Welcome!

Security Authors: Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Gilad Parann-Nissany

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, XML, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

How Cloud Security Balances Risk Versus Reward

Moving beyond the concept of security as a cost center

I spend a great deal of my day thinking about security. How it affects the enterprise; how to best position and protect assets. How it shapes risk management and how it delivers potential benefits through smoother operations, enhanced trust and loss prevention.

At its core, security is about risk versus reward. It’s no great secret that many executives look at security as a cost center. Compounded by the requirements of compliance, the expansion of technology, and the nature of the modern enterprise, no one doubts the need to secure the enterprise…but to what degree? Securing your IT environment is not free, but there are best practices and technology options designed to mitigate costs while still providing a strong, manageable and proactive defense. While many companies still would rather spend capital on commodity assets, many CIOs recognize that information security is an important business driver. Many more still are looking to the cloud for security solutions to further reduce resource reliance.

In the end, it is a question each company must answer on its own. I can talk until I am blue in the face about the bogeymen of hacking, slipshod employees opening suspect emails, the exposure of a company’s most precious data, but the needs of the company—how it interacts with customers, the access it provides third parties, employee productivity processes, compliance requirements and all the other moving parts of an active organization--must create and prioritize the roadmap based on understood vulnerabilities and available resources.

However, therein lies the problem…understood vulnerabilities. This decision is based on assumptions, resource limitations and previous experience. But security issues are a moving target...it's more about knowing what you don't know. Obviously a bank or medical management facility is at more risk than a local dog grooming company, but that doesn’t mean it is any less vulnerable. In fact, the modest company might be at greater risk because even a small breach of customer data can devastate a company. A large company may be able to absorb (although painful) the fines, lawsuits and the loss of proprietary assets, but the impact on a small or mid-sized company is magnified. The damage to the trust factor alone could put them out of business.

This is not meant to be some sort of scare tactic, but the reality of doing business in the 21st century means every company must take some level of action to protect itself beyond filtering emails. However understanding investments in CapEx, resource and personnel expenditures, hardware and software management, this might be untenable for every company. This is where the CIO earns his keep. How much time and capital is necessary to invest versus the real threats to the network/assets (is a barking dog enough to chase away robbers, or do you need bolt locks, motion sensors, round-the-clock-sentries, gun turrets, etc…)

This is why cloud security (security managed from the cloud) provides the necessary balance in the risk versus reward quotient. Not only does it support a unified platform (PaaS or REACT), but eliminates many of the costs that throw the equation out of balance. A smaller company no longer has to decide to invest in virus sweepers OR access management, identity credentialing OR intrusion detection. A larger organization can reallocate important resources towards key revenue drivers and core competencies. A unified/centralized approach from the cloud provides all the capabilities with no additional capital expenditures. In the fact that it centralizes all the activity under a centralized pane of glass not only makes an organization response ready, but also automates a great deal of what compliance regulators are demanding.

What about the risk? Are organizations exposing or ceding control of their data in order to save a few bucks? Is a Pandora’s Box opening because functionality and reporting is virtualized? Of course not. Yet, with all business initiatives, there are risks. However, by applying such best practices as 24/7/365 monitoring, event correlation across multiple silos, and fostering interactive communication between functions closes the vulnerability gap significantly. But to harness all those capabilities a company would need to invest in SIEM, Access Management, Log Management, IDM and other security solutions. Before the cloud, this combined initiative was only an option available to Fortune 500 enterprises. Even applying some cloud-based tools, each of the referenced solutions typically works in parallel. What is needed is the ability to centralize and have each of the solutions leverage one another.

Now cloud security solutions and applications are two different animals when it comes to the all important data ownership and information liability. Security manages the data wherever it is stored-cloud or some locked server room in the basement of a fortified campus. It is the fence, not the animals held within. If there is a break in the fence, or the rancher hires irresponsible cowboys, then the herd is at risk. But if the foreman is vigilant about riding the perimeter and managing his employees, then there should be as many cows in the barn as there were the day before.

This is not to say data is unassailable every time the sales guy accesses the product demo site to present to a prospect via online third party collaboration software, but if the tools are in place, properly automated and integrated and the policies (access rules, credentialing, web authorization, monitoring etc…) are sound, risk goes down and reward goes up.

On Wall Street there is a “measurement” called the Sharpe Index. Essentially it characterizes how well the return of an asset compensates the investor for the risk taken. Part of the complex equation analyzes the variables to get to a positive return. Applied to finance the axiom typically means the greater the risk, the greater the return. When applied to security, and more pointedly, cloud-based security, the variables line up so that there doesn’t have to be a high trade off of risk and return Considering the lower investment, the faster deployment, the reduction of personnel and computing resources against an expanded enterprise toolset, improved capabilities, continuous and centralized alerts, security-as-a-service support and enhanced visibility across the organization, the path to realize rewards and ROI point to the cloud.

Bottom line, cloud-based security functionality is as trustworthy, as powerful and as comprehensive as any on-premise deployment. Because it is infinitely more affordable, flexible and manageable, it allows you to increase the layers of security around your enterprise for a fraction of the hard and soft costs. It allows you to concentrate on priorities, policies and core competencies to ensure your perimeters are safe and the cattle can always come in from the fields. Each company is unique in terms of its needs and security comfort level and its concept in determining risk versus reward. Yet biggest risk, in terms of security, is standing still.

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
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...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...