Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Don't Stick Your Head in the Sand, Create a Proactive Security Strategy

Preventing data leakage from the cloud

In business, data is currency. It is the oil that keeps the commercial engine in motion and databases are the digital banks that store and retrieve this valuable information. And, according to IDC, data is doubling every two years. But as the overall amount of data grows, so does the amount of sensitive and regulated data. All this data stored by enterprises requires high levels of security. Presently (again, according to IDC) only about a quarter of that data is being properly protected now. Like all currency, data must be protected.

And herein lays a key issue. Too many executives see security as a cost center and are often reticent to invest beyond the bare minimum--whatever keeps the nasty viruses out; whatever is absolutely necessary for compliance. Their thought process is akin to “we haven’t been attacked before…or we don't have a high enough profile for hackers to care” I call this “ostriching” – putting your head in the sand and hoping misfortune never darkens your door.

To substantiate this attitude many organizations look toward on premise-based protection that encrypts or monitors network traffic containing critical information. For the average company, this can be a budget buster and a significant resource drain...that is until they look toward the cloud and explore cloud-based security options.

Yet regardless of deployment options, most security experts will agree the best defense is a proactive strategy.

Data leak prevention (DLP), like most security efforts, is a complex challenge. It is meant to prevent the deliberate and inadvertent release of sensitive information. Too many companies are trying to cure the symptoms rather than prevent them in the first place.

Part of the protection equation is being overlooked. Database management systems must also be a component of a proactive data security strategy. Like the bank vault, it requires strong protections at its foundation. DLP is one part of a comprehensive enterprise data security program that includes comprehensive security best practices for the protection of mission-critical enterprise data repositories. The security must be able to both foil attackers who are financially motivated and won't be deterred by minimalist security and prevent the accidental release of data. Data security will go nowhere without robust, proactive database security.

To properly achieve these goals, organizations need to implement functions that comprise of a variety of solutions. And when used cooperatively, a company can instantly discover who is doing what and when on the network, identify the potential impact and take the necessary steps to prevent or allow access/usage. Just like a bank vault—security cameras follow you to see who you are, you need a password  to get into the vault itself (during business hours!) and your only allowed to open your own safety deposit box (as long as you have the key). Here are four proactive measures you can take:

Intrusion detection (security information and event monitoring): The first step in protection is to know who is proverbially knocking on the door…or sneaking around the back entrance. Activity monitoring and blocking is the first line of defense for your firewall and beyond (this includes BYOD access. And vigilance on the front lines create real time correlation to detect patterns of traffic, spot usage anomalies and prevent internal or external attacks. SIEM actually provides the forensic analysis that determines whether or not any access of a network is friendly/permissible, suspicious or threatening. This analysis is the basis of creating alerts to take appropriate action/alerts to prevent data leakage.

Traffic monitoring (Log Management): Once you know who’s accessing the network, log management looks to make sense of the patterns and historical usage so one can identify suspicious IP addresses, locations, and users as likely transgressors. If you can predict the traffic, then you can create the rules to block sources, prevent access and create a reportable audit trail of activity. But to be proactive, it must be continuous and in real time.  Looking at reams of machine logs days or weeks after might discover breaches and careless users, but it can’t prevent it. It is the proverbial equivalent of chasing the horse that has left the barn.

Provisioning: (Identity Management): One of the best ways of ensuring users only access data to which they are entitled to see or use is through proper delegation of user rights. This is handled through identity management provisioning. In well too many documented cases, a user (typically an employee) leaves the fold, but never relinquishes access to this sensitive information. Just as provisioning gives users certain rights, automatic de-provsioning keeps former employees and other away from certain sections of your database. And when connected to SIEM and Log Management, when and if deprovsioned users try to use retired passwords or accounts, you know about it when it happens!

Authentication and Credentialing: (Access Management) This is more than password management (and making sure these codes are more substantial than “password123” B making sure access is controlled by at least two or more credentialing (multi-factored authentication) For example, a hospital may choose to require authorized personnel to present a log in credentials like a password and a unique variable code to access certain protected/sensitive areas of the network or database. In doing so, they have additional protection against the use of lost or unauthorized credentials. It is another layer of protection that can deflect potential data leakage.

In this assessment, there are at least four individual solutions which require implementation and monitoring. If the executives were unwilling before, how can an IT department muster the leverage to find money or the proposed staffing to deploy this preventive strategy? The good news is they don’t have to do either. Through a unified security model (real time event and access correlation technology) from the cloud combines the capabilities and functionalities from each of these toolsets and creates a strong, cost-effective enterprise platform. It leverages the key features in a single cooperative, centralized  source that enhances visibility throughout the enterprise. All the cost saving benefits inherent with cloud computing are realized and as a security-as-a-service, the need for additional headcount is moot. Part of the service is the live expert analysts watching over your virtual borders 24/7/365.

The additional benefit it’s the ability to leverage existing programs into a REACT platform. If a company previously invested in a Log Management or Single Sign On solution, they can easily integrate the other pieces of the puzzle to ensure a layered, holistic approach. This way all the independent silos are monitored and covered. Because each of the solutions interact and intersect with one another, the seamless communication creates a layered, responsive defense that anticipates, controls and alerts as opposed attempting to put the toothpaste back into the tube. The damage of a breach (whether through user carelessness, internal sabotage or direct attack) is more than just the compliance fines and the blowback of the data currency affected. Substantial and detrimentally impactful as they are, they can’t touch the cost of broken trust. That, in itself, is a driving reason to get ahead on the issue of proactive security.

As enterprise systems are exposed to substantial risk from data loss, theft, or manipulation, unified security platforms from the cloud IS that fine balance of data leakage prevention, protection of IP assets, maintenance of compliance standards versus cost/resource responsibility. It is an accountable way of becoming proactive.

Kevin Nikkhoo

CloudAccess

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

CloudEXPO Stories
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a member of the Society of Information Management (SIM) Atlanta Chapter. She received a Business and Economics degree with a minor in Computer Science from St. Andrews Presbyterian University (Laurinburg, North Carolina). She resides in metro-Atlanta (Georgia).
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. His expertise is in automating deployment, management, and problem resolution in these environments, allowing his teams to run large transactional applications with high availability and the speed the consumer demands.
The technologies behind big data and cloud computing are converging quickly, offering businesses new capabilities for fast, easy, wide-ranging access to data. However, to capitalize on the cost-efficiencies and time-to-value opportunities of analytics in the cloud, big data and cloud technologies must be integrated and managed properly. Pythian's Director of Big Data and Data Science, Danil Zburivsky will explore: The main technology components and best practices being deployed to take advantage of data and analytics in the cloud, Architecture, integration, governance and security scenarios and Key challenges and success factors of moving data and analytics to the cloud
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value extensible storage infrastructure has in accelerating software development activities, improve code quality, reveal multiple deployment options through automated testing, and support continuous integration efforts. All this will be described using tools common in DevOps organizations.