Perimeter
8/9/2011
02:07 PM
Jim Reavis
Jim Reavis
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cloud Security Certification Not So Simple

Current pass rate of CSA's CCSK test is only 53 percent

One of my favorite guys in the business is Craig Balding, proprietor at cloudsecurity.org. He cannot update the site too frequently because he actually has a real job and a family, but if you have a chance to see him speak, don’t miss it. Craig has built some nice presentations in the past about getting your hands dirty in the cloud, which I have liked quite a bit.

There are a lot of people in the industry with a lot of opinions and “knowledge” about cloud computing and the relevant security issues, and many of these people wouldn’t know an AMI from a USB. Craig has actually encouraged folks to set up accounts at cloud providers, spin up services, and give them a go. There are not a lot of excuses to avoid this when many offer free test drives.

You may know that last September the Cloud Security Alliance we created a certificate of competency called the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK). This is a Web-based test that in no way is intended to provide full user accreditation, but rather is a baseline of knowledge about the cloud computing security issues and best practices as we know them today. We see this as driving overall awareness in the industry, and we think that is a good thing. Before the test was actually released, there was at least one article written that implied it was going to be a super-simple rubber stamp, and one editor in a “Pulitzer moment” called it “easy peasy.”

We wanted to make this test moderately difficult, but as it has turned out, the exam is harder than we expected. As of this writing, the current pass rate is 53 percent. There is probably no one reason for this, and certainly every test I have taken has had some confusing questions. I am sorry that I cannot provide an answer key in this blog. But having the ability to look at test system analytics, I will tell you that there are professionals running around in our industry who are dangerous! Here are a few general areas people are having problems with:

1. Definitions of the cloud. While nearly everyone can rattle off software-as-a-service (SaaS), Pplatform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), a surprising number cannot tell you which category some very popular cloud services fall into. A lot of people don’t really understand what a community or hybrid cloud is.

2. Federated identity management. The concept of federated identities is important in the cloud, e.g., leveraging your internal LDAP directory of users to access an external SaaS application.

3. Compliance responsibility. A few questions have been answered in a way that implies many people don’t understand the shared nature of compliance between customer and provider -- you can’t just throw compliance over the wall!

4. Cloud vendor lock-in. A large number of people had problems understanding the important issues related to migrating to different cloud providers, e.g., contractual access to data, data formats, building applications in way that isolates and abstracts proprietary provider extensions, and understanding what is important for different types of clouds.

Oh, well. It's still early in the cloud, and I know my students will be much smarter next year.

Jim Reavis is the executive director of the Cloud Security Alliance, and president of Reavis Consulting Group.

Jim Reavis is the President of Reavis Consulting Group LLC, where he advises organizations on how to take advantage of the latest security trends. Jim has served as an international board member of the Information Systems Security Association and was co-founder of the ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7421
Published: 2015-03-02
The Crypto API in the Linux kernel before 3.18.5 allows local users to load arbitrary kernel modules via a bind system call for an AF_ALG socket with a module name in the salg_name field, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-9644.

CVE-2014-8160
Published: 2015-03-02
net/netfilter/nf_conntrack_proto_generic.c in the Linux kernel before 3.18 generates incorrect conntrack entries during handling of certain iptables rule sets for the SCTP, DCCP, GRE, and UDP-Lite protocols, which allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions via packets with disall...

CVE-2014-9644
Published: 2015-03-02
The Crypto API in the Linux kernel before 3.18.5 allows local users to load arbitrary kernel modules via a bind system call for an AF_ALG socket with a parenthesized module template expression in the salg_name field, as demonstrated by the vfat(aes) expression, a different vulnerability than CVE-201...

CVE-2015-0239
Published: 2015-03-02
The em_sysenter function in arch/x86/kvm/emulate.c in the Linux kernel before 3.18.5, when the guest OS lacks SYSENTER MSR initialization, allows guest OS users to gain guest OS privileges or cause a denial of service (guest OS crash) by triggering use of a 16-bit code segment for emulation of a SYS...

CVE-2014-8921
Published: 2015-03-01
The IBM Notes Traveler Companion application 1.0 and 1.1 before 201411010515 for Window Phone, as distributed in IBM Notes Traveler 9.0.1, does not properly restrict the number of executions of the automatic configuration option, which makes it easier for remote attackers to capture credentials by c...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.