Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – New Services

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – New Services

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By Rick Menard

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Report: Cybercriminals Rely On People To Access Corporate Environments

Report: Cybercriminals Rely On People To Access Corporate Environments

Cybercriminal Report

Users are the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity, with only 1 percent representing 75 percent of the security risk in a cloud environment, according to a new cloud cybersecurity report released yesterday.

The CloudLock Cyberlab analyzed 10 million users as well as 1 billion files and more than 91,000 applications and found that it isn’t the business of network infrastructure that cybercriminals target, but rather a very small number of users. For this reason it is vital for those developing security programs to study user behavior.

Trends in Cloud Cybersecurity

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The CloudLock report examines trends across users, applications and collaboration and reveals that the 80:20 rule or law of the vital few (officially the Pareto Principle) is valid across all three of these primary dimensions.

  • Just 1 percent of all computer and computer network users create three quarters (75 percent) of all cloud cybersecurity risk in organizations by behaving in an “abnormal” manner, whether malicious or unintentional.
  • Organizations were found to collaborate on average with 865 outside parties with a mere 25 of these accounting for three quarters of each organizations’ cloud-based sharing activities. Alarmingly, 70 percent of this sharing is via non-corporate emails that security teams have minimal control over.
  • Just 1 percent of users represent 62 percent of all the applications installed in the cloud, which further increases the high-risk volumes. Another concern is that 52,000 application installations are carried out by users that are highly privileged; the problem being that malicious cybercriminals are known to target privileged accounts.

The 14-page report also reveals that the individuals who make up the risky 1 percent are also responsible for ownership of 57 percent of files; sharing of 81 percent of files; and 73 percent of files that are “excessively exposed.” This means it is crucial for those in charge of security to understand the composition of this 1 percent that is frequently comprised. They are not only the privileged users mentioned above, but also machine-based identities that are designed to allow access to archived data and other privileges, as well as various software architects.

Acknowledging the fact that there has been a long established risk that is linked to unintentional “user-induced exposure in the cloud,” the report points out that cybercriminals have learnt how to exploit these users and not only access corporate and government environments, but also compromise credentials. Furthermore, it found that no industries are immune from these cloud cybersecurity risks: “The bottom line: across all industries, risk can be explained by a small percentage of users.”

Data ownership in the cloud was also found to be disproportionately high, with the top 1 percent of users owning more than half (57 percent) of the organization’s digital assets. This figure rose to 81 percent when the digital assets of the top 5 percent were taken into account. In reality this would mean that simply targeting the few who own digital assets could cause a major data breach that could put a very large percentage of the company’s assets at risk.

So how is the distribution of cloud cybersecurity risk calculated?

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According to the report it is a combination of behaviors that is potentially risky, together with usage volumes of users, and corporate security policy violations. And the stats reveal, yet again, that just 1 percent of users are responsible for most cloud cybersecurity risk in any one organization.

  • The top 1 percent create 75 percent of risk
  • The top 5 percent create 90 percent of risk
  • The remaining 95 percent are not much of a risk at all, accounting for a mere 10 percent

This remains the reality, even though most of the users who create risks are not aware of what they are doing (for example “oversharing” the company’s assets). All they have to do to create risk is drag and drop files to public folders, or make a folder public without informing another collaborator that this has been done.

In many circumstances, employee security training will decrease the risk dramatically. For instance, a case study cited in the report shows how a travel industry firm was able to decrease its potentially risky public exposure by 62 percent in a single day, just be analyzing user behavior and then reaching out to their top users.

Another enormous risk lies with third party suppliers that are connected to the company via the cloud. They might be totally honest and reliable, but if they are compromised, their vulnerability can become high risk for the company they are collaborating with. It shouldn’t be surprising to find that the so-called law of the vital few applies in this instance too, with the top 25 external organizations accounting for three quarters of inter-organizational sharing. Additionally, the top 25 applications were found to account for 65 percent of all third-party app installations, many of which were found to be linked not to business itself, but to business functions.

Four Strategies to Help Remedy Risk

Having identified that cloud cybersecurity is disproportionate across users, collaborators or applications, CloudLock suggests four strategies to help remedy risk:

1. First focus on the riskiest users
2. Then focus security on the top 25 collaborators, and then the balance
3. Take action when third party applications are discovered
4. Opt for platforms that offer multi-cloud insights rather than point security solutions

By Penny Swift

Are You Sure You Are Ready For The Cloud?: Cloud as a Datacenter

Are You Sure You Are Ready For The Cloud?: Cloud as a Datacenter

Cloud as a Datacenter

Through my job as a Cloud Architect during the day, I run into a lot of scenarios that I think would be important to write about. Not that they are of major importance to others, but a way for people to learn from real world experience. This month, it had to do with using a cloud as a datacenter.

Most corporate datacenters or third party datacenters are normally setup with racks and racks of servers and storage arrays. Some racks of servers maybe totally dedicated for a specific purpose, such as to run a database system, or as monitoring services. If you want to put a server into one of the racks for whatever the reason, it will need to be plugged in to power, and normally into one or two networks.

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Then to use your system to communicate with the Internet or maybe some secure data on different servers, you would pass through some firewalls, maybe some data analyzers, through some switches and eventually through at least one router. This is all pretty standard stuff.

But what if you wanted all of this to happen, inside a cloud? It is completely possible until the data needs to leave the cloud to go somewhere else, like the Internet for instance. Depending on the type of cloud management you are using (or plan to use).

If you want to setup a section of your cloud to be the DMZ area, no problem! If you need firewalls or data analyzers, no problem either! There are many virtual appliances out there for that, or the functionality is built into your cloud management software.

Need to create several different networks inside your cloud? That’s easy also. Most cloud management software packages have simple networking functions built in. If you need more complex networking like multi interface / port load balancers or maybe complex VLANs, then you can buy a Software Defined Network (SDN) program, and it will do what you want, right inside the cloud.

You can create your database servers right inside the cloud also, so your data access will not need to leave the boundaries of the cloud. Using “Tenants” or “Projects” in your cloud will allow you to create mini datacenters inside your cloud also. This allows teams from different areas to have their own spaces to work in.

Sometimes, you maybe faced with the need to separate a section of your cloud out on a hardware level, but still have one management face for it. That is easy to do by using what is known as Availability Zones or “AZs”.

So obviously, there has to be some hardware somewhere that your cloud is running on, that will never change. But depending on how your cloud is setup, you could easily implement some of what I mentioned, and then take it right back out if you don’t like it. As a simple reminder, it is always cheaper to try something virtually in your cloud than buy the hardware first.

By Richard Thayer

NSA Planning For Quantum Resistant Algorithms To Protect National Security Systems

NSA Planning For Quantum Resistant Algorithms To Protect National Security Systems

NSA Planning For Quantum Resistant Algorithms

The National Security Agency (NSA) has announced that it plans to introduce methods of cryptology that will make quantum computers secure. Acknowledging that quantum computers are likely to become a reality in the not too distant future, they say they are committed to the transition and are doing everything they can to ensure Information Assurance products remain protected with integrated cryptography in the meantime.

Although currently just a computer concept, futurists do seem to be set on making the idea a reality. Essentially what will happen is that qubits that hold three “states” (on, off, or on and off) at the same time, will replace the binary states of 1 and 0 (bits) that are used now. But as a research study undertaken by IBM points out, this potential increase in power is an open invitation for increased vulnerabilities. So while the NSA works on cryptology methods, the team at IBM is working on its own error detection protocol to overcome inevitable problems.

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Clearly the NSA recognizes a lack of security to be a looming problem that is likely to rear its ugly head if and when computer buffs take the proverbial quantum leap. This is why they are taking action now and not risking what could be huge cyber attacks later on.

According to information on the NSA website that was most recently updated a week ago, their ultimate goal is to guard against possible security issues when quantum computers eventually see the light of day. However, until the new quantum resistant algorithms have been developed, they will continue to rely on the Suite B cryptographic algorithms that are currently used by the agency to protect both classified and unclassified data in National Security Systems (NSS). With this in mind they have developed a program for the current transition phase that ranges from protection for “top secret” data using advanced encryption standards, to a variety of “up to top secret” data protection using a variety of asymmetric algorithms for specific functions.

The NSA has also established a classified program that will enable various commercial products to be used in what they call “layered solutions” that will protect classified NSS data. One thing they emphasize is that until the new quantum-resistant cryptography suite has been developed, it is absolutely essential for their partners and other vendors to continue using the current Suite B algorithms. But, for those who haven’t invested in the Suite B algorithms, the NSA has urged their customers to rather “prepare for the upcoming quantum resistant algorithm transition.”

IBM Research

IBM engineers have confirmed that the conceptual quantum systems are definitely going to be “susceptible to error.” This in itself is likely to slow the progress of the new computers. Nevertheless they have been working on a way to detect two error types at the same time, to improve security. Even though it is largely theoretical, the IBM team has said that the outlook is optimistic, and is likely to lead to “large-scale fault-tolerant quantum computing.”

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Penny Swift

Are Tech Stocks On The Rebound?

Are Tech Stocks On The Rebound?

It has been a turbulent week for owners of Netflix shares. After the streaming media giant’s stock topped $122 on August 19, its price has endured a roller-coaster ride on Wall Street. Let’s take a look at stocks to watch Wednesday:

Netflix. Shares jumped more than 5% in pre-market trading, recovering after two days of steep drops. Following the close of the markets August 19, shares of Netflix plunged to $96.88 over the next three trading sessions. Currently, Netflix is trading above $100.

GrubHub. A Barclay’s stock downgrade to “equal weight” — reports CNBC — is apparently having little effect on shares of the online food delivery service. They’re up 1.2% in morning trading.

Read Article: USA Today 

Novel Employments Of Cloud Technology

Novel Employments Of Cloud Technology

Cloud Technology

Cloud technology has made itself invaluable to business and IT services globally, with applications reducing management and technology costs, providing remote employment opportunities, standardizing data management and security, and improving efficiency and business value. This year’s Cloud Technology Kit offers a host of tools, including a look at the basic concepts and foundational elements of hybrid cloud, determining cloud needs based on business objectives, and creating computing environments that connect components of the data center with public and private cloud services. But cloud technology doesn’t only benefit the typical IT driven organization, and it’s employment in diverse contexts is producing meaningful gains.

Agriculture

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Forbes discusses the role of cloud services in rural locations, far from technology hubs and business centers. Precision agriculture is a compilation of data collection, examination, and prediction technologies designed to collect and analyze crop data to help improve yields and reduce costs. This technology further helps minimize environmental damage while increasing profits. However, these technologies are generally out of the reach of smaller farmers, which is where cloud technology steps in. Once again an equalizer, cloud technology provides IoT and big data benefits to smaller farmers, giving them the opportunity to employ the sophisticated agricultural analytics of massive farming operations through shared services and agricultural crowdsourcing of data. IBM is already researching agricultural weather forecasts, models, and simulations to help farmers make better decisions, and Accenture provides a segmented offering for large agribusiness as well as small operations.

Education

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Collaboration and sharing opportunities supplied by the cloud are main advantages for adoption, saving time and money through the sharing of data, resources, and tasks, and organizations are better able to learn from and support one another. 76% of universities currently use cloud-based systems for student email, this being a flexible and cost-effective tool. The ability to scale services according to need, while providing the best resources without substantial hardware costs is as beneficial to education providers as it is to business.

Entertainment

Variety reports that virtual resources are helping films with limited budgets make an impact. Cloud services have cut the prices on tools such as CGI and digital intermediate, making them available to independent filmmakers and changing their productions. The limitations of physical infrastructure are removed with cloud services, and Aframe states that it’s cloud platform for video collaboration eliminates “friction”.

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Says David Peto, CEO of Aframe, “Friction is all the stuff that gets in the way, every day, of anyone who’s creative.” Of Elemental Technologies cloud services, Victor Borachuk of JupiterReturns says, [The cloud] is like having infinite resources, but you don’t have to own them. Things that were only available to huge television companies with incredible budgets, you get a box that gives you all that power.”

As already apparent in big business, the cloud provides tools and technology with a broad range of potential – and perhaps that range is even wider than we’ve imagined. Take a look at this free 2015 Cloud Technology Kit and make sure you’re getting the most of the silver lining.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Jennifer Klostermann

Growing Data Center Investment In Green Power And Innovative Cooling Technologies

Growing Data Center Investment In Green Power And Innovative Cooling Technologies

Growing Data Center Investment 

Nordic Data Centers

With Nordic countries having swiftly established themselves as ideal locations for Data Center investment, green power, and innovative cooling technologies, a network of new, efficient, and agile data centers have been constructed from Reykjavik to Helsinki, and the North Poe to Viborg. Considerable projects by major corporations such as Facebook, Apple, IBM, Google, Yandex, and Bitcoin have highlighted the significant opportunities for outsourcing and investment in the area.

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Distinct Advantages

Uniquely connected with high speed, cyber secure submarine data pipes that run underneath the Baltic Sea and around the northern coast of Scandinavia, as well as high latency connectivity to the United States, and fiber connections networking Germany and the rest of Europe, this high-tech location also boasts a thriving startup arena providing new solutions and innovations backed by the specialist information technology workforce of the region. With the provision of high quality hosting facilities, cloud services, secure data storage and backup, and long-term fixed price green power contracts that comply with CSR requirements, the benefits for organizations small and large are substantial.

Collaboration & Networking

This year’s Datacloud Nordic is an opportunity for end users of data centers and cloud IT infrastructure, software and solution providers, experts and investors, to engage in the expansion of the sector, with the one-day forum offering information exchange, extensive networking opportunities, and the option to travel to and view power supply and government facilities in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark.

IoT, the Cloud & Green Energy

Datacloud Nordic 2015 will offer companies seeking better methods of hosting and collocating new insights into the reality of a cloud-connected, data-driven, machine-led world, and will explore the latest technologies while regional and international senior executives and expert speakers meet, connect, and collaborate. With the conference providing extensive insight into energy cost and management, enterprise IT control, application management and performance, internet of things, scalability of cloud technologies, cyber security, experts and industry leaders address questions around how the Nordic markets will sustain competitive service and energy offerings, what capacity and connectivity is available across markets as migration to third party facilities rises, and who will be the winners and losers across the Nordic markets.

Big Data

The data center, central to today’s business world, will have an integral role in the event. With data center services critical to operations and primed for radical transformation thanks to high levels of demand, industry leaders, experts, and investors will debate and collaborate on where the next mega data center deals are likely to come from. Challenges that confront companies adapting to a cloud environment, such as advanced security requirements, managing the transformation to cloud brokerages, workload migration, and energy efficiency will be faced, with a view to cost savings through innovation, especially in Big Data.

Datacloud Nordic 2015

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To be held October 15th, 2015 at the Scandic Fornebu Hotel in Oslo, Norway, advanced discounts to the event close on the 11th September, 2015. With participants ranging from investment analysts to telcos, cloud service providers to country and regional development authorities, private equity firms and investors to large construction and project management companies, Datacloud Nordic 2015 promises a wealth of networking and business opportunities around IT infrastructure in Nordic markets.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Flagship State University To Spend Millions On Cyber Security

Flagship State University To Spend Millions On Cyber Security

New Jersey’s Flagship State University to Spend Millions on Cyber Security

Rutgers University in New Brunswick is to spend up to $3 million on cyber security to prevent hackers crippling the university’s computer networks. This expensive action is in response to at least four cyber attacks during the 2014-2015 school year that knocked the school offline and resulted in cancelled classes.

According to documentation sourced from the state’s Open Public Records, the flagship state university has hired three cyber security companies that are currently testing the huge computer network used by the university, and looking for vulnerabilities.

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The firms that have been hired are:

1. FishNet Security, a major information security company that is privately owned, headquartered in Kansas, and has offices in New York City.
2. Level 3 Communications, a multinational telecommunications and Internet service provider based in Colorado.
3. Imperva, a leading California-headquartered company that specializes in providing data and cyber security products to help combat cyber attack.

For security reasons, campus officials remain mum about exactly what the three firms are doing, but confirm that they are budgeting between $2 and $3 million to ensure that the networks are not crippled again. Since the money is reportedly a “new expense,” the university has had to raise its tuition fees by 2.3 percent for the new 2015-2016 school year, to pay for cyber protection. The increase in fees, which translate to around $300 per student per year, was announced mid July at the same time as an announcement that room and board fees are increasing by about 2.6 percent. This means that students who opt to live on campus will be paying more than $624 more than they did during the previous school year, depending which campus they are on.

Fees for out-of-state students have been hiked even more, by as much as 4 percent.

University Hack Still a Mystery

While the senior staff at Rutgers has admitted the university was an easy target for hackers, reports state that the source of the distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks is still a mystery. The worst attack was in April 2015, when professors were forced to cancel classes, and students weren’t able to submit assignments, access wifi for tests, or use their university email.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was called in, but neither they nor the university has commented on the current status of the investigation – or even confirmed whether it is still ongoing. Staff at Rutgers has though stated that the various attacks do seem to be related.

Someone calling themselves Exfocus has claimed responsibility for the cyber attacks, stating he (or she) was paid an hourly rate of $500 via Bitcoin to disrupt the computer networks. However there is no proof that the person is a genuine hacker or whether the claims that were made on social media were just a hoax.

Whether Exfocus was responsible for the attack or not, universities are among the many institutions and high-profile companies being targeted by hackers.

Mid-August the University of Virginia was the target of a cyber attack identified as originating in China. Even though there was no evidence that the attackers had managed to access important personal information of students or employees (like banking information of social security numbers), the university immediately upgraded its cyber security and insisted that everyone accessing the network change their login passwords.

In May Pennsylvania State University disabled its network for three days to enable IT security company, FireEye to improve computer security protocols. The university has not commented on the cyber attacks, but it is understood that the FBI uncovered two cyber attack breaches late 2014 specifically aimed at the College of Engineering. During the security upgrade, two further attacks were uncovered, this time in the College of Liberal Arts network where vulnerabilities were exploited by malware. Like the University of Virginia attacks, the Penn State attacks were identified as originating in China, and no sensitive information was stolen – only usernames and passwords.

Putting the attacks into perspective, and showing just how vulnerable state universities can be, the university did reveal to the media that it had successfully countered more than 22 million cyber attacks a day last year.

“If you’re connected to the Internet these days you are under constant attack,” the university stated. It’s as simple as that.

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences Many people have heard of cloud computing. There is however a tremendous number of people who still cannot differentiate between Public, Private & Hybrid cloud offerings.  Here is an excellent infographic provided by the group at iWeb which goes into greater detail on this subject. Infographic source: iWeb

Containerization: The Bold Face Of The Cloud In 2016

Containerization: The Bold Face Of The Cloud In 2016

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Cloud Infographic – Disaster Recovery

Cloud Infographic – Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Business downtime can be detrimental without a proper disaster recovery plan in place. Only 6% of businesses that experience downtime without a plan will survive long term. Less than half of all businesses that experience a disaster are likely to reopen their doors. There are many causes of data loss and downtime —…

Using Big Data To Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

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Cloud Infographic – Guide To Small Business Cloud Computing

Cloud Infographic – Guide To Small Business Cloud Computing

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Cloud Infographic – The Data Scientist

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Cloud Infographic – What Is The Internet of Things?

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5 Ways The Internet of Things Will Drive Cloud Growth

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Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

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Big Data and Financial Services – Security Threat or Massive Opportunity?

Big Data and Financial Services – Security Threat or Massive Opportunity?

Big Data and Financial Services Cloud Banking Insights Series focuses on big data in the financial services industry and whether it is a security threat or actually a massive opportunity. How does big data fit into an overall cloud strategy? Most FI’s have a positive mind-set towards cloud IT consumption as it not only enables…

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the…

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

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DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US. The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

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Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

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Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

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Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

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