Cloud Security Authors: Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Maria C. Horton

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Article

Online Holiday Sales Have Begun: Have You Secured Your Enterprise Network?

Do employees really need access to the corporate network via their smartphones?

It's that time of the year again. The flood of email alerts showcasing online holiday shopping deals fill the inbox at your office PC, laptops and wireless devices as merchants attempt to lure online shoppers to "click and save" while supplies last. In fact, reports show that this year's "holiday shopping" deals have already started as retailers attempt to stretch the holiday shopping season - to begin even earlier than Black Friday.

According to a recent report in Time, Booz & Co. chief retail strategist, Thom Blischok states. "We're not going to see a huge increase in sales growth for Black Friday this year....What we do expect is a lot of ‘showcasing' on Black Friday. Shoppers will check things out in stores, electronics especially, but then purchase online on the Monday after. Cyber Monday sales will explode this year."

While this is good news for merchants, it can become a virtual nightmare for corporate network administrators. With millions of online shoppers turning their office PCs, laptops, and wireless devices into online shopping carts, they hog valuable network bandwidth meant for corporate applications such as e-mail, SAP, Salesforce, and other business-critical applications.

The onslaught of personal smartphones and tablets connecting to corporate networks fully capable of performing browser-based shopping are further affecting normal business operations. According to ABI Research, more than 36 percent of consumers own at least three wireless devices. eCommerce merchants now alert wired consumers with daily deals almost instantly via mobile marketing. This surge has placed greater demands on network monitoring solutions as the mobile device market continues to grow at an astounding rate of five billion subscribers worldwide.

Most organizations allowing employee-owned devices onto their corporate networks (73% according to Aberdeen) find it not only drains their bandwidth, but also opens up severe internal security threats to proprietary information stored on the network. Employers assume this as increased productivity for employees armed with mobile devices and cost savings for hardware not purchased by the corporate office as most employees (54 percent, according to Yankee Group) demand to use their own devices at work.

According to IDC Research, however, 30-40 percent of Internet use in the workplace is non-business related. Vault.com found 37 percent of workers admit to surfing the Web constantly at work for personal interests. This underscores the need for mobile device traffic monitoring. How can network admins monitor employee internet usage and take corrective action?

Companies can easily set guidelines for network traffic monitoring to safeguard against employees armed with BYOD - especially during high traffic holiday shopping/sale months - in a few easy steps.

MAC Addresses and Mobile Devices
The old and sort of cumbersome way is to monitor the unique MAC addresses that are used by each smart mobile device that accesses an Ethernet network. The 6 byte (i.e., 48 bit) MAC address is generally in two parts: The first 3 bytes are the MAC Address vendor ID generally shared by hundreds or even tens of thousands of devices produced by the manufacturer; the second set of three bytes are unique to the device.

A 48-bit Ethernet MAC address has two components, each of which is 24 bits:

*24-bit Organizational Unique Identifier (OUIIEEE regulates the assignment of OUI numbers. Within the OUI, the two following bits have meaning only when used in the destination address:

  1. Broadcast or multicast bit - indicates to the receiving interface the frame is destined a group of end stations on the LAN segment.
  2. Locally administered address bit - normally combines OUI and a 24-bit station address. This is universally unique; however, if the address is modified locally, this bit should be set. Some vendors like Apple set this bit automatically.

Generally, the MAC address is not changed by the end user, thus dynamic IP addresses are often not used to track or report on mobile phone devices. Organizations using NetFlow and IPIX can in fact track these MAC addresses.

MAC Addresses and NetFlow
Traditional flow data (e.g., NetFlow v5) exports IP addresses, but not MAC addresses. NetFlow v9 and IPFIX introduce the ability to export any information on the router including MAC address.

A reliable Network Traffic Analyzer can be used to report to report on NetFlow and IPFIX. The NetFlow Analyzer should offer a filtering architecture to allow traffic analysts to include or exclude portions of MAC addresses. If the administrator wants to narrow a particular vendor (e.g., 00.00.0c) or the iPhone (e.g., 60:33:4b, 64.b9.38, etc.), a reporting tool can filter on these vendor IDs. Once vendor IDs are added to the report, the type can be changed to view different reports. For example, the top domains these mobile devices are visiting can be obtained if the router, switch, or firewall exporting the NetFlow or IPFIX includes URL information. The IT manager can often click on the domain (e.g. facebook.com) and look at URLs visited with mobile device.

Tracking BYOD
By forcing users to authenticate all devices onto the network and agreeing to an operating system scan, network administrators can maintain an active inventory of who (i.e., username) authenticated onto the network and with what type of device. Detailed reports can be run on the volume of iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, iPads, etc. that have authenticated onto the network. Since the MAC address is obtained from every authenticated device, it can be cross referenced with the NetFlow and IPFIX received to look at traffic patterns. This is a much more scalable solution and less error prone approach than the traditional track-down-all-the-mac-addresses approach.

Smartphones: Network Security Challenge
Allowing smartphone access to corporate resources often requires adapting new corporate mobile strategies and policies. Many companies provide VPN access to the corporate network from computers when working remotely. While VPNs offer a secure connection by encapsulating data, many smartphones don't support them (e.g., iPhone). This is partly because the hardware doesn't have the processing power to keep up with encryption processes on-the-fly. Due to pressure from management and remote users, VPN enforcement is often lax. Most employees obtain corporate access from any public network, which includes public places like local coffee shops. This opens Pandora's Box when it comes to security threats.

Smartphones are an ideal tool for cybercriminals to push their malware, viruses, worms and other threats onto corporate networks. With many important titles, email addresses and phone numbers sitting on just about every network-capable mobile phone, stealing confidential emails or pushing botnets onto the company network is easier with traditional security measures put aside in favor of easy remote access. With smartphone synchronization, infection can easily migrate onto a PC - a Trojan horse method that infects the PC could provide access to the corporate network. On the other hand, the data carried on smartphones can be targeted through malware on PCs.

Direct Attacks on the Mobile Phone
Some employees try to increase the security of their phone with special anti-theft software or by encrypting their memory card. These solutions are aimed at making data protected from physical attacks. However, those are done by pickpockets, who are less interested in the mobile phone content than reusing or reselling the device.

Cybercriminals do care about sensitive information stored on smartphones, but they don't need physical access to the phone to retrieve it. Rather, they will exploit any vulnerability - for instance in the phone's Web browser (such as the WebKit vulnerabilities on Android phones) - or use social engineering tricks to install malware on the phone. Once the phone is infected, it's easy for the cybercriminal to access any data on the device. In those cases, the locks are useless and the memory card is dynamically decrypted when used.

Businesses must add employees to the corporate network easily and cost-effectively while maintaining desired security levels and remote management capabilities. Traditionally, the RIM BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has been the gold standard among organizations with corporate-liable policies, providing sophisticated security and management capabilities.

However, smartphones like Androids and iPhones are becoming more popular, and some organizations feel obligated to embrace these as part of the employee-owned smartphone strategy. These are also supporting minimum security requirements, like timed-lock and remote wipe in the case of a lost or stolen handset. Some mobile apps, like Touchdown for Android, provide Exchange ActiveSync capabilities that support security policies to ensure security of the corporate data on the smartphone. Clearly, organizations need to rethink their mobile Smartphone strategies and take into account the proliferation of employee-owned smartphones.

Setting up single sign-on is another strategy that could be implemented on corporate networks. However, as of today, it's not supported on the iPhone. Whatever the decision, a careful evaluation of mobile devices accessing the network needs to be executed.

Ultimately, the question is: Do employees really need access to the corporate network via their smartphones? If they are provided access, then IT must secure the network to make sure the onslaught of online holiday shopping and sales offerings don't turn the season to "nightmare" before Christmas for the network bandwidth.

So, this holiday season, stay safe out there and don't forget to drive safe - on the road and in cyberspace.

More Stories By Michael Patterson

Michael Patterson, is the founder & CEO of Plixer and the product manager for Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer. Prior to starting Somix and Plixer, Mike worked in a technical support role at Cabletron Systems, acquired his Novell CNE and then moved to the training department for a few years. While in training he finished his Masters in Computer Information Systems from Southern New Hampshire University and then left technical training to pursue a new skill set in Professional Services. In 1998 he left the 'Tron' to start Somix and Plixer.

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
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, 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 enterpri...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessi...