Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

1/30/2012
11:04 PM
50%
50%

Cloud Means More Secure Remote Access

Connecting hosts running remote-access services directly to the Internet is so last decade. Instead, companies look to move to cloud-enabled services or virtual desktop infrastructure.

Remote-access software such as Symantec's pcAnywhere have been a popular option for companies and individuals that want to connect to their work computer from outside the office, or support organizations that want to allow remote maintenance.

Yet, the recent revelation that a hacking group gained access to the source code for pcAnywhere and subsequent warnings about vulnerabilities in the product has underscored that traditional remote access tools carry risks. A Symantec white paper listing a number of steps -- including not connecting the software directly to the Internet -- to reduce the attack surface of the product added emphasis to security concerns regarding remote-access software.

"Any software that is exposed to the Internet is at high risk, anyone can find out that you are running it," says Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with Veracode, an application-security testing firm.

The concerns have highlighted some of the security benefits of using cloud infrastructure to boost the security of remote-access services. A cloud infrastructure can, for example, remove the Internet-visible signs that remote-access software is running behind a particular Internet address. Whereas scanning for the default ports used by remote-access software -- ports 5631 and 5632 in the case of pcAnywhere -- can give attackers a list of potentially vulnerable hosts.

"One of the fundamental benefits of cloud is the reduction of the attack surface -- there are no open ports," says Malte Muenke, vice president of engineering and operations for Citrix Online.

Citrix Online runs the popular GoToMyPC.com service, a remote-access service that uses frequently polling to the company's cloud servers as a means to pass data back to a host computer. There are no inbound connections to the host computer; instead, it pulls data down from the cloud. The result is that the attackable parts of the service -- any open ports -- are eliminated and the attack surface is reduced to a centrally managed hub that can be more easily secured and monitored.

"That is where a cloud service is more secure," he says. "You are concentrating all the attacks on one point, but you can secure that point really well."

Remote-access software such as pcAnywhere evolved from a time when each installation was managed separately. For companies that want to allow remote direct connectivity to a computer using pcAnywhere, Symantec issued a white paper with a long list of steps to reduce the attack surface area as much as possible.

Remote access to desktops and data via the cloud also has the benefits of central management. In addition, security policies can be more easily pushed to the endpoints, says Danny Allan, chief technology officer of Desktone, a virtual infrastructure company.

"The benefit of putting the desktop in the data center is that you can consistently apply policy," he says.

Yet, cloud is not a perfect solution. With so much trust be placed on a single cloud provider, companies need to make sure that they conduct the proper due diligence on the company, its infrastructure and security.

"I wouldn't say that any cloud offering is more secure," says Muenke. "So you really need to look at the vendor, see what they are claiming to do and ask if that is somebody that I can trust."

Moreover, the cloud does not solve the problem of insecurities caused by the end users. For example, the service relies on strong user credentials and, in many cases, that boils down to passwords.

"If you don't have strong password, a cloud service can clearly just as well can be at risk," Muenke says. "There is still responsibility on the user side."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
MS8699
50%
50%
MS8699,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/10/2012 | 12:08:15 PM
re: Cloud Means More Secure Remote Access
A number of steps including not connecting the software directly to the Internet to reduce the attack surface of the product added emphasis to security concerns regarding remote-access software.
Sodinokibi Ransomware: Where Attackers' Money Goes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/15/2019
How to Think Like a Hacker
Dr. Giovanni Vigna, Chief Technology Officer at Lastline,  10/10/2019
7 SMB Security Tips That Will Keep Your Company Safe
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  10/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: The old using of sock puppets for Shoulder Surfing technique. 
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-17672
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-17
WordPress before 5.2.4 is vulnerable to a stored XSS attack to inject JavaScript into STYLE elements.
CVE-2019-17673
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-17
WordPress before 5.2.4 is vulnerable to poisoning of the cache of JSON GET requests because certain requests lack a Vary: Origin header.
CVE-2019-17674
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-17
WordPress before 5.2.4 is vulnerable to stored XSS (cross-site scripting) via the Customizer.
CVE-2019-17675
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-17
WordPress before 5.2.4 does not properly consider type confusion during validation of the referer in the admin pages, possibly leading to CSRF.
CVE-2019-17676
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-17
app/system/admin/admin/index.class.php in MetInfo 7.0.0beta allows a CSRF attack to add a user account via a doSaveSetup action to admin/index.php, as demonstrated by an admin/?n=admin&c=index&a=doSaveSetup URI.