Secure Cloud Hosting: Best Practices

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1 White Paper Secure Cloud Hosting: Best Practices Enterprise Messaging Solutions Infinite Convergence By Jagannath Rao & Pankaj Jaiswal April 2013

2 Contents Executive Summary... 3 Introduction to Cloud Service... 4 Definitions... 4 Benefits... 5 Risks... 5 Deployment Models of Cloud Computing... 5 Service Models of Cloud Computing... 6 Some of the best practices for providing Cloud Based Service Management and Governance... 8 Virtualization An Overview of Traditional Web Hosting A view of how a web hosting application is implemented in Amazon s AWS architecture is shown below Enterprise Messaging Overview Secure Cloud Hosting What Needs to be Secured in a Cloud? Some Additional Security Aspects for the Cloud Acknowledgements & Bibliography April 2013 Page 2 Infinite Convergence

3 Section 1 Executive Summary Enterprises & Service Providers are moving towards Cloud Based Computing and Services to reduce costs and improve efficiency. It has become an integral part of providing ease of deployment, scalability and flexible payment based on actual usage. However security remains a concern for many customers. Certain class of services have several restrictions that have prevented such customers from benefiting from cloud services. These security issues fall under 3 broad categories of protection:- Physical Security Network level security Protection of Data This white paper provides an overview of cloud based services and examines some of the constraints around these issues and describes some of the practices used at Infinite to alleviate security hazards and provide a comprehensive cloud hosted solution to enterprise customers. This solution is based on the Enterprise Messaging Service (EMS) developed and deployed by Infinite Convergence Solutions for banking customers. This service is hosted at the Infinite Premises. April 2013 Page 3 Infinite Convergence

4 Section 2 Introduction to Cloud Service Definitions Cloud computing is the process of moving information technology resources (computing and storage) to a centralized environment and accessing resources based on need through a highspeed internet connection. Some of the key attributes of a cloud are:- Is Abstracted and offered as a service Built on a highly scalable infrastructure Easily purchased and billed by consumption Is Shared and can be multi-tenanted Provides dynamic, elastic, flexibly configurable resources Is Accessible centrally over the Internet There are typically 2 models for providing the cloud service: Private Cloud: Hosted within the enterprise as a centralized resource. Public Cloud: Publicly hosted service that can be accessed by any user on the internet. A few variations of these (hybrid and community) and depicted below. The Private cloud provides highest level of security and performance but lacks other advantages of the Public cloud like scalability and cost effectiveness. Private Cloud Financial Media Govt Hybrid Public Cloud Community Cloud Telecom Enterprise Healthcare April 2013 Page 4 Infinite Convergence

5 The key characteristic of cloud computing is its ability to scale and provision computing power dynamically in a cost efficient manner. The key technology involved in providing a cloud service is Virtualization. This is described in more detail in the next section. Benefits Because the IT resources and software applications are maintained and managed centrally and off premises, companies typically pay only for the services they need and use. Other benefits include Scalability, Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility. Risks Security and Privacy Security and privacy may represent the biggest risks to moving services to external clouds exposing the data, information and intellectual. Additionally, in a multi-tenant environment, it become necessary to provide the level of isolation and associated guarantees. Standards that guarantee security are still emerging. It also becomes challenging to monitor and enforce security policies including vulnerability assessment of applications and data and privacy. The other risk is to clearly define methods for defining, validating and implementing SLA s. Return on Investment is the other concern for large enterprises since many large enterprises can reap the benefits of significant economies of scale in their own internal IT operations. While cloud computing initially appears to be less expensive in terms of upfront costs, the comparison may be much more competitive when total cost of ownership (TCO) that include recurring costs, managing potential risks, cost of networking and managing the several touch points are taken into account. Deployment Models of Cloud Computing Cloud computing enables ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, cloud computing can be deployed using any one of the four models described below. : Private Cloud The cloud infrastructure is provisioned exclusively within the enterprise as a centralized resource. The security of such a service is determined by the security within the enterprise. Community Cloud The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be managed by a community of these organizations or a third party (or both) and may exist either on or off premises. April 2013 Page 5 Infinite Convergence

6 Public Cloud The cloud infrastructure is operated for the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization providing cloud services. It exists on the premises of the service provider. Public Cloud. It can be accessed by any user on the internet. The security is determined by the security provided within the cloud as well as the connectivity Hybrid Cloud The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds). Cloud computing applications are usually optimized to provide a simple, easy-to-use interface, reducing installation, deployment time and improved communication between various software packages and availability. Cloud computing services also allow scheduling of upgrades, security updates minimizing impact to users. Service Models of Cloud Computing The organization s scope and control over the cloud computational environment can be affected by the service models supported by the cloud. Described below are three of the most wellknown and frequently used service models. Software as a Service (SaaS) Software as a service (SaaS). Software deployed as a hosted service and accessed over the Internet. The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based ). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network devices, servers, operating systems, storage or the individual application capabilities with the possible exception of limited user-specific application-configuration settings. In the case of SaaS, the usage is measured based on the number of users, the time, per-execution, per-record-processed, network bandwidth consumed, and quantity/duration of data stored Platform as a Service (PaaS) Platform as a service (PaaS): Platforms that can be used to deploy applications provided by customers or partners of the PaaS provider.the capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and, possibly, the configuration of the application-hosting environment. In case of PaaS, the usage is measured based on the number of subscribers, the kind of subscribers (e.g. developers vs. application end users), storage, processing, or network resources consumed by the platform, requests serviced and the time the platform is in use. April 2013 Page 6 Infinite Convergence

7 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): Computing infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and network, delivered as a cloud service, typically through virtualization. The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks and other Fundamental computing resources to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage and deployed applications. In case of IaaS, the usage fee is measured based on the per CPU hour, data GB stored per hour, network bandwidth consumed or infrastructure used (e.g., IP addresses) per hour, and valueadded services used. Examples of where these models are typically used are summarized in the table below April 2013 Page 7 Infinite Convergence

8 Some of the best practices for providing Cloud Based Service 1. Management and Governance Opening an account and begin using cloud services might create the risk of individuals in an enterprise using cloud services for unlawful purposes. Managing VMs and cloud services such as storage, databases and message queues effectively is needed to track the services being used. Governance is a crucial criterion to ensure that policies and government regulations are followed wherever cloud computing is used. Industry and geography-specific requirements are other types of governance. Management of VM and governance of polices and other regulations should be enforced in all the cloud computing scenarios except for the end-user to cloud scenario. 2. Metering and Monitoring In a measured service, aspects of the cloud service are controlled and monitored. This is crucial for billing, access control, resource optimization, Capacity planning and other tasks 3. Security Cloud computing scenarios involving an enterprise will usually have more Sophisticated security requirements than those involving a single end user. To achieve the necessary security, cloud service providers comprehensive security practices and procedures including must be adopted. This includes wellrecognized, transparent and verifiable security criteria. Robust identity, authentication and access control mechanisms commensurate with the level of sensitivity of the data. Comprehensive and ongoing testing of security measures is required before and after deployment 4. Service Level Agreement (SLA) An SLA is a contract between a provider and a consumer that specifies consumer requirements and the provider s commitment to them. Typically, an SLA includes items such as uptime, privacy, security and backup procedures. In addition to the basic SLAs required by end users, another best practice for Enterprises that enter into contracts is to establish a standard process for Benchmarking performance. There must be an unequivocal way of defining what a cloud provider will deliver, and there also must be an unambiguous way of Measuring and monitoring what was actually delivered. A machine readable language for SLAs is one of the standard formats for expressing an SLA. In case of hybrid computing, this allows the cloud provider to select resources according to the consumer s terms without human intervention. 5. Life Cycle Management April 2013 Page 8 Infinite Convergence

9 Enterprises must be able to manage the lifecycle of applications and documents. This requirement includes versioning applications and the retention and destruction of data. Discovery is a major issue for many organizations. There are substantial legal liabilities if certain data is no longer available. In addition to data retention, an enterprise may be interested in destroying data at some point. Many organizations have legal requirements that data must be kept for a certain period of time. Some organizations also require that data be deleted after a certain period of time. It is necessary to provide a mechanism to implement and audit practices that ensure there requirements are adhered to. April 2013 Page 9 Infinite Convergence

10 Section 3 Virtualization The key technology to provide efficient cloud hosting is virtualization. Infinite Convergence makes significant use of Virtualization Architecture in cloud based products. Some of these concepts based on Vmware are described here. An Overview of Traditional Web Hosting Web hosting is typically implemented as a common three-tier web application model that separates the architecture into presentation, application, and persistence layers. Scalability is provided by adding additional hosts at these layers with built-in performance, failover and availability features. The figure below shows how web hosting can be made scalable by using load balancers at the web-services and application-services levels App Server Web Servers Load Balancer App Servers Data MySql Storage/ Backup A view of how a web hosting application is implemented in Amazon s AWS architecture is shown below. April 2013 Page 10 Infinite Convergence

11 Some of the key difference with respect to conventional web hosted architecture to note are: Content Delivery: Several options are provided for Edge caching Managing Public DNS: DNS changes are required to take advantage of the multiple availability zones Security: In-bound network traffic should not be confined to the edge but applied at the host level April 2013 Page 11 Infinite Convergence

12 The key technology that enables this is virtualization which is depicted in the figure below. Virtualization Decouples software from underlying hardware Encapsulates Operating Systems and applications into Virtual Machines A Virtual Machine Virtualization allows one single hardware running one piece of software to be seen virtually as several pieces of hardware and software. A large and power hardware can therefore be better utilized by supporting several software (OS+ Application combination called VM) simultaneously as if they were all running on different machines thereby bringing economies of scale. VMWare defines the concept of Hypervisor. A hypervisor (also called a virtual machine manager-vmm), is a program that allows multiple operating systems to share a single hardware host. Each operating system appears to have the host's processor, memory, and other resources all to itself. However, the hypervisor is actually controlling the host processor and resources, allocating what is needed to each operating system in turn and making sure that the guest operating systems (called virtual machines) cannot disrupt each other. April 2013 Page 12 Infinite Convergence

13 Section 4 Enterprise Messaging Overview The ubiquity of mobile devices and the universal reach of mobile messaging is the most effective and cost-efficient mode of delivering pertinent timely messages to customers and business partners resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction and improved customer loyalty. Infinite Convergence Solutions Enterprise Messaging Service (EMS) is an industry leading, cloud-based service, designed to provide enterprises with the ability to securely communicate with their customers, employees, and business partners using the same leading edge technology used to power the messaging engines of tier 1 wireless carriers. Infinite s ability to integrate the service into the client s network greatly differentiates its service in the marketplace. Enterprise Messaging Service Financial Transactions Travel & Transportation XML/TCPIP HTTP SMTP SMPP Cloud-Based EMS Operator A Operator B SMS MMS Healthcare Services Offered Customized solution to serve messaging needs APIs for simplified integration Engineering & Consulting services to improve User Experience and Time to Market Mobile Number Validation The Infinite Convergence Advantage Data Archiving Operator C EMS offers many key capabilities to enterprises: Cloud-based superior reliability and security with unparalleled flexibility and scalability April 2013 Page 13 Infinite Convergence

14 Global reach to billions of subscribers securely allowing applications to connect and exchange messages with customers and employees Maintaining delivery analytics, billing reports and detailed message logs Easy integration with applications through APIs. Support for multiple standard interfaces including HTTP(S), SMPP, SMTP & XML Reliable routing of messages using a store and forward model With a proven track record of successful services delivered to Fortune 50 clients in varying industry verticals including Healthcare, Finance, Retail, Telecom and Media, Infinite can provide customized solutions support to meet the unique needs of every enterprise. Infinite s industry-leading flexible and redundant cloud architecture delivers 99.99% service availability and scalability to meet any enterprise s messaging volume needs. Infinite s connectivity to 800 operators in over 180 countries ensures that any enterprise can connect to its customers, employees and business partners. April 2013 Page 14 Infinite Convergence

15 Section 5 Secure Cloud Hosting Cloud platforms are responsible for customer data and applications. Exposure to security risks is a concern that most companies contemplating to move the cloud have since it involves that transfer their IT resources from locally-maintained servers to the cloud that is exposed. This requires measures to be employed in order to keep valuable information protected from intrusion or theft. Some of the threats to guard against are attacks on the application, nefarious use of the services, intrusion in multi-tenancy system, loss,of data and account hijacking. While most of these are equally relevant for any IT organization, Cloud computing best practices need to include higher degrees of password protection, additional levels of security at the hosting site, and other advanced computing security measures designed to protect information and applications on the cloud. In addition it is necessary to have independent order to ensure a good system for security standards, compliance and audit. Based on the application and deployment, these include one or more of HIPAA, Cloud Security Alliance, SAS 70 Type II, SOX, PCI (payment card industry) DSS (data security standards) and ISO Infinite implements secure hosting as a Multi-dimensional business imperative with robust, detailed policies and procedures in place. What Needs to be Secured in a Cloud? These can be classified into the following areas which have to be at the highest level of standards:- 1. Physical Security 2. Network Security 3. Application Security 4. Internal Systems Security 5. Secure Data backup 6. Secure internal policies and procedures Infinite s Secure Hosting Model implements this as a Information Security Management System (ISM). The fundamental concept of ISM is confidentiality, Integrity and Availability shown below. April 2013 Page 15 Infinite Convergence

16 Confidentiality Asset: Anything that has value to the organization. Risk: Risk is the likelihood that something bad will happen that causes harm to an informational asset (or the loss of the asset). Vulnerability: A vulnerability is a weakness that could be used to endanger or cause harm to an informational asset. Threat: A threat is anything (man made or act of nature) that has the potential to cause harm Integrity Availability Infinite implements ISM in a multi-tiered approach with 129 control points as shown below: Information Security Management System Information Security Physical Security & Access Control Network Security Business Continuity Policies and Procedures are implemented for organization to assure safety, availability, integrity & confidentiality of our customers data Security roles and responsibilities are established for all the employees ISMS Training is provided to all employees about the relevance & importance of information security One factor authentication is implemented in the organisation to provide secure enviornment for the employees Smoke dectectors, fire extinguishers are installed to ensure protection of all resources CCTVs have been installed at the required locations Appropriate access rights to the information system are granted to employees based on the role Gateway Firewalls are installed to protect network Penetration Testing is carried out in periodic intervals Routers are installed and monitored to regulate network traffic BCP and DR plans have been established L1,L2,L3 disaster locations are identified RTO and RPO has been defined based on the business needs Mock drills and Resiliency Tests are conducted to ascertain readiness 129 Controls have been effectively deployed April 2013 Page 16 Infinite Convergence

17 Some of the aspects of ISM are describer below Physical Security Access control are installed in the entry/exit points to the data center All the critical hardware are placed in secured Rack Camera are installed at ingress/egress points Network Control Firewalls are implemented at the ingress and egress points of the network Intrusion prevention system is implemented at the internet gateway is monitored from centralized location Servers accessed over the internet are placed in the isolated network (DMZ) Internal servers are segregated through VLAN based on the security requirement Centralized monitoring of the network devices in place Syslog is enabled on the network device for the audit purpose Server Management Server are installed with the hardened OS Based on configuration chosen, Virtual Instances are used to separate and provide dedicated platform for each customer Unnecessary services are disabled Password policy is implemented Access for the guest accounts are disabled and the default admin users are renamed or disabled everywhere possible Critical Servers audit log are maintained Centralized monitoring of servers are implemented Robust process is implemented for the change & release management. This includes maintain a list of all users of the cloud in case basic model is used. Product Development and Release Compliance. The model below demonstrates how security is enhanced through a repeatable and measurable process compliance throughout the Software development lifecycle. April 2013 Page 17 Infinite Convergence

18 This integrates the software development activities right from the initial stages to provide guidance on secure development reviews, uniform reviews and security assessments. Security Hardening of the Product/Service The EMS system is security hardened and tested before product release. These include:- Opening of necessary ports only Any open ports limit access to specific IP addresses and ports Disabling of Insecure protocols Example: Telnet and FTP are disabled by default Application of Latest security patches for operating system and open source April 2013 Page 18 Infinite Convergence

19 Product is updated at least once each release with latest security patches Disabling of unnecessary services Example: rlogin, rsh, rcp are disabled by default All Management connections protected by SSHv3 Configurable password complexity, aging, history Support for automatic lockout Configurable number of login failures lock out user for a configurable amount of time Some Additional Security Aspects for the Cloud Since the cloud needs to address a variety of applications and scale and remain secure it should embrace a secure-by-design approach: IT organizations need to focus on identifying controls that address the lack of direct access to information and addressing these.. It is also necessary to Identify alternative deployment rapidly re-deployment implementing an active monitoring systems and Developing a plan for rapid response teams Clouds that deliver scalable services for multiple tenants (whether tenants are business groups from the same company or independent organizations) need to isolate instances. This means sharing of CPU caches, graphics processing units (GPUs), disk partitions, memory, and other components that were never designed for strong compartmentalization. The concept of virtualization and hypervisor provides mechanismsto mediate access between guest operating systems and physical resources. However there is a need to ensure that attackers cannot gain unauthorized access and control of your underlying platform with software-only isolation mechanisms. Potential compromise of the hypervisor layer can in turn lead to a potential compromise of all the shared physical resources of the server that it controls, including memory and data as well as other virtual machines (VMs) on that server. April 2013 Page 19 Infinite Convergence

20 One of the solutions from Infinite is based on Vmware Hypervisor which is used to create multiple virtual instances as shown below: The Hypervisor installs on the hardware and is able to create virtual machines which provide a replica to each application instance. Infinite has partnered with Vmware to create enterprise applications which can be shared on the cloud and uses vcenter, Vspher and vcloud network and security. vsphere provides the basic virtualization capability. vcenter as a central node allows the system to scale. vcloud network security provides a secure firewall between each instance. Shielding between customers who use the same hardware is providing by creating a dedicated instance. April 2013 Page 20 Infinite Convergence

21 Acknowledgements & Bibliography The authors would like to thank the ITSG team at Infinite Computer Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. For insights into secure hosting and ISM. Also the engineering team at Infinite Convergence Ic. USA for insights into security hardening of the product. Also the team at Grameen bank and BSNL India for the several reviews during the deployment of the EMS service Best practices for Cloud Security, IBM research 2. AWS Web Hosting Best practices 3. Cloud Security Panning Guide, Intel 4. Silver Lining of Clud Computing, TCS 5. The seven standards of Cloud Computing and Delivery Performance, Salesforce 6. VMWare Virtualization: The right investment for a tough economy, VMWare April 2013 Page 21 Infinite Convergence

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