Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Rishi Bhargava, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

@BigDataExpo: Article

Protecting Data in the Cloud

Today’s cloud-driven, always-connected world enables organizations to be very agile but is also putting data integrity at risk

The cloud plays an integral role in enabling the agility required to take advantage of new business models and to do so in a very convenient and cost-effective way. However, this also means that more personal information and business data will exist in the cloud and be passed back and forth. Maintaining data integrity is paramount.

Today's approach to security in the cloud may not be sufficient; it doesn't focus on putting controls close to data, which is now more fluid, and it doesn't discriminate one set of data from another. All data is not created equal and should not be treated in the same manner; a one-size fits all model doesn't work.

In this always-connected world, protection measures in the cloud need to focus on what really matters - the type of data, how it is used, and where it goes.

Data Classification
In order to adequately protect data in the cloud, organizations need to start considering how to classify data. One approach is to use a three-tier data protection model to cater to data of different sensitivities and relevance across industries. This model would include:

Tier 1, Regulated: Data subject to regulation, or data that carries with it proprietary, ethical, or privacy considerations such as personally identifiable information (PII). Unauthorized disclosure of regulated data may have serious adverse effects on an organization's reputation, resources, services, or individuals and requires the most stringent level of control.

Tier 2, Commercial: Industry-related, ecommerce or transactional and intellectual property data whose unauthorized disclosure may have moderately adverse effects on an organization's reputation, resources, services, or individuals. Commercial data requires a moderate level of security.

Tier 3, Collaborative: Collaborative and DevOps-type data that typically is publicly accessible, requires minimal security controls and poses little or no risk to the consuming organization's reputation, resources, or services.

Using this model, security teams can strategically partner with business users to understand requirements and determine the right approach for their organization. Small to mid-sized organizations, enterprises, and service providers can apply this model to begin classifying their data based on contextual attributes such as how the data will be accessed, stored, and transmitted. Once the data is classified, they can then apply appropriate data protection measures focused on protecting work streams and transactions that continue to evolve to enable business agility. Given that most of today's data breaches are a result of user-access issues, security considerations such as Identity and Access Management, Authorization, and Authentication are critical.

The Data Integrity Challenge
Understanding and classifying data is just a first step, albeit an important one. Organizations also need to determine how to ensure data integrity when the perimeter is amorphous and control of the endpoints and the data is diminished mobility and cloud services.

Business departments are increasingly encouraged to find efficient and innovative ways to generate new business. This requires identifying new applications and ways to support the business anywhere and anytime. Business users often make the decision to use the cloud before involving IT since they can get up and running in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to provision in house.

With this unprecedented change in operations and infrastructure comes an unprecedented need for ensuring data integrity - ultimately working through the life cycle of data that can, at any point, be within the confines of a company, out to a network of partners and suppliers, or floating in a cloud. The challenge in this fractured landscape is that the perimeter is amorphous, but legacy security solutions are not; designed for a time when there was a more well-defined perimeter. The result is that attackers now use various techniques to bypass traditional perimeter-based defenses and compromise data - be it through tampering, stealing, or leaking data. Point-in-time defenses are no longer sufficient.

To effectively protect data wherever it may be, defenses must go beyond simply blocking and detection to including capabilities such as data correlation, continuous data analysis, and retrospective action when data has been found to have been corrupted, tampered with, or exfiltrated.

A New Approach to Applying Controls
In order to protect the classes of data described earlier - regulated, commercial, and collaborative - security teams need a mix of policy, process, and technology controls. These controls should be applied based on user and location context and according to a security model that is open, integrated, continuous, and pervasive:

  • Open to provide access to global intelligence and context to detect and remediate breaches and to support new standards for data protection.
  • Integrated solutions that enable policy to be automated and minimize manual processes can close gaps in security and support centralized management and control according to data classifications.
  • Both point-in-time solutions as well as continuous capabilities are needed to identify new threats to data.
  • Pervasive security delivers protection across the full attack continuum - before, during, and after an attack.

Let's take a closer look at the advantages of applying controls to protect data based on this model.

Openness provides:

  • The opportunity to participate in an open community of users and standards bodies to ensure consistent data classification and standards of policy and process.
  • Easy integration with other layers of security defenses to continue to uphold data protection best practices as IT environments and business requirements change.
  • The ability to access to global intelligence with the right context to identify new threats and take immediate action.

Integrated enables:

  • Technology controls that map to data tiers and also track data through different usage contexts and locations to support the fundamental first step of data classification.
  • Identity and access controls, authorization, and authentication that work in unison to map data protection to data classifications.
  • Encryption controls applied based on deemed data sensitivity to further strengthen protection, including strong encryption key standards (minimum AES256) and encryption keys retained by data owners.
  • Security solutions and technologies that seamlessly work together to protect data across its entire lifecycle.
  • Centralized policy management, monitoring, and distributed policy enforcement to ensure compliance with regulatory and corporate policies.

Continuous supports:

  • Technologies and services to constantly aggregate and correlate data from across the connected environment with historical patterns and global attack intelligence to maintain real-time contextual information, track data movement, and detect data exfiltration.
  • The ability to leverage insights into emerging new threats, take action (automatically or manually) to stop these threats, and use that intelligence to protect against future data breaches.

Pervasive translates into:

  • Defenses (including technologies and best practices) that address the full attack continuum - before, during, and after an attack. Before an attack, total, actionable visibility is required to see who is accessing what data from where and how, and to correlate that information against emerging threat vectors. During an attack, continuous visibility and control to analyze and take action in real time to protect data is necessary. After an attack, the key is to mitigate the damage, remediate, quickly recover, and prevent similar, future data breaches, data tampering, or data corruption activities.
  • The ability to address all attack vectors - including network, endpoints, virtual, the cloud, email and Web - to mitigate risk associated with various communications channels that could be used by an attacker to compromise data.

Today's cloud-driven, always-connected world is enabling organizations to be very agile but it is also putting data integrity at risk. IT teams need to quickly adapt to this new way of doing business despite having less control of the endpoints and the data. Traditional data protection models fail due to their inability to discriminate one set of data from another. By putting in place protection measures based on the type of data, how it is used, and where it goes, and backed by a security model that is open, integrated, continuous, and pervasive, organizations can take advantage of new business opportunities the cloud affords without sacrificing data integrity.

More Stories By Raja Patel

Raja Patel is a Senior Director, Cloud Security Product Management, at Cisco, where he is responsible for the portfolio strategy and development of security solutions for Cisco's Security Business. His responsibilities include building solutions and managing operations associated with Cloud, Threat Intelligence, Web and Email Security. Raja has been at Cisco for 13 years and during this tenure he has product managed a broad portfolio of products within Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business Group, developed and accelerated new consumption & business models such as Enterprise Licensing, and lead strategic initiatives to develop more agile business practices across Cisco.

Mr. Patel holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and an MBA in Global Business Management.

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
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
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, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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.
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
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 @...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. 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 June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed 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 at D...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.