Almost 400 Cloud Apps in Every Enterprise

By Krishna Narayanaswamy, Chief Scientist at Netskope

On average, there are 397 cloud apps running in enterprises today. This is one of the findings in the second quarterly Netskope Cloud Report, an account of trends on cloud app adoption and usage. What makes this number interesting is that it’s about 10x the number that IT professionals estimate. Adding to the intrigue, 77 percent of those apps aren’t enterprise-ready based on the Netskope Cloud Confidence IndexTM, an objective measure of cloud apps’ security, auditability, and business continuity adapted from Cloud Security Alliance guidance.


The thing that really strikes us is the average number of cloud apps per category in each enterprise. The largest number is Marketing, with 51. That’s not that surprising, though. Our own startup marketing department uses almost that many apps. The second highest was more concerning, though: HR, with 35. While HR is a broad category, with specific apps for benefits, salary, performance, time-tracking, and more, the number still raises security and compliance questions. With that many apps, IT professionals are concerned about whether they have the appropriate controls in place to protect sensitive data like personally-identifiable information.

Beyond the apps themselves, where the real risks lie is in the usage of cloud apps. The report tracks the most common activities in cloud apps – edit, view, download, post, and share. These activities are especially telling when juxtaposed against policy violations, activities concerning data classified as “sensitive” or “confidential,” and data leakage incidents.

Get the full Netskope cloud report here.


6 Prerequisites to Guide a Cloud App Policy Your Employees (and IT Department!) Will Love




By Sanjay Beri, Founder and CEO, Netskope

In today’s cloud-dominated business world, it is difficult for IT departments to get a hold of exactly where their data lies and who has access to it. Enterprise security is and will continue to be a big concern because of this, but a “zero trust” policy when it comes to cloud apps is not the answer. Cloud apps like Dropbox, Salesforce and Google Apps are used for business-critical functions and can’t simply be blocked because there isn’t enough information for IT decision makers to feel comfortable.

So how do you support cloud app usage while protecting the business?  Below are six key considerations to keep in mind as you create or modify existing policies to protect your assets, keep the business running and employees smiling.

1.    Accept. According to a survey from OneLogin and flyingpenguin, 78 percent of organizations anticipate cloud app usage will continue to grow internally, yet 71 percent of employees admit to using unsanctioned apps. Acknowledge that cloud apps will be used whether you implement a policy or not, so you may as well have some visibility and control over it. Your employees are using these apps to be more productive by working in smarter ways; they may not be aware that their actions could cause harm to the business.

2.    Learn. Get insight into the cloud apps your workforce is using and which apps are exposing your corporate data. This way, you can see where your data is going and where your business is most vulnerable. You can also identify where the majority lies as well as redundant apps with the same use cases. For example, you may find that employees are using five different CRM apps even though the company is officially standardized on one. By understanding where duplication lies, you can save money by eliminating duplicative apps from your stack.

The information required for this learning can be found through technical tools as well as good old-fashioned techniques like talking to employees and finding out what they like and want to use. Deeper learning should really look and feel more like an assessment –- or dare I say audit –- of the cloud apps being used. There are technical tools that can help, and the good news for IT is that new tools have come onto the scene that go beyond one-off or do-it-yourself firewall/proxy log data analysis.

3.    Educate. More often than not, employees don’t want to cause harm to the organization they work for. Often two cases emerge: people are using apps in an insecure way or they are using apps that aren’t up to your standards of security to begin with. According to the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 14 percent of data breaches are a result of employee error, and 71 percent of attacks we committed via user devices. Furthermore, over 30 percent of cloud apps are rated low or poor, according to Netskope’s Cloud Confidence Index, an independent evaluation of cloud apps based on 30+ criteria measuring those apps on security, audibility and business continuity. Most of the time employees are completely unaware that they’re putting the business at risk — and so are you. Once you’re aware of the apps they’re using, and the way they’re using them, you can begin to provide guidance on safe usage, and begin to set policies on the apps that are being used to keep the business safe.

4.    Prioritize. With new apps emerging every day, it’s overwhelming to keep up, and track every single one. Start by prioritizing your policy according to the apps that are most popular among your users. Encourage app usage that is both productive and safe according to your policy. In most cases, you’ll be empowering employees to continue using their favorite apps in a safer, more responsible way. Alternatively, this is an opportunity to introduce them to new apps with similar capabilities that are more in line with the company’s policy.

You should also prioritize the security and compliance issues that are most important to your business as you begin to create your policy. Make a list of the features that all sanctioned cloud apps must have. Some questions to start with are:

  • Does the cloud app include access control options (i.e., multifactor authentication or IP filtering)?
  • Are the cloud app’s data centers dispersed geographically? Are they SOC-1 certified?
  • Does the cloud app backup data to a separate location?
  • Is customer data separated in the cloud app or is it comingled?
  • Does the cloud app offer granular user policy and permissions based on the role of the user or admin?
  • Does the cloud app provider offer audit logs for admin, user or data access?
  • Does the cloud app have the necessary compliance certifications (i.e., HIPAA, PCI, SP800-53, GAPP, Truste, etc.)?

5.    Re-think blocking. Blocking usage of SaaS/cloud apps just isn’t realistic today, and having a posture that is more focused on allowing those apps will go a long way when it comes to employee acceptance and their willingness to play by the rules. If they see the sophistication in your approach, you’ll get more buy-in when you have to block something because they’ll know it’s for a good reason.

 6.    Know how you’re going to adapt existing policies and where you need to create new ones. PwC’s annual Global State of Information Security 2014 survey found that nearly half of respondents use cloud computing, but only 18 percent include provisions for cloud in their security policies. While creating a unique policy for cloud app usage is needed, you should modify existing policies to reflect this new world. For instance, your third party/vendor assessment policy needs to specify how and at what frequency you’re going to assess the cloud provider. You should also specify the standard you’re going to use. Your access control policy may also need some altering to ensure it’s clear who creates accounts and grants access, and whether you can you get the account back if it’s in the cloud. Your disaster recovery/business continuity policy should also be amended to account for cloud apps — what happens if the provider goes out of business? And of course, your privacy policy will need to be carefully reviewed so that users understand that you’re concerned with the company data and how that crosses over into the use of cloud apps.   

The most important concept here is to help employees understand how they can keep using the apps they love AND help keep business data safe. These considerations will enable you to secure company assets and arm your users with the best available tools.



Five Distinguished Security Experts to Keynote SecureCloud 2014

SecureCloud 2014 is just around the corner and the CSA is pleased to announce the keynote speaker lineup for this must-attend event, which is taking place in Amsterdam on April 1-2.

Secure Cloud Speakers

This year’s event will feature keynote addresses from the following five security experts on a wide range of cloud security topics:

  • Prof. Dr. Udo Helmbrecht, executive director of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) will speak on the uptake of Cloud computing in Europe and how ENISA supports Cloud Security in the Member States.
  • Prof. Dr. Reinhard Posch, CIO for the Austrian Federal Government will present on the European Cloud Partnership and Austrian Government approach to cloud
  • Alan Boehme, Chief of Enterprise Architecture for The Coca-Cola Company will present on the CSA Software Defined Perimeter initiative
  • Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance will discuss trends and innovation in cloud security and CSA activities in 2014
  • Richard Mogull, CEO of Securosis will give the closing keynote on Automation & DevOps

If you haven’t already registered, early bird discount pricing is being offered through February 14. Registration information can be found at:

We look forward to seeing all of you in Amsterdam in the Spring!

What Is a Trusted Threat?

Last month I co-presented a webinar with ISIGHT Partners, a leader in cyber-threat intelligence, to discuss a white paper that exposes how keys and certificates can be used for nefarious intentions. Our purpose was to highlight some of the tactics malicious actors use and outline their profiles in relation to keys and certificates. Due to time constraints, we did not cover how most organizations expose themselves to cryptographic vulnerabilities simply because keys and certificates are viewed as an operational problem and not as a security issue that needs to be addressed immediately!

For example, for most organizations today, the most critical element of certificate management is monitoring the validity period—that is, the certificate’s expiration date. The reason is simple: if a certificate expires, it will result in a service outage. Most organizations track validity periods either in a spreadsheet or a portal such as SharePoint. Disappointingly, there are many public examples of failure to manage even the expiration date of certificates—such as the Microsoft Azure outage earlier this year—let alone the actual security configuration of a certificate.

Secure Shell (SSH) keys, on the other hand, do not have expiration dates that organizations must track. Instead organizations need to have a clear understanding of where SSH private keys are stored and control the systems to which certain individuals have access. In most organizations, it is up to the application administrator or SSH administrator to track this information. Unfortunately, in most organizations, numerous individuals manage the keys, using disparate management practices, and no one can determine how SSH keys are being used in the network. 

Take for example how Edward Snowden breached the National Security Agency (NSA) as an illustration of the SSH key management shortfall at the NSA.

Encryption keys and digital certificates provide the backbone of trust across corporate networks and the Internet. In planning for future expansion, organizations need to understand and appreciate that the digital universe is expanding at an alarming rate. If organizations can’t perform rudimentary key management today, how will they cope with both the volume of keys and certificates as more are consumed, and how will they secure and protect them?

This is exactly why malicious actors are increasingly taking advantage of keys and certificates as an attack vector, making them the perfect trust threat. For example, malicious actors can:

Organizations need to stop viewing keys and certificates as a basic operational issue and start understanding that they can be a serious threat to their business if they are not secured and protected.

The question is, what do organizations do about the fact that they require keys and certificates to establish trust, but malicious actors are exploiting that trust and using it against them? There is light at the end of tunnel; organizations can still use keys and certificates to establish the trust they need in the digital world, but they don’t need to accept that keys and certificates will be used against them. That’s not to say it will never happen because chances are most organizations have already been compromised, but there are ways to limit key and certificate threat exposure and respond and remediate quickly if an organization is compromised.

Taking the first step

When it comes to key and certificate security, organizations must know their key and certificate inventory. They must also understand key and certificate attributes and make sure they are configured to meet recommended security guidelines while not impeding business goals. To do this, organizations need to scan their enterprise networks on a regular basis to address key areas:

  • Secure configuration of cryptographic assets
  • Detection of anomalous key and certificate usage—malicious or negligent

Secure configuration of cryptographic assets

When organizations configure cryptographic keys and digital certificates, they should follow best practice guidelines that factor in known exploits and improvements in technology. Organizations can consult standards bodies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which provide recommendations for cryptographic resources. For example, NIST has established a minimum key size of 2048 bits, stating that 1024-bit keys should no longer be used after December 31, 2013. The hashingalgorithm SHA-1 has suffered the same fate<.

By enforcing standards that meet minimum security requirements, organizations can protect their network resources against potential exploits such as the BEAST exploit. However, organizations should keep in mind that evaluating singular attributes on their own will not adequately protect their network resources against breaches. As an example, when evaluating an IT infrastructure’s weakness against the BEAST exploit, organizations need to take into consideration the version of Transport Layer Security (TLS), the cypher suite, and the configuration used. Evaluating each of these factors individually would not bring to light the vulnerability.

Detection of anomalous key and certificate usage

Simply identifying the key and certificate inventory will not help organizations detect rogue usage of an SSH key or malware that is using a self-signed certificate to encrypt command and control (C2) traffic. To detect these issues, organizations need to understand the key and certificate inventory and the policies being enforced—all of which were addressed in the first step. Organizations must then frequently scan the environment so that they can detect any rogue keys or certificates that may have been maliciously placed in the network. If a rogue key or certificate is detected, organizations can investigate how it is being used and take action.

As the use of keys and certificate as an attack vector continues to rise, organizations need to take responsibility in securing and protecting the very trust that is established by keys and certificates. Treating them as an operational issue will only result in opportunity for malicious actors to compromise networks. Regularly evaluating the network to detect key and certificate vulnerabilities is the only way to mitigate key and certificate based attacks.

Health Checking for Cloud Performance

Steve Malmskog has more than 15 years of experience as a chief network architect.

In this best practices video, Steve provides an in depth look at information you can gather about the health of nodes based on the traffic itself through in-band health checking vs. out-of-band checking which can be very useful under certain circumstances. Even further, Steve goes through the importance of using the appropriate method in understanding if your server is alive or “mostly dead”. Enjoy!



For more Movie Line Monday videos by Netskope, the cloud app analytics and policy company, feel free to visit

Why companies are adopting more cloud based IT security solutions

We have entered the age of pervasive connectivity.  Regardless of whether we are at home, in the office, or on the road, most of us are almost always connected. This trend is blurring the lines between work time and leisure time, with the same devices used for both contexts interchangeably. To support this new connected world, organizations are turning to the cloud – where technology services are consumed as needed, and the associated data can be stored anywhere – or they face being left behind by customers and competitors.

While this “always on” connected world utilizing cloud services brings tremendous opportunities, including tighter collaboration, increased business innovation and accelerated productivity, it also brings significant change from the constraints of client/server and first generation Web applications.  It requires organizations to re-evaluate their IT and IT security policies, procedures and processes.  The increasing complexity of IT infrastructures and the massive adoption of cloud-based IT services demand a new approach to IT security and compliance that ensures the security of traditional enterprise-based IT solutions along with newer cloud based IT services.

Along with these technology changes, organizations also face a dynamic threat landscape.  Cyber attacks are targeting new layers of the IT infrastructure. In addition to well-known (but too often ignored) vulnerabilities and methods of attack, the proliferation of networked devices, endpoints and web applications provides attackers with an expanded target area of vulnerabilities to exploit across diverse IT infrastructures. For example, according to an ENISA 2012 survey, a top threat is malicious HTML code injection into websites that exploits vulnerabilities in user web browsers (also known as drive-by download attacks), and trends indicate that this is an area of increasing risk.

In response to these challenges and to reduce the IT infrastructure on premise, many organizations are turning to cloud-based security solutions. Cloud-based security services are having a significant impact on the existing information security market, influencing the way security controls are deployed and consumed, and driving changes in the market landscape, particularly around a number of key security technology areas including secure email gateways, secure web gateways, vulnerability management, log/event management, web application firewalls,  and identity and access management.

Traditional IT security and compliance approaches often struggle to effectively secure evolving IT environments.  As IT infrastructures evolve to a mixture of on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments consisting of multiple networks and increasing numbers of devices, traditional on-premise enterprise software products may limit the ability of organizations to effectively protect their infrastructures from security threats and ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations.  Cloud based security services are designed to secure all types of IT environments, including a mixture of enterprise, on premises IT with cloud based IT.

But just as with other cloud based services, organizations considering the use of cloud based security services must ensure they can evaluate the service providers and understand the risks of using a third party service provider.  Organizations continue to grow and mature their vendor/third party risk management programs, and they are improving their abilities to assess, understand and manage the risk of engaging third party service providers, including cloud based security solutions.  These programs enable organizations to make informed, risk based decisions about adopting cloud services which will likely lead to even greater adoption rates of all types of cloud services, including cloud security services.  Of all the cloud service providers, the cloud based security service providers often understand organizational needs and requirements for third party risk management as well, if not better than other providers.

In tandem with the maturation of third party risk management programs, the standards and best practices for secure cloud services are beginning to coalesce.  Organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance are fostering collaboration between the providers and consumers of cloud services, working together to define best practices and guidance for the secure architecture, operation, and use of cloud services.  This knowledge sharing is raising the level of awareness among both providers and consumers, leading to more secure cloud service offerings and better educated consumers of cloud services.

In summary, the future for cloud based security services is bright.  As organizations adopt more cloud based IT services, cloud based security services will certainly be part of this movement, bringing innovation, flexibility, cost efficiencies and security.

Andrew Wild is the Chief Security Officer for Qualys (  He has more than 20 years of experience leading teams to design, implement and operate secure networks and computer systems. As Qualys’ Chief Security Officer, Andrew oversees the security, risk management and compliance of its enterprise and SaaS environments. Prior to joining Qualys, he managed a team of information security engineers responsible for the design, implementation and operation of security solutions for EMC’s SaaS offerings, with heavy emphasis on cloud and virtualization technologies. Prior to EMC, he was the Chief Security Officer at Transaction Network Services. He has also held a variety of network engineering leadership roles with large network service providers including BT and Sprint. Andrew has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the United States Military Academy. He is a veteran of the United States Army.

Why Higher Education Institutions NeedCloud-Based Identity Providers

By Dan Dagnall, Chief Technology Strategist for Fischer International Identity


Federation is definitely a hot topic these days, with NSTIC attempting to create an identity ecosystem, InCommon continuing to build its service-providerfederation, and state-level initiatives gearing up (some are already operational) to provide federated identity services to 4-year schools, community colleges, K-12, and every entity in between.  But I’ve found that many institutions and schools are not prepared to commit to the rigorous list of technical requirements to enter into such federations.  This is primarily because of a lack of talent, lack of budget, and resource utilization constraints.


Institutions that choose the federated identity path faceother potential roadblocks.The standard model requires a unique Shibboleth installation (which by default,would provide a localized identity provider(IdP) login screen and a custom URL for the login screen)which is simply not appropriate for smaller colleges and universities that can ill afford to hire more technical talent. Localized IdPs are also not feasible for K-12 as they would require technical resources to be located at each school.


A Cloud-based identity provider (cIdP) model is the best option for institutions that don’t currently have any SSO capabilities as it eliminates 90% of the technical federation hurdles. As a result, this model should resonate well with smaller colleges and universities, K-12, and other entities lacking the key components to enter the secure world of federated identity management.   The only real difference between a Cloud-based IdP and a localized one is you will typically spend half the money and 90% less time to deploy a Cloud-based IdP than a localized one.   And I can find no reason why entities falling behind in the federated world shouldn’t consider deploying a Cloud-based IdP.


The Cloud-based IdP model reduces costs through economies of scale by securely sharing resources among multiple institutions. In contrast tolocal IdPs,which require at least one instance of Shibboleth software to be installed for each institution, each with its own set of metadata to be configured, and each of these with its own maintenance by technical specialists, all of which add to costs, the Cloud-based IdP model is a far simpler approach. EachCloud-based IdP needs only a single installation of the Shibboleth software and a single set of metadata to accommodate multiple institutions, which dramatically reduces the on-going support compared to supportingat leastone IdP per entity.  It is also important to note that because the Shibboleth software does not reside on campus, there is no need for each individual campus to have any technical federation knowledge. Therefore, the Cloud-based model unlocks the door to the federated world for institutions that lack talent, time, money or all three.  In fact, ifwe judge success by a massive uptake of federation, then using Cloud-based IdPs provides the best chance for success.


However, every new technology has its critics, and Cloud-based federation is no exception:Some people believe that the federation identity provider(IdP) should always be local (i.e., on-campus) and therefore, unable to leverage the Cloud for IdP services.  Perhaps this is because some in the industry are not yet comfortable with a Cloud-basedapproach, possibly out of a lack of understanding regarding security and risk for a Cloud-based versus an on-campus IdP.I’ll address their concerns in turn.


Some criticsassert that a cIdP is not secure, but security issues for a Cloud-based IdP are no different than for a localized IdP deployment.  In both cases, SAMLis the underlying protocol, with the same security mechanisms in place, the same configuration in place, the same platforms are leveraged, and the same application set is accessible.  Also, service providers hosting cIdPs are often more secure and frequently provide higher availability than many institutions can achieve locally.


Some critics argue that a Cloud-based IdP is never feasible because they believe there is a lack of capabilities for institutionalbranding. But, Cloud-based IdPs have the same branding options as local IdPs,and the user experience for the Cloud-based login process is identical toa fully-branded and customized local IdP deployment.


Some federationstry to disallow Cloud-based IdPs into their trust models, presumably because they don’t believe that Cloud-based IdPs are as trustworthy, or possibly the federation managementlacks understanding of the implications that cIdPs have (or don’t have) on their businesstrust models. From a technical perspective,Cloud-based IdPs are often more trustworthythan local IdPs:Typically,the data center is more secure, access to the data is more secure, and so on.From a business perspective, although the technical aspects of a cIdP areoutsourced, the business trust model remains unchanged and between the same parties, as business agreements are not outsourced.


Some critics advocate for localized IdPs while at the same time supporting internal deployments of dirSynch or Google’s synch process to provide Cloud-based email services to their user populations, which, by the way, stores user data in the Cloud. So if the issue is related to where the data is stored, then their logic is flawed as they are advocating both sides of the same coin. It’s like they’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces.Maybe their real issue is with reporting, as reporting actual IdP installations might look better to some people than reporting the same number of institutions on Cloud-based IdPs? Or maybe some people are simply attempting to undermine commercial solutions in attempt to supporttheir own pet open-source initiatives?


All things considered, Cloud-based identity providers scale much better than localized IdP / federated infrastructures.  Cloud-based IdPs are just as secure and trustworthy (often more so), and are more cost effective for institutions tasked with federating their users to access service providers.  My advice: don’t discount a Cloud-based approach, as aCloud-based IdP can quickly be operational, can be configured easily, and can federate your users in a fraction of the time it takes to deploy your own infrastructure.