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1 security experts Guide to the cloud ControlNow TM Ebook

2 Table of Contents DDoS attacks still run rampant across the web 4 By Frank J. Ohlhorst Why the cloud is more trustworthy than you think 7 By Nick Cavalancia Making cloud storage secure 10 By Deni Connor Considerations for running security software in the cloud 12 By Brien M. Posey Keeping cloud-based data safe from prying eyes 15 By Ed Bott Identity crisis in the cloud 17 By Debra Littlejohn Shinder Cloud security: You can never stand still 20 By Dana Gardner Compliance and the cloud 23 By David W. Tschanz Securing a hybrid cloud 27 By Ricky Magalhaes FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 2

3 Introduction Cloud and security are two terms that were rarely uttered in the same sentence: For many sceptics, the two did not go together. That viewpoint has changed considerably over the past couple of years with cloud-based solution providers beefing up security to the extent that it is more reliable than what a small to mid-sized business can ever muster. In this ebook, tech influencers share their views on security and the cloud and give advice on how to marry both into your business. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 3

4 DDoS attacks still run rampant across the web By Frank J. Ohlhorst DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks are still a major threat to enterprises seeking to keep their websites and web applications up and running, leaving IT managers to fight an uphill battle against what has become an all too common threat. Frank is an award-winning technology analyst and author with more than 25 years of experience in the technology arena. Frank has held senior editorial positions with several leading technology publications, including CRN, VarBusiness, eweek and Channel Insider. As a freelance editor and analyst, Frank authors reports, reviews, white papers and news articles for several publications, including GigaOM, eweek, Enterprise Networking Planet, Tom s Hardware, Network Computing, and TechRepublic. Frank has also contributed to multiple technology books and has written several white papers, case studies, reviewers guides and channel guides for leading technology vendors. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 4

5 Using the cloud to help manage infrastructure In a perfect world, network managers would never have to experience application performance problems or deal with security issues. However, today s networking environments are anything but perfect they are open to attack, traffic surges and a plethora of other problems. Yet, end users (and customers) demand perfect availability, perfect security and perfect performance. Those demands have led to the rise of technologies that are tasked with optimizing application delivery using load balancing techniques, as well as compression, caching and so forth. Many vendors have quickly come to market with robust appliances and services that not only speed applications, but do much more as well. While those so-called application delivery controllers (ADCs) offer performance enhancements, there is still a dark side when it comes to ADCs and what they may introduce into enterprise networks namely in the form of attacks and compromises. Take, for example, the all-too-common DDoS attack, where hundreds if not thousands of zombified systems flood a website (or application server) with illegitimate traffic, causing operations to crawl to a stop. If an ADC (or application performance management (APM) platform) is not configured properly, and most are not, DDoS becomes a problem that can escalate exponentially. Simply put, if the ADC cannot detect and block a DDoS attack, it becomes an unwitting accomplice and assists the attacker by scaling up application operations and attempting to balance the traffic load across resources effectively consuming the resources available. DDoS is not the only security problem that can be magnified by APM solutions; other concerns include SQL injection, brute force and blended attacks. Network managers need to come to the conclusion that when deploying APM solutions, security should be the first consideration and the deployed ADCs should become part of the security infrastructure, and not just be treated as a means to an end accelerating application traffic. What s more, connectivity, security and packet traffic should be monitored, normalized and reported, making it easier to identify when something goes wrong. Knowledge of how the network is expected to operate becomes the primary path to preventing DDoS from seizing control of resources. So, what exactly does this mean when delving into APM solutions? It simply means that those evaluating the technology should follow some common best practices: Choose a software-only solution, which enables administrators to deploy an ADC however they may wish. Choose an APM platform that enables externalized control over the ADCs. That way, administrators can manage during runtime and deploy multiple ADCs to handle a single application without experiencing downtime. If an ADC fails, the management platform keeps running. Make sure the APM solution has selfhealing capabilities. If a component or application becomes unreachable, the control system should detect and mitigate the problem. See if the solution has integrated clustering support (which it should). That provides multiple options for building resilient systems that can scale with load. Integrate caching and web content optimization. Those features further speed content delivery, without requiring additional scale-up. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 5

6 Using the cloud to help manage infrastructure Integrate security in the form of a web application firewall (WAF), where the firewall is aware of normalized traffic and can take steps to block extraneous traffic and application calls. Use application layer DDoS protection, enabling the ADC to better understand traffic flow and detect traffic floods or storms at the application level, and use that information to block illegitimate traffic. That checklist raises another question: Should APM security be based in an enterprise s internal data center, or is the cloud a better way of addressing those issues? To address those concerns, as well as many others, network managers need to implement comprehensive network management platforms, as well as regularly audit packet flow. Correlations between demand, capacity provided and seasonal traffic deviations will prove to be a powerful ally for those looking to harden networks, while also improving performance. Network managers can no longer expect to just plant some magic beans into their infrastructure, and expect security to bloom and performance to grow. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 6

7 Why the cloud is more trustworthy than you think By Nick Cavalancia Don t bunch the entire cloud industry into one giant bucket of negativity; you ll find reputable and dependable companies to partner with. Nick is an accomplished executive, consultant, trainer, speaker, and columnist with more than 20 years of enterprise IT experience. Nick has authored, co-authored and contributed to more than a dozen books on Windows, Active Directory, Exchange and other Microsoft technologies. Nick has held executive positions at ScriptLogic, SpectorSoft and Netwrix and now focuses on the evangelism of technology solutions as Chief Techvangelist at FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 7

8 Why the cloud is more trustworthy than you think Everyone brings up the cloud when there s some salacious piece of news this cloud provider has a security breach, that one had an outage, etc. But no one talks about the cloud when it is secure, available and providing value to the customer. It s just not interesting enough. So is the cloud as bad as the news makes it out to be or is it far more trustworthy than it appears? Let s take a look at some reasons why it s time to put some trust in the cloud and how that trust can pay off. 1. Plenty of well-established providers - Like anything you purchase, it s important to keep in mind that the vendor you choose is as important as the cloud service you use. You can always find a cheaper alternative, but the highest risk of using the cloud is the provider going out of business along with your data. But nobody gives a second thought to putting all their customer data into Salesforce. Why? Because they have a proven track record as a company. So, don t bunch the entire cloud industry into one giant bucket of negativity. Do your research on the company as well as the service before making a choice and, you ll find reputable and dependable companies to partner with. 2. More redundancy and availability First and foremost, cloud providers are experts at building highly available, scalable, world-class data centers that make your most advanced SAN look like your first software-based mirror in NT 3.5. If you re not building your own desktop computers, why are you building your own redundant storage? 3. Better products than on-premise It s worth considering that since you re probably looking at the cloud for more than just storage, the product that runs in the cloud may just be better than something on-site. I ve already mentioned Salesforce; it s not the leading provider of customer relationship management (CRM) just because it stores everything in the cloud. It s a solid product that provides value to sales teams around the globe. 4. Durability like you ve never seen before Think of durability like Federal Express never losing your package. Cloud providers simply don t lose your data. In fact, it s a bit surprising how little goes wrong when you read about providers like Amazon, whose S3 cloud service provides % durability, which translates to losing 1 file out a 100 trillion. Yeah I think your data will be there when you need it. 5. Tons of security The cloud industry provides a mature security stance, including encrypted access (SSL), military-grade encrypted data, firewalls, identity and access management, private subnets, intrusion detection, even 24- hour security with foot patrols! They are serious about keeping your data secure from anyone other than you. So, ask yourself, how much security do you place on your data? I d suspect for most of you, it s far less than what cloud providers are doing. 6. It s (sometimes) your fault The glaring problem with cloud-based services lies in the question What if my Internet connection goes down? But look at that question again: It s your connection that goes down. And that is the cloud s fault how? Having a redundant connection at your office is the answer. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 8

9 Why the cloud is more trustworthy than you think 7. The cloud may be your best option Take backups as an example. You d have specific criteria around durability, availability, redundancy, and an ability to have data off-site in case of a disaster. If this was you, you d have some kind of duplicate tape with an off-site storage company thing going or you d be looking at a hybrid-cloud backup and recovery solution. And the hybrid cloud solution would cost less, provide greater availability and redundancy, and at a faster speed of recovery than tape backups. Granted, the last reason doesn t make the cloud trustworthy, but it certainly makes the case that given the other six reasons, it s worth a serious look. It s time to elevate your expectations, elevate your security, elevate your service level, and elevate where you look for solutions to include the trustworthy cloud. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 9

10 Making cloud storage secure By Deni Connor Google blames software update for lost Gmail data, backup data lost in transit. Deni is a founding analyst of SSG-NOW, an Austin, Texasbased storage analyst and consultancy firm. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 10

11 Making cloud storage secure These are not the type of headlines that inspire confidence in cloud storage. They cause hesitation in adopting the cloud as a means of storing your organization s data for disaster recovery, data protection, or simply archiving purposes and could, in fact, delay deployments of cloud storage. The issue of security of cloud-stored data is huge. According to a study from SSG-NOW of 235 respondents, 70 percent cited security of data and compliance as their top concern in adopting cloud storage. Many security concerns can be defrayed by careful planning when selecting a cloud storage or cloud-based data protection provider. In the Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance cited above, deployment and use of availability zones would have solved the problem for the organizations that lost their data in the outage. For customers who lost Gmail s, local on-premise backup of that data would have gone far in lessening their concerns. And, in the case of backup tapes lost in transit, that the tapes were not encrypted is certainly a cause for concern. There are many ways to secure your cloud storage. They include: Encryption of data in flight and at rest The use of availability zones or duplicated cloud storage sites among different cloud storage providers Multi-tenant storage at the cloud storage provider Storage in secure, accredited data centers On-premise backup of data Let s discuss each of these methods before deciding that cloud storage or cloud-based data protection isn t the best of choices for your organization. Encryption of data is essential in cloud storage, whether it is in flight or at rest at the cloud storage provider. Encryption may be as simple as password protection or as rudimentary as 128-bit SSL encryption to ensure against interception in transit. In storage, encryption with 128- or 448-bit Blowfish or 256-bit AES encryption may occur and users may also have the option of holding their own encryption keys to ensure against accidental deletion or unintended or intentional decryption of data. Some cloud storage providers offer the placement of data in several locations. Called availability zones, these locations are isolated from failures in another region. These availability zones, or the duplication of data in different geographic regions, can be accomplished by mirroring data to both zones at once or by replicating data from one zone to the next. In the cloud, it is important that the cloud storage provider protects data it stores by placing it in a multi-tenant environment. This enables the using organization to share applications (such as data protection) with other clients, customers or tenants, while providing a secure and exclusive virtual computing environment for their data. For instance, in Salesforce, more than 100,000 customers share a common database schema, while their individual data is stored in a multitenant instance. Further, data should be stored in SSAE 16 certified data centers. This certification, which stands for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements, replaces SAS 70, and refers to the audit of data centers and includes assessments of physical, environmental, logical and network security. Finally, in protecting against loss or interception of cloud-based data, it is best to adopt a strategy of on-premise data protection. Often called hybrid data protection, by protecting data on-site as well as in the cloud, this is often one of the best and least expensive methods in protecting against loss of cloud-based data. You protect it up front before it ever reaches the cloud. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 11

12 Considerations for running security software in the cloud By Brien Posey Security can behave differently in a cloud environment than in a traditional data center environment. Always take into consideration how the cloud might impact your security initiatives. Brien is a freelance technical writer who has recieved Microsoft MVP award six times for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, IIS, and File Systems Storage. Brien has written or contributed to about three dozen books and has written more than 4,000 technical articles and white papers for a variety of printed publications and web sites. In addition to his writing, Brien routinely speaks at IT conferences and is involved in a wide variety of other technology-related projects. Prior to freelancing, Brien served as CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare companies. He has also served as a Network Administrator for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox, and for some of the nation s largest insurance companies. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 12

13 Considerations for running security software in the cloud One aspect of the transition to the cloud that is sometimes overlooked is that security software that you may take for granted could behave very differently in a cloud environment. As such, administrators must consider what impact the cloud will have on their security infrastructure. The way in which your cloud initiatives will impact the organization s security ultimately depends on the types of security software that you are trying to run and on the type of cloud service that you are using. After all, cloud services offer varying capabilities and restrictions. Take software-as-a-service (SaaS) clouds, for example. These types of clouds enable a vendor to provide customers with access to a remotely running application. The problem with SaaS clouds is that SaaS customers have no control over security. This isn t to say that there is no security. There is. The SaaS provider typically puts a great deal of effort into making sure that the cloud remains secure. However, the provider s security usually resides on the back end and is transparent to customers. There are two reasons why this type of security may prove to be problematic for SaaS customers. The first reason is loss of control. SaaS customers cannot use their preferred security software to protect their cloud-based applications. Take Office 365, for example. It is common for administrators who operate on-premise Exchange server deployments to run antivirus (AV) and anti-spam software on their Exchange servers. However, if an organization chooses to move its Exchange server mailboxes to Office 365, it loses the ability to run third-party AV and anti-spam software on the mail server. At best, the organization might be able to run security software on the client computers, but even that is not always an option. The other reason why the inability to run thirdparty security in a SaaS environment may prove to be problematic has to do with manageability. Often, organizations use security software that offers centralized reporting capabilities. Such a feature may give the organization a way to monitor security and health through a single pane of glass. The introduction of SaaS means that there will likely be cloud-based applications that cannot be monitored using the organization s preferred software. Although SaaS clouds certainly present security challenges, the opposite can also be true. There are security software vendors that offer cloudbased versions of their wares. Running security software in the cloud was once ill-advised because cloud-based security software simply could not deliver the same level of protection as security software that was installed locally. Today, things have changed. Some cloud-based security products are every bit as good as locallyinstalled security software maybe better. Cloudbased security software has one very distinct advantage over security software that runs locally: isolation. When an attacker attempts to compromise a system, one of the first goals is to disable any security or auditing software. If this software is running remotely (e.g., in the cloud ), then it can make bypassing security a lot tougher. Of course, not every cloud-based application runs in a SaaS cloud. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds, both public and private, are another popular option. IaaS clouds typically act as a platform for hosting virtual machines. Although IaaS clouds are known for their flexibility, there are still potential issues when it comes to running security software. One such issue is that of compatibility. Some clouds are incapable of running standard Windows applications. The cloud might be Linux based and may require applications to be compiled in a way that enables them to run on the cloud. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 13

14 Considerations for running security software in the cloud Another challenge of IaaS clouds is that of security blind spots. Whether public or private, IaaS clouds are specifically designed to provide tenant isolation. This isolation helps to ensure each tenant s privacy and it helps to keep one tenant s workloads from interfering with another s. The problem with this isolation is that security software can only monitor what it can see. An environment that is specifically designed to obscure specific resources can present a major challenge for security software. This isolation does not typically pose a huge problem in a public cloud environment because subscribers only need to monitor their own cloud resources not those belonging to other tenants. However, things are different in a private cloud. All of the resources belong to the organization and need to be monitored. The solution to the problem is to use security software that is virtualization-aware. For instance, there are security applications that can latch onto the Hyper-V virtual switch as a way of gaining insight into virtual machine networks. Since security can behave differently in a cloud environment than in a traditional datacenter environment, it is important to consider how the cloud might impact your security initiatives. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 14

15 Keeping cloud-based data safe from prying eyes By Ed Bott Implementing the proper mix of security features can go a long way toward giving you the convenience of the cloud without exposing you to undue risk. Ed is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. Ed has served as editor of the US edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had a monthly paid circulation in excess of one million during his tenure. He is the author of more than 25 books on Microsoft Windows and Office, including Windows 7 Inside Out (2009) and Office 2013 Inside Out (2013). FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 15

16 Keeping cloud-based data safe from prying eyes Cloud storage is probably the purest example of the tension between convenience and security in modern computing. When you move your data to the cloud, you make it possible to access those files from virtually anywhere. But that flexibility comes at a steep cost: Anyone who can sneak into that cloud server can access all your secrets, and you might never know. The stakes are especially high for files that contain financial information, trade secrets, and legal briefs. So how do you protect yourself from the risks of unauthorized access? The basic tools aren t that different from those you might use to protect data on a local area network (LAN). But the nature of the cloud means asking a few tough questions: Who has access? In the aftermath of disclosures that global intelligence agencies are able to tap into Internet traffic with impunity, you might think that spies are lurking around every corner and tapping every wire. In reality, the lesson of Edward Snowden s NSA disclosures is more mundane. The biggest threat is from a rogue employee misusing his trusted position. The best cloud providers have excellent physical security and strict auditing that significantly reduces the likelihood of an insider getting away with data theft. Are you protected from password theft? The first line of defense for most cloud services is a password. Even if you insist on complex, random, hard-to-guess passwords, that s still a weak barrier for a determined thief, who can use social engineering, phishing s or Wi-Fi sniffing to steal passwords. You can effectively shut down those attacks by using multi-factor authentication. This method which requires a second form of identification, typically tied to a physical device, such as a code sent via text message or generated by an app on a mobile phone. Is your data fully encrypted? Any cloud service worth its salt should protect your data using strong encryption. But not all encryption is created equal. Ideally, you want encryption at rest and in transit. Encryption at rest protects the data from unauthorized access if an attacker is able to access the contents of the cloud server. Encryption in transit prevents an attacker from eavesdropping as you transfer files between a local device and a cloud server. The latter scenario is especially likely if you routinely access files over unsecured networks in coffee shops, airports, hotels and other public places. Who holds the keys? The science behind encryption is simple: Your data files are encoded using a mathematical algorithm in combination with a complex private key. Anyone who tries to access the contents of the file without the key sees the cipher text, which is, for all intents and purposes, gibberish. If your files contain especially valuable information, you need to think long and hard about how to manage those keys. In most cloud services, the service provider manages the encryption keys. That s convenient, but it also means your secrets can be unlocked if a law enforcement agency shows up with a subpoena. For maximum security, narrow the list of potential cloud providers to those who let you manage the keys, encrypting data locally so that it never reaches the server in an unencrypted format. That architecture prevents anyone but you from unlocking your secrets. A word of warning, though: If you lose the key, there s no way to recover your files! Implementing the proper mix of security features can go a long way toward giving you the convenience of the cloud without exposing you to undue risk. And be prepared to review that list of questions again, at least annually. Cloud storage is an incredibly competitive marketplace, and a provider that falls short today could be a perfect fit in the future. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 16

17 Identity crisis in the cloud By Debra Littlejohn Shinder The basis of all computer security is controlling access limiting the ability to view or change data or settings to only those persons and/or devices that are authorized to do so. That control begins with properly identifying everyone who attempts access. Debra is a former police officer criminal justice instructor who now makes her living as an IT analyst, author, trainer and speaker. She has written or contributed to 26 books, published more than 800 articles and has been living online, along with her husband Tom (whom she met via the Internet), since the mid-1990s. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 17

18 Identity crisis in the cloud Identity management is a concept that has plagued organizations since the beginning of the computer age and especially as computers became connected through networks and those networks were connected to other networks through the grand mesh of the Internet. As the computing paradigm morphs again, to a cloudbased model, identity takes on even greater importance. A corporate network may have thousands of users. A cloud service may have millions. Microsoft s Office 365 Home Premium service passed the one million user milestone only 100 days after its release. Google claims five million businesses use Google Apps. Gartner predicts that by 2022, there will be 695 million users of cloud-based office productivity services such as these. And office productivity is just the tip of the iceberg. Software as a service (SaaS) of all kinds is steadily gaining traction, although recent reports show cloud adoption isn t quite living up to all of the predictions. Interestingly, those same reports indicate the number one reason that companies of sizes are holding back has to do with concerns over security. Despite the proclamations of some industry experts that the fears related to cloud security have been overblown, many organizations are still uncomfortable with the idea of putting sensitive data in the cloud. With stories about cloud-related security breaches and NSA spying constantly making headlines, it s no wonder they re wary. Companies in regulated industries have additional worries; for them, security is not just smart business it s legally mandated by the government or their industry oversight bodies. Going to the cloud requires the assurance that they can still meet compliance requirements. The basis of all computer security is controlling access limiting the ability to view or change data or settings to only those persons and/or devices that are authorized to do so. That control begins with properly identifying everyone who attempts access. Centralized identity management systems based on directory services have been in place for a long time within organizations, and have grown to span multiple organizations in the form of identity federation. Now identity management has expanded its scope again, to encompass cloud services with a global user base. The basic problems of managing user identities can grow in complexity when enterprises combine cloud services with their own onpremise network services. Such examples in include: Assigning the proper rights and access permissions to users (following the principle of least privilege for best security) Updating those rights and permissions when needed Revoking permissions when users leave the organization or change jobs Yet many sources indicate that the majority of enterprises see the hybrid cloud model, mixing private and public clouds, as the future toward which they are moving. Users don t like complexity (IT pros aren t crazy about it, either, but they re paid to deal with it). And ultimately, simplifying the process for users to access the resources they need will reduce headaches for admins and support personnel, too. It s tough enough for many users to keep up with one password; handling multiple passwords for cloud and in-house applications can be a nightmare. Single sign-on (SSO) is the Holy Grail, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. The key is standardization, and cloud providers need to support such standard protocols as SAML, OAuth and OpenID so that users can access multiple cloud accounts through a single set of credentials. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 18

19 Identity crisis in the cloud One way that this can be accomplished is by leveraging group membership in Active Directory/ LDAP, for example. Users in specific AD groups are allowed to access specific cloud-based applications, as well as internal applications. This makes it easier for admins to provision and deprovision users, and it is more transparent to the users themselves. Numerous companies offer cloud SSO and federated identity solutions that can use organizations existing identity stores for authentication and authorization. Selecting the right one is an important part of your cloud strategy. FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 19

20 Cloud security: You can never stand still By Dana Gardner Never let your guard down when it comes to security and cloud security. Remaining vigilant will help lower the risks. Dana has been in the IT industry for 15 years. Dana is Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions and host of the BriefingsDirect blog and podcast, has been an IT industry analyst for 15 years. LinkedIn FOLLOW US & SHARE Security expert s guide to the cloud 20

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