Category Archives: Security

Technologies That Work Nicely With The Cloud

Technologies That Work Nicely With The Cloud

New Technologies And The Cloud

Asides from all the security concerns that has been in the news over the past while, there are still some very exciting and ambitious opportunities available for those who stick it out.

Lets take a look at some of the more exciting emerging technologies that can be used in conjunction with the cloud.

  • There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the area of Internet of Things which will provide things like Smart Cities, Smart Agriculture, eHealth, Security & Emergency Tools.
  • The growing interest in cloud based APIs will be essential when connecting and executing cloud based saas applications. There is however a number of concerns regarding potential security issues when implementing and using APIs from an untrusted source or incorrectly.
  • The increased demand of managed services based on PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS is another powerful and effective reason for the increasing trend of cloud technology.
  • The exponential increase in the development of the cloud storage ecosystem and data center hubs has given new potential directions to businesses based on cloud technology.
  • The increasing demand of mobile application BYOD development platforms based on cloud hosting technologies is another very powerful dynamic to drive cloud computing technology faster.
  • The exciting field of “big data” is another important factor that will increase the need for cloud based server/hosting technologies not only to manage the huge amount of data but also to extract the useful information. This will create a tremendous need for data scientists as well as produce a number of companies involved in business intelligence services looking to hire data specialists.

It is expected that there will be a consistent increase in the usage of cloud technology and other technologies related to the cloud computing. Attached is a colorful and interesting infographic by EMC which takes a look at some of the past and future technologies.

IT-story-Map

By Blake Adams

Cloud Infographic – Top Vulnerable Applications

Cloud Infographic – Top Vulnerable Applications

Top Vulnerable Applications 

As you use the Internet on a daily basis, you probably come across cyber security topics, but rarely glance at them twice. After all, cyber security threats don’t concern you, right?

Well, that’s not exactly true. Cyber attacks are more widespread than you can imagine and they may be targeting your devices as well. Cyber criminals actually exploit the bugs in the software you use daily to launch attacks directed at you or use your devices to attack other people. This is more and more common. In fact, 70% of attacks target a vulnerability on your computer! The infographic below, created by Heimdal Security, reveals some alarming numbers behind the threats that lurk in your software and offers guidance on how to keep your data safe.

Security

Also see – Special Report on Mitigation Strategies for Advanced Threats

Cybersecurity is not a numbers game. When it only takes a single breach to inflict serious damage on your business, defending against the majority of attacks isn’t enough.

Download Future Risks: Be Prepared – A Special Report on Mitigation Strategies for Advanced Threats to learn:

  • How the latest advanced threats target enterprise organizations
  • Why mitigation is so important
  • Key strategies to protect your business against known, unknown and advanced threats

Free Report

Encrypting Your Cloud Data For Extra Protection

Encrypting Your Cloud Data For Extra Protection

Encrypting Your Cloud Data

Encrypting data is one of the best ways of protecting your data as it moves to the cloud. The only thing better than encrypting your data, is not storing your data at all.

Let’s first look at the case of using file sharing applications such as Dropbox. If you are the only user of the files you store there, you can encrypt these files, or entire folders, with tools such as 7-zip or TrueCrypt before you move them to the cloud service.

However, it is likely that you want to share the files with somebody else. That means that these people should have the same encryption software and have access to the keys. So you have to figure out how to share the keys safely and protect them as you store them.

The hard thing about using encryption therefore is not so much the technology (although ‘under the hood’ encryption is really complicated), the hard thing is to understand what it protects against, and what the new risks are that encryption brings. Then you can start designing at which location where you encrypt, where you store your encrypted data, and how you are going to store and manage the encryption keys.

Peeking Inside

In the file sharing example, you encrypt to protect your data as it is ‘at rest’ at the cloud provider. You may trust the cloud provider, but you may want to prevent a search warrant forcing the provider to surrender your data. The encrypted data is stored at your own laptop or computer and at the file sharing service provider. The keys could be memorized or written down. Losing those keys is a new risk, by the way.

For a different example, let’s have a look at an enterprise customer relationship management system such as Salesforce. The data at rest includes a lot of customer data, which might bring in privacy concerns.

Data Breach Comic

Encryption Solutions

So in order to protect that, you might want to prevent that data going to the cloud unencrypted. There are a number of solutions in the market for that. One solution involves a separate cloud provider who filters all your CRM traffic and replaces customer data with encrypted customer data. When you then access that data, it will be decrypted by the same encryption provider. You still need to put some trust in the encryption provider, but they will no longer store your unencrypted data, so the risk of any loss of data at rest there is pretty small.

Now if you are a software developer, you might be using Infrastructure as a Service. That means your software runs on a virtual machine at a cloud provider. What kind of risks do you have there that encryption might be able to reduce?

To start with, your virtual machine has a virtual disk on which your data is stored. Of course, there is the risk that the staff of your cloud provider could access that. More realistically, that disk could be cloned by an insider and taken away for further inspection.

Risk Assessment

That risk can be addressed by encrypting the hard disk in the operating system, very much in the same way as you can encrypt the hard disk of your laptop. In most operating systems this is fairly easy. The biggest remaining issue is how to get the encryption key to the virtual machine as it boots up. That can be done, but it’s a little outside the scope of this article.

So far we have looked at data at rest. We should also look at data in motion. That’s a bit easier. An example of protecting data in motion is through using HTTPS for web traffic. Other cases of data in motion are file transfers such as with FTP and terminal traffic using Telnet. These are really old protocols that don’t encrypt anything, not even passwords. It is best to get rid of these as soon as possible and start using SFTP and SSH. You guessed it, the letter “S” in these protocol names stands for “Secure”.

Finally, we need to put things into perspective a bit.

Did you know that most data breaches last year were the result of hackers breaking in to user computers and point-of-sales devices (as in the case of Target Supermarkets), and not by hackers breaking into cloud providers?

All encryption in the cloud leaves the users’ computers unprotected. Did you know that 1 in 20 laptops go missing in their lifetime? And still most people don’t encrypt their hard disks!

So please look at the lock on your backdoor before you start putting an extra lock on your front door.

By Peter HJ van Eijk

Protecting Your Web Applications In A Hybrid Cloud Environment

Protecting Your Web Applications In A Hybrid Cloud Environment

Protecting Your Web Applications

It’s no secret that organizations are embracing the cloud and all the benefits that it entails. Whether its cost savings, increased flexibility or enhanced productivity – businesses around the world are leveraging the cloud to scale their business and better serve their customers. They are using a variety of cloud solutions – both private and public – and relying on multiple cloud hosting vendors to facilitate this growth. But as the saying goes – there is no such thing as free lunch. A hybrid cloud environment leads to an overall loss of control and visibility into the network, and in turn, can bring a host of security challenges.

Disappearing Network Perimeter

cloudy

As more services and applications are moved outside the enterprise perimeter and onto the cloud, the traditional network perimeter is going away. The hosting of applications is often distributed, and while some applications are being migrated to the cloud, others are still in transition or may remain on-premise. Organizations are now faced with the need to protect their applications everywhere – on-premise and in the cloud.

This leaves the door open for attackers. They now have a new target and instead of targeting just the on-premise applications, they are going after applications in the cloud. Organizations that rely solely on on-premise attack mitigation are leaving their cloud-based applications vulnerable to attacks.

Increased Dependency on Multiple Vendors

Most companies use multiple cloud vendors for hosting various aspects of their infrastructure. Some organizations choose to deploy a multi-cloud strategy for redundancy – to limit risk of downtime in case of failures and also reduce the risk posed by relying on a single vendor. In other cases, applications that have different needs in terms of bandwidth and availability are hosted on different cloud services to fit their specific needs. In addition, a multi-cloud strategy can be used to provide geographically diverse service across multiple cloud centers.

The use of a multi-vendor cloud hosting strategy complicates the ability to protect applications. It introduces dependency on the security solutions provided by each cloud vendor, which can offer varying degrees of protection. Overall this further limits the control and visibility of the organization’s infrastructure, making it harder to protect and manage multiple instances.

Rise in Popularity of Web Based Attacks

In today’s evolving threat landscape, the task of ensuring application availability is becoming more complex. As attacks are getting longer, larger and more sophisticated, organizations need to be able to protect their applications from a large variety of security threats, including:

  • Web-based attacks mostly known through the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10, which lists out the most common web-based threats. This category includes threats such as SQL Injections, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), which are typically not covered by traditional firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS). There is also a host of web-based attacks beyond the OWASP Top 10, such as Brute Force attacks, that should also be considered when looking at application security.
  • Availability based attacks – Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks at both the network and application layers. This includes the use of automated programs (bots) as well as humans to launch attacks aimed at exhausting application resources.
  • Multi-vector attacks – Sophisticated attacks that leverage multiple attack vectors are a common form of attack today. Rarely do we see attacks that only use one single vector. To deal with multi-vector attacks, organizations need a layered protection solution that can detect and mitigation attacks at all layers of the network.

Organizations’ New Requirements

Overall, organizations are facing several new challenges that lead to greater value requirements from security solutions, such as:

Protecting applications in a dynamic and moving environment. Organizations are faced with a distributed network and disaggregated applications. As such, they need a solution that can provide protections to applications regardless of where they are located. A hybrid solution is the best approach to provide comprehensive protection for applications – both on-premise and in the cloud – and can work across multiple cloud vendors. It removes the dependencies on different third parties and consolidates the protection of applications in a single-vendor, single-technology solution.
Wide protection coverage that covers the full range of attacks from network- and application layer DDoS attacks (including volumetric attacks), to more common web-based attacks (SQL Injections, XXS), all the way to the more advanced web attacks (Cookie Poisoning, XML and web services attacks). With the popularity of multi-vector attacks, having wide protection coverage is critical to eliminate any blind spots in the network that an attacker can leverage.

injections

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Ease of use and serviceability must be established to lift the burden off the IT and Security teams in the organization. Setting up and configuring some solutions requires a lot of manual work and ongoing maintenance. It’s important to pick a solution that is both easy to set-up and easy to maintain. A fully managed cloud service that includes 24/7 support and monitoring as well as ongoing reports can help provide that.

With the enterprise perimeter disappearing and the increase in third party security dependencies, coupled with the rise in more sophisticated, multi-vector attack campaigns, organizations need to carefully examine the security solutions available to them and make sure they address these new challenges.

shiraBy Shira Sagiv, Director of Security Solutions, Radware

Radware is a global leader of application delivery and application security solutions for virtual, cloud and software defined data centers. Its award-winning solutions portfolio delivers service level assurance for business-critical applications, while maximizing IT efficiency.

Why A Company-Wide Cyber Security Course Needs To Be Your Next Investment

Why A Company-Wide Cyber Security Course Needs To Be Your Next Investment

Cyber Security Course Needs To Be Your Next Investment

Companies are facing serious threats of ransomware, phishing, malware attacks and data breaches that usually cost them big losses running into millions of dollars. These cyber security threats also damage reputations and destroy brands. According to a recent study by SolarWinds, employees who are untrained in cyber security have been ascertained as federal agencies, and even ordinary businesses’ largest threat. The same study has also found out that organizations that have not invested in security awareness efforts usually incur high costs of security breaches four times higher than those with clear security alertness programs in place.

To cope with cyber security threats, employees and everyone working in a given organization have to know how to respond and deal with diverse internet threats.  It is important for employees to understand the various phishing, social engineering, malware, spam and spear phishing mechanisms and to apply knowledge learned daily in their jobs. Apart from this, there are a number of reasons why a company-wide cyber security course is a critical investment for any corporation.

IT departments cannot curb malicious threats alone

Most companies have savvy IT specialists working hard to diffuse threats and curb malicious phishing and hacking almost on a daily basis. However, considering a single misstep from an employee can bring an entire IT system to its knees, training every employee can prevent the worst from happening. A comprehensive company-wide cyber security effort needs everyone in the organization to cooperate.  Behaviors and decisions of employees on an organization’s network can have far reaching impact on the success or failure of security efforts.

Human factor

human-factor

Cyber security tools play a very critical role in the protection of an organization from external threats. However, alone they are not foolproof. If a company is to truly enhance its cyber security capabilities, an obvious focus into the human factor is very important. Through a company wide cyber security course, employees across the company are made to appreciate cyber security amidst gaining the necessary knowledge and skills necessary to deal with any future threat.

Abiding by cyber security policies

Training is very critical if every individual in a company is to have the ability of abiding by the company’s cyber security policy in place; even the most comprehensive and well considered cyber security strategy will fail if workers have no knowledge on how to follow every guideline at the workplace on a daily basis. For instances, it is important for workers to know how to identify suspicious mail and messages without putting everybody at risk.

Evolving threat

security-looming

Security specialists have argued that cyber security threats are an evolving threat and change all the time, especially as new technologies enter the social world and at the workplace. Consequently, the best cyber security practices will have to evolve as well to effectively address the changing threats. This means that investing in a cyber security course is critical including multifaceted approaches to constant awareness campaigns.

Sharing critical information

While companies work hard to keep their data and information confidential, a simple slip up by an employee can see hackers and other online criminals accessing some of the most critical information.  A cyber security course will teach employees how to avoid sending emails to the wrong individuals. For instance, workers can be shown how to deactivate autofills, especially in Microsoft Outlook. In the same study from SolarWinds, 78 percent of individuals surveyed admitted to sending emails accidentally to the wrong address.

Simulated threats

Clearly, employees need to be trained on cyber security. Considering some companies have hundreds of employees who might not have seen a phishing attack or know of any danger lurking online, a company-wide cyber security course comes with simulated threats to have first hand information about online security threats facing them.

Whether we like it or not, cyber security threats are some of the topics most employees do not understand. Yet, they must for the safety of everyone at the workplace.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Rick Delgado

Cloud Infographic – Where Sensitive Data Resides

Cloud Infographic – Where Sensitive Data Resides

Where Sensitive Data Resides

Data security remains a top concern for enterprises deploying popular cloud applications. While most will instinctively think of cloud data security and compliance as being handled only by IT departments, many enterprises are realizing that all aspects of security – from selecting a cloud service provider (CSP) to monitoring cloud use over time – requires involvement across the organization. Gerry Grealish has some additional advice and other compliance factors to consider.

Included is an infographic provided courtesy of Perspecsys which provides some insight into many of the challenges of data security visibility. Be sure to take a look at one of their other security related infographics on the history of security.

Perspecsys_Final

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

CIOs Must Transform IT

The emergence of the Cloud and its three delivery models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has dramatically impacted and forever changed the delivery of IT services. Cloud services have pierced the veil of IT by challenging traditional method’s dominance and forcing internal IT departments to compete with alternative Cloud-based solutions. Business Unit Managers (BUM) and Lines of Business (LOB) have fueled the Shadow IT movement by directly purchasing IT solutions from Cloud providers without the approval, or even involvement, of their IT department—and this is only the beginning.

Shadow IT

Moving forward, new Cloud services will continue to evolve and further compete with internal IT departments for business. If your department isn’t ready for this change, be prepared to watch the migration of IT services to the cloud diminish the role of your IT operations.

What is ITaaS?

In order for traditional IT to continue, remain viable and thrive in the organization it must transform into IT as a Service (ITaaS). What is ITaaS? Wikipedia defines it as “a competitive business model where an enterprise IT organization views the LOBs as having many options for IT services and the IT organization has to compete against those other options in order to be the provider to the needs of the LOBs. Options for providers other than the internal IT organization may include outsourcing companies and public cloud providers.

Why ITaaS? Let’s review this in the next section.

Benefits of ITaaS

In short, ITaaS can transform IT from a cost-center to a strategic part of the enterprise.

Adopting an ITaaS mentality will enable IT to adopt a business-centric approach with a focus on collaborating with the business units to understand their needs and requirements in order to become a strategic partner rather than a combative force to be avoided. This new relationship will enable IT to better understand and thereby deliver solutions that meet the needs of the LOBs.

Standardization And Simplification

Developing an ITaaS model also forces IT through the exercise of productizing its offering. In order to achieve this, IT needs to simplify and standardize, creating predictable, repeatable results thereby increasing their success rate while delivering a consistent user experience. Another result of standardization and simplification is increased operational efficiency leading to a lower cost needed to compete with the services delivered from external cloud providers.

By creating a more transparent pricing model IT will now be able to accurately chargeback the business units for their services. Business units will now be enabled to directly see their cost in comparison to consumption of IT resources. This allows them to compare internal versus external cost and rest assured they are getting the most for their spend.

By leveraging their newly optimized internal services with certain cloud services, in-house IT pros can build a hybrid offering that encompasses the best possible solution and cost for the business units. Not only will this cement IT’s strategic partnership with the business units, it demonstrates how IT is supplying the optimal solution—be it internal or external—and fosters the idea that the business units should involve IT in all projects. These strategic steps in turn reduce—or even eliminate—the Shadow IT movement, which in some cases can be destructive to a company.

Lastly, as demonstrated above, if IT combines its newly formed ITaaS model with other available cloud services the enterprise truly becomes agile and scalable with limitless potential previously unavailable. This is another proof point around why ITaaS helps IT departments becomes a strategic contributor to the enterprise.

Is ITaaS for everyone?

The answer to this question should be answered by each enterprise. ITaaS can be a powerful and game-changing shift for the IT department, though the process is resource intensive and time consuming.

The argument can be made that the transformation into ITaaS is only justified for larger organizations that churn out more projects. That said, it’s important for every IT department to understand the benefits ITaaS delivers and try to incorporate them into their organization no matter the size. Smaller organizations can implement pieces of ITaaS in order to achieve standardization, lower cost and improved delivery.

In conclusion

The Cloud has reached a tipping point and is here to stay—and that is a good thing in many ways. It is driving down the cost of IT and delivering innovation.

As an IT pro, harness the power of the Cloud and use it to your advantage, but also learn from its benefits and build a version of ITaaS in your enterprise that fits the need of your organization. If you do this, I know you will not only succeed, but thrive. Never forget IT requires continuous improvement and Cloud providers are pushing the limits so you better keep up.

By Marc Malizia

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Russia and China Pledge to Fight Together for Cyber Security

The world’s two eastern super-powers, Russia and China, have pledged not to attack one another in cyber space and to fight together for “international information security.” More simply, this is seen as a “nonaggression pact in cyberspace,” at a time when relations between the US and Russia are very seriously strained.

The cyber security deal was one of a total of 32 agreements signed by the two nations during a visit to Russia by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the weekend.

In a statement, Xi Jinping said he had held “substantial talks” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that they had agreed to continue to develop strategic cooperation and mutual foreign policy support.

In the high-powered publicized on the Russian Government website, the two leaders agreed they would do everything in their power to ensure that the internal political and socio-economic “atmosphere” was not destabilized. They also agreed they would do all they could to ensure public order was not disturbed.

The agreement between the two countries identified the primary threats to information security, and also determined the principles, main areas of interest, mechanisms and forms of cooperation between them. In terms of the agreement, both information technology (IT) and cyber threat data will be shared.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described this as a “strategic partnership,” and stated that the agreement would help to mutually promote a “beneficial cooperation” between China and Russia.

What the Pact Means to the West and US

cyber-security

In an interview transmitted on the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in Berkeley, California, said the two eastern super-powers had clearly teamed up because both found themselves “at odds with the West.”

He said they had a number of common interests, including:

  • Energy that Russia can offer China
  • Weapons that Russia can supply to China
  • A common 5,000-mile border
  • Psychological symmetry of two “big empires” that have suffered at the hands of Japan and the West

According to Ian Wallace of the New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative, the joint interest of Russia and China in information security is very different to that in the US and in Europe. He believes the primary interest of Russia and China focuses on “regime stability.”

It is probably also inevitable, following the breakdown of cyber relations between the US and both Russia and China. In 2014 a Russian-US “cyber working group” collapsed after the Russian military offensive in Ukraine. A similar China-US working group also collapsed after five members of the Chinese military were indicted by the US Government for hacking. Different reasons, same result.

China has also come under fire for trying to force US companies operating in that country to use encryption coding approved in Beijing, and make them supply source code to the government for inspection.

The primary difference is that the US, Europe and other Western nations see the Internet as a free hub, while Russia, China and other like-minded nations believe digital data should be controlled at government level. Putin has gone so far as to claim that the Internet was launched as “a CIA project.

Certainly the new cyber security deal between China and Russia is going to set a precedent for cyber security issues facing these two eastern nations.

By Penny Swift

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