Category Archives: Cloud Security

Security is slowly becoming essential to doing business

A veteran of the information security industry, Greg Jensen has spent the last six years at Oracle as the Senior Director of Oracle’s Cloud Security solutions. He’s also the Senior Editor of the Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report, as well as Oracle’s annual CISO Report. “The focus of these efforts is to understand the key challenges that hundreds of global organizations are struggling with as they lift and shift workloads to the cloud, and … More

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Concerns and Challenges Towards an Effective Cloud Security

In July 2019, Capital One made news headlines not for achieving another milestone but because it had been breached. Capital One was using AWS cloud services, as many businesses are doing nowadays. The problem stemmed (in part) because Capital One had a misconfigured open-source Web Application Firewall (WAF) hosted in the cloud with Amazon Web […]… Read More

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Security as a Service: Why Apply for SECaaS?

In today’s corporate environment, businesses and organizations rely heavily on services. This is especially true for their IT department, whose proprietary system and infrastructures can be costly to build. “As-a-service” products range in various types across all industries, and security as a service is one such product.

What Is Security as a Service (SECaaS)?

Security as a service (SECaaS) is a business model that offers companies and organizations affordable cloud-based cybersecurity services. Through SECaaS, companies and organizations no longer need to buy cybersecurity hardware or software to improve their cybersecurity system.

The company also doesn’t need to hire extra personnel to handle cybersecurity on a daily basis. In a security as a service model, the provider handles the management of the company’s cybersecurity.

Benefits of SECaaS

Security as a service is not a new business model, but cloud computing and other advancements in technology have made SECaaS a more cost-effective choice than having a heavily dedicated in-house cybersecurity group.

Below are the benefits of security as a service:

Affordability

Security as a service is the most affordable way to strengthen a company’s cybersecurity. Because SECaaS providers offer their services to multiple clients through a cloud platform, they can keep their rates low and affordable even for midsize companies.

Use of the latest cybersecurity tools

Through security as a service, companies can use the latest cybersecurity tools and software without having to buy it themselves. Their cybersecurity tools won’t fall behind industry standards, and hackers cannot use old exploits to infiltrate their system

Lower overhead cost

Since companies don’t need to hire extra personnel and buy patches for cybersecurity tools, the company has less overhead cost. In the long run, this can translate to profits that can be put into expansion or other investments.

Better data management

Through SECaaS, organizations can be sure that their data remains safe and secure. SECaaS providers monitor the movement of data across the company’s network and can detect when a user tries to access a file without permission.

Security as a Service Example

Security as a service offers a broad spectrum of cybersecurity services and solutions. Due to the wide spectrum of these services, the non-profit organization Cloud Security Alliance has outlined them into the following categories:

Network Security

Cybersecurity service that provides network access permissions while monitoring and protecting network services.

Vulnerability Scanning

Focuses on scanning and evaluating the client’s system for security vulnerabilities.

Web Security

Protects the company network from website and internet-based attacks.

Email Security

Monitors inbound and outbound emails for any malicious files and attachments, spam emails, and phishing emails.

Encryption

A service where outbound files are scrambled using ciphers to prevent any third party from reading the file.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Monitors, protects, and backs up files in case of data breach or loss.

Final Note

Businesses today know just how important data and information are. That’s why cybersecurity is a top priority for many businesses that deal with sensitive information.

Through security as a service (SECaaS), companies of all sizes can have the best cybersecurity without breaking the bank.

Also Read,

The 10 Best Managed Security Service Providers in 2019

Illegal Streaming Services Threatens Computers and Data Security

Adwind Spyware-as-a-Service Utility Grid Operators Attacks

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The rise of modern applications, DevSecOps and the intelligence economy

There has been a significant year-over-year growth in enterprise usage trends around multi-cloud adoption, open source technologies such as Kubernetes, and AWS cloud-native services adoption, Sumo Logic report reveals. The research also shows the increasing need for cloud-based security solutions such as cloud SIEM to help enterprises address today’s increasingly complex security landscape. The intelligence economy The report also provides a summary of three major trends shaping digital business today: the rise of modern applications, … More

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Major Web Hosting Hazards You Should Take Seriously

“I’ve read that my web hosting provider’s website that they have a good security solution in place to protect me against hackers.”

This is a pretty common answer that a lot of bloggers and small business owners gave me when I ask them if they know about how secure their web hosting is. Also, they often add that their budgets are pretty tight so they’ve chosen to go with “an affordable provider.” By “affordable,” of course, they mean ‘ridiculously cheap.”

Come on, people.

Do you really think that a cheap web hosting has everything in place to stop a website attack? Do you think that they will protect you from all types of hacker attacks?

While I don’t know everything about how web hosting providers choose security solutions, I can tell you with some confidence that a lot of them have laughable solutions.

If you don’t believe me, you can Google something like “Hacked website stories” and you’ll see that many web hosting companies, from some of the cheapest to even some well-known ones – don’t have adequate security solutions in place. As a result, lots of people have lost their websites. These horror stories are quite common, and even a simple Google search can return a lot of them.

Shocking Stats

Unfortunately, hackers are becoming more and more skilled at what they do, and stats support this. If you visit the live counter of hacked websites on Internet Live Stats, you’ll discover that at least 100,000 websites are hacked DAILY (for example, I visited the counter at 7:07 pm and it showed that 101,846 websites have been hacked since 12 am).

From what I saw on Internet Live Stats, I could tell that one website was hacked every second. This is horrible, and one of the bad things about this was that many of the owners of these websites thought that they were protected by their web hosting provider.

The next bad thing about all of this is that the number of websites hacked daily is getting higher. For example, there were about 30,000 websites hacked a day in 2013 according to this Forbes piece, but as we could see on the live counter, this number has more than tripled in 2019. If this negative trend continues, then we could easily see even more website owners losing their business on a daily basis very soon.

While this information is certainly alarming, website owners are typically to blame for the fact that their website was stolen from them (not trying to be rude here at all). If we dig a little bit deeper into the data on hacked websites, we discover that many use ridiculously simple passwords, poor hosting providers, outdated content management systems (CMS), and do other unwise things that help hackers get in.

For example, many bloggers want to focus on content writing, editing, and lead building rather than think about stuff like hosting. While content proofreading is something they could get help with by using numerous online tools like, Grammarly and Hemingway Editor, getting quality assistance with a hacked website is a whole new ballgame.

Next, there’s an issue with passwords. According to a recent survey by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), 23.2 million web accounts they’ve analyzed had “123456” as a password. Moreover, about 7.7 million people relied on “123456789” for protection of their data, while “password” and “qwerty” were also quite popular with about 3 million users each.

While a password is something that could be changed in a matter of seconds to protect your site against brute force attacks, it may not protect you from most cyber threats. This is the responsibility of a hosting provider, and unfortunately, a lot of people disregard this requirement for web security.

That’s why we’re going to talk about hosting security issues that you should protect your site from.

How Web Hosting Affects the Security of Your Website

Before we talk about major web hosting hazards, let’s quickly discuss the connection between the security of your website and the web hosting you’re using. I’m going to say this right away: choosing a web hosting provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up for your website, and the implications go way beyond security.

For example, if you’re a blogger or a business owner, you’ll get:

  • A high level of protection against hackers. “This means that you’ll be able to concentrate on content creation,” says Peter O’Brien, a content specialist from Studicus. “If I selected a poor host, I wouldn’t spend so much doing the creative stuff, that’s for sure”
  • A fast loading time. People don’t like to wait; in fact, Google claims that websites that load within 5 seconds have 70 percent longer visitor sessions, 35 lower bounce rates, and 25 percent higher viewability compared to websites that load between 5 and 19 seconds. That’s why Google has released the mobile-first indexing update and designed own PageSpeed Insights tool to help users optimize the performance of their websites
  • High reliability and uptime. Most web hosting companies claim that the websites they service are online for 99.9 percent of the time, but the real time can vary and depends on the quality of the provider.
  • Better security. This one means that different web hosting providers have different security packages, therefore the websites they power have different protection from hackers. Moreover, a good host can help you to recover quickly in case if you’ve suffered an attack.

Let’s talk a little bit more about the last bullet point. So, how can one tell that their hosting provider is poor? That’s pretty easy:

  • Slow loading times. If your website loads for more than five seconds, then chances are that its performance is affected by the hosting provider that has put a lot of sites into one server
  • Frequent security issues. If your website doesn’t have backups and suffers from various cyber attacks often, then you should definitely talk to your provider (make sure that your passwords aren’t the problem)
  • Regular unexpected downtime. A poor choice of a web hosting provider often leads to this problem, which, in turn, is often caused by overloaded servers. In other words, the provider simply can’t handle the volume of visitors that your website (and other websites hosted on that server) are experiencing.

So, to sum up, the quality of hosting is essential for the success of your online venture, and making a poor choice can lead to disappointing outcomes (just remember the figures from the live counter again). But with so many websites getting hacked on a daily basis, what do you need to know to protect your own one? Read the next section to know.

Beware of these Major Web Hosting Hazards

  1. Shared Hosting Issues

Sharing hosting is a tricky business, and you don’t know how many websites are on the server where your own one lives. It’s quite possible that the number is quite high, up to a thousand, and this could be one of the reasons why your website might be underperforming.

For example, this discussion threat had some interesting information on this. A person asked how many websites are typically served on one shared server, and some of the answers were astonishing! For example, one user responded by writing the following.

Can you believe it? 800 websites on one server! Talk about performance issues, right?

While I realize that a single server can host up to several thousand websites, can you imagine what would happen if at least ten of them are high-traffic ones? Think crashes, slow loading times, unplanned downtime, and lots of other issues.

Since people are always looking to save costs, chances are that shared hosting issues will continue to impact a lot of websites.

  1. Attacks that Exploit an outdated version of PHP

It’s a known fact that about 80 percent of all websites in 2018 ran on PHP. However, since the beginning of 2019, the support for PHP 5.6x will be ended, meaning that all support for any version of PHP 5.x is gone. In other words, the sites that fail to update won’t get any security patches, bug fixes, and updates.

However, recent reports suggest that this news didn’t trigger any massive moves to the newer versions of PHP. For example, according to Threat Post, about 62 percent of all server-side programming websites are still using PHP version 5. Here are the full data.

Source: Threat Post

“These sites probably include old libraries that haven’t had the joy of an update…” the abovementioned Threat Post post cited a web security expert, as saying. “The libraries probably have bugs and security holes in themselves, never mind the hosting platform or the website code itself. In some cases library code can be updated easily, others not.”

For hackers looking for some business, this means that they have a lot of work to do. Can you imagine it: since the beginning of this year, more than 60 percent of websites stopped getting security updates!

“Faced with the urgent requirement to update the PHP version, a lot of websites owners will make a corresponding request for their web hosting providers,” shares Sam Bridges, a web security specialist from Trust My Paper. “This means that the latter will face a flood of support requests, which could translate into a slow pace of the update process.”

On top of that, some providers may not be willing to notify their users about the requirement to update their PHP versions, so a lot of websites may still be using outdated ones in the next few years.

Well, hopefully you’re not going to be one of them.

  1. More Sophisticated DDoS Attack Techniques

DDoS attacks are nothing new. However, they are still a common type of a cyberweapon used against websites that should be considered when choosing a hosting provider. In fact, the situation here is a lot more complicated than one thinks.

For example, the research suggests that the total number of DDoS attacks has decreased by 13 percent in 2018, which may seem like a positive signal by many.

The comparison of the number of DDoS attacks between 2017 and 2018. Source: Kaspersky

Unfortunately, the stats don’t provide the big picture here. According to Kaspersky, hackers are reducing the number of attempts to break into websites using DDoS attacks, but they are turning to more advanced and sophisticated attack techniques.

For example, it was found that the average length of attacks has increased from 95 minutes in the first quarter of 2018 to 218 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2018. While it means that the protection against this kind of attacks is getting better, it also suggests that the malefactors are becoming more selective and skilled.

 

For example, 2018 has seen the biggest DDoS attacks in history; one of these situations involved a U.S.-based website that reported a 1.7 TB/s assault (this means that the attackers overwhelmed the site with a massive wave of traffic hitting 1.7 terabytes per second!), according to The Register.

Source: The Register

Therefore, we may see an increase in unresponsive websites due to DDoS attacks in the next years (clearly, not a lot of websites can survive an attack like this one), as hackers deploy more sophisticated techniques.

Since a lack of DDoS-protected hosting is a major risk factor in this situation, make sure that your hosting provider has this protection in place.

Stay Protected

Web hosting is not the first thing that many website owners think about when setting up their businesses, but it’s definitely one that could make or break them. The success of your venture ultimately depends on the uptime, loading time, and overall reliability of your website, so being aware of the threats that you can face in the nearest future could help you to avoid losing your website and joining those 100,000+ unfortunate sites owners who get their sites hacked every day.

Hopefully, this article was a nice introduction to the importance of web hosting and the risks that come with it. Remember: if you want your data to be protected, pay attention to the existing and emerging risks right now and make appropriate decisions. Eventually, this’ll pay you nicely by maximizing uptime and reliability of your website.

 

Dorian Martin is a frequent blogger and an article contributor to a number of websites related to digital marketing, AI/ML, blockchain, data science and all things digital. He is a senior writer at WoWGrade, runs a personal blog NotBusinessAsUsusal and provides training to other content writers.

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19 Cloud Security Best Practices for 2019

Now well into its second decade of commercial availability, cloud computing has become near-ubiquitous, with roughly 95 percent of businesses reporting that they have a cloud strategy. While cloud providers are more secure than ever before, there are still risks to using any cloud service. Fortunately, they can be largely mitigated by following these cloud security best practices:

Protect Your Cloud Data

  1. Determine which data is the most sensitive. While applying the highest level of protection across the board would naturally be overkill, failing to protect the data that is sensitive puts your enterprise at risk of intellectual property loss or regulatory penalties. Therefore, the first priority should be to gain an understanding of what to protect through data discovery and classification, which is typically performed by a data classification engine. Aim for a comprehensive solution that locates and protects sensitive content on your network, endpoints, databases and in the cloud, while giving you the appropriate level of flexibility for your organization.
  2. How is this data being accessed and stored? While it’s true that sensitive data can be stored safely in the cloud, it certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion. According to the McAfee 2019 Cloud Adoption and Risk Report, 21 percent of all files in the cloud contain sensitive data—a sharp increase from the year before1. While much of this data lives in well-established enterprise cloud services such as Box, Salesforce and Office365, it’s important to realize that none of these services guarantees 100 percent safety. That’s why it’s important to examine the permissions and access context associated with data in your cloud environment and adjust appropriately. In some cases, you may need to remove or quarantine sensitive data already stored in the cloud.
  3. Who should be able to share it, and how? Sharing of sensitive data in the cloud has increased by more than 50% year over year.1 Regardless of how powerful your threat mitigation strategy is, the risks are far too high to take a reactive approach: access control policies should be established and enforced before data ever enters the cloud. Just as the number of employees who need the ability to edit a document is much smaller than the number who may need to view it, it is very likely that not everyone who needs to be able to access certain data needs the ability to share Defining groups and setting up privileges so that sharing is only enabled for those who require it can drastically limit the amount of data being shared externally.
  4. Don’t rely on cloud service encryption. Comprehensive encryption at the file level should be the basis of all your cloud security efforts. While the encryption offered within cloud services can safeguard your data from outside parties, it necessarily gives the cloud service provider access to your encryption keys. To fully control access, you’ll want to deploy stringent encryption solutions, using your own keys, before uploading data to the cloud.

Minimize Internal Cloud Security Threats  

  1. Bring employee cloud usage out of the shadows. Just because you have a corporate cloud security strategy in place doesn’t mean that your employees aren’t utilizing the cloud on their own terms. From cloud storage accounts like Dropbox to online file conversion services, most people don’t consult with IT before accessing the cloud. To measure the potential risk of employee cloud use, you should first check your web proxy, firewall and SIEM logs to get a complete picture of which cloud services are being utilized, and then conduct an assessment of their value to the employee/organization versus their risk when deployed wholly or partially in the cloud. Also, keep in mind that shadow usage doesn’t just refer to known endpoints accessing unknown or unauthorized services—you’ll also need a strategy to stop data from moving from trusted cloud services to unmanaged devices you’re unaware of. Because cloud services can provide access from any device connected to the internet, unmanaged endpoints such as personal mobile devices create a hole in your security strategy. You can restrict downloads to unauthorized devices by making device security verification a prerequisite to downloading files.
  2. Create a “safe” list. While most of your employees are utilizing cloud services for above-the-board purposes, some of them will inadvertently find and use dubious cloud services. Of the 1,935 cloud services in use at the average organization, 173 of them rank as high-risk services.1 By knowing which services are being used at your company, you’ll be able to set policies 1.) Outlining what sorts of data are allowed in the cloud, 2.) Establishing a “safe” list of cloud applications that employees can utilize, and 3.) Explaining the cloud security best practices, precautions and tools required for secure utilization of these applications.
  3. Endpoints play a role, too. Most users access the cloud through web browsers, so deploying strong client security tools and ensuring that browsers are up-to-date and protected from browser exploits is a crucial component of cloud security. To fully protect your end-user devices, utilize advanced endpoint security such as firewall solutions, particularly if using IaaS or PaaS models.
  4. Look to the future. New cloud applications come online frequently, and the risk of cloud services evolves rapidly, making manual cloud security policies difficult to create and keep up to date. While you can’t predict every cloud service that will be accessed, you can automatically update web access policies with information about the risk profile of a cloud service in order to block access or present a warning message. Accomplish this through integration of closed-loop remediation (which enforces policies based on a service-wide risk rating or distinct cloud service attributes) with your secure web gateway or firewall. The system will automatically update and enforce policies without disrupting the existing environment.
  5. Guard against careless and malicious users. With organizations experiencing an average of 14.8 insider threat incidents per month—and 94.3 percent experiencing an average of at least one a month—it isn’t a matter of if you will encounter this sort of threat; it’s a matter of when. Threats of this nature include both unintentional exposure—such as accidentally disseminating a document containing sensitive data—as well as true malicious behavior, such as a salesperson downloading their full contact list before leaving to join a competitor. Careless employees and third-party attackers can both exhibit behavior suggesting malicious use of cloud data. Solutions leveraging both machine learning and behavioral analytics can monitor for anomalies and mitigate both internal and external data loss.
  6. Trust. But verify. Additional verification should be required for anyone using a new device to access sensitive data in the cloud. One suggestion is to automatically require two-factor authentication for any high-risk cloud access scenarios. Specialized cloud security solutions can introduce the requirement for users to authenticate with an additional identity factor in real time, leveraging existing identity providers and identity factors (such as a hard token, a mobile phone soft token, or text message) already familiar to end users.

Develop Strong Partnerships with Reputable Cloud Providers

  1. Regulatory compliance is still key. Regardless of how many essential business functions are shifted to the cloud, an enterprise can never outsource responsibility for compliance. Whether you’re required to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act, PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA or other regulatory policies, you’ll want to choose a cloud architecture platform that will allow you to meet any regulatory standards that apply to your industry. From there, you’ll need to understand which aspects of compliance your provider will take care of, and which will remain under your purview. While many cloud service providers are certified for myriad industry and governmental regulations, it’s still your responsibility to build compliant applications and services on the cloud, and to maintain that compliance going forward. It’s important to note that previous contractual obligations or legal barriers may prohibit the use of cloud services on the grounds that doing so constitutes relinquishing control of that data.
  2. But brand compliance is important, too. Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your branding strategy. Develop a comprehensive plan to manage identities and authorizations with cloud services. Software services that comply with SAML, OpenID or other federation standards make it possible for you to extend your corporate identity management tools into the cloud.
  3. Look for trustworthy providers. Cloud service providers committed to accountability, transparency and meeting established standards will generally display certifications such as SAS 70 Type II or ISO 27001. Cloud service providers should make readily accessible documentation and reports, such as audit results and certifications, complete with details relevant to the assessment process. Audits should be independently conducted and based on existing standards. It is the responsibility of the cloud provider to continuously maintain certifications and to notify clients of any changes in status, but it’s the customer’s responsibility to understand the scope of standards used—some widely used standards do not assess security controls, and some auditing firms and auditors are more reliable than others.
  4. How are they protecting you? No cloud service provider offers 100 percent security. Over the past several years, many high profile CSPs have been targeted by hackers, including AWS, Azure, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, and others. It’s important to examine the provider’s data protection strategies and multitenant architecture, if relevant—if the provider’s own hardware or operating system are compromised, everything hosted within them is automatically at risk. For that reason, it’s important to use security tools and examine prior audits to find potential security gaps (and if the provider uses their own third-party providers, cloud security best practices suggest you examine their certifications and audits as well.) From there, you’ll be able to determine what security issues must be addressed on your end. For example, fewer than 1 in 10 providers encrypt data stored at rest, and even fewer support the ability for a customer to encrypt data using their own encryption keys.1 Finding providers that both offer comprehensive protection as well as the ability for users to bridge any gaps is crucial to maintaining a strong cloud security posture.
  5. Investigate cloud provider contracts and SLAs carefully. The cloud services contract is your only guarantee of service, and your primary recourse should something go wrong—so it is essential to fully review and understand all terms and conditions of your agreement, including any annexes, schedules and appendices. For example, a contract can make the difference between a company who takes responsibility for your data, and a company that takes ownership of your data. (Only 37.3 % of providers specify that customer data is owned by the customer. The rest either don’t legally specify who owns the data, creating a legal grey area—or, more egregiously, claim ownership of all uploaded data.1) Does the service offer visibility into security events and responses? Is it willing to provide monitoring tools or hooks into your corporate monitoring tools? Does it provide monthly reports on security events and responses? And what happens to your data if you terminate the service? (Keep in mind that only 13.3 percent of cloud providers delete user data immediately upon account termination. The rest keep data for up to a year, with some specifying they have a right to keep it indefinitely.) If you find parts of the contract objectionable, you can try to negotiate—but in the case where you’re told that certain terms are non-negotiable, it is up to you to determine whether the risk presented by accepting the terms as-is is an acceptable one to your business. If not, you’ll need to find alternate means of managing the risk, such as encryption or monitoring, or find another provider.
  6. What happens if something goes wrong? Since no two cloud service providers offer the same set of security controls—and again, no cloud provider delivers 100 percent security—developing an Incident Response (IR) plan is critical. Make sure the provider includes you and considers you a partner in creating such plans. Establish communication paths, roles and responsibilities with regard to an incident, and to run through the response and hand-offs ahead of time. SLAs should spell out the details of the data the cloud provider will provide in the case of an incident, how data will be handled during incidents to maintain availability, and guarantee the support necessary to effectively execute the enterprise IR plan at each stage. While continuous monitoring will offer the best chance at early detection, full-scale testing should be performed on at least an annual basis, with additional testing coinciding with major changes to the architecture.
  7. Protect your IaaS environments. When using IaaS environments such as AWS or Azure, you retain responsibility for the security of operating systems, applications, and network traffic. Advanced anti-malware technology should be applied to the OS and virtual network to protect your infrastructure. Deploy application whitelisting and memory exploit prevention for single-purpose workloads and machine learning-based protection for file stores and general-purpose workloads.
  8. Neutralize and remove malware from the cloud.Malware can infect cloud workloads through shared folders that sync automatically with cloud storage services, spreading malware from an infected user device to another user’s device. Use a cloud security solution program to scan the files you’ve stored in the cloud to avoid malware, ransomware or data theft attacks. If malware is detected on a workload host or in a cloud application, it can be quarantined or removed, safeguarding sensitive data from compromise and preventing corruption of data by ransomware.
  9. Audit your IaaS configurations regularly.  The many critical settings in IaaS environments such as AWS or Azure can create exploitable weaknesses if misconfigured. Organizations have, on average, at least 14 misconfigured IaaS instances running at any given time, resulting in an average of nearly 2,300 misconfiguration incidents per month. Worse, greater than 1 in 20 AWS S3 buckets in use are misconfigured to be publicly readable.1 To avoid such potential for data loss, you’ll need to audit your configurations for identity and access management, network configuration, and encryption. McAfee offers a free Cloud Audit to help get you started.

 

  1. McAfee 2019 Cloud Adoption and Risk Report

 

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IoT Security in 2019: Things You Need to Know

In recent years, IoT has been on the rise, with billions of new devices getting connected each year. The increase in connectivity is happening throughout markets and business sectors, providing new functionalities and opportunities. As devices get connected, they also become unprecedently exposed to the threat of cyberattacks. While the IoT security industry is still shaping, the solution is not yet clear. In this article, we will review the latest must-know about IoT visibility & security and we will dive into new approaches to secure the IoT revolution.

IoT visibility & security in 2019:

1. IoT endpoint security vs network security

Securing IoT devices is a real challenge. IoT devices are highly diversified, with a wide variety of operating systems (real-time operating systems, Linux-based or bare-metal), communication protocols and architectures. On top of the high diversity, comes the issues of low resources and lack of industry standards and regulations. Most security solutions today focus on securing the network (discover network anomalies and achieve visibility into IoT devices that are active in the network), while the understanding that the devices themselves must be protected is now establishing. The fact that IoT devices can be easily exploited makes them a very good target for attackers, aiming to use the weak IoT device as an entry point to the entire enterprise network, without being caught. Besides that, it’s important to remember that network solutions are irrelevant for distributed IoT devices (i.e., home medical devices), that has no network to protect them.

Manufacturers of IoT devices are therefore key for a secure IoT environment and more and more organizations are willing to pay more for built-in security into their smart devices.

2. “Cryptography is typically bypassed, not penetratedShamir’s law

In recent years we see a lot of focus on IoT data integrity, which basically means encryption & authentication. Though very important by itself, it’s important to understand that encryption doesn’t mean full security. When focusing mainly on encryption & authentication, companies forget that the devices are still exposed to cybersecurity vulnerabilities that can be used to penetrate the device and receive access into the decrypted information, thus bypassing the authentication and encryption entirely. In other words, what’s known for years in the traditional cyber industry as Shamir’s law should  now make its way to the IoT security industry: “Cryptography is typically bypassed, not penetrated” and therefore companies must invest in securing their devices from cyber attacks and not just handle data integrity. To read more about that, please visit Sternum IoT Security two-part blog post.

3. 3rd party IoT vulnerabilities

One of the main issues in IoT security is the heavily reliance of IoT devices on third-party components for communication capabilities, cryptographic capabilities, the operating system itself etc. In fact, this reliance is so strong that it has reached a point where it’s unlikely to find an IoT device without third-party components within it. The fact that third-party libraries are commonly used across devices, combined with the difficulty to secure them, makes them a sweet spot for hackers to look for IoT vulnerabilities and exploit many IoT devices through such 3rd party component.

Vulnerability in third-party components is very dangerous. In many IoT devices, there is no separation and segmentation between processes and/or tasks, which means that even one vulnerability in a third-party library is compromising the entire device. This could lead to lethal results: attackers can leverage the third-party vulnerability to take control over the device and cause damage, steal information of perform a ransomware attack on the manufacturer.

it’s not only that third-party components are dangerous, but they are also extremely difficult to secure. Many third-party components are delivered in binary form, with no source code available. Even when the source code is available, it’s often hard to dive into it and asses the security level or vulnerabilities inside it. Either way, most developers use the open-source components as black-boxes. On top of that, static analysis tools and compiler security flags lack the ability to analyze and secure third-party components and most IoT security solutions cannot offer real-time protection into binary code.

VxWorks vulnerabilities

A recent example of such third party vulnerability that affects millions of devices can be found in the security bugs found in the VxWorks embedded operating system. These vulnerabilities exposed every manufacturer that used VxWorks operating system, even if security measures like penetration testing, static analysis, PKI and firmware analysis were taken.

To summarize, in order to provide strong and holistic IoT protection, you must handle and secure all parts of the device, including the third-party components. Sternum IoT security solutions focus on holistically securing IoT devices from within and therefore offers a unique capability of embedding security protection & visibility into the device from end-to-end. Sternum’s solution is also operating during real-time execution of the device and prevents all attack attempts at the exact point of exploitation, while immediately alerting about the attack and its origins, including from within third-party libraries.

4. Regulation is kicking in

In the past two years, we’re seeing a across industries effort to create regulations and standards for IoT security. We are expecting to see more of these efforts shaping into real regulations that will obligate manufacturers to comply with them.

A good and important example is the FDA premarket cybersecurity guidance that was published last year and is expected to become a formal guidance in 2020. The guidance includes different aspects of cybersecurity in medical devices (which is in many cases are essentially IoT devices) such as data integrity, Over-the-air updates, real-time protection, execution integrity, third-party liabilities and real-time monitoring of the devices.

Another example is the California Internet of Things cybersecurity law that states: Starting on January 1st, 2020, any manufacturer of a device that connects “directly or indirectly” to the internet must equip it with “reasonable” security features, designed to prevent unauthorized access, modification, or information disclosure.

We expect to see more states and countries forming regulations around IoT security since these devices lack of security may have a dramatic effect on industry, cities, and people’s lives. Top two regulations that are about to be released are the new EU Cybersecurity Act (based on ENISA and ETSI standards) and the NIST IoT and Cybersecurity framework.

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Dorms, Degrees, and Data Security: Prepare Your Devices for Back to School Season

With summer coming to a close, it’s almost time for back to school! Back to school season is an exciting time for students, especially college students, as they take their first steps towards independence and embark on journeys that will shape the rest of their lives. As students across the country prepare to start or return to college, we here at McAfee have revealed new findings indicating that many are not proactively protecting their academic data. Here are the key takeaways from our survey of 1,000 Americans, ages 18-25, who attend or have attended college:

Education Needs to Go Beyond the Normal Curriculum

While many students are focused on classes like biology and business management, very few get the proper exposure to cybersecurity knowledge. 80% of students have been affected by a cyberattack or know a friend or family member who has been affected. However, 43% claim that they don’t think they will ever be a victim of a cybercrime in the future.

Educational institutions are very careful to promote physical safety, but what about cyber safety? It turns out only 36% of American students claim that they have learned how to keep personal information safe through school resources. According to 42% of our respondents, they learn the most about cybersecurity from the news. To help improve cybersecurity education in colleges and universities, these institutions should take a certain level of responsibility when it comes to training students on how they can help keep their precious academic data safe from cybercriminals.

Take Notes on Device Security

Believe it or not, many students fail to secure all of their devices, opening them up to even more vulnerabilities. While half of students have security software installed on their personal computers, this isn’t the case for their tablets or smartphones. Only 37% of students surveyed have smartphone protection, and only 13% have tablet protection. What’s more, about one in five (21%) students don’t use any cybersecurity products at all.

Class Dismissed: Cyberattacks Targeting Education Are on the Rise

According to data from McAfee Labs, cyberattacks targeting education in Q1 2019 have increased by 50% from Q4 2018. The combination of many students being uneducated in proper cybersecurity hygiene and the vast array of shared networks that these students are simultaneously logged onto gives cybercriminals plenty of opportunities to exploit when it comes to targeting universities. Some of the attacks utilized include account hijacking and malware, which made up more than 70% of attacks on these institutions from January to May of 2019. And even though these attacks are on the rise, 90% of American students still use public Wi-Fi and only 18% use a VPN to protect their devices.

Become a Cybersecurity Scholar

In order to go into this school year with confidence, students should remember these security tips:

  • Never reuse passwords. Use a unique password for each one of your accounts, even if it’s for an account that doesn’t hold a lot of personal information. You can also use a password manager so you don’t have to worry about remembering various logins.
  • Always set privacy and security settings. Anyone with access to the internet can view your social media if it’s public. Protect your identity by turning your profiles to private so you can control who can follow you. You should also take the time to understand the various security and privacy settings to see which work best for your lifestyle.
  • Use the cloud with caution. If you plan on storing your documents in the cloud, be sure to set up an additional layer of access security. One way of doing this is through two-factor authentication.
  • Always connect with caution. If you need to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your connection secure.
  • Discuss cyber safety often. It’s just as important for families to discuss cyber safety as it is for them to discuss privacy on social media. Talk to your family about ways to identify phishing scams, what to do if you may have been involved in a data breach, and invest in security software that scans for malware and untrusted sites.

And, of course, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Serverless Security: Best Practices to Secure your Serverless Infrastructure

According to a study by LogicMonitor, the number of applications hosted on-premises will decrease by 10%, to 27%, by 2020. In comparison, the number of cloud-native, more specifically serverless hosted applications, like AWS Lambda, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, will increase to 41%.

The trend to cloud, specifically serverless, and away from on-prem, is not new and of no surprise, as serverless hosted applications provide developers with a faster speed to market and allows for them to release new functionality on a more frequent basis. In addition, it can save organizations bundles in infrastructure costs. It has however left DevSecOps and security teams in a quandary. While they don’t want to impede development efforts, they are left with no choice but to place the security of serverless applications in someone else’s hands.

To alleviate this issue, there are several serverless security best practices that must be put in place in order to properly secure serverless apps launched by the developer.

Serverless Security Best Practices

Don’t rely solely on WAF protection: Application layer firewalls are only capable of inspecting HTTP(s) traffic. This means that a WAF will only protect functions which are API Gateway-triggered functions. It will not provide protection against any other event trigger types. A WAF will not help if your functions are triggered from different events sources, such as:

  • Cloud storage events (e.g. AWS S3, Azure Blob storage, Google Cloud Storage)
  • Stream data processing (e.g. AWS Kinesis)
  • Databases changes (e.g. AWS DynamoDB, Azure CosmosDB)
  • Code modifications (e.g. AWS CodeCommit)
  • Notifications (e.g., SMS, Emails, IoT)

Having a WAF in place is still important, but it is not and should not be the only line of defense in securing serverless applications. Relying solely on a WAF leaves many gaping security holes.

Customize Function Permissions: 90% of permissions in serverless applications are found to be over permissioned. While setting up permissions feels like a daunting task when thinking of the function levels in serverless, a one size fits all approach is not a solution. Setting policies that are larger and more permissive in the function is a common serverless security mistake, and failing to minimize individual function roles and permissions makes your attack surface larger than necessary. Creating proper function level permissions requires DevSecOps teams to sit down with the developers who wrote the functions and review what each function does. Only after determining what each function actually needs to do, can a unique role for each function and a suitable permission policy be created. Luckily there are tools available to help automate this process for heightened AWS Lambda security, as well as other cloud-native platforms.

Conduct a Code Audit: Black Duck Software conducted an audit of 1,000 commonly-used applications in enterprises and found that 96% utilized open-source software. Furthermore, their researchers found that 60% of that software contained security vulnerabilities, and some of the bugs were more than four years old. This makes code ownership and authenticity a critical security risk, as can you really trust what isn’t yours?

Referred to as “Poisoning the Well,’ attackers aim to gain more long-term persistence in your application by means of an upstream attack. Cloud-native applications tend to comprise of many modules and libraries. The modules often include many other modules, so it’s not uncommon for a single serverless function to include tens of thousands of lines of code from various external sources, even with less than 100 lines of code your developers wrote. Attackers look to include their malicious code in common projects. After poisoning the well, they patiently wait as the new version makes its way into your cloud applications. To enhance AWS serverless security, as well as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Functions, etc, it is important to conduct a security audit of the code or look for tooling that can automate the process, scanning for vulnerabilities as a serverless security best practice.

Retain Control Over Your Functions: This may sound like a utopian dream, but code vulnerability can be mitigated through careful CI/CD. Malicious functions can slip in through a variety of means, such as being deployed by a rogue employee. Additionally, develop workstations could be a target for attackers, rather than the deployed apps themselves, and would enable attackers to deploy malicious functions through legitimate channels. Such functions could sneak in and wreak havoc, undetected. To offset this chance, create a policy and strategy for conducting a code analysis during build before it goes into runtime, and make sure every function goes through CI/CD.

Look at All Attack Indicators: Visibility gets harder with serverless. The shift to serverless significantly increases the total amount of information and the number of resources, which hinders DevSecOps and Security team’s ability to make sense of all the data. As the quantity of functions increases, it becomes even more difficult to determine if everything is behaving the way it’s supposed to. Case in point, only a few hundred functions can generate billions of events in your log every day and it becomes difficult to know which are important. Even if you are familiar with the attack patterns that are unique to serverless apps, visually scanning them all simply can’t be done, so leverage AI tools for added serverless security visibility and efficiency.

Time Out Your Functions: Functions should have a tight runtime profile. Admittedly, crafting appropriate serverless function timeouts is often not intuitive. The maximum duration of a function can be quite specific to that function. DevSecOps teams must consider the configured timeout versus the actual timeout. Many developers set the timeout to the maximum allowed since the unused time doesn’t create an additional expense. However, this approach creates an enormous security risk because if an attacker is able to succeed with a code injection, they have more time available to do more damage. Shorter timeouts require them to attack more often, which we refer to as a “Groundhog Day,” attack, but it makes the attack more visible. As a serverless security best practice, shrink not just what a function can do, but how long it can run.

In conclusion, despite new security challenges arising, serverless deployments are great for organizations of all sizes- providing developers with speed to launch, and improving operational costs and efficiencies. Serverless also creates an opportunity to adopt an even greater security posture since everything is at the function level making it even more difficult for attackers. To embrace this new opportunity, it is important for teams to change their approach to application security in serverless deployments. Securing serverless apps requires a variety of tools and tactics, including collaboration between the people involved in the application and the security.

The post Serverless Security: Best Practices to Secure your Serverless Infrastructure appeared first on CyberDB.

Test Your Knowledge on How Businesses Use and Secure the Cloud

Security used to be an inhibitor to cloud adoption, but now the tables have turned, and for the first time we are seeing security professionals embrace the cloud as a more secure environment for their business. Not only are they finding it more secure, but the benefits of cloud adoption are being accelerated in-step with better security.

Do you know what’s shaping our new world of secure cloud adoption? Do you know what the best practices are for you to accelerate your own business with the cloud? Test your knowledge in this quiz.

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's widget.

Not prepared? Lucky for you this is an “open-book” test. Find some cheat sheets and study guides below.

Report: Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Business Growth Edition

Blog: Top Findings from the Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Business Growth Edition

Blog: Why Security Teams Have Come to Embrace the Cloud

MVISION Cloud Data Sheet

MVISION Cloud

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Using Intelligent Data Controls to Accelerate Business

In our previous blog post, Getting Started with Cloud Governance, enterprise security architect Wayne Anderson discussed the challenge of understanding the “sanctioned” path to the cloud and how governance was the initial building block for cloud security. To understand the sanctioned path, we must have visibility into our overall use of cloud services and further apply a set of intelligent controls that enforce our governance requirements. These steps become the building blocks for intelligent data control, which tightens our data security posture and allows accelerated business transformation.

Before we focus on the intelligent control of data in sanctioned services, we must have a good understanding of what services are being utilized in our environment, along with the associated risk they bring. Setting requirements for cloud service governance is a good first step in identifying and limiting services. To map a set of technical controls to the problem data protection in the cloud, we must start with an architecture and an intelligent model that helps us achieve the desired controls.

The application of intelligent data control starts with a centrally managed platform that is elastic and works across all cloud services models, from SaaS, to PaaS and IaaS. There must be a consistent model in place for the visibility and control of allowable services as well as the control of data for sanctioned applications. The data policies used by the platform should also be consistent in both device-to-cloud and cloud-and-cloud scenarios.

Here’s a diagram showing a common control plane across cloud models:

Once we have the platform defined and in place, we monitor the cloud services being used and build an inventory of discovered services.

Here’s a sample inventory of cloud services using McAfee MVISION Cloud as our platform:

The discovered cloud services inventory is mapped against a comprehensive cloud services risk registry that assesses each service against dozens of attributes that can be used for fine-grained governance policies.

Example cloud service risk profile and attributes:

Finally, we can craft and apply our governance policies, providing visibility and/or remediation of services that fall outside the governance requirements. Any future changes to governance requirements are monitored by an approval workflow system.  The risk registry is updated dynamically and external to the policy execution. This allows for remediation of newly discovered and disallowed cloud services that are outside the acceptable governance requirements.

Intelligent application of governance requirements:

Using this arrangement allows us to implement governance requirements such as total risk (no services allowed with a risk score > 7 on a 1-to-10 scale), not allowing a service that is multi-tenant and does not encrypt data at rest, etc.

Providing intelligent control of cloud services governance policies helps to close the gap of data loss and malware from suspect services that have not been sanctioned. Establishing intelligent governance of cloud services allows for the next step of applying intelligent control to our sanctioned services.

In the future, we will continue the discussion on how intelligent data control can increase data security efficacy and accelerate your business as a result.

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Ten tips for better AWS cyber security

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a huge variety of benefits for businesses, and organisations are increasingly opting for cloud solutions for their data, website, and applications. However, there are still some businesses using AWS that have not put the proper cyber security controls in place. Here we take a look at ten great tips to improve your AWS cyber security.

  1. Understand your responsibilities

When you work with any kind of web services provider you need to understand what you are responsible for and what will be managed by the provider. This is absolutely true in terms of AWS – where Amazon runs its so-called ‘shared responsibility model’. In this model AWS is responsible for protecting the infrastructure of the AWS cloud system including hardware, software, and networking.

On the other hand, you as the customer is responsible for customer data, identity and access management, firewall and anti-virus configuration, and issues such as data encryption. It can sometimes be necessary to work with outside agencies to manage your own cyber security.

  1. Ensure you have a coherent strategy in place

There is often a debate regarding cyber security: should you put controls in place to protect your business first and then update the system as necessary, or should you prioritise establishing a coherent strategy first, before investing in expensive services and tools? You might assume that you need to put defences in place immediately, regardless of whether they are right for your business, but in fact this can often be expensive and difficult to change at a later date.

In the majority of cases it is important that you should put a strategy in place first. With the complex requirements of modern cyber security, you need to understand the needs of your operation before you commit to services.

  1. Use a secure password policy

You need to ensure that your users are protecting themselves with strong passwords. You should put a secure password policy in place – this should not only mean that the passwords have specific requirements (such as: at least 8 characters; numbers, letters and symbols used; etc.) but also that the passwords should need to be updated periodically, and must be unique from previously used passwords.

The policy needs to be configured in the settings of your system so that there is no option for users to not follow them.

  1. Clearly define users’ roles

One major cyber security issue can occur in AWS if a business fails to define and set user roles. If all users have the same permissions and can access the whole of the system then your company is at serious risk if just one of them is compromised by cybercriminals.

You can easily manage user roles in your AWS account, ensuring that staff only have access to the data and files that they need in order to do their job. Of course, it is also important to regularly re-assess accounts to be sure that individuals do not have access to information across the whole of the system.

  1. Opt for a managed service if you require technical expertise

If you want to use AWS services for its many benefits but you are concerned that you do not have the kind of in-house technical expertise required to do so successfully, it can be a great idea to use a managed service. AWS specialists, Wirehive, say:

“There’s no doubt that managed AWS solutions can be extremely powerful and valuable for businesses. However, with the range of tools and options available to AWS businesses, day-to-day infrastructure management activities of the service can be demanding and complicated, taking significant expertise and resources away from more profitable tasks.”

You can work with companies offering a wide range of options to suit your needs, whether you are looking for 24/7 support and the whole system managed for you, or you just need expertise on specific issues.

  1. Put written procedures in place

It is a great idea to ensure that you have your cyber security procedures written up so that they can be accessed by anyone in the company. It is important to have a documented record of plans so that staff are ready to implement them.

  1. Include security at all layers

Yes, it is important to have cyber-security solutions such as firewalls and anti-virus software, but they are no longer enough to keep your business secure. When you work with AWS it is important to provide cyber security solutions for all layers of your business. This means everything from endpoint security measures to integrated SIEM services.

Once again, it is important to note here that if you do not take expert advice on the right sort of security services that you need, you can end up spending a large part of your budget on services that aren’t really doing anything for you.

  1. Encrypt sensitive data

AWS encourages its users to encrypt their data, and even offers you the option encrypt with the click of a button using their native encryption. However, you may prefer to implement your own encryption in ensure that you are protected to your own standards.

Additionally, it should be pointed out that encrypting data will not slow down your system, as some believe – it is simply an important method of securing your data.

  1. Never use expired certificates

It might seem like common sense, but it is still a problem for some AWS users. You should not be using expired SSL/TLS certificates – they may not be compatible with AWS services anymore, and this can create a whole range of issues.

    10. Backup everything

AWS offers backup solutions, and they really are worth considering. Every organisation needs to ensure that its data is backed up in case of either a ransomware-style cyber-attack or some other major issue.

 

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Getting Started with Cloud Governance

Governing cloud security and privacy in the enterprise is hard, but it’s also critical: As recently noted in a blog by Cloud Transformation Specialist Brooke Noelke, security and complexity remain the two most significant obstacles to achieving enterprise cloud goals. Accelerating cloud purchases and tying them together without critical governance has resulted in many of today’s enterprise security executives losing sleep, as minimally secured cloud provider estates run production workloads, and organizations only begin to tackle outstanding SaaS (Software as a Service) footprints.

For security professionals and leaders, the on-premise (or co-location) data center seems simple by comparison: Want to protect applications in the data center? By virtue of the fact that it has a network connection in the data center, there are certain boundaries and processes that already apply. Business unit leaders aren’t exactly standing by with a credit card, trying to load tens of thousands of dollars of 4U Servers, storage racks, and a couple of SAN heads and then trying to expense it. In other words, for a workload in the data center, certain procurement controls must be completed, an IT review established, and implementation steps forced before the servers “light up”—and networking gates must be established for connectivity and publishing.

When it comes to the cloud, however, we’re being asked to fulfill new roles, while continuing to serve as protector of all the organization’s infrastructure, both new and existing. Be the rule setter. Contribute to development practice. Be the enforcer. And do all of this while at the same time making sure all the other projects you already had planned for the next 18 months get accomplished, as well …

Without appropriate controls and expectation-setting, development teams could use a credit card and publish a pre-built workload—from registration to world-accessibility—in hours! Sadly, that’s the reality at many organizations today, in a world where as much as 11% of a company’s published sensitive data is likely to be present in custom/engineered cloud applications.

Simplify Governance – Be Transparent

One of the biggest challenges for today’s businesses is understanding what the “sanctioned” path to cloud looks like: Who do they reach out to? Why should they engage the security team and other IT partners when the software vendor is willing to take credit cards directly? At many of today’s enterprises, “Security Awareness” initiatives mean some emails and a couple training sessions a year on “building block” security measures, with a particular focus on detecting phishing emails. While these measures have their place, security teams should also establish regular partnership meetings at the business unit level to “advertise” available services to “accelerate” capabilities into the cloud.

However, instead of communicating what the business will receive or explaining the steps the security team requires in order to complete the process, the emphasis should be on what departments receive by engaging the security team early: Faster funding and procurement approvals. Proactive scheduling of scarce resources for application review. Accelerated provisioning. And ultimately, faster spend and change times, with less risk and hopefully with minimal schedule impact.

The security team also needs to help the business understand that, while they may not see it reflected in direct line items today, there is a cost per application that they are generating for existing/legacy applications. If the perception is that today’s applications are “free,” but the team needs a line item to be created in new projects for cloud security deployments, it encourages people to exit the process or to avoid things that add to the price—or, at least, to fight an internal battle to push back on each line-item add. Our job is to help the organization understand that today’s security spend is around 7% of infrastructure or application spend, and to set the expectation that whatever the next-generation project budget is, an associated investment should be expected—in both technology and people—to secure the platform.

Establish a Goal and Discuss It

Does your business understand what the “goal line” looks like when it comes to putting something into the cloud? Would they know where to go to find the diagram(s) or list(s) that define that? What level of cloud competency and security understanding does someone in the business need in order to consume what your team has published?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is a shrug—or demands a master’s level understanding of technical knowledge—how can we as the leaders of the security space expect the business to readily partner with us in a process they don’t understand?

Published policy with accompanying detailed standards is a start. But the security team has an opportunity to go a step further with very basic conceptual “block” diagrams, which set “minimum viable protection” that the business’ “minimum viable product” must have to go into security.

The easiest way to do this is to take a minimum control set, and then create a few versions of the diagram—in other words, one for the smallest footprint and one or more at larger scale—to explain to the organization how the requirements “flex” according to the size and traffic volume of what has been deployed.

Cloud Governance is Possible

Governance is the initial building block for cloud security. Being successful in protecting cloud applications requires effective technical controls, like MVISION Cloud’s product risk assessment and protection for enterprise data through unified policy. For the organization to mature and further reduce risk, governance must become as much about consulting with businesses regarding cloud consumption as it has been historically about risk meetings and change reviews. With a few simple adjustments and intentional internal marketing investments, your team can start the journey.

The post Getting Started with Cloud Governance appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Is Cloud Service Provider-Native Security ‘Good Enough’ For Your Cloud Transformation Program’s Goals?

Several times lately, CIOs and CISOs have asked me why the security toolset they get for “free” from their cloud service providers isn’t enough. Sure, it might not be the best … but isn’t it good enough for the program’s success?

It’s true that we don’t often need the Cadillac. But cloud programs are failing at high rates, and the number-one listed reason is security challenges. Teams are trying to use that SaaS or IaaS/PaaS cloud service provider-native security and finding after initial designs that it’s full of holes, or that it’s very difficult to operate across the enterprise. And trying to bolt on additional security to highly automated cloud deployments is not nearly as easy as it was in steadier-state traditional data center configurations. We as solution engineers are failing our development, business and security teams by not addressing the number-one factor in cloud transformation failure with tools that will better support their success in delivering secure cloud implementations.

Figure 1: Percent of respondents with major cloud programs reporting they have “fully achieved” their expected cloud outcomes

Figure 2:  Top concerns perceived to impact that lack of full program goal attainment

The CSPs and enterprise software providers just aren’t considering full architectural requirements for security, at a time when architecture overall—and security architecture in particular—is more important than ever. And they don’t have that perspective: Operating a complete end-to-end security architecture and program isn’t the perspective of these software companies’ product teams. Enterprise security is still needed, but new perspectives, more flexibility and support for automated architectures are also needed. Cloud deployments move so fast that we get to the point of “hard to add budget and redesign for efficiency” faster than ever before. We’re asking our development teams to walk a high wire, creating new technologies that enable business using new cloud technologies … but we’re assuming that those new cloud technologies are coming with their own security safety nets. And the market experience is that they don’t.

A better approach is to ENSURE a practical, agile security architecture starting with Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) basics in place as a foundation of any major cloud transformation program. This gives us detective—and quickly available preventative—controls to ensure that while valuable risks are taken by our development and business teams who build fast in SaaS or IaaS/PaaS cloud, we are protecting them and the enterprise from egregious configuration errors and other easy mistakes up on that high wire.

When I’m developing services, I want to work with market-proven tools—they create an environment for my success.  

What do you think? Are SaaS or IaaS/PaaS “built-in” security controls sufficient, or is a considered enterprise security architecture still necessary? Should we design that security architecture as base to programs or after giving CSPs’ own controls a chance to fail? Always interested in your feedback.

Next month, we’ll look at the highest-priority components of a complete cloud security architecture.

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Are Your Employees Using Your Data in the Shadows?

You have superstar employees who run your business like it’s their own. They use new apps to collaborate with coworkers, vendors, and customers to get work done when it needs to get done. They’re moving your business closer and closer to the cloud. Sounds fantastic! Let them do their thing! But what information is being shared? What apps are they using? Are they secure? Are partners or customers receiving sensitive data that’s not encrypted? Here are a few things to keep in mind as your business accelerates to the cloud.

Businesses Are Adopting Cloud Services Faster Than They Are Being Secured

Employees seeking new cloud services can help you transform the way business is done and improve engagement with customers, partners, and other employees. Most employees are first adopters who are trying new apps to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible. But before you know it, your IT department could become overwhelmed with cloud adoption. This means your organization will inevitably deal with shadow IT as your employees begin using unsanctioned cloud services.

Data Could Be Leaked, Leading to Financial, Reputational, IO, and Compliance Exposure

Do you know what your employees are doing with your business’s data? This is where shadow IT becomes a factor. Not all security controls used today were built with the cloud in mind, especially when it comes to BYOD and IoT. On-premises security products alone can’t provide effective visibility and protection in a hybrid IT world. In a recent McAfee survey, we found that the average organization thinks they use 30 cloud services, but in reality they use 1,935. This disparity is shadow IT—and it’s expanding your attack surface. This leaves your company more exposed to cyberthreats through the use of potentially high-risk cloud services without complete IT visibility or control. Don’t let the risk of shadow IT disrupt your business. Visibility into your organization’s cloud adoption and the devices that connect to these services is a critical step for mitigating the risk of data breaches, non-compliance, and loss of reputation due to shadow IT.

Move at the Speed of Business Without Compromising Security

The future of your company depends on growth and flexibility. Don’t pause on innovation and progress. Let your employees use the devices and apps they have and gain peace of mind knowing that your valuable information is secure. You can place security’s architectural control points on the places where employees work—from device to cloud and in between. You can allow restricted usage of services through application control and still prevent data exfiltration. A cloud access security broker (CASB) can help detect and block instances of sensitive data being uploaded to these shadow IT services.

You can accelerate your transformation to the cloud with IT security as a business enabler. Use security operations—with threat intelligence, management, analytics, automation, and orchestration— as the glue to identify the most advanced threats and crossover attacks. A CASB can be integrated seamlessly into IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS environments to secure cloud services as they are being adopted. Let your employees shine and take your business to the next level backed by an IT department tooled with industry-leading visibility and control provided by our CASB solution, McAfee MVISION Cloud.

Watch our video to understand how using McAfee can enable you to accelerate your business, reducing the risk of transformative technologies like the cloud and all the devices employees use to access data.

The post Are Your Employees Using Your Data in the Shadows? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Cloud 101: Navigating the Top 5 Cloud Management Challenges

Cloud management is a critical topic that organizations are looking at to simplify operations, increase IT efficiency, and reduce costs. Although cloud adoption has risen in the past few years, some organizations aren’t seeing the results they’d envisioned. That’s why we’re sharing a few of the top cloud management challenges enterprises need to be cautious of and how to overcome them.

Cloud Management Challenge #1: Security

Given the overall trend toward migrating resources to the cloud, a rise in security threats shouldn’t be surprising. Per our latest Cloud Risk and Adoption Report, the average enterprise organization experiences 31.3 cloud related security threats each month—a 27.7% increase over the same period last year. Broken down by category, these include insider threats (both accidental and malicious), privileged user threats, and threats arising from potentially compromised accounts.

To mitigate these types of cloud threats and risks, we have a few recommendations to better protect your business. Start with auditing your Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or other IaaS/PaaS configurations to get ahead of misconfigurations before they open a hole in the integrity of your security posture. Second, it’s important to understand which cloud services hold most of your sensitive data. Once that’s determined, extend data loss prevention (DLP) policies to those services, or build them in the cloud if you don’t already have a DLP practice. Right along with controlling the data itself goes controlling who the data can go to, so lock down sharing where your sensitive data lives.

Cloud Management Challenge #2: Governance

Many companies deploy cloud systems without an adequate governance plan, which increases the risk of security breaches and inefficiency. Lack of data governance may result in a serious financial loss, and failing to protect sensitive data could result in a data breach.

Cloud management and cloud governance are often interlinked. Keeping track of your cloud infrastructure is essential. Governance and infrastructure planning can help mitigate certain infrastructure risks, therefore, automated cloud discovery and governance tools will help your business safeguard operations.

Cloud Management Challenge #3: Proficiency

You may also be faced with the challenge of ensuring that IT employees have the proper expertise to manage their services in a cloud environment. You may need to decide to either hire a new team that is already familiar with cloud environments or train your existing staff.

In the end, training your existing staff is less expensive, scalable, and faster. Knowledge is key when transforming your business and shifting your operational model to the cloud. Accept the challenge and train your employees, give them hands-on time, and get them properly certified. For security professionals, the Cloud Security Alliance is a great place to start for training programs.

Cloud Management Challenge #4: Performance

Enterprises are continually looking for ways to improve their application performance, and internal/external SLAs. However, even in the cloud, they may not immediately achieve these benefits. Cloud performance is complex and if you’re having performance issues it’s important to look at a variety of issues that could be occurring in your environment.

How should you approach finding and fixing the root causes of cloud performance issues? Check your infrastructure and the applications themselves. Examine the applications you ported over from on-premises data centers, and evaluate whether newer, cloud technologies such as containers or serverless computing could replace some of your application components and improve performance. Also, evaluate multiple cloud providers for your application or infrastructure needs, as each have their own offerings and geographic distribution.

Cloud Management Challenge #5: Cost

Managing cloud costs can be a challenge, but in general, migrating to the cloud offers companies enormous savings. We see organizations investing more dollars in the cloud to bring greater flexibility to their enterprise, allowing them to quickly and efficiently react to the changing market conditions. Organizations are moving more of their services to the cloud, which is resulting in higher spend with cloud service providers.

Shifting IT cost from on-premises to the cloud on its own is not the challenge – it is the unmonitored sprawl of cloud resources that typically spikes cost for organizations. Managing your cloud costs can be simple if you effectively monitor use. With visibility into unsanctioned, “Shadow” cloud use, your organization can find the areas where there is unnecessary waste of resources. By auditing your cloud usage, you may even determine new ways to manage cost, such as re-architecting your workloads using a PaaS architecture, which may be more cost-effective.

Final Thoughts

Migrating to the cloud is a challenge but can bring a wide range of benefits to your organization with a reduction in costs, unlimited scalability, improved security, and overall a faster business model. These days, everyone is in the cloud but that doesn’t mean your business’s success should be hindered by the common challenges of cloud management.

For more on how to secure your cloud environment, check out McAfee MVISION Cloud, a cloud access security broker (CASB) that protects data where it lives with a solution that was built natively in the cloud, for the cloud.

 

The post Cloud 101: Navigating the Top 5 Cloud Management Challenges appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) Key Takeaways

The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) was released today, and I was lucky enough to be handed a hot off the press physical copy while at the Global Cyber Alliance Cyber Trends 2019 event at Mansion House, London. For me, the DBIR provides the most insightful view on the evolving threat landscape, and is the most valuable annual “state of the nation” report in the security industry.

Global Cyber Alliance Cyber Trends 2019

The DBIR has evolved since its initial release in 2008, when it was payment card data breach and Verizon breach investigations data focused. This year’s DBIR involved the analysis of 41,686 security incidents from 66 global data sources in addition to Verizon. The analysed findings are expertly presented over 77 pages, using simple charts supported by ‘plain English’ astute explanations, reason why then, the DBIR is one of the most quoted reports in presentations and within industry sales collateral.

DBIR 2019 Key Takeaways
      • Financial gain remains the most common motivate behind data breaches (71%)
      • 43% of breaches occurred at small businesses
      • A third (32%) of breaches involved phishing
      • The nation-state threat is increasing, with 23% of breaches by nation-state actors
      • More than half (56%) of data breaches took months or longer to discover
      • Ransomware remains a major threat, and is the second most common type of malware reported
      • Business executives are increasingly targeted with social engineering, attacks such as phishing\BEC
      • Crypto-mining malware accounts for less than 5% of data breaches, despite the publicity it didn’t make the top ten malware listed in the report
      • Espionage is a key motivation behind a quarter of data breaches
      • 60 million records breached due to misconfigured cloud service buckets
      • Continued reduction in payment card point of sale breaches
      • The hacktivist threat remains low, the increase of hacktivist attacks report in DBIR 2012 report appears to be a one-off spike

Third Party Security Risks to Consider and Manage

Guest article by Josh Lefkowitz, CEO of Flashpoint
 
Acceptable business risks must be managed, and none more so than those associated with external vendors who often have intimate access to infrastructure or business data. As we’ve seen with numerous breaches where attackers were able to leverage a weaknesses a contractor or service provider, third-party risk must be assessed and mitigated during the early stages of such a partnership, as well as throughout the relationship.
 
The following tips can help security decision makers more effectively address the risks posed by relationships with technology vendors.
 
Do Your Homework
Conducting thorough due diligence on a prospective vendor is essential. Organisations could evaluate technical and regulatory risk through due diligence questionnaires, for example, or even on-site visits if necessary. The point is to evaluate not only a third party’s information security risk, but compliance with regulations such as GDPR for privacy and PCI DSS for payment card security, for example. An organisation may also want to evaluate a third party’s adherence to industry standards such as NIST or ISO in certain security- and privacy-related areas.
 
Next, consider what this compliance information doesn’t tell you. What do you still need to learn about the vendor’s security posture before deciding whether you’re comfortable with it? Think about what questions you still have and, if possible, seek answers from the vendor’s appropriate security contact. Here are some questions to pose: 
When was your last penetration test? Is your remediation on schedule?
  • Have you documented security incidents? How did you remediate those incidents?
  • Do you have the result of your last business continuity test? If yes, can you share it?
  • What security controls exist for your users? Do they use multifactor authentication, etc.?
  • How are you maturing your security program?
  • Are you ISO, SOC 1/SOC 2, and NIST Compliant, and is there documentation to support this? 
Additional Security: It’s All in the Controls
If you’re unsatisfied with the answers from a potential partner regarding their security, it’s OK to walk away, especially if you make the determination that working with the vendor may not be critical to your business.  

That’s not always the case, however. If you must partner with a particular third party and if no other reputable vendors offer anything comparable, you will likely need to implement additional technical and/or policy controls to mitigate the security risks associated with your business’s use of the offering, such as:
 
Technical
These are typically restrictions on the access and/or technical integrations of vendor offerings. For example, if a product is web-based but unencrypted, consider blocking users on your network from accessing its website; provided the proper authentication is in place, use its API instead. In most cases, there are two options, remediation or compensating controls:
  • Remediation: Can you work with the vendor to remediate the technical risk?
  • Compensating controls: If you cannot remediate the risks entirely, can you establish technical compensating controls to minimise or deflect the risk?
Policy
These are policies that users of the offering should follow, such as limits on the types and amounts of data that can be input securely. Some typical policy scenarios include:
  • Regulatory compliance: For example, a vendor’s non-compliance could mandate you walk away from a third-party relationship.
  • Contractual obligations: Are there contractual obligations in place with your existing clients that prevent you from working vendors who don’t meet certain security and privacy standards?
  • Security best practices: Ensure your policies around risk are enforced and determine whether they may conflict with your vendors’ policies.
Asset Inventory is a Must
There are several reasons why it’s imperative to know which of your business’s assets the vendor will be able to store and/or access. For one, this knowledge can help identify and shape any additional security controls. Second, having this knowledge on hand is crucial should the vendor suffer a breach. Knowing exactly what assets were impacted, as well as who is doing what with your inventory, can expedite your response and identify and mitigate any exposure efficiently and effectively.
 
Response Plans Must Include Partners
Before finalising a vendor relationship, it’s crucial to use all the information gathered during your due diligence process to construct a response plan in preparation for any future incidents the vendor might experience. Tracking the assets to which your vendor has access is one component of an effective response plan. Others include courses of action to mitigate exposure, disclosure and notification procedures, external communications strategies, and plans to re-evaluate the vendor’s security and remediation following an incident.
 
The most effective way to manage vendor risk is not to work with any external vendors in the first place, which isn’t a feasible strategy. The most secure and successful vendor relationships are rooted in preparation and transparency. Thoroughly understanding all facets of a vendor’s security program, implementing additional controls as needed to appropriately safeguard your business’s assets, and being prepared to respond to future incidents can go a long way toward reducing business risks associated with any vendor relationship.
Josh Lefkowitz, CEO of Flashpoint

e-Crime & Cybersecurity Congress: Cloud Security Fundamentals

I was a panellist at the e-Crime & Cybersecurity Congress last week, the discussion was titled 'What's happening to your business? Cloud security, new business metrics and future risks and priorities for 2019 and beyond", a recap of the points I made.
Cloud is the 'Default Model' for Business
Cloud is now the default model for IT services in the UK; cloud ticks all the efficiency boxes successful business continually craves. Indeed, the 'scales of economy' benefits are not just most cost-effective and more agile IT services, but also include better cybersecurity (by the major cloud service providers), even for the largest of enterprises. It is not the CISO's role to challenge the business' cloud service mitigation, which is typically part of a wider digital transformation strategy, but to ensure cloud services are delivered and managed to legal, regulatory and client security requirements, and in satisfaction of the board's risk appetite, given they ultimately own the cybersecurity risk, which is an operational business risk.

There are security pitfalls with cloud services, the marketing gloss of 'the cloud' should not distract security professionals into assuming IT security will be delivered as per the shiny sales brochure, as after all, cloud service providers should be considered and assessed in the same way as any other traditional third-party IT supplier to the business.

Cloud Security should not be an afterthought

It is essential for security to be baked into a new cloud services design, requirements determination, and in the procurement process. In particular, defining and documenting the areas of security responsibility with the intended cloud service provider.

Cloud does not absolve the business of their security responsibilities

All cloud service models, whether the standard models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), always involve three areas of security responsibilities to define and document:
  • Cloud Service Provider Owned
  • Business Owned
  • Shared (Cloud Service Provider & Business)
For example with a PaaS model, the business is fully responsible for application deployment onto the cloud platform, and therefore the security of applications. The cloud service provider is responsible for the security of the physical infrastructure, network and operating system layers. The example of the 'shared' responsibility with this model, are the processes in providing and managing privileged operating system accounts within the cloud environment.

Regardless of the cloud model, data is always the responsibility of the business.


A "Trust but Verify" approach should be taken with cloud service providers when assuring the security controls they are responsible for. Where those security responsibilities are owned by or shared with the cloud service provider, ensure the specific controls and processes are detailed within a contract or in a supporting agreement as service deliverables, then oversight the controls and processes through regular assessments.