2 2 Tata Communications Cloud-based Security Evolution Not Revolution
3 Executive Overview Malicious malware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are wreaking havoc on today s businesses. Over the past few years, these attacks have evolved from random hacking incidents to something far more sinister criminal acts such as extortion, market manipulation and cyberterrorism. Cleanup is extremely complex and costly more so to small- and medium-sized businesses where IT staff are overworked and lack the appropriate security expertise to adequately protect the organization. The fallout from data breaches is an additional concern as companies face regulatory fines, public relations headaches and brand damage. Security applications delivered as cloud-based services offer an up-and-coming platform to manage these concerns although premise-based solutions still have their place depending upon an organization s requirements. For example, filtering may be conducted on-premise if a company has expendable, affordable bandwidth for spam entering the network. A smaller company cannot sacrifice bandwidth to spam and so might prefer a cloudbased solution. Like filtering, proxies are suitable for both on-premise and in-the-cloud treatments, depending upon an organization s size, its needs for customization, and its need to add users gradually. DDoS protection, however, is typically best handled in the cloud. Premise-based DDoS solutions sacrifice bandwidth to accommodate dramatic increases in traffic and IT staff must deploy, manage and monitor the solution. Cloud-based DDoS detection and mitigation spares businesses from costly outages the work of analysis and remediation. Several key factors should be considered when deciding between on-premise and cloud-based security. These include whether an organization is open to the outsourcing concept and whether IT staff possesses sufficient expertise and time to manage a premise-based solution. Organizations with unusual requirements may also require specialized security solutions. Beyond these points, smaller companies tend to gravitate toward cloudbased security. Without the need to purchase and deploy equipment, cloud-based solutions can be implemented much more quickly. Also, service providers manage all upgrades, saving the company time and hassle. Service providers that specialize in cloud-based security are often a better bet as security is their first priority. Organizations must also consider financial concerns such as the infrastructure requirements of premise-based solutions. In addition to capital costs, organizations face staffing requirements and incremental costs for backup, utilities and rack space. Although a large company could absorb these expenses, smaller companies often have a tougher time raising capital and paying staff. Cloud-based security solutions charge a monthly subscription fee and eliminate the capital expenditures required for premise-based solutions. In the long run, cloud-based security tends to be cheaper for small- to medium-sized companies compared to equivalent premise-based solutions. There are several caveats in evaluating cloud-based security options. For example, some solutions are more effective if deployed inside the network, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, application firewalls and data encryption. For smaller companies that do not require customization, several key security capabilities are readily available in a cloud-based solution format, including firewall/utm, filtering, antivirus and URL filtering. Some companies question data integrity. However, customer and business data is not stored in the cloud. Cloud-based security will grow more prevalent over time, with more choices available, making this a good time to explore these solutions as prices decrease and more security vendors develop creative new options. 3
4 Business Challenges Over the past few years, online attacks have evolved from rogue hackers committing random exploits to targeted, criminal acts. Malicious malware is growing exponentially, causing a dramatic rise in Internet crime. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concerning online crime, which was released last summer, an estimated one-in-four U.S. computers are infected with malware. 1 Unlike the old days, when hackers created viruses to be mischievous and to show they could, modern-day malware authors are out for profit. As the Underground Economy has evolved and flourished into a multibillion dollar industry, cybercriminals have developed new methods for tricking PC users, much of it originating with spam. In addition to malware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are bringing mission-critical systems and business operations to a halt, losing revenue opportunities, decreasing productivity and damaging business reputations. Over the past few years, DDoS attacks have grown in frequency and are conducted for a specific purpose such as extortion, market manipulation and cyberterrorism. Large-scale data breaches are also becoming mainstream. According to a recent article in Forbes, the number of personal records that hackers exposed this past year, such as Social Security numbers, medical records and credit card information, has skyrocketed to 220 million, compared with 35 million in This represents the largest collection of lost data on record. 2 And the majority of 2009 data losses stem from the 2008 large-scale data breach involving Heartland Payment Systems one of the five largest U.S. payment processors. The breach occurred when cybercriminals planted a keystroke logger onto the company s credit card processing system to pull off 130 million account records affecting at least 160 banks in the U.S., Canada, Guam and elsewhere. 3 Cybercriminals will continue to target processing companies, like Heartland, due to the value of the data they manage. 4
5 Companies that fall victim to these attacks suffer in a variety of ways. Cleanup is extremely complex and costly more so to small- and medium-sized businesses. Some smaller companies may entirely lack the appropriate resources to handle the problem in-house. Companies without a large IT department are particularly burdened as the IT team usually consists of a few technology generalists, at most. In these companies, IT personnel wear multiple hats, each possessing a passing knowledge about a variety of topics, and are almost always pressed for time. Security is not a core competency for these organizations, so a different approach is needed to address the growing severity of security issues without draining the entire IT budget and without diverting resources away from running the business. In addition to cleanup costs, companies suffer when they fail to comply with regulatory requirements. For example, ID verification services vendor, ChoicePoint, was forced to pay $15 million in fines to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) because of a 2004 breach of personal financial data. Charges against ChoicePoint involved the lack of subscriber screening procedures and privacy right violations, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the FTC Act. 4 The FTC fined the company again in 2008 $275,000 to resolve another complaint for failing to implement a comprehensive information security program to protect consumers personal information after the 2004 breach. 5 Regulatory fines are sometimes less damaging than the repercussions of brand damage. In addition to the financial losses incurred in fines and legal costs to fight lawsuits and pay out huge settlements, companies pay again in the loss of customers and plunging market shares. For example, when a huge attack occurred over a three-year period against the TJX Companies, reduced consumer confidence consequently caused stock market prices to plunge after the January 2007 attack. This white paper will explore security outsourcing as a strategy to address the capacity issues of small- and medium-sized businesses and will provide some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based security as an emerging option. 5
6 Exploring Cloud-based Security Just as appliances became an established security solution 10 years ago, the Internet cloud is now emerging as an up-and-coming platform. According to Gartner, cloud computing is a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided as a service using Internet technologies to extend to multiple external customers. 6 Gartner also indicates promise in the computing model and says security applications delivered as cloud-based services will have a dramatic impact on the industry, as cloud-based services share of the messaging security market will triple by Whereas solutions such as the CRM platform, SalesForce.com, clearly fit into the category of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud-based security solutions are more accurately described as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This distinction is critical to understanding the benefits of cloud-based solutions. With IaaS, the responsibility for managing and maintaining infrastructure lies with the service provider, not the customer s IT staff. An additional consideration in evaluating cloud-based solutions is the buzz over the safety of cloud-based solutions in general. For example, a Burton Group recently released a report claiming that Amazon s cloud computing service should not be used for applications that require advanced security and availability. 8 Amazon has helped define the cloud computing market space by introducing its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), a service offering access to virtual server capacity over the web. There are many advantages to EC2, but security remains a key concern of outside analysts. Although Amazon appears to do a good job of network and physical security, overall the Burton Group awarded the company low marks for enterprise availability and security due to a lack of transparency. 9 One reason could be that Amazon s systems were not designed with security as the main focus. The Burton Group gave Amazon high marks for scalability and said it offers adequate performance and load balancing capabilities. Amazon s engineers apparently designed a system that would scale and perform, with less emphasis on security. When it comes to cloud-based security, however, the best bet is to work with a security vendor that is wholly focused on security concerns as a core competency. 6
7 The Value of Premise-based Solutions Although cloud-based security models offer great promise, some organizations are better suited to traditional, premise-based solutions. These solutions are physically installed on-site at a company, at a colocation facility, or at a hosting center and are always dedicated to a single customer. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, are physically deployed in one or more data centers and support multiple customers. Security capabilities are accessed or obtained via the Internet. Both premise-based and cloud-based solutions have their place, depending upon an organization s requirements. For example, when URL filtering is conducted on-premise, valuable bandwidth is consumed in bringing all downloaded web content inside the network including text, GIFs, JPEGs, scripts and embedded malware and viruses. Additionally, URL filtering must be closely managed to ensure security. When URL list management is conducted on-premise, IT staff time and additional bandwidth is spent periodically downloading and updating the infrastructure. When URL filtering occurs in the cloud, web traffic is redirected to a proxy, which is part of a shared infrastructure in the cloud. Content from URLs that has been categorized as off-limits never enters the network the request is simply terminated. All updates and enhancements are handled effectively in the cloud, which is faster and more cost-effective because costs are distributed amongst a group of users. Also, if additional bandwidth is needed, the service provider quickly and easily adds capacity. Smaller organizations that lack sufficient Internet bandwidth for daily operations must decide if they can afford to continue filtering dangerous or unacceptable traffic on-premise rather than in the cloud. For example, a large organization may be able to accommodate a portion of its total traffic as spam, particularly in the U.S. and in Europe where connectivity is more affordable than other geographies. In this case, a premise-based filtering solution is appropriate. A smaller organization, however, might not be able to dedicate a third of its total capacity to spam and would thus benefit more from a cloud-based solution. This is especially true in countries where bandwidth costs are high, such as across much of Asia. Like URL filtering, proxies are also suitable for both on-premise and in-the-cloud treatments, depending upon an organization s size and its needs. For example, although hosting an in-house proxy allows dangerous traffic inside the network, the trade-off is that the security solution can be exactly customized to fit a company s unique requirements. Conversely, a cloud-based proxy infrastructure may serve a large organization better if it needs to deploy solutions gradually. Premise-based proxy solutions usually require a company to buy large chunks of capacity up front. For an organization that gradually adds users, premise-based solutions can result in an overinvestment in unused capacity. 7
8 The advantage of a cloud-based proxy model is that capacity can be added as needed. For example, a company may pay for 100 users the first month, 300 the next month and so on. Payment is made when capacity is purchased, replacing a capital expense with an operating expense. In this way too, a company does not have to buy or maintain equipment that will not be used for some time. Additionally, a company turns over the management, maintenance and monitoring to a service provider for additional cost savings. A large company with many users, however, may still prefer a premise-based solution especially if they already have the personnel on staff to manage it. An example of a security solution that is almost always better handled in the cloud is DDoS protection. Organizations that wait for a barrage of DDoS traffic to reach a premise-based solution must sacrifice bandwidth to accommodate a dramatic increase in traffic even when mitigation with network devices has been initiated. Additionally, staff is required to deploy, manage and monitor a premise-based solution. Enabling an effective DDoS detection and mitigation service in the cloud, for example, enables timely analysis, identification and reporting before attack traffic reaches its destination. Malicious traffic is handled in the cloud before it has a chance to affect core business applications or before it can divert valuable bandwidth resources. Cloud-based DDoS detection and mitigation spares businesses from extended and costly outages while also alleviating the stress and tedium created by DDoS root-cause analysis and remediation. Weighing the Cloud-based Decision Several key factors should be considered when deciding between premised-based vs. cloud-based security. The first consideration, of course, is whether an organization is open to the concept of outsourcing. In some industries, such as financial services, outsourcing security may pose risks that outweigh the financial and staffing benefits of a cloud-based solution. In other situations, a company may fear they are relinquishing too much security responsibility to an outside vendor. This, however, is usually untrue. Tasks and responsibilities are frequently shared between the security provider and customer s IT teams to keep all parties fully in the loop. An additional important consideration is whether an organization s IT staff possesses sufficient expertise and time to manage a premise-based solution. In larger organizations, dedicated security staff may be able to fill this void. In small- to medium-sized organizations, the appropriate skill sets are often lacking. Additionally, a smaller staff means that resources are usually stretched thin. In this case, cloud-based computing may make sense as the company can benefit from the expertise of a service provider s fully dedicated security team. The service provider is also typically well-versed in serving a customer s needs, unlike premise-based software vendors that may only provide support during an upgrade. 8
9 It is also important to understand if an organization has unusual requirements that require specialized security solutions. Some organizations have extremely complex requirements that may not lend themselves to cloud-based security solutions. This is an important consideration that must be assessed up front. Premise-based solutions provide greater flexibility in security options so it is critical to evaluate whether or not security requirements are truly unique or not. Beyond the tangible considerations discussed above, several additional points usually lead smaller companies toward cloud-based security solutions. For example, without the need to purchase and deploy software, servers or appliances, cloud-based solutions can be implemented much more quickly. Compared with the time frames required to install a premise-based solution, the administrative process required for the initial sign-up for the cloud-based solution poses the single most time-consuming phase. Premise-based solutions require physical installation and configuration changes at various points in the network infrastructure while cloud-based solutions require no installation process. Security capabilities are forward-deployed so functions are carried out before traffic even reaches the network. In addition to installation, organizations must consider the time required to manage, monitor and maintain a premise-based solution. Software upgrades are a necessary aspect of maintenance and this process can prove laborious and cumbersome. With a cloud-based solution, the service provider manages all upgrades. When the upgrade is complete, a company s network traffic is shifted over to the upgraded infrastructure without any scheduling conflicts, late nights or complex explanations to users. Financial Considerations Organizations must also consider financial concerns. Premise-based solutions require investments in infrastructure network devices, hardware, storage and more. In addition to capital costs, organizations face staffing concerns as the solutions often require 24X7X365 monitoring. Staff time must also be factored in for tasks such as periodic upgrades, testing and support. There are also additional, incremental costs for backup, as well as for utilities and rack space. Although a large company might easily absorb these expenses, smaller companies have a difficult time raising capital and training and paying the necessary IT staff to manage the solution. Cloud-based security solutions eliminate the capital expenditures required for premise-based solutions and, instead, charge a monthly subscription fee. Although some small- to medium-sized companies may find that several years of subscription fees may exceed the cost of a premise-based product and associated support, cloud-security is still usually the more affordable option when factoring in staffing and additional costs. For periods longer than three years, organizations must also consider product replacement costs as well, which could negate any potential benefits to be realized from longer amortization periods. In the long run, cloud-based security tends to be cheaper for a small- to medium-sized company than equivalent premise-based solutions. While every organization runs different financial models with varying outcomes, the cost of the underlying software, hardware and necessary security appliances of a premise-based security solution cannot be quickly amortized by smaller organizations. For example, although cloud-based solutions require some staff time to manage the solution provider relationship and implement in-house policies around the solution, the time required is far less than premise-based solutions. Product replacement costs may also accrue and, for periods longer than three years, may negate any potential benefit that could be anticipated from longer amortization periods. 9
10 The Downside to Cloud-based Security There are several caveats to choosing cloud-based security options. For example, certain solutions are simply more effective if deployed inside the network, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, application firewalls and data encryption. In the case of data encryption, data must be encrypted before it leaves the network so a cloud-based solution is obviously inappropriate. Also, if an organization expresses serious reservations about outsourcing security functions, security from the cloud will be considered high risk amongst company decisionmakers no matter how compelling the financial or customer service considerations are. In addition, cloudbased solutions may be deemed too constraining where significant customization is required to suit a particular company s needs. For smaller companies, in particular, the considerations listed above are unlikely to be relevant. Small companies typically utilize several, key security capabilities, including firewall/utm, filtering, antivirus and URL filtering, which are all readily available in a cloud-based solution format. Also, the types of policies that small companies normally implement are preconfigured for most products and cloud-based solutions, so customization is not an issue. Some companies also worry about the degree to which customers data is protected when cloud-based solutions are used. However, cloud-based security solutions do not store business data, but rather, store logs of events that occur within individual security solutions. Questions have also been raised about the identity management mechanisms used to validate users in business applications. Cloud-based security solutions, however, do not hold user accounts linked to a company s business users and, under most circumstances, this data is completely transparent to users. 10
11 The Cloud s Silver Lining For security vendors, it is less expensive to provision capability in the cloud for hundreds of customers than it is to develop the equivalent product solution and deliver it via an appliance. These cost savings are implicitly shared with customers in the form of lower cost of ownership. For small- to medium-sized companies, this means that cloudbased security solutions will grow more prevalent over time, with more choices available. For organizations that have not evaluated cloud-based security for several years, today may be a good time to revisit these solutions. As cloud-based security solutions grow and mature, more creative options will be developed and prices will decrease as more security vendors develop comparable solutions. About Tata Communications Tata Communications offers both premise-based and cloud-based security solutions for organizations of all sizes. Tata Communications security solutions enable companies to find the right balance between cost, performance and operational objectives with a solution tailored to their unique technology requirements. Footnotes 1 Ashley Clark, Report Claims IT Underestimates Scope of Malware, IT News, June 5, 2008, 2 Andy Greenberg, The Year of the Mega Data Breach, Forbes.com, November 24, 2009, 3 Richard Adhikari, Cyber Thieves Hit Payment Processor Heartland, InternetNews.com, January 21, 2009, 4 Caron Carlson, ChoicePoint s Data Breach Fine Sets Record, eweek.com, January 26, 2006, 5 Grant Gross, ChoicePoint to Pay Fine for Second Data Breach, Network World, October 19, 2009, 6 Gartner Says Security Delivered as a Cloud-Based Service Will More Than Triple in Many Segments by 2013, Gartner press release, July 15, 2008, 7 Ibid. 8 John Brodkin, Amazon called Out Over Cloud Security, Secrecy, CIO.com, November 13, 2009, 10 Ibid. 11
12 Tata Communications offers both premise-based and cloud-based security solutions for organizations of all sizes. Tata Communications security solutions enable companies to find the right balance between cost, performance and operational objectives with a solution tailored to their unique technology requirements. Tata Communications Limited along with its global subsidiaries (Tata Communications) is a leading global provider of the new world of communications. The company leverages its Tata Global Network, vertical intelligence and leadership in emerging markets, to deliver value-driven, globally managed solutions to the Fortune 1000 and mid-sized enterprises, service providers and consumers. The Tata Communications portfolio includes transmission, IP, converged voice, mobility, managed network connectivity, hosted data center, communications solutions and business transformation services to global and Indian enterprises & service providers as well as, broadband and content services to Indian consumers. The Tata Global Network encompasses one of the most advanced and largest submarine cable networks, a Tier-1 IP network, connectivity to more than 200 countries across 300 PoPs and more than one million square feet of data center space. Tata Communications serves its customers from its offices in 80 cities in 40 countries worldwide. Tata Communications has a strategic investment in South African operator Neotel, providing the company with a strong anchor to build an African footprint. The number one global international wholesale voice operator and number one provider of International Long Distance, Enterprise Data and Internet Services in India, the company was named Best Wholesale Carrier at the World Communications Awards in 2006 and was named the Best Pan-Asian Wholesale Provider at the 2007 Capacity magazine Global Wholesale Telecommunications Awards for the second consecutive year. Becoming the leading integrated provider to drive and deliver a new world of communications, Tata Communications became the unified global brand for VSNL, Tata Communications, Teleglobe, Tata Indicom Enterprise Business Unit and CIPRIS on February 13, Tata Communications Ltd. is a part of the $29 billion Tata Group; it is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India and its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TCL). Tata Communications Cloud-based Security Evolution Not Revolution 2010 Tata Communications Ltd. All Rights Reserved. whitepaper_cloud-based-security_v1.1_jan-2009
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