Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Security Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, John Wetherill, Ed Featherston

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Microservices Journal, .NET, Open Source, Open Web, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Security Automation Connects Silos

The true promise of security automation

A wealth of security information exists in our networks from a variety of sources - policy servers, firewalls, switches, networking infrastructure, defensive components, and more. Unfortunately, most of that information is locked away in separate silos due to differences in products and technologies, as well as by companies' organizational boundaries. Further complicating the issue, information is stored in different formats and communicated over different protocols.

An open standard from the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) offers the capability to centralize communication and coordination of information to enable security automation. The Interface for Metadata Access Points - IF-MAP for short - is like Facebook for network and security technology, allowing real-time sharing of information across a heterogeneous environment.

IF-MAP, part of TCG's Trusted Network Connect (TNC) architecture, makes it possible for any authorized device or system to publish information to a Metadata Access Point (MAP), a clearinghouse for information about who's on the network, what endpoint they're using, how they're behaving, and many other details of the network. Systems can also search the MAP for relevant information and subscribe to any updates to that information. Just as IP transformed communications, IF-MAP revolutionizes the way systems share data.

Security automation is any part of a security system that is able to operate without - or with only limited - administrative involvement. As shown in Figure 1, a security administrator can define a unified security policy that applies to different types of protective mechanisms, such as next-generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), unified threat management (UTM) systems, and more. Best-of-breed components from multiple vendors can share information using a standard information bus.

Figure 1: Effective security automation includes several protection mechanisms.

This coordination can extend beyond front-line access control products to back-end systems such as authorization databases, virtualization technology, and reputation systems. A policy server might create and modify policy based completely on the information received from other resources in the environment.

Logs from multiple sources can be collected and correlated by a security information and event management (SIEM) system, which itself acts as both a consumer of information and a provider of real-time intelligence based on that information. Security operations personnel can easily oversee activities in the network and provide human intervention in cases where full automation may not be achievable or desirable. Security automation enhances fundamental security solutions, adding dynamic, responsive, intelligent decision-making.

Establishing Network Trust
One of the basic solutions enabled by the TNC architecture is Comply to Connect, which incorporates Network Access Control (NAC) principles - an endpoint must first show its compliance with selected endpoint health requirements before being granted access to the network. Figure 2 shows a common Comply to Connect scenario.

Figure 2: The TNC architecture enables evaluation and enforcement of compliance at admission.

The endpoint, on the left, is a device attempting to access a protected network. The enforcement point is a guard that grants or denies access based on instructions from the policy server. The policy server is really the brains of the operation; it looks at the configured policy and decides what level of access should be granted. Then it informs the enforcement point, which executes those instructions.

Many enforcement options exist; the example in Figure 2 shows a wireless access point and a switch, but environments may also use a firewall or a virtual private network (VPN) gateway. Each of these has its own pros and cons; for example, a wireless access point with 802.1X can totally block unauthorized users. But while it provides admission control, it doesn't offer enforcement deeper in the network. For that reason, most NAC solutions support a combination of different enforcement points, which can be used individually or in combination.

The security policy controlling the compliance check shown in Figure 2 is quite simple: every Windows 7 endpoint on the network must have a self-encrypting drive (SED), up-to-date anti-virus protection, and a personal firewall. When a new Windows 7 endpoint comes on the network, the enforcement point will query it and then consult the policy server. If the endpoint complies with security policy, it is given access to the production network. Another endpoint that does not have an SED may be given only limited access to the network. That way, if either endpoint is lost or stolen, protected information is only on the endpoint that could store it securely on an SED.

Expanding Network Trust Evaluation
Behavior monitoring is another way to evaluate an endpoint. Many security-related sensor devices are already deployed in networks to monitor behavior: intrusion detection systems, leakage detection systems, endpoint profiling systems, and more. The TNC architecture lets users integrate those existing systems with each other and with the NAC solution by sharing information via a MAP.

Figure 3 shows an approach to check behavior. Security sensors in the network monitor behavior, and a security policy identifies acceptable behavior.

Figure 3: Behavior checking enables automated response to changes in the endpoint's activity.

Once an endpoint has connected to the network, even if it has passed authentication and compliance checks, it could behave in an unauthorized fashion. If the endpoint starts violating security policy by trying to spread a worm, that traffic is detected and stopped by an IPS sensor.

Even more important, that sensor publishes information to the MAP about the attack it stopped. The MAP notifies the policy server, which evaluates its security policy and instructs the enforcement point to move the endpoint to a remediation network until it can be addressed.

The end result is an entire network security system that is working together. Each part performs its function, and each piece is integrated with the whole using the open IF-MAP standard.

Extending Security to Mobile Devices
TNC standards have enabled NAC to evolve into a foundation technology for business requirements such as mobile security and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). A common scenario in today's connected world occurs when a mobile user accesses the Internet and social networks on a personal device, such as a smartphone, which they also use to access their corporate network. If the smartphone inadvertently becomes infected with malware, corporate data on that device is now at risk. And it's even worse when the user connects their smartphone to the corporate network; the attacker, who has taken control of the device, can access sensitive information.

This situation occurs when a company's security team lacks the tools to accommodate employees using their own consumer devices to improve productivity. Without the appropriate technology, the IT team cannot:

  • detect malware on the mobile device
  • protect the user from cloud-based threats
  • control access based on user identity, device, and location
  • coordinate security controls to protect sensitive information

This clearly needs a new approach!

Addressing the new requirements of BYOD and providing broad protection involves flexible deployment models that can be tailored to individual environments and security context, and coordination to keep users protected against the dynamic threat landscape.

Security automation makes it possible to detect and address compromised mobile devices; protect the user from malicious sites and applications; restrict network and resource access based on user identity, device, and location; and correlate endpoint activity monitoring across the corporate network infrastructure.

Leveraging Standard Network Security Metadata
These capabilities are enabled by TNC's standardization of basic metadata for network security. Metadata is the information stored in a MAP, representing anything that is known about the network: traffic flows, scan results, user authentications, or other events. In the case above, metadata represents information about network components and applicable security policies. The MAP is a clearinghouse for metadata; MAP clients can publish metadata to it, search it for specific metadata, and/or subscribe to metadata about endpoints in the network.

These inquiries include common things that it might be helpful to know about an endpoint - the type of device, identity of the user operating the device, role assigned to that user, association between the MAC address and IP address of the endpoint, location of the endpoint, and any events related to that endpoint.

Extending Security Automation to Other Use Cases
While standard metadata is useful for out-of-box interoperability, much more information about an endpoint or a network is available. IF-MAP can be extended by creation of vendor-specific metadata, similar to Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) in RADIUS, enabling anyone to publish anything that can be expressed in XML!

Imagine a manufacturing line, where a physical process is controlled by a digital component called a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). An operator display panel, the Human Machine Interface (HMI), is typically physically remote from the actual process that needs monitoring. As changes in the process occur, the operator display updates in real-time.

Many HMIs use a legacy protocol called Modbus to poll the PLC, retrieve these process variables, and display them. Originally designed to be run over a serial connection, Modbus has been ported to TCP. One of the problems with the Modbus protocol and many others in this space is that there are zero security features in the protocol - no authentication, no authorization - which means no way of knowing whether a requestor is authorized to gain access requested, or even who is sending data the request. If an endpoint (or intruder) can ping the PLC, it can issue commands to it!

Many control systems components operate this way. Until now, they have been small islands of automation with very little interconnection to other systems. Running over a serial bus required physical serial connections - typically, the operator had to be present in front of the machine to affect it, so physical security was sufficient. And once these systems are in place, they are designed to stay in production for decades. So now these systems are getting more and more interconnected with the enterprise network - and, by extension, to external networks - and they encounter the same types of security issues as enterprise systems.

Overlaying Security onto Industrial Control Systems
A single manufacturing line could have hundreds, or even thousands, of these PLCs. Replacing them is out of the question, as is retro-fitting them to add on security. But what if a transparent security overlay was inserted to protect these legacy components?

Deployment and lifecycle management for such an overlay would be a huge challenge - unless there was a mechanism for provisioning certificates, communication details, and access control policies to the overlay components. That's exactly what one manufacturing company has done with IF-MAP, by using vendor-specific metadata for provisioning of certificate information and access control policy, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: IF-MAP enabled security overlay protects industrial control system components.

The first step is to add the overlay protection. In this case, the enforcement points are customized components, designed for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks, that can create an OpenHIP "virtual private LAN" on top of standard IP networks. This requires no changes to the underlying network, protects communications between SCADA devices, and is completely transparent to the protected SCADA devices.

A MAP and a provisioning client enable centralized deployment, provisioning, and lifecycle management for the myriad enforcement points. The provisioning client publishes metadata to the MAP to define the HMIs and PLCs and to specify security policies that allow them to talk to each other, but do not allow external access to them.

For example, when an HMI comes into the network and queries for a PLC, the HMI does an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) lookup. The enforcement point receives that traffic, searches the MAP, and finds the access control policy determining whether this specific HMI can talk to that particular PLC. Enforcement points can be moved around the network without requiring manual reconfiguration or reprovisioning, since all of the provisioning is centralized via the MAP.

This is not just a neat thought experiment - it is actually in production deployment on hundreds of endpoints in critical manufacturing lines today!

The Future of Security Automation
We've barely scratched the surface of security automation. For one thing, it goes far beyond access control. Imagine...

  • A content management database (CMDB) receives notification of a new device on the network and scans the new endpoint, then updates its data store
  • An analysis engine observes some behavior on the network and requires more information about the associated endpoint, so it requests an investigation by another component such as an endpoint profiler or vulnerability scanner
  • Carrier routers redirect traffic through deep packet inspection based on suspicious user activity
  • A security administrator modifies an existing security policy, or adds a new policy, and various policy servers / sensors are notified, triggering a re-evaluation of the network's endpoints
  • An application server publishes a request for bandwidth for a particular user based on the service the user is accessing, and network infrastructure components change QoS settings for those traffic flows based on that request
  • An IF-MAP enabled OpenFlow switch controller makes packet-handling decisions based on information from other network components
  • An analysis system determines that there's an attack underway; in addition to triggering a response, it notifies security administrators of the attack taking place, populating a dashboard with information to create a "heat map" of the attack

All of these are examples of a common three-step process: sensing, analysis, and response. Security automation is enabled by the abstraction and coordination of these functions across multiple disparate components in the network.

Imagine the power gained by linking together information from all of the various infrastructure and security technologies in a network and using that information to make dynamic, intelligent, automated decisions. That's the true promise of security automation - and the realization of that promise is in its infancy.

More Stories By Lisa Lorenzin

Lisa Lorenzin is a member of the TNC Work Group at Trusted Computing Group and a Principal Solutions Architect at Juniper Networks.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
Grow your business with enterprise wearable apps using SAP Platforms and Google Glass. SAP and Google just launched the SAP and Google Glass Challenge, an opportunity for you to innovate and develop the best Enterprise Wearable App using SAP Platforms and Google Glass and gain valuable market exposure. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian McPhail, Senior Director of Business Development, ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, outlined the timeline of the SAP Google Glass Challenge and the opportunity for developers, start-ups, and companies of all sizes to engage with SAP today.
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
For years, we’ve relied too heavily on individual network functions or simplistic cloud controllers. However, they are no longer enough for today’s modern cloud data center. Businesses need a comprehensive platform architecture in order to deliver a complete networking suite for IoT environment based on OpenStack. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dhiraj Sehgal from PLUMgrid will discuss what a holistic networking solution should really entail, and how to build a complete platform that is scalable, secure, agile and automated.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in 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 change in personal an...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...