Click here to close now.


Cloud Security Authors: Jennifer Gill, Liz McMillan, Steve Watts, Betty Zakheim, David Dodd

Related Topics: Cloud Security

Cloud Security: Blog Feed Post

Is Your Organization Living Below the Information Security Poverty Line?

Have you turned down a security control because it was too expensive?

By Steven Wolford, Director of Information Security, 6fusion

During the season of politics here in the US, I would like to borrow shamelessly from topics in the political debate with a look towards the state of information security.

According to CNN (Poverty Rate Rises as Incomes Decline), the number of US citizens living below what is considered the bare essentials is on the increase. I believe we can say the same for information security programs. According to SANS, the top security controls can be boiled down to 20 Critical Controls (Top 20 Critical Controls). These are regarded as the “poverty line” for an Information Security Program. The bare essentials needed for a program to live at a level regarded as a minimum standard.

Have you turned down a security control because it was too expensive?

ENSIA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) has stated “the same amount of investment in security buys better protection” (Cloud Computing, Benefits, Risks, and Recommendations for Information Security). We have long understood that scale brings cost optimization. By spreading the cost of controls over a larger number of organizations, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are able to either deliver equivalent controls at a lower price or enhanced controls at a similar price.

Work with your CSP to understand the controls already implemented, those that are planned, and those that you require for the assets you are moving to the CSP.   The different cloud models (software/platform/infrastructure as a service) will each be able to deliver a different set of controls. You should expect to bring more controls to an IaaS provider than to a SaaS provider. However, you should still expect to see cost efficiencies with IaaS.

What if the chosen CSP doesn’t offer the controls you need? Reinvest the capital expenditure (CAPEX) or operating expenditure (OPEX) savings into providing your own controls or even better negotiate with the CSP to get the controls installed and leveraged across all of their customers. Security is moving from “build your own” to “assemble your own” (that sounds like a blog all on it’s own). There is even a growing industry in Security as a Service (SecaaS or SaaS), which is a cloud computing model that delivers managed security services over the Internet. Technopedia defines Secaas as “based on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model but limited to specialized information security services.” Engaging a SecaaS provider is yet another way to help lower the cost of living at the information security poverty line.

Have you not implemented a security control because your environment is too complex?

Your business does not have to be listed on the NYSE for you to have not implemented a security control because your existing IT feels too complicated to integrate with a control or for the cost of applying a control to become cost prohibitive due to IT sprawl.

Most security frameworks today recommend taking a risk-based approach to identifying the controls that are appropriate for any given environment. In order to first identify risk you must know ALL of the components that collectively create an information system. Often the cost of implementing a proper set of controls spirals out of control when attempting to apply them to a complex or spread out system.

Moving an information system into an IaaS CSP is the perfect opportunity to identify, consolidate, and simplify an information system. Identifying all the components of an information system is potentially the most significant step towards proper control selection; you cannot protect what you do not know about. It is still not uncommon to hear about a critical business system that relies on the spreadsheet saved on a folder on the hard drive in someone’s workstation. As an example, when you plan for the security of your current monthly billing do you in fact remember this critical component or do you go about happily installing the latest IDS on the accounting server; congratulating yourself along the way for protecting the companies financial systems.

Consolidating components is at the same time a risk and a benefit (what in life isn’t a dichotomy?). Personally, I see far more benefits and, with the concept of cloud brokering, there are ways to enjoy the benefits while minimizing the risks. Let’s get the scary stuff over first. The risk is that consolidation puts all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. The target becomes a higher value target because the reward of breeching (or the cost of loss) becomes higher. Enter the cloud broker – enjoy the benefits of consolidation by information system but spread the risk by sprinkling your information systems over different CSPs.

What are the benefits that outweigh the risks? Reduced complexity to install, manage, and monitor the controls used to protect the system. There is a reason why banks put valuables into a safe – same risks identified above but even bankers know it is far easier and less costly to put them into a central location.

That leads us to simplify. By moving your information system to a CSP you are able to simplify the implementation of appropriate security controls. One of the leading causes of delay in detecting and responding to a security incident is an overly complicated control implementation. Even if controls are properly implemented in a complicated system, gathering the control information in one place can be difficult (if your environment was such that getting data in one place was easy you would probably already have the information system simplified).

Craig Balding in his blog even lists centralized data as the number one security benefit of “The Cloud”. I think this understates the real benefits. While Craig believes reduced data leakage and monitoring benefits as the winners, I would extend that to improved knowledge of how the system as a whole works and is architected. Move the financial system into an IaaS provider and you will quickly find that critical spreadsheet on that workstation.

Have you not implemented a security control because it was too difficult?

Many modern security controls require infrastructure just as complex as the information systems they protect. Network, application, data, access, logging, and much more all require technical solutions to be implemented, updated, managed, monitored for relevant information, and then responded to when an interesting event happens. It is not surprising at all that some have had to make the decision that applying all of this is just far too difficult. You make a decision that doing that one thing for security is just too hard to digest into your other business responsibilities.

CSPs can help ease that pain. Many security vendors offer solutions that take advantage of cloud architectures and make the implementation process much easier.

Take antivirus (AV) for example. Most major vendors today offer a cloud ready solution where AV can be offered as a SecaaS or in cloud optimized versions to let you maintain total control over the AV solution. Either way, actually implementing the AV solution can be as easy as install the client in a base image and deploy that client with each and every server turned on. EASY.

As we hear the political messages of the day, I encourage your to consider the “Information Security Poverty Line.” Take a look at your security posture and tolerance for risk. Are you forcing the information security program to live below the poverty line? If so, is there something that you can do about that?

I would say YES! The first step, to paraphrase James Carville, is to remember, “It’s the risk, stupid.” Stay tuned for more on that politically inspired theme.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By John Cowan

John Cowan is co-founder and CEO of 6fusion. John is credited as 6fusion's business model visionary, bridging concepts and services behind cloud computing to the IT Service channel. In 2008, he along with his 6fusion collaborators successfully launched the industry's first single unit of meausurement for x86 computing, known as the Workload Allocation Cube (WAC). John is a 12 year veteran of business and product development within the IT and Telecommunications sectors and a graduate of Queen's University at Kingston.

@ThingsExpo Stories
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).