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

4/26/2013
02:05 AM
50%
50%

Cloud Security Starts With Development, Better Tools

Companies must train their developers in secure coding and rely on others' expertise for complex components of cloud services and Web applications

Companies that aim to exterminate security bugs from their software face a long and difficult road. The developers of Web and cloud applications are no exception.

Almost all Web applications continue to have vulnerabilities, according to a study released in March by Cenzic, a cloud-applications security provider. Based on software tested by the company in 2012, the study found that 99 percent of applications deployed as Web and cloud services had vulnerabilities -- an average of 13 flaws per application. Cross-site scripting, information leakage, and session-management flaws topped the list.

"The industry is not as ready to secure Layer 7 [the application layer] as they should be," says Bala Venkat, chief marketing officer for the firm. "Companies need to focus on the coding practices that are used by the developers, and really focus on the static side, even before the application gets into production."

Part of the problem is that early cloud providers -- and companies building private clouds -- focused on creating the applications, not getting all the security details right, says John Howie, chief operating officer at the Cloud Security Alliance. Fixing those problems after that fact has left many companies with hard-to-secure code.

"Developers were not really thinking about application security or code-level security," Howie says. "And in some cases, the problems were exacerbated because they were developing the equivalent of intranet applications, but putting them on the public Internet."

Attackers have noticed. Recent distributed denial-of-service attacks against financial institutions, for example, have been powered by botnets using Web servers that have been compromised through common vulnerabilities. And while most cloud compromises -- such as LinkedIn and CloudFlare -- have relied heavily on social engineering, software-security missteps played a role as well.

[What makes cloud computing so attractive to businesses -- the sharing of resources to achieve economies of scale -- also makes the model attractive to cybercriminals. See How Cybercriminals Attack The Cloud.]

To harden Web applications and cloud services, companies need to start with the developers and give them the tools they need to produce secure code.

Education and training are the first steps. The demand for Web application and cloud-service developers has resulted in many developers -- who may not have the training necessary to produce secure code -- writing code for online applications and cloud services, the CSA's Howie says.

"All of the major cloud providers will bring in people who are not classically trained software developers and train them to write software," Howie says.

Companies should focus on giving those developers the skills they need to program securely and placing the training within the framework of a secure product development life cycle.

Web developers and cloud-service providers should also invest in the tools needed to secure their applications and infrastructure. Static code analysis and dynamic vulnerability checking can help companies avoid common errors. Code libraries can help developers get the tricky security components -- such as authorization, encryption, and key management -- done correctly.

When cloud infrastructure, and the management of hundreds or thousands of virtual servers, made creating and distributing security policies difficult, data security firm Vormetric created a toolkit to help deploy the policies more easily.

"Smaller enterprise deployments, they can deal with managing the security policies," says Derek Tumulak, vice president of product management for the firm. "In the large-scale deployments, that is when you hit a pain point."

Developers should aim to make cloud services as secure as inside the corporate network -- a tall order, says Tsahy Shapsa, co-founder of CloudLock, a provider of cloud security tools. "You should be able to give [the cloud customer] the safeguards to ensure that they can use the public cloud, and use it with the same security and control over their data as on premise," Shapsa says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
marktroester
50%
50%
marktroester,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/1/2013 | 5:26:04 PM
re: Cloud Security Starts With Development, Better Tools
I agree that the developers have to have the tools necessary for them to develop secure applications, and not tools that are designed for security experts, or tools that provide false positives that require time and effort to address. The other thing to note is that applications are now constructed from components - per a recent survey of 3500 developers, architects and IT managers - modern applications consist of 80% open source components. So that has to be factored into the approach that the developers use to produce secure applications.

Survey results are here: http://blog.sonatype.com/peopl...

Thanks,
Mark Troester
@mtroester
Sonatype
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
Browsers to Enforce Shorter Certificate Life Spans: What Businesses Should Know
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-17366
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
An issue was discovered in NLnet Labs Routinator 0.1.0 through 0.7.1. It allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions or to cause a denial of service on dependent routing systems by strategically withholding RPKI Route Origin Authorisation ".roa" files or X509 Certificate...
CVE-2020-9036
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Jeedom through 4.0.38 allows XSS.
CVE-2020-15127
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Contour ( Ingress controller for Kubernetes) before version 1.7.0, a bad actor can shut down all instances of Envoy, essentially killing the entire ingress data plane. GET requests to /shutdown on port 8090 of the Envoy pod initiate Envoy's shutdown procedure. The shutdown procedure includes flip...
CVE-2020-15132
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Sulu before versions 1.6.35, 2.0.10, and 2.1.1, when the "Forget password" feature on the login screen is used, Sulu asks the user for a username or email address. If the given string is not found, a response with a `400` error code is returned, along with a error message saying that th...
CVE-2020-7298
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Unexpected behavior violation in McAfee Total Protection (MTP) prior to 16.0.R26 allows local users to turn off real time scanning via a specially crafted object making a specific function call.