Category Archives: Security

Cloud Infographic: Breaking Apps

Cloud Infographic: Breaking Apps

Cloud Infographic: Breaking Apps

CopperEgg continues to blaze a trail through the sometimes dangerous landscape of cloud and IT, delivering its hallmark product to IT managers looking to increase hands-on control over the data and the systems that cover it, by making the upgrading and maintenance of efficiencies much easier. Data is king, and CopperEgg makes useful information on optimum use of servers and systems available by the second, allowing administrators to maintain a far more dynamic and ideal system in which resources are allocated in sync with actual requirements. This means time and money saved.

Breaking_Apps_Infographic_small

Infographic Sponsored By Copperegg

CopperEgg is also expert in ensuring that monitoring is customized and reflects an end-user client’s circumstances far more accurately in realistic time increments. As CTO and co-founder Eric Anderson explains: “The best thing I ever did was to show a screen shot of the difference between 5min, 1min, and 5s granularity in monitoring. The key is, that with finer grained resolution, you DON’T MISS THE DETAILS. At 1min, a 20sec spike in CPU (for example) will get washed out to a little bump on everyone else’s monitoring system, but with CopperEgg, at 5s, you see it. Let me ask: if you sit at a website for 5s and nothing happens, do you wait? I don’t – I bounce. So why is monitoring that same service at 1min acceptable? It isn’t. You need monitoring at the granularity your customers care about. And that’s seconds, not minutes.”

For a free trial of their application, visit CopperEgg.com.

By Steve Prentice

Concerns With Cloud Security

Concerns With Cloud Security

Cloud security is an evolving sub-domain of information security dedicated to the protection of data, applications and infrastructure values associated with cloud computing. It incorporates a broad set of policies that are driven by the security procedures for providing maximum level of assurance for customers of cloud services.

Concerns with Cloud Security

Cloud computing is providing new horizons for maintaining organizational assets. But with ease and the convenience also comes the challenge to secure enterprise data. The biggest reason that raises concerns for security is involvement of third parties, i.e. cloud service providers who can access data stored at remote locations.

Being a form of distributed computing, cloud computing is still waiting for proper standardization. While migrating to cloud services , there are a number of factors to be considered by organization. The organizations need to understand the key benefits along with the risks associated with adopting a particular solution or a service provider. As an evolving security and technological arena, the assessment of risks and benefits keeps on varying depending upon the advancements that are brought by new technological implications.

Cloud security is a shared responsibility model between cloud service provider (CSP) and clients associated with the same. It is important to note that not all cloud service providers provide equal amounts of security measurements and other operational and managerial functions. This should be clearly agreed , defined and discussed between service providers and customers.

More and more organizations are migrating towards the cloud and enjoying the benefits of various service providers. Enterprises are embracing economic and operational advantages of cloud for extending their business to larger scales. But cloud providers like AWS need to meet key security requirements for organizations to be able to trust them with their most confidential data. As malicious attackers are becoming more sophisticated, they are finding new ways to target applications and that data of enterprises. The attacking intentions are fed by the fact that cloud has some architectural flaws inherited from its parent applications that can be easily exploited for one’s own gains. At an unprecedented rate, enterprises tend to shift their resources to cloud. There are many security threats that cloud data is vulnerable to.

Some of them are listed below.

security-workforce

  • Data Breaches: One of the most dangerous shortcoming of having data in the cloud is the possibility of compromised data.
  • Data Loss: Data in the cloud is physically stored on third party servers and given virtual access to the customers. Therefore, there is a good possibility that the data on the remote servers can be lost due to any kind of damage or server hacking.
  • Account Hijacking: Physical access to data is given to clients through user accounts. So all of the data can be accessed only through these accounts on cloud hosting services. In case, any of such accounts are compromised or hijacked by any hacker, all of the important data comes under the risk of being compromised. There is also the possibility of privilege escalation attacks that accounts for exploitation of user level access rights.
  • Insecure API’s: Cloud data is called and managed through Application Protocol Interface (API). The API calls can be spoofed or hijacked for infected data transmission.
  • Denial of Service: Cloud is basically an interface between a user and an application server. If the cloud server is vulnerable or not properly protected from DOS attacks, then it can be a target of Denial of Service attacks. In this attack, legitimate user is deprived of getting services like data access etc. of the server.
  • Malicious Insiders: Sharing data with a third party requires a fair amount of trust to invest. Organizations may be secure from certain attacks from outside the company. However,  it needs to be aware from attacks within the organization as well.
  • Abusing Cloud Services: Legitimate cloud services can be abused by malicious intents for their own monetary or other gains.
  • Shared Technology Issues: Most of the security issues emerge due to shared resources technology adapted by the cloud. All data within one cloud can be attacked by hackers that would render all data on that cloud to be compromised.
  • Insufficient Due Diligence: Paying less attention to diligence can also cause substantial amount of threat to data in the cloud.

At an unimaginable rate, cloud computing is transforming and revolutionizing the way business and government are managing their data. Cloud service development has shown more evolution in terms of service model, creating new security challenges on the way for security researchers. The shift from server to service-based thinking is revolving the terms in which technological departments deal with. The design of the architecture is subsequently affected and governed by the computing technology and applications. But these advances have created substantial new security vulnerabilities, including critical security issues whose impact is emerging and still processing with each passing day.

By Chetan Soni

Cloud Infographic: Cloud Adoption

Cloud Infographic: Cloud Adoption

Cloud Adoption

Will cloud live up to its hype” is a question which has become irrelevant now. Looking back now, I’d say the opportunity is much, much bigger than the hype. Perhaps for some companies, the move to the Cloud has been one of the most rewarding experiences in IT investing.

Included is an infographic courtesy of Aryaka which also provides some interesting survey results in conjunction with the 2013 Rightscale survey.

infographic-adoption

Infographic Source: Aryaka

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 2

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 2

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 2

Cloud services like Amazon Elastic Cloud and IBM SmartCloud are revolutionizing the way IT organizations deal with online infrastructure. There are many benefits to cloud computing, but there are also serious security concerns. Yesterday, I revealed 5 helpful tools for enhancing cloud security.

Here are 5 more tools to round out my top 10 list:

Metasploit

metasploit

Complied in the Ruby programming language and developed by H.D. Moore, Metasploit framework has made significant contributions to the pen testing tools community. It gives you the capability of adding your own modules. By default, Metasploit is embedded in popular pen testing distributions with a streamlined user interface.

It can pen test with just an IP address. Therefore, if you have your data on the cloud then all you need is your actual cloud IP address to test security. Just be sure that the IP you are using actually belong to your assets, because in many cases vendors will change IP addresses. If you are using cloud services from Amazon, then using Metasploit Pro will provide you with additional Amazon Machine Images. You can install the available Metasploit package on Amazon EC2 like other packages and run it normally. You cannot receive updates until you get it registered, though.

Nessus

Nessus is an open source, comprehensive vulnerability scanner developed by Tenable Network Security, and has the designation of being the most popular vulnerability assessment tool. In its most recent update in March, it added cloud management and multi support through the Nessus Perimeter Service.

infographic-host-cloud

This scanner is capable of controlling internal and external scanners through the cloud. According to Ron Gula, CEO of Tenable Network Security, the multi-scanning management capability will allow users to benefit from the robust capabilities of Nessus to manage internal and external scanners from a single point, which will save time and resources.

Nmap

Nmap stands for “Network Mapper”; this tool is the gold standard for network scanning. Originally written by Gordon Lyon (Fyodor Vaskovich), it is a must have in any pen testers arsenal. Use it to scan networks, even if congestion or latency has been occurring on these networks.

Nmap can be effectively used for scanning cloud networks. The only condition is that your cloud network is on an OS supported by Nmap. These include Unix, Linux, Solaris, Windows, Mac, OS X, BSD and some other environments. Also, you would want to scan your original IP instead of that hidden behind NAT or firewalls. Be sure to have permission from the IaaS provider before scanning the networks, because it is prohibited to scan without authenticity, for obvious reasons.

Kismet

Freely distributed as an open source program, Kismet uses 802.11 standard layer 2 tools which can be used for packet sniffing, network detection and also as an intrusion detection system. It supports any wireless card which is capable of raw monitoring.

Kismet is capable of scanning public, private or hybrid cloud servers. Its distinguishing feature is that it leaves no logs of scans done in victim machines. It accomplishes this by working passively and sending no traceable packets to the victim network. Due to stealth functionality, it is the most widely used wireless scanning tool to date. On a cloud server, Kismet can be used for preventing any active wireless sniffing programs like Netstumbler through its IDS capability. Kismet supports channel hopping that aids it in finding as many networks as possible through non sequential functioning.

Wireshark

Wireshark has been around for ages and has proven to be an excellent cloud monitoring tool. Although it can help network administrators in scanning enterprise networks, it cannot be used as a stand-alone tool in large environments like cloud servers. In cloud networks, Wireshark is used for scanning a single entity of the whole infrastructure. It can be aided by other tools, or multiple instances can run to serve the purpose.

Wireshark can apply to the cloud the same way it applies to any home network. It is used for troubleshooting network issues by digging through the weeds of the network. Wireshark can also be applied for analyzing packets between cloud service provider and the end user. But as Wireshark is basically a desktop based network monitoring tool, QA Café has developed “CloudShark” for making captured files accessible on cloud environments.

On Conclusion

Traditional network monitoring tools are now being used as cloud monitoring tools. This is due to the fact that the cloud is also a network with larger boundaries and more complications than standard networks. Today, organizations can buy an online service by instantiating any image service on the cloud. Cloud computing has emerged as a pay-as-you-go service, which organizations can use without having to go deeper into the details how cloud infrastructure works.

As cloud networks are providing more and more to IT services, its security has been a chief concern for most customers. For ensuring security and privacy of your data, there are tools and methodologies through which you can pen test your cloud provider. Using the aforementioned tools will enhance reliability in cloud service.

By Chetan Soni

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 1

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 1

10 Useful Cloud Security Tools: Part 1

Cloud computing has become a business solution for many organizational problems. But there are security risks involved with using cloud servers: service providers generally only take responsibility of keeping systems up, and they neglect security at many ends. Therefore, it is important that clouds are properly penetration (pen) tested and secured to ensure proper security of user data.

There are many tools available that can be used to automate the process of pen testing. Most of them can be found with pen testing distributions like Backtrack or Blackbox. Here is a list of recommended tools for pen testing cloud security:

Acunetix – Web Vulnerability Scanner

acunetix 

This information gathering tool scans web applications on the cloud and lists possible vulnerabilities that might be present in the given web application. Most of the scanning is focused on finding SQL injection and cross site scripting vulnerabilities. It has both free and paid versions, with paid versions including added functionalities. After scanning, it generates a detailed report describing vulnerabilities along with the suitable action that can be taken to remedy the loophole.

This tool can be used for scanning cloud applications. Beware: there is always a chance of false positives. Any security flaw, if discovered through scanning, should be verified. The latest version of this software, Acunetix WVS version 8, has a report template for checking compliance with ISO 27001, and can also scan for HTTP denial of service attacks.

Aircrack-ng – A Tool for Wi-Fi Pen Testers

This is a comprehensive suite of tools designed specifically for network pen testing and security. This tool is useful for scanning Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models. Having no firewall, or a weak firewall, makes it very easy for malicious users to exploit your network on the cloud through virtual machines. This suite consists of many tools with different functionalities, which can be used for monitoring the network for any kind of malicious activity over the cloud.

Its main functions include:

  • Aircrack-ng – Cracks WEP or WPA encryption keys with dictionary attacks
  • Airdecap-ng – Decrypts captured packet files of WEP and WPA keys
  • Airmon-ng – Puts your network interface card, like Alfa card, into monitoring mode
  • Aireplay-ng – This is packet injector tool
  • Airodump-ng – Acts as a packet sniffer on networks
  • Airtun-ng – Can be used for virtual tunnel interfaces
  • Airolib-ng – Acts as a library for storing captured passwords and ESSID
  • Packetforge-ng – Creates forged packets, which are used for packet injection
  • Airbase-ng – Used for attacking clients through various techniques.
  • Airdecloak-ng – Capable of removing WEP clocking.

Several others tools are also available in this suite, including esside-ng, wesside-ng and tkiptun-ng. Aircrack-ng can be used on both command line interfaces and on graphical interfaces. In GUI, it is named Gerix Wi-Fi Cracker, which is a freely available network security tool licensed to GNU.

Cain & Abel

This is a password recovery tool. Cain is used by penetration testers for recovering passwords by sniffing networks, brute forcing and decrypting passwords. This also allows pen testers to intercept VoIP conversations that might be occurring through cloud. This multi functionality tool can decode Wi-Fi network keys, unscramble passwords, discover cached passwords, etc. An expert pen tester can analyze routing protocols as well, thereby detecting any flaws in protocols governing cloud security. The feature that separates Cain from similar tools is that it identifies security flaws in protocol standards rather than exploiting software vulnerabilities. This tool is very helpful for recovering lost passwords.

In the latest version of Cain, the ‘sniffer’ feature allows for analyzing encrypted protocols such as SSH-1 and HTTPS. This tool can be utilized for ARP cache poisoning, enabling sniffing of switched LAN devices, thereby performing Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks. Further functionalities have been added in the latest version, including authentication monitors for routing protocols, brute-force for most of the popular algorithms and cryptanalysis attacks.

Ettercap

Ettercap is a free and open source tool for network security, designed for analyzing computer network protocols and detecting MITM attacks. It is usually accompanied with Cain. This tool can be used for pen testing cloud networks and verifying leakage of information to an unauthorized third party. It has four methods of functionality:

  • IP-based Scanning – Network security is scanned by filtering IP based packets.
  • Mac-based Scanning – Here packets are filtered based on MAC addresses. This is used for sniffing connections through channels.
  • ARP-based functionality – ARP poisoning is used for sniffing into switched LAN through an MITM attack operating between two hosts (full duplex).
  • Public-ARP based functionality – In this functionality mode, ettercap uses one victim host to sniff all other hosts on a switched LAN network (half duplex).

John the Ripper

The name for this tool was inspired by the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. This tool was written by Black Hat Pwnie winner Alexander Peslyak. Usually abbreviated to just “John”, this is freeware which has very powerful password cracking capabilities; it is highly popular among information security researchers as a password testing and breaking program tool. This tool has the capability of brute forcing cloud panels. If any security breach is found, then a security patch can be applied to secure enterprise data.

Originally created for UNIX platforms, John now has supported versions for all major operating systems. Numerous password cracking techniques are embedded into this pen testing tool to create a concise package that is capable of identifying hashes through its own cracker algorithm.

Cloud providing vendors need to embed security within their infrastructure. They should not emphasize keeping high uptime at the expense of security.

By Chetan Soni

The Challenges Of Multi-tenancy

The Challenges Of Multi-tenancy

The Challenges of Multi-tenancy

Regarded as one of the most important features of cloud computing, multi-tenancy is a key common attribute of both public and private spaces. It applies to all three layers of a cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) and refers to a software architecture design in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers.

Multi-tenancy architecture has many benefits over multi-instance architecture. It is often cheaper to run thanks to software development costs and maintenance costs being shared, updates are faster because the provider only has to make the changes once, and it is easily scalable. Nonetheless, challenges of running software for a large number of tenants still presents problems – what are they?

Security

librato

Software providers will naturally argue that their software is protected with the highest level of security available and that a company’s data is more secure than ever on their servers. Nonetheless, there is a scope for human error, where a database administrator accidentally grants access to an unauthorized person or contravenes the security policy of an organisation.

There is also the threat of hackers – no matter how secure an encryption is it can always to broken with the right knowledge. A hacker who breaks the encryption of multitenant database will be able to steal the data of hundreds of businesses who have data stored on it.

Capacity Optimization

Database administrators need the tools and the knowledge to understand which tenant should be deployed on which network in order to maximise capacity and reduce costs. This is process is further complicated by the need to continuously align capacity with business demand and requires providers to manage the actual and forecasted resource utilization for all their servers.

Service Delivery and High Availability

When failures occur or when certain services generate abnormal loads the service delivery can be interrupted – yet business clients will often request high-availability, typically 99.999 percent. Therefore, monitoring the service delivery and its availability is critical to ensure that the service is properly delivered and meeting SLAs. Without effective monitoring problems are hard to locate and downtimes are increased – often leading to lost revenue.

Monitoring

cto

According to Librato CTO and co-founder Joseph Ruscio, “modern IT environments are incredibly dynamic and their operators require sophisticated alerting capabilities”. He believes effective monitoring can be the solution for successfully managing the ever changing IT landscape and thus many of the challenges of multi-tenancy.

Ruscio’s company, the San Francisco-based Librato, offers clients a secure, stable and resistant platform that has been optimised for time series data analytics. It allows users to see all the metrics that are required to track the health of web-scale applications and consequently enables them to quickly find the cause of unexpected patterns and events. Their software accepts both a company’s operational metrics and its other additional metrics by using a REST API, and presents all the information in a web-based application that is highly-detailed and easy-to-use.

Indeed the company has recently launched a brand new alerting platform that they hope provide a framework for industry-leading new features. Amongst other features, users can now be alerted on application-level SLAs, on when a source stops reporting and on when all data-points in a given duration exceed a threshold.

Librato is rapidly becoming one of the ‘must-haves’ of multi-tenant architecture monitoring – a view echoed by Scott Turnquest, application developer at ThoughtWorks. He says, “Librato is one of the most important live dashboards that we have running in our team room. By watching out for particular trends, we’re usually able to be proactive about issues before they affect customers”.

Turnquest’s quote undoubtedly highlights the key reason for using an effective monitoring solution – addressing problems before they reach the customer. It means less downtime, reduced costs, improved client feedback, a better reputation in the market place, and improved business prospects long term. Ultimately, a high quality cloud monitoring tool such as Librato will aid administrators of multi-tenant architecture improve its security, capacity optimisation, service delivery, and high availability by helping them to configure problem detection and to do root-cause analysis. 

What do you think are the challenges of multi-tenant architecture? What about solutions? Do you use an effective monitoring tool? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

Post Sponsored By Librato

Challenges Faced By Cloud Security

Challenges Faced By Cloud Security

Challenges Faced By Cloud Security

Cloud Infographic_001

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses manage their data. The amount of data produced by the corporate sector has increased at a rapid rate over the past few years. In order to handle this exponential need for storage space, organizations need a reliable and secure approach with which they can use to optimize their operations, which in turn will reduce costs. Cloud computing provides suitable development environments, rapid resources for operating platforms, application environments and backup and storage of data at low costs. But, some of the factors that make cloud computing such a convenience for managing resources also raise considerable security concerns.

Challenges Faced by Cloud Security

Cloud computing inherits the security issues pertaining in the technologies that it uses, which consists chiefly of the risk of a breach in the integrity or confidentiality of information. One security measure is encrypting stored data, but there are drawbacks with encryption and it does not always protect data. This presents a very challenging situation for cloud security professionals. Seven of these challenges are discussed below:

1) Breach of Trust

In cloud services, it is very important that the service provider has the trust of his customer and he does not exploit this in any way. There is no way to be 100% sure of your cloud service providers being trustworthy. There are certain legal issues entangled with cloud security as well, because there are certain laws that cloud service providers should comply with and these laws vary from country to country. Users have no idea or control over where or in what jurisdiction their data is being physically stored over the cloud.

2) Maintaining Confidentiality

Preventing improper disclosure of information is maintaining confidentiality of data. Service providers have full access to your data, so they have the opportunity to misuse this information. This issue requires proper attention from an information security analyst in order to ensure your data is not being shared without your permission.

3) Preserving Integrity

Integrity is preventing illegal modification of data or its instances. Users with privilege to your data can easily modify it unless it is encrypted. One entity with such privilege is a cloud service provider. Preserving integrity of data over the cloud is a viable challenge to security researchers.

4) Authenticity and Completeness

In a cloud, there may be multiple users with varying levels of access privilege to your data. A user with limited access may have access to a subset of data, but he needs to be assured that this subset is valid and verified. Digital signatures are used for providing a validation, proof of authentication for access to a superset of data. Certain approaches inspired by Merkle trees and signature aggregation are used for digital validation of data. But still there are vulnerabilities for this issue in cloud security.

5) Risk Factors Associated with Virtual Machines

In a typical cloud model application, processes are run from within virtual machines. These virtual machines are on a shared server with other virtual machines running as well, some of which may be malicious. Security researchers have proved that attacks from one virtual machine to another is possible. Therefore, cloud security experts consider this a serious issue.

6) Vulnerabilities from Shared Resources

Cloud data running on multicore processors is vulnerable to application data being compromised, because, as researches have shown, applications can communicate through the cores and may exchange data as well. With the multi tenancy architecture of a cloud server in which many applications are stored on the same server, it is always possible for malicious users to intercept data from the network channel.

7) Issues with Encryption

Although encrypting data seems like the solution for preserving confidentiality, integrity and authenticity on the cloud, this approach does have shortcomings. For one, this is not a cost effective method because to decrypt data, an enormous amount of computational time is added to the processing time. Each time a query runs in the database, both the cost and time increases dramatically, especially if the amount of data is very large. Encryption algorithms are subject to get tracked down as well. Cloud security professionals have the challenge of continuing to reinforce this technique.

Cloud computing can be used for carrying out various IT functions, and providing security to the cloud is not an easy task for cloud security professionals as there are various security concerns.

There are many benefits to cloud computing. Cloud computing provides a viable means for building cost effective solutions which are substantially flexible. By using virtual servers on internet, cloud computing provides easy delivery platforms for serving business and eases out more expensive consumer IT services.

However, there are serious risks of integrity and confidentiality for data shared on a cloud. This is because required services are often outsourced from a third party, which makes it difficult to ensure security and privacy of data.

Security professionals still need to deal with the architectural flaws of the cloud computing model so that cloud computing can be made more reliable and trustworthy.

By Chetan Soni

Cloud Infographic: Cybercrime Costs Around The World

Cloud Infographic: Cybercrime Costs Around The World

Cloud Infographic: Cybercrime Costs Around The World

Cyber threats, like identity theft, malware and data breaches, are constantly increasing in number and growing in sophistication. The New Face of Cybercrime infographic illustrates various methods to prevent and protect against the cyber threats expected in 2014 and explores the costs incurred by companies around the globe from cyber attacks in 2013.

Provided is an infographic courtesy of the group at HOB.

New Face of Cybercrime Infographic_001

Infographic Source: HOB

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