Perimeter
10/10/2012
09:58 PM
Gunnar Peterson
Gunnar Peterson
Commentary
50%
50%

Walking The Mobile Mile

Putting the 'i' in identity means navigating the hidden complexities in mobile identity

Mobile applications have disparate characteristics from normal Web applications and so demand different requirements from developers. This in turn drives the need for new security models. When enterprises write mobile apps, they are not simply delivering data to the customers as in a Web app, they are delivering code that interacts with the mobile device OS, data, and security tokens (and beacons) that will reside on the device for some period of time.

This opens a window of vulnerability for devices that are lost, stolen, or compromised by malware. The enterprise response has been largely focused on Mobile Device Management (MDM), which closes out several important gaps through services like remote wipe. Today, MDM is a sina qua non technology for many enterprises but its not sufficient by itself to get the job done for mobile. After all, as Paul Madsen posits: "If my CEO and I both have the same phone, is the device the right level of granularity?" Further, the device is only one asset in play.

To get a full picture of the risk involved, you must look end to end. Mobile apps do introduce new risks, but it's not just about the device its about how they connect up to the enterprise. Mobile Access Management (MAM) -- access control services that sit in front of the enterprise gateway -- has emerged as a server-side guard enforcing access-control policy for requests from the mobile app to the enterprise back end. Mobile apps get the lion's share of attention, but do not neglect the Web services that provide the wormhole from the iPhone straight into the enterprise core mainframes, databasesm and back end services.

MAM provides mobile-specific security services for the server side. But what about the app on the device? Yet a different set of controls called Mobile Information Management (MIM) enable policy-based communication on the device.

Confused yet? The result in the short run is that the enterprise's identity architecture must factor in many different kinds of identity claims needed to resolve an access-control decision, including the device identity claims (such as hardware fingerprint), the mobile app identity claims (such as the Android PID), the local/mobile user identity claims, and the server-side identity claims. From there, these claims about an identity must be resolved and need to work cohesively across a mobile session, mobile-to-server communication session, and, in some cases, mobile app-to-mobile app communication.

This makes for a real challenge -- difficult, but not impossible, getting consistent policy enforcement across sessions, devices, and servers. As with so much else in security, there are no silver bullets. There's no single product to solve all of these challenge. The mobile app provides a new set of challenges -- specifically an integration challenge -- and likely requires different protocols than enterprises have used in the past, such as OpenID Connect and OAuth. Identity requires first-mile integration (identity provider) and last-mile integration (service provider). But, in addition, mobile "mile" integration requires meshing an array of disparate identities and attributes to enforce consistent policy.

Gunnar Peterson is a Managing Principal at Arctec Group

Gunnar Peterson (@oneraindrop) works on AppSec - Cloud, Mobile and Identity. He maintains a blog at http://1raindrop.typepad.com. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Experienced reindeers wanted
Current Issue
Five Things Every Business Executive Should Know About Cybersecurity
Don't get lost in security's technical minutiae - a clearer picture of what's at stake can help align business imperatives with technology execution.
Flash Poll
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Social engineering, ransomware, and other sophisticated exploits are leading to new IT security compromises every day. Dark Reading's 2016 Strategic Security Survey polled 300 IT and security professionals to get information on breach incidents, the fallout they caused, and how recent events are shaping preparations for inevitable attacks in the coming year. Download this report to get a look at data from the survey and to find out what a breach might mean for your organization.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Security researchers are finding that there's a growing market for the vulnerabilities they discover and persistent conundrum as to the right way to disclose them. Dark Reading editors will speak to experts -- Veracode CTO and co-founder Chris Wysopal and HackerOne co-founder and CTO Alex Rice -- about bug bounties and the expanding market for zero-day security vulnerabilities.