management framework together with contextual access and compensating controls. Correlate identities with continuous logging and network monitoring for data infiltration, exfiltration and anomalies and other intrusion or extrusion attempts across the enterprise.

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Finally, as your organization further extends into the cloud in 2015, consider implementing a cloud security metrics analysis platform for more accurate security decisioning and metrics that can be shared with your executive board on the cloud-extended enterprise. As security teams embrace the cloud-extended enterprise, they have the opportunity to design security that provides greater levels of visibility and trust while accelerating an agile business and the needs of today's business users.


  1. Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2013-201
  2. Worst Security Breaches of the Year 2014
  3. http://clouddataprotection.org/cert/

More Stories By Evelyn de Souza

Recognized as one of the top ten women in cloud (CloudNOW), Evelyn De Souza, chair of the Cloud Security Alliance Data Governance Working Group and a leader at Cisco, is a pioneer in the cloud security space and deals with these issues on a daily basis. According to Evelyn, the network becomes pivotal in redefining cloud security and providing new levels of trust, visibility and resilience.

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