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

9/15/2016
10:00 AM
Stan Black
Stan Black
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Yes, The Cloud Can Be A Security Win

With the right controls in place, the cloud doesn't have to be a scary place. These guidelines can help your company stay safe.

There are so many different kinds of clouds — public, private, hybrid, internal — that many businesses and customers have difficulty deciding which is the right one for them. Furthermore, many businesses may use a few different variations of cloud environments — a private cloud for their own intranet, a hybrid cloud to keep some data on premises and some off premises to meet compliance regulations, and a public cloud for low-risk data.

These different types of environments make it difficult for IT and security teams to monitor every cloud on every device, or to monitor access requests for each different type of cloud environment. If you don’t control the cloud or where your data and apps reside, don’t manage them, or don’t know what you have in the cloud, your risk starts to sprawl and you don’t even know what’s happened when there’s a breach — or where to start to remediate. Follow these guidelines to make sure you avoid the cloud’s possible pitfalls.

1) Decide which kind of cloud is right for you from a security perspective.
Companies must stop treating the cloud as if it were their data center. Once data is in the cloud, it’s in a shared domain. With a public cloud, businesses have to relinquish a perceived level of control and decide if they’re comfortable with that. They need to determine if the third party (or parties) managing their cloud meets their security requirements and compliance regulations, and if there’s a clear path for accountability, threat management, and response. These days, it’s not if an attack will happen, but when.

2) Increase and improve cloud security and control.
Cloud management and security is all about control. The cloud environment you pick should depend on the level of control you want for your business. Former President Ronald Reagan used the Russian proverb “Trust, but verify” in his relations with the country. We’re going to borrow that attitude for security. Some organizations tend to enable product capabilities or features such as the “any/any” firewall rule, which allows “anything” onto the network. But that any/any rule then instructs the network to drop a potentially nasty network packet without logging it so that it can be flagged or investigated, making it impossible to find the cause of a problem if that nasty packet makes its way onto the network.

A general rule of thumb for the cloud is, “Don’t turn on anything you don’t understand.” Malicious actors know that companies allow encrypted traffic in and out every day, so they encrypt their own command and control traffic, making it harder for network security add-on technology to see it and flag it for human attention and remediation. Using the trust-but-verify model creates a good reminder for IT and security operations (SecOps) teams to go back periodically and check on active security features and policies to make sure they have the right access, rights, rules, and trust in place. Such things are easier to enable than to revoke, and SecOps teams have real threats to manage instead of monitoring how many people are sharing credentials.

3) Follow these rules of thumb when selecting or managing your cloud.

  • Ensure the cloud vendor meets and monitors compliance regulations — and checks in with you frequently so that you know your data and app security is up to date. While compliant doesn’t always equal secure, it’s a step in the right direction.
  • Construct a cloud security framework for your business to determine which applications and data are right for the cloud and which should stay on premises.
  • Create a trust-but-verify cloud security model — in other words, make sure your cloud provider does what it says it’s going to do.
  • Enforce a structured release of data. Create cloud security policies for employees, contractors, and customers, and enforce them. Make those policies “aware” of what’s going in and out of your cloud to recognize usual and unusual behavior to flag as necessary.
  • Always use multifactor authentication for employees or contractors trying to access your cloud. Make sure they’re required to provide the right level of authentication before they’re able to access data from a new location or device. For contractors, make sure you set parameters on how long they’re able to access the data and from where.

4) Keep track of what you have to mitigate risk.
Compliance is a huge piece of the cloud security puzzle, but compliance doesn’t always equal secure. Many of today’s attacks happen simply because contractors, partners, and/or service providers aren’t up to speed on company security policies. Make sure you have a plan in place to keep track of the data you have in the cloud, who’s accessing it, and why.

With the right controls in place, the cloud doesn’t need to be as scary as some make it out to be. This digital transformation we’re seeing across the industry has put businesses in a good position to take full advantage of the anywhere, anytime, any-device access on or off premises that’s provided by cloud solutions, but it’s critical to follow industry best practices and tips to ensure you’re picking the right cloud and the right vendor(s) as well as monitoring the security of data and applications, wherever they reside. 

Related Content:

Stan Black, CISSP, is CSIO of Citrix where he is in charge of the secure delivery of applications and data to some of the world's largest organizations in healthcare, financial services, public sector, and manufacturing. Black defines a converged cyber security posture ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
semidot
50%
50%
semidot,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2018 | 7:39:32 AM
Cloud
Cloud is offering good features.
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2016 | 8:02:51 AM
I should do this more often
I really should consider more points when picking a cloud provider. I must admit I just get lazy with it though. When we have one that seems to work pretty well, I stick with them because it feels like quite a hassle to change. 

I'll make a point of checking our current provider now though to make sure it's ticking a lot of these boxes. 
SOC 2s & Third-Party Assessments: How to Prevent Them from Being Used in a Data Breach Lawsuit
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  12/5/2019
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
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
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19619
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
domain/section/markdown/markdown.go in Documize before 3.5.1 mishandles untrusted Markdown content. This was addressed by adding the bluemonday HTML sanitizer to defend against XSS.
CVE-2019-19616
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
An Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) vulnerability in the Xtivia Web Time and Expense (WebTE) interface used for Microsoft Dynamics NAV before 2017 allows an attacker to download arbitrary files by specifying arbitrary values for the recId and filename parameters of the /Home/GetAttachment fun...
CVE-2019-19617
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
phpMyAdmin before 4.9.2 does not escape certain Git information, related to libraries/classes/Display/GitRevision.php and libraries/classes/Footer.php.
CVE-2012-1114
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-05
A Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists in LDAP Account Manager (LAM) Pro 3.6 in the filter parameter to cmd.php in an export and exporter_id action. and the filteruid parameter to list.php.
CVE-2012-1115
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-05
A Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists in LDAP Account Manager (LAM) Pro 3.6 in the export, add_value_form, and dn parameters to cmd.php.