CloudTrust Protocol (CTP) Working Group Kicks Off at CSA Congress Arrow to Content

December 6, 2013 | Leave a Comment

The Cloud Trust Protocol (CTP) aims to provide a protocol to enable Cloud Users to query Cloud Providers in real time about the security level of their service. It aims to foster transparency and trust in the cloud supply chain, bringing greater visibility to cloud users and providing them with data on a continuous basis in order to inform their daily risk management decisions.

As a monitoring mechanism, CTP also ambitions to become the pillar of CSA’s future continuous-monitoring based certification, complementing the STAR third party certification and attestation in the Open Certification Framework.

Earlier this fall, Cloud Security Alliance launched the CTP Working Group. The goal of the Working Group is to leverage the initial idea of Ron Knode and turn CTP into close to market solution in the next 18 months, drawing both on recent research conducted by the CSA EMEA Research team and on the inputs of leading stakeholders in the cloud industry, including both providers and users.

The CTP Working Group’s mission is to refine, challenge and extend the existing CTP framework and API specification, establish standard monitored cloud security attributes, implement a pilot and assure the proper integration of CTP in the Open Certification Framework.

The CTP Working Group will be chaired by the following people:

  • John DiMaria – British Standards Institute
  • Tim Sandage – Amazon Web Services
  • Sandeep Singh – Dell

Dr Alain Pennetrat, Senior Researcher at the CSA EMEA, will be the WG Technical Lead.

For more information, visit https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/ctp/.  We’ll announce the official kick-off call within the next month.

Introducing the CSA Financial Services Working Group Arrow to Content

December 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment

At our annual CSA Congress today, the CSA is pleased to introduce the new Financial Services Working Group (FSWG), which aims to provide knowledge and guidance on how to deliver and manage secure cloud solutions in the financial industry, and to foster cloud awareness within the sector and related industries. It will complement, enrich and customize the results of other CSA WG in a way to provide a sector specific guidance.

Why a financial services working group?

Financial services organizations have specific, often unique requirements regarding security, privacy and compliance. The Financial Services Working Group’s main objective is the identify and share the challenges, risks and best practices for the development, deployment and management of secure cloud services in the financial and banking industry.

Research from this working group aims to accelerate the adoption of secure cloud services in the financial industry by enabling the adoption of best practices by:

  • Identifying and sharing the industry’s main concerns regarding the delivery and management of cloud services in their sector.
  • Identifying industry needs and requirements (both technical and regulatory)
  • Identifying adequate strategic security approaches to ensure protection of business processes and data in the cloud.
  • Reviewing existing CSA research and identify potential gaps from the financial services standpoint.

Initial Research

As part of its charter, the group expects to publish four key pieces of research related to the financial services industry:

  1. A survey of existing & potential cloud solutions (products and services) in the banking and financial services sector
  2. Technical and regulatory requirements in the sector
  3. Identification and assessment of risks in cloud solutions in the sector, including interaction with other approaches such as mobile computing, social computing, and big data.
  4. Recommendations and best practices of cloud solutions for the sector.

For more information about the working group, visit https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/financialservices

 

 

Introducing the CSA’s Anti-Bot Working Group Arrow to Content

December 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment

Among the many exciting new working groups being established and meeting at CSA Congress, today we’d like to also introduce our Anti-Bot Working Group. Chaired by Shelbi Rombout from USBank, this group’s mission is to develop and maintain a research portfolio providing capabilities to assist the cloud provider industry in taking a lifecycle approach to botnet prevention.

Why an anti-bot group?

Botnets have long been a favored attack mechanism of malicious actors.  A recent evolution in botnet innovation has been the introduction of server-based bots as an alternative to single user personal computers.  The access to vastly greater upload bandwidths and higher compute performance has attracted the same adversaries who have built and operated earlier botnets.

As cloud computing is rapidly becoming the primary option for server-based computing and hosted IT infrastructure, CSA as the industry leader has an obligation to articulate solutions to prevent, respond and mitigate against botnets occurring on cloud infrastructure.  The CSA Anti-Bot Working Group is the primary stakeholder for coordinating these activities.

Initial Research

As part of its charter, the group expects to publish two key pieces of research related to botnets – Fundamental Anti-Bot Practices for Cloud Providers, and an Anti-Bot Toolkit Repository for Cloud Providers.

For more information about the working group, visit:  https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/antibot

Introducing the CSA’s New Virtualization Working Group Arrow to Content

December 3, 2013 | Leave a Comment

There’s been a lot of noise around the establishment of new working groups at this year’s Congress and today we’d like to also introduce another important addition: the Virtualization Working Group. Chaired by Kapil Raina of Zscaler, the Virtualization Working Group is chartered to lead research into the combined virtualized operating system and SDN technologies.  The group will build upon existing Domain 13 research and provide more detailed guidance as to threats, architecture, hardening and recommended best practices.

Why a Virtualization Working Group?

Virtualization is a critical part of cloud computing. Virtualization provides an important layer of abstraction from physical hardware, enabling the elasticity and resource pooling commonly associated with cloud. Virtualized operating systems are the backbone of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

The CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing focused exclusively on virtualized operating systems in Domain 13. Recent developments in software defined networking (SDN) show great potential to virtualize data networks in the same way that operating systems have been virtualized. Additionally, the future integration and potential convergence of virtualization of operating systems and networks promise to greatly impact the next generation of cloud architectures. The security issues and recommended best practices of this broader view of virtualization merit additional focused research from a reconstituted version of the CSA Virtualization Working Group.

Initial Research

As part of its charter, the CSA Virtualization Working group plans to publish a Domain 13 Virtualization Whitepaper as part of the CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing. The paper is scheduled for release at the upcoming RSA Conference taking place in February.

For more information about the working group, visit https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/virtualization/

 

Announcing the Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) V.3 Open Review Period Arrow to Content

December 3, 2013 | Leave a Comment

At CSA Congress 2013 this week we are announcing the open review period of the Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) v.3 and we hope you will take a few moments and provide your input to this very important initiative.  Lack of security control transparency is a leading inhibitor to the adoption of cloud services. The Cloud Security Alliance Consensus Assessments Initiative (CAI) was launched to perform research, create tools and create industry partnerships to enable cloud computing assessments.

About CAIQ

The CSA is focused on providing industry-accepted ways to document what security controls exist in IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings, providing security control transparency. CAIQ, by design, is integrated with and will support other projects from our research partners.   The CAIQ Questionnaire is available in spreadsheet format, and provides a set of questions a cloud consumer and cloud auditor may wish to ask of a cloud provider. It provides a series of “yes or no” control assertion questions which can then be tailored to suit each unique cloud customer’s evidentiary requirements.

This question set is meant to be a companion to the CSA Guidance and the CSA Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM), and these documents should be used together.  This question set is a simplified distillation of the issues, best practices and control specifications from our Guidance and Controls Matrix, intended to help organizations build the necessary assessment processes for engaging with cloud providers.  The Consensus Assessments Initiative is part of the CSA GRC Stack.

What’s New and Why we Need YOUR Input:

Now in its third version, the Cloud Assessments Initiative Working Group will start the open review period for a set of questions intended to help organizations further build the necessary assessment processes for engaging with cloud providers.

We are in need of input from the cloud community on a number of fronts. First, we would like input on the current CAIQ questions:  are these questions still relevant to cloud security; are they written in a way that is easy for all stakeholders to understand, and should they remain important questions to ask during the cloud assessment process.

Second, we would like to have input on what questions should be added to the assessment to help strengthen the process overall for each domain.  Finally, as CAIQ is a companion to the recently updated CCM V.3, we are seeking input on what questions should be added to two new control domains, Mobile Security and Interoperability and Portability.

As a side, the new CAIQ is now color coded to match the CCM V.3 domains for easy review.

ACTION: The open review period ends on January 6, 2013

This is your opportunity to provide feedback and comments to the v.3 of CAIQ.  Submitting feedback is easy with our 3-step process. Follow the link below to the CSA Interact peer review site:

https://interact.cloudsecurityalliance.org/index.php/caiq/caiq_v3

Thank you in advance for your time and contribution.  We look forward to your input.  If you have any questions, you can contact us by emailing [email protected].

Feel free to reference the following CCM documents during your review:

How Snowden Breached the NSA Arrow to Content

November 20, 2013 | Leave a Comment

NOVEMBER 12TH, 2013 – BY: 

How Edward Snowden did it and is your enterprise next?

There’s one secret that’s still lurking at the NSA: How did Edward Snowden breach the world’s most sophisticated IT security organization? This secret has as much to do with the NSA as it does with your organization. In this exclusive infographic, Venafi breaks open how Edward Snowden breached the NSA. Venafi is sharing this information and challenges the NSA or Edward Snowden to provide more information so that enterprises around the world can secure their systems and valuable data.

 

NSA

NSA Director General Keith Alexander summed up well Snowden’s attack: “Snowden betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him.” The attack on trust, the trust that’s established by cryptographic keys and digital certificates, is what left the NSA unable to detect or respond. From SSH keys to self-signed certificates, every enterprise is vulnerable. This exclusive infographic provides you with the analysis needed to understand the breach and how it could impact you and your organization.

 

Edward Snowden Infographic

DOWNLOAD INFOGRAPHIC (JPG)

Learn more about how Edward Snowden compromised the NSA.

Seeing Through the Clouds Arrow to Content

November 20, 2013 | Leave a Comment

By TK Keanini, CTO, Lancope

The economics of cyber-attacks have changed over the years. Fifteen years ago, it was all about network penetration, but today advanced attackers are more concerned about being detected. Similarly, good bank robbers are concerned about breaking into the bank, but great bank robbers have mastered how to get out of the bank without any detection.

Virtualization Skews Visibility

Because virtual-machine-to-virtual-machine (VM2VM) communications inside a physical server cannot be monitored by traditional network and security devices, the cloud can potentially give attackers more places to hide. Network and security professionals need to be asking themselves what cost-effective telemetry can be put in the cloud and across all of their networks such that the advanced persistent threat can’t escape detection.

The answer, I believe, lies in flow-based standards like NetFlow and IPFIX. Originally developed by Cisco, NetFlow is a family of standard protocols spoken by a wide variety of popular network equipment. IPFIX is a similar standard that was created by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and is based on NetFlow Version 9. These standards provide the most feasible, pervasive and trusted ledger of network activity for raising operational visibility across both physical and virtual environments.

Regaining Cloud Control

Regaining control of the cloud starts with basic awareness. Security teams need to know what applications, data and workloads are moving into cloud environments, where that data resides at any particular time, who is accessing that data and from where. They need this information in real time, and they need historical records, so that in the event that a breach is suspected it is possible to reconstruct what happened in the past. The recipe for success here is simple: leverage NetFlow or IPFIX from all of your routers, switches, firewalls and wireless access points to obtain a complete picture of everything happening across your network.

Flow-based standards like NetFlow and IPFIX provide details of every conversation taking place on the network. Some people think they need full packet capture of everything traveling on the network, and while that would be nice, it simply cannot scale. However, the metadata of that same traffic flow, as provided via NetFlow and IPFIX, does scale quite well and if need be, you can make the decision to also ‘tap’ a flow of interest to gather further intelligence.

Selecting a Monitoring Solution

By collecting and analyzing flow data, organizations can cost-effectively regain the internal visibility needed to detect and respond to advanced attacks across large, distributed networks and cloud environments. However, not all flow collection and analysis systems are created equal. It is important to determine the following when selecting a security monitoring solution for your physical and virtualized network and/or private cloud:

  1. Does the solution indeed provide visibility into virtual environments? (Some can only monitor physical infrastructure.)
  2. Are you getting an unsampled NetFlow or IPFIX feed? (Sampled flow data does not provide a complete picture of network activity.)
  3. Does the solution conduct in-depth analysis of the flow data? Is the intelligence it supplies immediately actionable?
  4. Does the solution deliver additional layers of visibility including application awareness and user identity monitoring, which can be critical for finding attackers within the network?
  5. Does the solution allow for long-term flow storage to support forensic investigations?

 

It is also important to conduct similar due diligence on the security technologies and practices used by various providers if you decide to outsource your IT services to the public cloud.

 

Thwarting Advanced Attacks

 

As the CTO of Lancope, it is my goal to ensure that the bad guys cannot persist on your networks. No matter which stage you are in with your cloud strategy –whether virtualizing your infrastructure, or using a public or private cloud – the collection and analysis of existing flow data can dramatically enhance your security. When every router/switch/wireless access point/firewall is reporting unsampled flow records, and you are able to synthesize that data into actionable intelligence, there is just nowhere for the adversary to hide.

 

For more details on NetFlow for security, check out the Lancope blog or follow me on Twitter @tkeanini.

 

TK Keanini is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) who brings nearly 25 years of network and security experience to his role of CTO at Lancope. He is responsible for leading Lancope’s evolution toward integrating security solutions with private and public cloud-based computing platforms.

Cloud Collaboration: Maintaining Zero Knowledge across International Boundaries Arrow to Content

November 20, 2013 | Leave a Comment

The increasingly global nature of business requires companies to collaborate more and more across borders, exchanging all manner of documents: contracts, engineering documents and other intellectual property, customer lists, marketing programs and materials, and so on. Unfortunately, the combination of recent NSA revelations and new European regulations are likely to make the challenge of securing business data even more difficult than it already is.It is therefore likely that new approaches will be needed that more easily allow trust across borders for confidential document exchange.

Evolving Regulatory Environments

Data shared across national boundaries may be subject to multiple legal frameworks depending on the nature of the information. The regulatory environment in the European Union is evolving significantly, with countries working to update their laws and regulations to protect citizens’ electronic data, even when it is held outside the EU. This includes almost everything a person might post to the Internet, including photos, blogs and so on. The concern is that the EU will strengthen their regulations to a level that will be extremely difficult and expensive for companies to comply with.

There is currently an agreement with the EU(“Safe Harbor”) that US companies can voluntarily participate in if they are holding EU citizens’ data. That agreement could be replaced by much more stringent requirements, though they will not take effect before 2016. US companies are required to implement a number of protections for citizen data under the EU agreement, and there is no provision that allows them to release personal data to the government.

All of these developments were in play before the Edward Snowden revelations took place. Since then, European attitudes on data privacy have hardened even further.In the meantime, attitudes in the rest of the world towards US-based service providers have also soured. To make matters worse, the Snowden information leaks not only exposed “NSA snooping”, it also raised suspicions that some vendor equipment and standardized algorithms may have been compromised with backdoors or weaknesses.

New Reality is Impacting Cloud Sharing

Meanwhile, organizations are seeking to leverage cloud computing as much as possible for business agility and cost control reasons. The natural choice will be to use a cloud-based document sharing provider for external collaboration.  A big reason for this is that business partners need to update documents, not just read them. Granting such access to data inside an organization’s data center is problematic from both a security and administrative perspective.

Given this quagmire, organizations that want to use a cloud provider for external collaboration across international boundaries have two choices, both of which are problematic:

  • US Provider: This is a good option for organizations that prefer to use a well-established provider, are not worried about the government or NSA accessing their content and are not concerned about equipment backdoors.But it may not be acceptable to your international business partners.
  • Non-US Provider: This approach may appeal to organizations that want to allay concerns expressed by their foreign partners, especially those in Europe, about US government access to their data. However, a European operator is unlikely to be as well established as a US cloud provider, US businesses will not have any realistic leverage with them and foreign governments are known to dabble in data interception themselves. Finally, depending on who the organization is doing business with, they may face resistance from a non-European partner not willing to use a European cloud provider.

Given these alternatives, some organizations may be tempted to just give up and keep data internal. This approach reintroduces the security and management headaches that most companies were trying to eliminate by adopting cloud sharing in the first place. It also poses a problem for the organization’s partners because they will need to manage a different access model for every business with which they collaborate.

Federation May be the Answer

Fortunately, new federated encryption and key management technologies have emerged to addresses these problems. As a starting point, consider encryption. Crypto is an obvious solution to the cloud provider dilemma for international collaboration. If the data is encrypted then it should be protected from unauthorized access. In reality, it’s not that simple.

In most environments, the cloud provider is performing the encryption. As a result, the provider could receive a lawful request to access data under their control or their systems could be compromised. Both would result in a data breech. Furthermore, some providers may not encrypt data end-to-end. This fact alone may cause European organizations to balk, particularly if regulated data is involved.

There are other options that move control of encryption keys into the hands of data owners. However, most require a “trusted third party” to handle encryption support services such as key management, opening another hole, and inviting problems with European regulations.

Replacing Trust with Trustworthiness

A new class of federation and mediation technologies offers the best hope for cross-border encryption. In this model, the central cloud service provider does not need to be “trusted”. Instead, they serve a “mediator” to facilitate secure document collaboration, but do not have the necessary data access privileges or keys to actually decrypt files or access them in an unencrypted form.

This architecture consists of a mediator and two or more end-user software elements, and works as follows:

  • The central (cloud-based) mediator receives enrollment requests from the various users who want to collaborate. No distinction is made between the users based on location – they can be anywhere.
  • The meditator enrolls these users into a cryptographically protected group, and establishes a data repository for the documents that will be shared. Using advanced key management techniques, the relevant key material is fragmented, re-encrypted and distributed. As a result, the mediator does not end up with enough key material to decrypt anything, and each user must have the “approval” of the mediator to decrypt documents in the group repository. Note that because documents are initially encrypted at the end stations and the mediator cannot decrypt them, this architecture has removed the need for a “trusted third party” in the cloud.
  • As users submit documents into the shared repository, these are encrypted and the activity logged.
  • When any user tries to access a document, they submit their (cryptographically authenticated) credentials to the mediator. If they mediator concurs that the request is valid, a portion of key material is released to the requesting user. This missing key fragment plus the user’s own key material, allow the document to be decrypted.

Advancing Security through Mediation

Besides delivering confidentiality, this federated architecture offers advanced services that basic encryption facilities do not. The key enabler is the mediation function: since it serves as gatekeeper for data access. Using the mediator, business partners can pre-agree on special conditions for document access, in addition to the normal release that takes place when participating users authenticate themselves to the system.

As a simple example, access revocation becomes trivial. If the group agrees to revoke a person’s access to documents, the mediator can be instructed to deny access to that person, and immediately this request is implemented, since the mediator must approve all document release. Contrast this with certificate revocation, which can take a significant amount of time before actually terminating access.

For a more powerful example, let’s assume that collaborating companies agree that they want to ensure that if their participating end-user is on vacation or leaves the company, protected documents can still be accessed. Using the mediator, they would establish a cryptographically protected “release circuit,” which would authorize document access when a combination of other staff agrees.

A typical example might be the combination of a member of the executive team, an IT administrator, and a representative from HR.  A member of all three teams would need to authorize the release using a cryptographically secure process. Only then would the document be decrypted and delivered to whomever the team selects. The mediator logs all this activity in an encrypted, centralized log facility. Since all participants can audit activity,there’s no risk of a rogue IT person compromising the logs.

A federated architecture also supports controlled access within documents for searching and eDiscovery.  When an end-station encrypts a file, it can also extract metadata (including keywords, revision history, etc.), encrypt that metadata using a different set of keys, and pass it to the mediator for storage. As with the document itself, mediators on their own cannot decrypt the metadata. However, mediators can implement a [circuit] for metadata release. For example, business partners could agree that a combination of an executive and an IT person at any collaborating firm can “unlock” the metadata, so that they can being an eDiscovery search or security investigation. Once they find the document subset of interest (if any), they can initiate the (more restrictive) document release process on just those files. In this way, the companies involved can still meet their data governance requirements without compromising overall security.

Conclusion

Privacy concerns and emerging government regulations are making secure document sharing across international boundaries significantly more difficult and expensive to implement. This threatens the ability of organizations to move to cloud-based solutions, decreasing agility and efficiency. Fortunately, new security architectures such as federated and mediated encryption are capable of meeting these challenges. Like all privacy systems, such technologies must be properly deployed and maintained to be effective. Since they eliminate the need for a trusted third party in the cloud, they offer the best hope for establishing a trustworthy framework for secure document collaboration locally or internationally.

About the Author: Jonathan Gohstand is an expert in security and virtualization technologies, and Vice President of Products & Marketing at AlephCloud, a provider of cloud content privacy solutions.

Protecting Your Company from Backdoor Attacks – What You Need to Know Arrow to Content

November 20, 2013 | Leave a Comment

November 14th, 2013

By Sekhar Sarukkai

“We often get in quicker by the back door than the front” — Napoleon Bonaparte

A rare example of a backdoor planted in a core industry security standard has recently come to light.  It is now widely believed that the NSA compromised trust in NIST’s encryption standard (called the Dual EC DRBG standard) by adding the ability for NSA to decipher any encrypted communication over the Internet. This incident brings to fore the question of how much trust is warranted in the technologies that enable business over the Internet today.

There are only a few organizations in the world (all with 3 letter acronyms) that can pull off a fundamental backdoor coup such as this. More commonly entities undertaking backdoor attacks do not have that level of gravitas or such far reaching ambitions – instead the majority of these entities tend to leverage backdoors to undertake cybercrime missions ranging from advanced persistent threats on specific target companies, to botnet and malware/adware networks for monetary gains.  In these instances, Cloud services are a favorite vector for injecting backdoors into the enterprise.

What can we really trust?

In his 1984 Turing Award acceptance speech, Ken Thompson points out that trust is relative in what is perhaps the first major paper on this topic titled Reflections on Trusting Trust which describes the threat of backdoor attacks. He describes a backdoor mechanism, which relies on the fact that people only review source (human-written) software, and not compiled machine code. A program called a compiler is used to create the latter from the former, and the compiler is usually trusted to do an honest job. However, as he demonstrated, this trust on the compiler to do an honest job can, and has, been abused.

Inserting backdoors via compilers

As an example, Sophos labs discovered a virus attack on Delphi in August 2009. The W32/Induc-A virus infected the program compiler for Delphi, a Windows programming language. The virus introduced its own code to the compilation of new Delphi programs, allowing it to infect and propagate to many systems, without the knowledge of the software programmer. An attack that propagates by building its own Trojan horse can be especially hard to discover. It is believed that the Induc-A virus had been propagating for at least a year before it was discovered.

 

 

While backdoors in compilers are more frequent than backdoors in standards, they are not as prevalent as backdoors in open-source software. Enterprises freely trust closed- and open-source software as evidenced by its extensive use today. In our experience, we have not come across any corporate enterprise that does not use (and hence trust) at least some open-source software today.

The open-source conundrum

The global software contributor base and publicly reviewable source code are both hallmarks of an open-source ecosystem that actually provides transparency and value for free. Yet, these are the same characteristics that pose the biggest risk of backdoor exploits into enterprises by malicious actors intent on capturing competitive advantage. Unlike surpassing huge barriers in influencing (or writing) an industry standard, open-source projects enable someone to choose any of the millions of open-source projects (> 300,000 hosted in SourceForge alone, at last count) in hundreds of mirror sites opening up a broad surface area of attack.

One of the earliest known open-source backdoor attacks occurred in none less than the Linux kernel — exposed in November 2003.  This example serves to show just how subtle such a code change can be. In this case, a two-line change appeared to be a typographical error, but actually gave the caller to the sys_wait4 function root access to the system.

Hiding in plain sight
Given the complexity of today’s software, it is possible for backdoors to hide in plain sight.

More recently, there have been many backdoors exposed including an incident last September with an official mirror of SourceForge. In this attack, users were tricked into downloading a compromised version of phpMyAdmin that contained a backdoor. The backdoor contained code that allowed remote attackers to take control of the underlying server running the modified phpMyAdmin, which is a web-based tool for managing MySQL databases. In another case that came to light as recently as August, 2013, a popular open-source ad software (OpenX) used by many Fortune 500 companies including was determined to have a backdoor giving hackers administrative control of the web server. Worse than the number of these backdoors is the time elapsed between the planting of the backdoor and the actual discovery of the backdoor. These backdoors often go unnoticed for months.

How to prevent backdoor attacks

The reality in today’s enterprise is that software projects/products that have little or unknown trust are leveraged every day.  We have found that many of these backdoors elude malware detection tools because there are no executables, Enterprises must now look for new ways to track the open-source projects that enter their enterprise from external untrusted sources, such as open-source code repositories and must be able to rapidly respond to any backdoors discovered in these projects.  If not, these backdoors have the potential to inflict serious and prolonged harm on the enterprise.

 

Thoughts and key takeaway: Cloud Security Alliance CEE summit Arrow to Content

November 18, 2013 | Leave a Comment

The Cloud Security Alliance Central Eastern Europe Summit gave a good opportunity to learn about the Cloud Computing market in areas of Europe that are less reviewed. The congress, held in the center of the old city of Ljubljana, provided interesting mixture of Information Security professionals along with various cloud providers and end users coming to explore the news in this dynamic world of cloud computing.

And the news was definitely coming in a storm. First speaker for the morning was Raj Samani, EMEA CTO for McAfee who gave an interesting look at the eco-system of Cybercrimes. In an excellent performance, Mr. Samani described how the cloud models are also propagating into the Cyber Crimes ecosystems. “Cyber Criminals today do not need to be a disturbed computer genius”, he explained, “All you need to have is a credit card”.

Cybercrimes usually containthree components: Research, CrimeWare and infrastructure. All those components can be acquired in the same models of cloud services as we know from our daily life,  McAfee CTO revealed as he ran slides describing different services starting from spam and botnet for hire but also going all the way up to e-mail hacking service and even guns and hit-man as service websites. While we know that those services exist for a long time now, it was hard not to be impressed from the sophistication and the granularity of each service details. The level of transparency and detailed SLA that some of those “hackers of a service” adopted, can even provide some lessonsto traditional cloud providers.

In the next presentation, François Gratiolet, EMEA CISO for Qualys, gave a brief review about the business drivers and market characteristics of security as service offering. “SecAAS can improve the business security by enabling the organization to focus on itskey assets and risk management while maintaining flexibility and agility”, he explained, “but the offering still needs to mature and provide more governance, liability and transparency”.

The call for more transparency from the cloud providers is repeating in all cloud security conferences, and some cloud providers recognize it as business advantage. Jan Bervar, CTO for NIL, presented how NIL, a local IaaS and PaaS Provider, has taken the strategy of providing secure cloud services that are trustable and transparent.  “We set controls and strict standards on our services”, explained Mr. Bervar while he listed cloud computing top threats and how NIL offering is protecting customers against those risks.

 

 

Governments and the EU commission are also aware of the fact that they need to help cloud consumers and cloud providers to increase trust among them. The EU strategy for cloud computing includes a plan to “cut through the jungle of laws and regulation” that currently many stakeholders encounter. Big part of this process is dependent on the new data protection law for the EU that is being promoted as we speak. Gloria Marcoccio, from the Italian chapter of the Cloud Security Alliance, reviews the progress of the new EU data protection legislation and its effect on cloud computing players. Judging from that lecture and other lectures such as lawyer Boris Kozlevcarpresentationabout SLA and PLA challenges in the cloud, emphasize how important governments role in enabling the business and legal framework for cloud computing practices.

When discussing the future of cloud computing, we are starting to hear more about “Cloud Brokerage”. Dr. Jesus Luna Garcia from the Cloud Security Alliance explained the role of Cloud Brokerage in his presentation about Helix Nebula, a cloud environment built for providing computing resources for science and academic organizations in the EU.  Helix Nebula project act as intermediate between the consumers and a variety of cloud services and provide added value services such as standard security policy and secure data transfer across providers as well as continues monitoring and different service levels. This interesting model is a good sign for how the future implementation of cloud brokerage will look like.

Shifting from the legal and business aspects to the technology challenges.Interesting presentations heard from Trend Micro presenting their solution for virtual environments and the future of security in hybrid clouds. The new software define network technology was also introduced in a presentation by researchers from the university of Ljubljana elaborating this new technology challenges and benefits. SDN technology will probably change the way we treat network security in the cloud and got a good potential to give akick start for new technologies dealing with the threats of tomorrow.

And of course, no security conference these days is complete without discussing the challenges of government access to data, inspired by PRISM and Snowden leaks.  In the two concluding presentations from Astec and Slovenian cert it was discussed the effects of the latest news about the extent of US government and other governments in their pursuit of data access.  There is much to be said on this topic and it hard to summarize it in one article, but bottom line is that governments across the globe are spying on private communication and will probably continue to do so.
The effect on cloud computing adoption will probably remain for the short term only, since the cloud value proposition is just too high to ignore.

 

Moshe is a security entrepreneur and investor. With over 20 years’ experience in information security at various industry positions.  Currently focused on Cloud Computing as board member for Cloud alliance Israeli Chapter, public speaker on various cloud aspects and investor at Clarisite and FortyCloud – Startup companies with innovative security solutions. More information can be found at: www.onlinecloudsec.com

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