Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Brad Anderson, Liz McMillan, Greg O'Connor

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Open Source, Virtualization, Security, SDN Journal, DevOps Journal

Cloud Expo: Blog Feed Post

Top Cloud Security Threats

To say that cloud security for cloud computing is gaining traction would be the understatement of our era

To say that cloud security for cloud computing is gaining traction would be the understatement of our era.  Whether in public clouds, private clouds, or hybrid scenarios – it seems like everyone is in the cloud.  Healthcare providers, eCommerce, disaster recovery services, data storage . . . the types of cloud services available seem to cover every base.  What would Darwin think about his “Survival of the Fittest” evolving from animal species to businesses who take advantage of the flexibility, elasticity, and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing?

cloud security threats cloud security breaches Cloud Security  cloud security threats Top Cloud Security ThreatsBut, there are dangers in the cloud computing jungle and cloud security measures must be put in place to eliminate and resolve them.  According to the Cloud Security Alliance, three types of threats have worsened between 2010 and today.

  1. Data Breaches
  2. Data Loss
  3. Account or Service Traffic Hijacking

Let’s explore how proper cloud security can protect you from these top threats.

1. Data Breaches

The attack can originate from many sources:

  • Malevolent hackers
  • Fierce competitors
  • Insiders: employees, subcontractor, vendors, etc.

Regardless of the origin, the attack must be stopped before it causes damage.

Of course, you must put in place cloud security measures like anti-virus, firewalls, strict password policies, and accurate logs.  But hackers can be deviously conniving.  In November 2012, researchers from the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin and RSA Corporation released a paper describing how a virtual machine could use side channel timing information to extract private cryptographic keys being used in other virtual machines on the same physical server. Whether your potential attackers are as sophisticated, there are ways to stop them from causing damage.

Encrypting your data, for example, is a security measure you MUST insist on.  If you do it right, even if a breach does occur, your data will not be readable – and will therefore not be usable.

Encrypting data is relatively easy.  Adhere to best practices like AES-256 and SHA-2. These techniques provide the best assurance that data has not been tampered with.  SSL/TLS must always be enabled.  IPsec communications should be allowed.

But once your data is encrypted, the cloud security challenge is to ensure the data cannot be decrypted.  If your data is encrypted well, but the encryption keys are also accessible to attackers (stored in the same location or stored with a cloud provider, for example), the encryption does not matter.

The best practice here is to use split key management and homomorphic key encryption.  The first splits your encryption key in parts.  One part is handled by the cloud security application and one part is always handled only by you.  BOTH parts are required to decrypt your data.  This way, even if one part is used illicitly, your data cannot be breached.  The second measure, homomorphic key encryption, is the only way to ensure that the key itself is encrypted, even while in use.

By using these two best practices, your cryptographic keys cannot be compromised.

2. Data Loss

Almost as terrifying as your data being accessed by outsiders (or insiders gone bad) is losing your data.  Of course, losing data doesn’t allow anyone else to use it, but it also does not allow you to use it.  Can your business perform without its data?

Data loss can occur as a result of virus or hacker attack, but it can also come from an accidental deletion by a cloud provider, a natural disaster like an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado…

Best practice here, of course, is backup.  You could back up your data on physical devices outside of the cloud, but then you lose a lot of the benefits of using the cloud.  Opting for an online backup and disaster recovery protocol is a great solution, but it opens another possible entry point for attackers (see the data breach section, above).

Solving this challenge does not have to be . . . well, challenging.  The same best practices we dexcribed above apply here as well.  Encrypt data before uploading or transferring it to a cloud backup or cloud disaster recovery platform.  And always use split key management and homomorphic key encryption.

3. Account or Service Traffic Hijacking

Phishing, fraud, and exploitation of software vulnerabilities can cause your credentials to be stolen.  With stolen credentials, attackers can often access critical areas of deployed cloud computing services, allowing them to compromise the confidentiality, integrity and availability of those services.  In April 2010, Amazon experienced a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) bug that allowed attackers to hijack credentials from the site. Even Amazon is a target!

How do you eliminate the risk of your credentials being stolen?  Easy!  Don’t trust anyone with them.  Your encryption keys should always be under your own control.  Do not allow your cloud provider to control your keys.  Ever.

Another important factor to consider here is not avoiding such hijacking, but also mitigating the damages in case it occurs.  A way to do this is to segment your encryption.  Each encryption project can contain as much (or as little) data as required, across multiple disks, databases, file servers and object storage.

Conclusion: Top Threats and Top Solutions

Yes, there are threats to operating in the cloud (let’s face it: there are threats to operating any business), but with current technologies offering ways to thwart the top threats of data breaches, data loss, and hijacking, the benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the risks.

The time to institute strong cloud security and encryption is now – before an attack.  Don’t think that it cannot (or will not) happen to you because you are too powerful or too big (or too small).  It happened to Amazon.  It happens to businesses every day.  And these types of catastrophes have the ability to exhaust budgets, destroy reputations, and in some cases – eradicate a business.


The post Top Cloud Security Threats appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Gilad Parann-Nissany

Gilad Parann-Nissany, Founder and CEO at Porticor is a pioneer of Cloud Computing. He has built SaaS Clouds for medium and small enterprises at SAP (CTO Small Business); contributing to several SAP products and reaching more than 8 million users. Recently he has created a consumer Cloud at G.ho.st - a cloud operating system that delighted hundreds of thousands of users while providing browser-based and mobile access to data, people and a variety of cloud-based applications. He is now CEO of Porticor, a leader in Virtual Privacy and Cloud Security.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
Simply defined the SDDC promises that you’ll be able to treat “all” of your IT infrastructure as if it’s completely malleable. That there are no restrictions to how you can use and assign everything from border controls to VM size as long as you stay within the technical capabilities of the devices. The promise is great, but the reality is still a dream for the majority of enterprises. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, EVP, Data Center Tech, at SUPERNAP, will cover where and how a business might benefit from SDDC and also why they should or shouldn’t attempt to adopt today.
MapDB is an Apache-licensed open source database specifically designed for Java developers. The library uses the standard Java Collections API, making it totally natural for Java developers to use and adopt, while scaling database size from GBs to TBs. MapDB is very fast and supports an agile approach to data, allowing developers to construct flexible schemas to exactly match application needs and tune performance, durability and caching for specific requirements.
APIs came about to help companies create and manage their digital ecosystem, enabling them not only to reach more customers through more devices, but also create a large supporting ecosystem of developers and partners. While Facebook, Twitter and Netflix were the early adopters of APIs, large enterprises have been quick to embrace the concept of APIs and have been leveraging APIs as a connective tissue that powers all interactions between their customers, partners and employees. As enterprises embrace APIs, some very specific Enterprise API Adoption patterns and best practices have started emerging. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will talk about the most common enterprise API patterns and will discuss how enterprises can successfully launch an API program.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
Today, developers and business units are leading the charge to cloud computing. The primary driver: faster access to computing resources by using the cloud's automated infrastructure provisioning. However, fast access to infrastructure exposes the next friction point: creating, delivering, and operating applications much faster. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Bernard Golden, VP of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss why solving the next friction point is critical for true cloud computing success and how developers and business units can leverage service catalogs, frameworks, and DevOps to achieve the true goal of IT: delivering increased business value through applications.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.