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Cloud Security Alliance Identifies Top Cloud Security Threats

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Today marks the beginning of RSA conference in San Francisco, and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) has been quick out of the gate with the release of its Top Threats to Cloud Computing Report. This peer-reviewed paper characterizes the top seven threats to cloud computing, offering examples and remediation steps.

The seven threats identified by the CSA are:

  1. Abuse and Nefarious Use of Cloud Computing
  2. Insecure Application Programming Interfaces
  3. Malicious Insiders
  4. Shared Technology Vulnerabilities
  5. Data Loss/Leakage
  6. Account, Service, and Traffic Hijacking
  7. Unknown Risk Profile

Some of these will certainly sound familiar, but the point is to highlight threats that may be amplified in the cloud, as well as those that are unique to the cloud environment.

This CSA threats report is a true community effort. The working group had representatives from a broad range of cloud providers, infrastructure vendors, and cloud customers, including:

  • HP
  • Oracle
  • Bank of America
  • Microsoft
  • Rackspace
  • Verizon
  • Cigital
  • Qualsys
  • Trend Micro
  • Websense
  • Zscalar
  • Cloud Security Alliance
  • Layer 7 Technologies

I represented Layer 7. I tackled Data Loss/Leakage, and performed some editorial of the paper as a whole. As working groups go, I can tell you that this one simply worked well. I’ve been involved with a number of standards groups in the past, this time we seemed to have all of the right people involved. The group converged on the key issues quickly and decisively. It was a good process, and I’m happy with the results.

We thing we did debate was how best to rate each threat. We finally agreed that the best approach was to let the community decide You may recall that last week I wrote a blog entry soliciting your input to help classify threat severity. Well, the results are in and they are certainly interesting. Perhaps not surprising, the threat of Data Loss/Leakage leads the community’s list of concerns, at around 28%. But what is more intriguing is that there really isn’t too much of a difference between the perceived impact of any threat on the list (all fall between around 8-28%). This is encouraging, as it suggests that we nailed the current zeitgeist in our list. It is just a little disconcerting that there remain seven significant threats to consider.

The latest survey results, and the threats paper itself, are available from the CSA web site. Bear in mind that is evolving work. The working group intends to update the list regularly, so if you would like to make a contribution to the cloud community, please do get involved. And remember: CSA membership is free to individuals; all you need to give us is your time and expertise.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Scott Morrison

K. Scott Morrison is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Architect at Layer 7 Technologies, where he is leading a team developing the next generation of security infrastructure for cloud computing and SOA. An architect and developer of highly scalable, enterprise systems for over 20 years, Scott has extensive experience across industry sectors as diverse as health, travel and transportation, and financial services. He has been a Director of Architecture and Technology at Infowave Software, a leading maker of wireless security and acceleration software for mobile devices, and was a senior architect at IBM. Before shifting to the private sector, Scott was with the world-renowned medical research program of the University of British Columbia, studying neurodegenerative disorders using medical imaging technology.

Scott is a dynamic, entertaining and highly sought-after speaker. His quotes appear regularly in the media, from the New York Times, to the Huffington Post and the Register. Scott has published over 50 book chapters, magazine articles, and papers in medical, physics, and engineering journals. His work has been acknowledged in the New England Journal of Medicine, and he has published in journals as diverse as the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow, and Neurology. He is the co-author of the graduate text Cloud Computing, Principles, Systems and Applications published by Springer, and is on the editorial board of Springer’s new Journal of Cloud Computing Advances, Systems and Applications (JoCCASA). He co-authored both Java Web Services Unleashed and Professional JMS. Scott is an editor of the WS-I Basic Security Profile (BSP), and is co-author of the original WS-Federation specification. He is a recent co-author of the Cloud Security Alliance’s Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing, and an author of that organization’s Top Threats to Cloud Computing research. Scott was recently a featured speaker for the Privacy Commission of Canada’s public consultation into the privacy implications of cloud computing. He has even lent his expertise to the film and television industry, consulting on a number of features including the X-Files. Scott’s current interests are in cloud computing, Web services security, enterprise architecture and secure mobile computing—and of course, his wife and two great kids.

Layer 7 Technologies:
Scott's linkedIn profile.
Twitter: @KScottMorrison
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