Category Archives: Security

Consolidating The Cloud With Broker Services

Consolidating The Cloud With Broker Services

Cloud Broker Services

Cloud computing has been fundamental to the evolution of business, with new technologies constantly changing the dynamics of the business environment, and both employee and employer needs changing rapidly. Remote access to systems alone has caused a radical innovation in the running of many companies, with global organizations reaping numerous rewards, not least of all cost and time savings. Says Richard Vester, Director of Cloud Services at EOH, “When it comes to making improvements in business – of any size and across just about every sector – embracing new technology and the benefits it can offer to both the company and its customers is a logical first step.” The success of cloud computing is apparent not only due to the considerable number of businesses moving into the cloud computing ecosystem but by the important industry-specific changes being exhibited.

Leveraging Economies of Scale & Digital Transformations

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In its current, most advanced form, the cloud allows for the leveraging of economies of scale through automation as well as the move to global applications. Organizations are enjoying the benefits of mobility that still allows full data control while providing workforces with far greater flexibility. Aside from the industrialization of IT and the functionality of computing, the cloud is transforming economies and encouraging businesses into the digital realm. Discussed in Verizon’s State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016 report, “In the past few years, we’ve seen cloud go from a newcomer to part of the established order. But despite the maturity of cloud, the market is still developing, and most organizations are still finding new and exciting ways to take advantage of it… The IT function is now much more closely aligned with the lines of business (LOBs) and is adept at managing a portfolio of cloud providers… Companies are combining public, private and on-premises infrastructure to create highly sophisticated, customized environments.

Cloud Aggregators, Brokers & Integrators

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Despite constant developments, there is not yet one cloud to rule them all, and adapting an organization to function within the cloud environment can be time-consuming and resource intensive. Cloud aggregators, brokers, and integrators are taking a stab at pulling the many cloud services together. Gartner forecasts that the cloud service brokerage market will reach $160 billion by 2018, nearly doubling over a four-year period. These third-party consultants function as intermediaries between cloud SPs and subscribers, researching available services and negotiating work processes, financial goals, implementation needs, and data management requirements. The level of responsibility differs between brokers, aggregators, and integrators, and consumers are able to decide how much or how little interaction they want to have with the providers of the actual cloud services, benefitting from packaged deals or bargained rates. Those exploiting any of these transitional services should, however, carefully consider the security of such agreements, measure the independence of brokers, and understand how much protection they are afforded from both primary cloud service supplier and intermediary failures.

By Jennifer Klostermann

AWS Lambda – Future Of Amazon’s Event-Based Computing Service

AWS Lambda – Future Of Amazon’s Event-Based Computing Service

AWS Lambda – Amazon’s Event-Based Computing Service

Announced in November of 2014, Amazon Lambda has gone from a developer buzzword to a heavyweight in the persistently innovative cloud computing industry. Used by organizations like Major League Baseball and live-streaming service Periscope, Lambda is all about creating efficiency, focusing your cloud computing efforts, and reducing dependence on consistent processes that can bog down your application’s performance. But how has the Lambda service grown since its announcement in November of 2014? Where is it going in 2016 and beyond? Let’s take a look.

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Amazon Lambda was revealed on November 13th, 2014 at Amazon’s re:Invent Press Conference. Originally received as just another weapon in the impressive arsenal of Amazon Web Services, Lambda grabbed headlines as a service that could push it beyond competitor offerings such as Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine.

vogelsDescribed by Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels as “an event-driven computing service for dynamic applications”, it essentially allows event-based communication between your app and the cloud without depending on a server to handle the heavy lifting. Amazon Lambda launched supporting only one programming language, limiting its user-base at first. In terms of pricing, Lambda also broke the traditional Amazon mould, charging instead by compute time and the number of requests. It did incorporate a free tier, allowing one million requests monthly and up to 3.2 million seconds of compute time per month depending on your application.

Today

Amazon Lambda has grown significantly, both in perception and functionality, since its launch, growing from supporting just node.js to supporting both Java and Python. Some of the biggest names in cloud computing have yet to catch up to Amazon Lambda, making developers less inclined to move to competing services like Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine.

While Lambda has taken Amazon Web Services to new heights, it has done so while actually reducing costs for some developers. One specific case, cited in Business Insider, claimed that one developer had saved over 80% of their previous cloud computing costs using Amazon Lambda. This was done by replacing largely idle servers with Lambda code that spoke with their Amazon S3 databases, replacing persistent EC2 servers with a simple code request that would run on a designated schedule.

As mentioned previously, two major applications are using Amazon Lambda to handle their cloud computing needs. Major League Baseball currently uses Amazon Lambda, in conjunction with other Amazon Web Services suites, to power its impressive StatCast technology. Using Lambda, Major League Baseball is able to analyze real time events during baseball games and provide this information to broadcasters and fans.

Baseball - Data - Comic

This includes computing running speeds, home run distances, pitch speeds and breaks, and the speed of fielders throws. Lambda is just part of a massive system that incorporates computing power, ball-tracking radar systems, and high tech setups at all 30 major league ball diamonds in the United States and Canada. Secondly, Periscope. Periscope is a live streaming application and platform that optimizes Amazon Lambda to scan, identify, and remove adult content from its platform automatically.

The Future Of Lambda

Amazon Lambda has the potential to become the crown jewel of Amazon Web Services. One key way is the addition of additional programming languages. While Amazon Lambda supports node.js, Java, and Python, it’s only when Lambda embraces remaining languages like C#, C++, and Ruby On Rails that it can begin to completely dominate the cloud computing realm. Of course, awareness is also key. In addition to AWS certification, developers need to grasp the potential of event-based computing.

Another area of focus for Amazon Lambda is a broadening of scope. As of right now there are some types of apps that are not optimized for Amazon Lambda. These include apps that incorporate large databases, and industries that require heightened security against downtime. While Amazon Lambda is reliable, its primary focus is on flexibility, efficiency, and quick compute times.

When it comes to developers and their individual projects, Amazon Lambda can be useful for applications of all sizes. Its event-based computing means you can create applications that are leaner and more efficient. The fact it piggybacks off Amazon’s robust and powerful Amazon Web Services means your application can benefit from hardware autonomy, nearly infinite scalability, and increased mobility in releasing new updates. Amazon Lambda may have grown up in the shadow of Amazon Web Services, but it has quickly emerged to become a go to tool for developers who depend on the cloud to power their applications.

By Keith Holland

How IRM Makes Cloud-Based File Collaboration “Security-Aware”

How IRM Makes Cloud-Based File Collaboration “Security-Aware”

IRM Cloud-Based File Collaboration 

Data breaches and data loss due to insider threats, including malicious insiders stealing, manipulating or destroying data, are the fastest-growing risks that keep managers up at night, according to new research by Ernst & Young. How can we ensure that the right people in an organization have the right access to the right information at the right time? The answer may be to make the data itself the gatekeeper of who has permission to access it.

Information Rights Management (IRM) is an evolving technology designed to protect access to sensitive information at the file level. It does this by embedding encryption and user permissions directly into the file. This is different from most other security technologies designed to build protections around sensitive files, not within them.

History of IRM

IRM began as an extension to the traditional Microsoft DRM (Digital Rights Management) that protects files. But, due to its requirement for a plug in to be loaded to the desktop, adoption of DRM didn’t take off. IRM improves on this concept by allowing protections stay with a file, no matter where it goes or who attempts to access it — plug-in free.

With IRM, documents are secured throughout their entire lifecycle, whether at rest, in motion, or in use. Other security technologies tend to protect information at one stage or another. For example, perimeter security solutions such as identity and access management (IAM) protect files from access by unauthorized users. However, once a person is able to access the information, he can pretty much do whatever he wants with it. Email it to someone outside the company. Download it to a mobile device. Move a copy to a less secure storage space. Whatever he wants. What kind of file protection is that?

cyber-security

(Infographic via http://www.weforum.org)

And then there’s data loss prevention (also called data leakage protection), or DLP. This is another technology that is designed to keep sensitive data from going outside an organization’s protective environment. DLP commonly works by inspecting a file’s contents at ingress and egress points and looking for specific words or patterns that match pre-determined rules. For example, anything that looks like a Social Security number within the file content is flagged and the user is prevented from copying that file or sending it outside the company. DLP works best when looking for well-defined content (like Social Security or credit card numbers) but tends to fall short when an administrator is trying to identify other sensitive data, like intellectual property that might include graphic components, formulas or schematics.

Along with technologies like IAM and DLP, IRM is an important part of a defense-in-depth strategy to protect specific kinds of information. It’s not intended for every file an organization produces, but for high value information — especially if the information is to be shared outside the organization. For example, when two companies approach each other about a merger, they need to share highly confidential information with each other. With IRM embedded into the sensitive files, the companies can be assured that file usage is highly restricted and the usage can be revoked by the information owner at any time.

IRM: more important now than ever

IRM has been around for several years, but is more relevant than ever. For one thing, cyber thieves are specifically targeting high value information. It’s one of the reasons why so many corporate executives are being spear-phished. Organized criminals want access to very sensitive corporate financial information. There’s the recent case of hackers stealing financial reports from PR news services before those reports are officially released. Hackers sold the reports to financial traders who used the confidential insider information to enact trades and make a killing in the stock market.

Another reason why organizations need IRM to secure important files is the ever-increasing regulatory climate. Businesses and government agencies alike are under mandates from the likes of HIPAA, SOX, GGLBA, PCI DSS, FERPA and other acronym-laden regulations. Most of them require that access to information be highly restricted, and IRM is one means to achieve that mandate for the duration of a file’s lifespan.

A third reason to use IRM today is that workers are often the source of accidental data exposure. In a research study, Ponemon Institute unveiled that 60 percent of employees have often or frequently either used personal file sharing applications at work, sent unencrypted emails, failed to delete confidential documents as required, or accidently forwarded files to unauthorized individuals. Accidental and careless happen, but IRM can help combat human error by putting the right document controls in place.

Best-kept secret weapon

If IRM is such a great security measure, and the need is so apparent, why isn’t it used by more organizations? Well, it is actually is used by quite a lot of organizations, but because it’s a security measure, they just don’t talk about it. (It’s called “security by obscurity.”)

security-obscure

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Still, there have been occasional adoption obstacles. Some IRM products require the installation of software agents on end users’ desktops and other devices. This can be a deterrent for workers that have a locked-down desktop configuration and who cannot install software agents on their own. This has certainly been a barrier for many large corporations. The best way to ensure that IRM is widely adopted and used is to make it seamless to the users across the entire organization. No plug-ins, no extra work on the administration end.

IRM helps IT managers improve and enable the enforcement of corporate policies about document confidentiality, workflow, and email retention. For senior-level executives and CSOs, IRM helps reduce the risk of having key company information fall into the hands of the wrong people, whether by accident, thoughtlessness, or through intentional abuse. It’s time to let the secret out and add IRM as part of your organization’s overall security strategy.

By Daren Glenister

Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Learning To Code

As many readers may or may not know we cover a fair number of topics surrounding new technologies such as Big data, Cloud computing , IoT and one of the most critical areas at the moment – Information Security. The trends continue to dictate that there is a huge shortage of unfilled jobs in this area. Cybersecurity training is certainly not for everyone as perhaps you’re more innovative and entrepreneurial in nature. Perhaps you really want to go places and develop something that the world and venture capitalists have only dreamed of.  Do you enjoy IoT and connecting things? If so, take a look at the cheat sheet discovered at Pinterest to help give you a quick refresher of some of the hottest and most utilized programming languages used today.

IoT-cloud-infographic

 

Re-Defining Security – It’s More Than Just Compliance

Re-Defining Security – It’s More Than Just Compliance

Re-Defining Security

Risk management is messy. The internet has known vulnerabilities, and regulatory issues seem to change faster than you can say “Privacy Shield.”

So why can’t security and compliance teams see eye to eye?

Sixty-four percent of IT executives feel confident that compliance will protect their company against breaches, according to Vormetric’s 2016 Data Threat Report. Couple this assumption with Trustwave’s finding that 77 percent of IT professionals are pressured to take IT projects public without “sufficient security protections,” and you see the beginnings of a broken system.

Security and compliance are permanently entangled. Teams that don’t collaborate effectively risk losing both. Learning how compliance and security operate now, and why teams disagree, is the first step towards bringing groups together.

Reducing Overlap and Uniting Teams

Until recently, security and compliance teams have remained siloed. Compliance is traditionally a function of paperwork: sign here, initial there, make sure critical information is laid out and legally bound. Professionals in this field succeed by understanding and adhering to extensive legal frameworks.

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Contrast that with security, a highly technical function that operates deep in the bowels of IT. Security teams continuously evolve their understanding of online environments, tuning and innovating protections against an unceasing torrent of malware.

Now that forms are being validated online through software like DocuSign and ShareFile, and confidential data travels across innumerable consumerized cloud services, compliance and security overlap in many ways and the two will soon merge.

Key Tips to Ensure Security and Compliance in 2016

Online documents have brought compliance online and put paperwork into the realm of IT. To work with this new reality, teams must be clear on a few key things, otherwise the finger pointing will continue:

  1. Compliance is not security. This is an assumption that IT shops make when they’re still purely on-premise (those using XaaS have their own set of issues, which I’ll explain later). Consumers continue to demand new features and levels of service from every company in every sector, whether it sells apples or augmented reality apps. Stubborn companies will require customers to use dated—but compliant—tools like FTP, while competitor businesses will already have bounded into the mobile cloud. Becoming compliant in new ways will cost a company time, but not moving ahead will cost it the whole business.
  2. Complicated security systems are not secure.Business users are more freely finding new apps and services they want to use to improve workflows. At the same time, IT is challenged with managing oversight and outdated solutions like FTP to ensure compliance.

Business users would rather send an email with company intellectual property than try to remember yet another login and password. IT faces a different kind of feature sprawl: teams lose management and oversight – security intelligent monitoring, network breach detection, firewalls, event correlation and other security tools. When IT focuses on the handful of essentials that everyone will use—such as enterprise key management and end-to-end data encryption—and prioritizes apps that end users will actually engage with, the entire company is safer.

Becoming compliant in new ways will cost a company time, but resisting an evolution will have a negative impact on the business.

  1. The cloud is only as secure and compliant as you make it. Major cloud providers attract the best minds in security, and that’s how it should be. Every cloud service has its weaknesses. What they are depends on the product or services a company provides. Custom integrations, while convenient, open up new backdoors that wouldn’t otherwise be there. From a security standpoint, companies must ensure that their providers maintain a centralized API as the only way for one service to digitally communicate with another, and aren’t littered with custom integrations.

A New Framework to Align Security and Compliance

There will always be new malware, and new regulations show no signs of stopping their forward march either.

ID-Theft-Comic

Privacy is seen as a consumer rights issue in the US, but to Europeans, it is a fundamental right—and transnational agreements are getting ever more complicated because of it.

Last year, the European Court of Justice decided that Safe Harbor rules were not specific enough to protect citizen data from NSA mass surveillance and backdoors. Reborn as Privacy Shield, the new transatlantic agreement promises to add more stringent reviews and give US agencies like the FTC broader enforcement powers.

Does adding layers of legal directives and pulling in more agencies really guarantee data privacy across the pond? The verdict is out, but the unfolding drama of Privacy Shield should serve as a lesson to every organization wishing to keep its data both secure and compliant: align the security and compliance organizations and concentrate on forward innovation. 

While it may take time to establish, once alignment is achieved it will enable the teams to move forward with confidence and shift their focus back to the business. And that is a value proposition that everyone can appreciate.

kris lahiriBy Kris Lahiri

Kris is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Egnyte, responsible for Egnyte’s security and compliance, as well as the core infrastructure, including storage and data center operations. Prior to Egnyte, Kris spent many years in the design and deployment of large-scale infrastructures for Fortune 100 customers of Valdero and KPMG Consulting. Kris has a B.Tech in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras, and an MS from the University of Cincinnati.

 

Spotify and Google – A Marriage Made In The Cloud

Spotify and Google – A Marriage Made In The Cloud

Spotify and Google

The world of online music and movies has shifted from downloading to streaming, which means that the vast majority of data is now being stored somewhere in the “cloud”. In order to stay ahead of the competition, all the major cloud service companies are working hard on creating the best optimized solution for storing, analyzing and using data online. Big companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft are fighting for market share on the cloud storage market, and it seems that Google has a slight edge over the rest of the crowd due to the extremely diverse nature and brand pull.

How did Spotify stream to their users?

The company leased and owned several enormous data centers, which offered the ultimate service to millions of their customers. The music streaming data centers are filled with over 30 million songs, and company’s technicians created specific solutions for their service that guaranteed the stability of the streaming service.

statista-spotify

(Image Source: Statista)

In the past, Spotify stated “Operating our own data-centers may be a pain, but the core cloud services were not at a level of quality, performance and cost that would make cloud a significantly better option for Spotify in the long run”  However, cloud technologies have greatly improved over the past few years, which has created an opportunity for Spotify to switch to a cheaper and more practical solution.

What were the options?

The three major cloud solutions are Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Amazon is considered to be a dominant player in the field, as it has been offering cloud storage service the longest. On the other hand, Google has greatly invested in the development of BigQuery, which offers incredible features for data stored in the cloud.

Microsoft was another viable option, as it has also invested a lot time and money in making their cloud platform incredibly good. Many people expected that Amazon would easily win this Spotify race, but Google actually made it first and definitely made the best offer for the Spotify service, creating a metaphorical marriage in the Cloud.

Why did Spotify choose Google Cloud Services?

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Speculations are that Google has provided a perfect low cost solution for Spotify, as the music subscription giant is already shifting its data to the Google’s cloud platform. With incredible improvement of cloud platforms, the low cost is one of determining factors why Spotify needed this shift.

Additionally, one of the most important factors that directly affected Spotify’s decision is the fact that Google’s data stacking is immensely better than what the competition has to offer. The Google’s cloud platform offers incredible data analytics, which can provide various information that is crucial for the future of the whole company. The BigQuery system is just the thing that Spotify needs.

Did this shift have to happen?

Well, according to the news released on Spotify’s website, the company’s team of engineers gave their best to lease data centers that are closest to their immense number of customers. But, as their business has greatly expanded to various countries and the user count has skyrocketed, this solution required a lot of investment and hard work.

It’s simply not necessary to go through that much trouble now, as companies such as Google have a lot of quality cloud solutions in his area. Siding with Google was the best option both for them and their huge user base, or as they said “the decision was a no brainer”. The costs are to be lowered, the service is going to greatly improve and everyone will end up happy and satisfied.

The company has also stated that the whole process is going to take some time, due to its complexity.

What does all this mean for you as a user?

Users can expect even better experience as their favorite music streaming company is taking steps to ensure the best service possible. We will all have to sit back and see what the future holds, but it looks like Spotify’s service is only going to continue to grow, both in terms of the amount of music stored and the amount of satisfied.

This is an interesting turn of events for Google, and both companies can greatly benefit from this collaboration. Some are hinting about the possibility of Google acquiring Spotify in the long run, but this is a wild guess by people who would like to see this happening. If you are interested in the progress of the transitioning phase, you can always find more details in the news section of Spotify’s official website.

By Pavle Danic

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – F96qL#5

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – F96qL#5

Password-IQ-CloudTweaks

By David Fletcher

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Lessons Learned From Recent Cloud Security Debacles

Lessons Learned From Recent Cloud Security Debacles

Recent Cloud Security Debacles

Just as cloud computing is on the rise, so are cloud security threats, and they should be on the top priority list of every organization that has embraced cloud-based services. Incidents of cybercrime are being reported quite frequently, but the majority of them are not being reported at all.

Many organizations choose to deal with cyber-attacks on their own, without notifying proper authorities, let alone their customers, about their private information being encrypted or stolen. Such a terrible mistake could cost them their business, but the main reason for those kinds of incidents happening in the first place is that those businesses fail to address the issue of security flaws and fix them immediately.

There were incidents concerning cloud security quite recently, so let’s take a look at what happened and what you can do to prevent the same thing from happening to you and your organization.

The Asus Debacle

security-breach

Asus put hundreds of thousands of its customers at risk by offering them cloud computing services that had very serious security flaws in their routers, which they failed to fix in a timely manner. They failed to take certain steps towards securing the software in the routers, resulting in thousands of storage devices of their customers being compromised and their personal information being exposed.

Their routers supposedly had security features that could “protect computers from any unauthorized access, hacking, and virus attacks”, but that evidently wasn’t the case. Those routers had major security flaws that Asus didn’t fix and that put all of their customers at risk, especially by failing to notify them about it.

Asus settled an FTC complaint about failing to take security measures to fix the problem and protect its customers’ personal information. The settlement requires Asus to establish and maintain a security program subject to independent audits for the next 20 years.

The Los Angeles Hospital Ransomware Debacle

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles was yet another victim of cybercrime recently. Their computer systems were locked due to Ransomware, a malicious software often in the form of an e-mail that seems legitimate, that hackers use to literally lock computers and encrypt the data.

Naturally, they request a considerable amount of money to be paid in order for the victims of the attack to retrieve their data. Ransomware is becoming one of the most serious cybersecurity threats nowadays and the worst part about it is that, when you fall prey to such an attack, you have no other choice but to pay the hackers. There is often a limited time for doing so, before you permanently lose access to your data or the data becomes public.

That is what the aforementioned hospital did, paying a $17000 ransom to unlock their computers and get back the encrypted medical records of its patients.

What Can Be Learned from These Cyber-Attacks?

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These incidents often happen because not much, if any, attention is being paid to cybersecurity training and the IT staff is underfunded, resulting in many organizations being quite easy targets to cyber-attacks. Every business must address any potential security flaw and fix it quickly in order to prevent data breaches and loss of any sensitive data.

The best way of effectively accomplishing that have always been, and will remain, regular data backups. The encryption of data is also of crucial importance, as well as not allowing the account credentials to be shared between users and services, which is done by implementing two-factor authentication techniques.

In order to prevent cybersecurity crimes, organizations should also implement advanced security tactics, such as micro-segmentation. Micro-segmentation technologies provide security inside data centers, focusing on the security of the workload. They should be top priority for every organization looking to lower the risk of data breaches and any form of cyber-attack that could put their business and their customers at risk.

You need to carefully plan your cloud security approach, and one way to do that is to provide security as a set of on-demand, scalable services.

Cybersecurity threats are the most talked-about security issues nowadays and every business must be aware of the risks that cyber-attacks carry and the dire consequences they could face if they fall victims to hackers’ actions. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the time for drastic security measures is now.

By Pavle Dinic

CloudTweaks Comics
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Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…