Practically Speaking About Cloud Computing
Before getting into the nitty gritty of what we did in our projects for hardening the cloud servers hosted by us, we would like to emphasize the following, so that these can be firmly embedded in the mind set of readers.
- First, the way cloud computing is attracting attention is mind boggling. Enterprises have started adopting to cloud concept where in they go for sharing public infrastructure. Having started this trend, it will go without any stopping in future. Traditional Security measures practiced in-house are not enough in the new trend.
- Second, the inherent nature of elasticity multiplies the security need. Servers that we are talking about here are not servers as we saw them in the past as boxes. With virtualization, the servers we mention here are only files; instances as they may be called. System administrators should be aware of this fact.
- Third, Organizations those turn in to IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, seems to be always in a hurry. They want the server to be up yesterday! There is no time given to do network and system administration jobs. As such there is a serious need to look at all the aspects of cloud servers starting from operating system, application security, to implementation of ISMS.
- Fourth, the cyber criminals out there are even more sophisticated than what we could figure out every time! An entire underground business is running there parallel. There is economy working there, too. New servers coming up in cloud en-masse is aiding their activities. It is just that the forces that have nothing to do with our business may be encountered.
- Fifth, the implication of security breach is severe nowadays. Reputation of businesses built over years and decades can go shambles in minutes! Just remember the recent news on the down times and outages of global services. Overnight businesses can go to bankruptcy if there is an attack.
Traditionally, system security is approached with Authentication/Access Control Methods, Input Handling and Denial of Service attacks.
We started with RDP in the first part. Remote Desktop Connection is a required feature for server administration. Initially closing this is just like closing the house door. We did that. We need to do it in the initial days of server gone live. Because everyone is trying to hack the password and try to enter through Remote Connection, as soon as the cloud server is hosted! Then create a Secondary Administrator. The secondary Administrator user name should be very difficult to guess and figure out. The password for the same should be strongest.
In case we resort to complete disable or deletion of Administrator, as an extreme security measure, we can still log in through console. But, for resetting the password there will not be a way. Hence, as resetting the password may be required in future in the chance of us forgetting the credentials, better not to disable the Administrator access.
(To be continued in Part 3)
By Malick Md
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