Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Lisa Calkins, Mamoon Yunus

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Ransomware in the Age of #SaaS | @CloudExpo SDN #AI #ML #CloudSecurity

There’s a rapidly evolving range of threats that SaaS users face on their own side that SaaS providers have no control over

Protecting Data and Applications in the Age of SaaS

Recent market analysis from Cisco demonstrates the torrid adoption of cloud-based services. By 2019, more than four-fifths of all data center traffic, 83 percent, will be based in the cloud (up from 65 percent today). Most of this action will be going to public cloud services, which will account for 56 percent of all cloud workloads. In terms of type of cloud services, a majority will be applications, as the study finds Software as a Service (SaaS) is and will continue to be the dominant mode. Currently, about 45 percent of cloud implementations are SaaS; this figure is expected to grow to 59 percent by 2019, and SaaS adoption is particularly widespread among SMBs.

The increasing trust and confidence in public cloud services has contributed, and is continuing to contribute, to the growth in SaaS adoption for mission-critical workloads. More specifically, companies using or considering SaaS are often attracted to the greater level of cybersecurity protection that SaaS providers can deliver, including installations, maintenance, upgrades and patches.

However, there's a rapidly evolving range of threats that SaaS users face on their own side that SaaS providers have no control over. These include ransomware, various insider threats and third-party apps. Ensuring a high level of protection and security for SaaS-based data and apps depends as much on SaaS users addressing these client-side threats as it does on the cybersecurity resilience of SaaS providers. Here, we'll explore these primary threats and offer tips for SaaS users to address them.

Ransomware on the Rise
Ransomware - a form of cyberattack where hackers seize and encrypt data, and demand compensation (Bitcoin) for data to be unlocked - is now the biggest malware threat in the world. Undercapitalized and outgunned small businesses are increasingly the target of ransomware. According to recent research from Kaspersky Lab, 42 percent of SMBs worldwide suffered a ransomware-based attack between late 2015 to late 2016. Of those, one in three paid up the ransom, but one in five never got their files back, despite paying.

SaaS users may initially believe that using a SaaS provider naturally protects them from this kind of attack. Cloud file solutions like Google Drive create a second copy of local data that is stored in the cloud. But this doesn't mean your data is backed up and protected. If you're infected with ransomware, the files on a local hard drive will be held for ransom (by encryption) and any backup copies in Google Drive will be overwritten when the computer is synced. This means the "backup" data is now essentially also being held for ransom.

Proper backup is the only true protection for SaaS users - and all organizations for that matter - to guard against ransomware attacks. One effective technique is cloud-to-cloud backup, which enables data stored in one cloud to be backed up to another cloud. This type of backup can be automated, for maximum ease and resource-efficiency. In the future, we expect backup capabilities to deliver more automated ransomware protection - not just backing up data, but actually identifying ransomware attacks and the impacted files. This will help expedite data recovery and minimize any potential business disruption and downtime.

Insider Threats
Another major security problem today is insiders - according to Verizon, insiders are responsible for up to 90 percent of security incidents. This does not mean, however, that all these insiders have ill intentions. Most insider-driven security breaches are committed by innocent workers who are unaware they're actually doing something wrong, and creating major risks.

Consider an employee who moves sensitive data from a SaaS application to their personal iPad, or even their personal email address, in order to work on it at home. Their aim is good - to be more productive - but practices such as these can be hazardous. In the simplest example, this employee may lose their device and it may fall into the wrong hands. Or, the employee may switch jobs and go to a competitor, and then have full access to this SaaS data via their personal email account.

To address these threats, organizations should instill a culture of security and implement training on how employees can avoid certain practices that inadvertently create risk - from sharing passwords, to clicking on suspicious email links, to downloading and sending data to personal devices and email accounts. As the Ponemon Institute notes, "Good protection starts at the computer."

But given the speed at which most workers are moving today, it is important to supplement this training with automated protections and supports. SaaS users can also benefit from automated solutions that identify and delete risky data sharing practices and alert IT to risky or unusual user behaviors. These types of oversights can help minimize unnecessary risk exposure.

Third-Party Apps
Third-party apps that connect directly to SaaS data and applications are another major threat. Often, employees will download third-party apps - for functions like calendar or messaging, for example - in order to supplement the functionality of their SaaS apps. However, they often do this without express IT permission, a trend known as "shadow IT." Their intentions may be good, but if any one of these apps is backed by a malicious party, that party now has a full-access pass to critical SaaS data and applications.

Consider the case of the recent Gooligan malware, an Android-based malware that has compromised more than one million Google accounts, hundreds of them associated with enterprise users. The infection began when users downloaded and installed a Gooligan-infected app from a third-party app store on a vulnerable Android device. Through a process called rooting, Gooligan then stole Google account and authentication token information and launched a sinister money-making scheme, downloading apps and giving them positive reviews, as well as installing adware to fraudulently generate revenues.

While the Gooligan hackers' ultimate goal proved not to be data theft, they could have inflicted major damage. According to researchers, a total of 86 apps available in third-party marketplaces carried the malware, and collectively they had the power to root 74 percent of all Android phones worldwide. Gooligan was just the latest (and perhaps most eye-opening) example of the potential danger that third-party apps can pose to the security of connected SaaS-based data and applications. Industry research shows that the use of third-party apps within enterprises has increased 30 times over the past two years, and more than a quarter of these apps are risky. Given the acceleration of third-party app downloads - which isn't expected to slow anytime soon - SaaS users should frequently scan third-party applications accessing SaaS systems, as well as "blacklist" and remove any identified as suspicious.

Conclusion
Both SaaS providers and users face a rapidly evolving threat environment, and protection and security of SaaS-based data and applications must be a shared endeavor. SaaS providers have made great strides in their security standardizations, but it is impossible for them to address the range of threats that lie on the client-side, including ransomware, insider threats and third-party apps. SaaS users must assume this responsibility and understand the important role they play in ensuring the security and protection of their own data and apps based in the cloud.

More Stories By Dmitry Dontsov

Dmitry Dontsov, CEO of Spinbackup, has wide technology and marketing expertise in the area of cloud apps development and management. In addition to being the CEO and Co-founder of Spinbackup, he is the Co-founder of Bridge and founder of Optimum Web Outsourcing.

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
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, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
"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.
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
There is only one world-class Cloud event on earth, and that is Cloud Expo – which returns to Silicon Valley for the 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center, October 31 - November 2, 2017. Every Global 2000 enterprise in the world is now integrating cloud computing in some form into its IT development and operations. Midsize and small businesses are also migrating to the cloud in increasing numbers. Companies are each developing their unique mix of cloud technologies and service...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
Recently, IoT seems emerging as a solution vehicle for data analytics on real-world scenarios from setting a room temperature setting to predicting a component failure of an aircraft. Compared with developing an application or deploying a cloud service, is an IoT solution unique? If so, how? How does a typical IoT solution architecture consist? And what are the essential components and how are they relevant to each other? How does the security play out? What are the best practices in formulating...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...