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Cloud security is too important to leave to cloud providers

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As cloud rises to encompass to more corporate applications, data and processes, there’s potential for end-users to outsource their security to providers as well. 


Photo: Joe McKendrick

The need to take control of security and not turn ultimate responsibility over to cloud providers is taking hold among many enterprises, an industry survey suggests. The Cloud Security Alliance, which released its survey of 241 industry experts, identified an “Egregious 11” cloud security issues. 

The survey’s authors point out that many of this year’s most pressing issues put the onus of security on end user companies, versus relying on service providers. “We noticed a drop in ranking of traditional cloud security issues under the responsibility of cloud service providers. Concerns such as denial of service, shared technology vulnerabilities, and CSP data loss and system vulnerabilities — which all featured in the previous ‘Treacherous 12’ —  were now rated so low they have been excluded in this report. These omissions suggest that traditional security issues under the responsibility of the CSP seem to be less of a concern. Instead, we’re seeing more of a need to address security issues that are situated higher up the technology stack that are the result of senior management decisions.” 

This aligns with another recent survey from Forbes Insights and VMware, which finds that proactive companies are resisting the temptation to turn security over to their cloud providers — only 31% of leaders report turning over many security measures to cloud providers. (I helped design and author the survey report.) Still, 94% are employing cloud services for some aspects of security.  

The latest CSA report highlights this year’s leading concerns: 

1. Data breaches. “Data is becoming the main target of cyber attacks,”.the report’s authors point out. “Defining the business value of data and the impact of its loss is essential important for organizations that own or process data.” In addition, “protecting data is evolving into a question of who has access to it,” they add. “Encryption techniques can help protect data, but negatively impacts system performance while making applications less user-friendly.” 

2. Misconfiguration and inadequate change control. “Cloud-based resources are highly complex and dynamic, making them challenging to configure. Traditional controls and change management approaches are not effective in the cloud.” The authors state “companies should embrace automation and employ technologies that scan continuously for misconfigured resources and remediate problems in real time.”

3. Lack of cloud security architecture and strategy. “Ensure security architecture aligns with business goals and objectives. Develop and implement a security architecture framework.” 

4. Insufficient identity, credential, access and key management. “Secure accounts, inclusive to two-factor authentication and limited use of root accounts. Practice the strictest identity and access controls for cloud users and identities.” 

5. Account hijacking. This is a threat that must be taken seriously. “Defense-in-depth and IAM controls are key in mitigating account hijacking.” 

6. Insider threat. “Taking measures to minimize insider negligence can help mitigate the consequences of insider threats. Provide training to your security teams to properly install, configure, and monitor your computer systems, networks, mobile devices, and backup devices.” The CSA authors also urge “regular employee training awareness. Provide training to your regular employees to inform them how to handle security risks, such as phishing and protecting corporate data they carry outside the company on laptops and mobile devices.”

7. Insecure interfaces and APIs. “Practice good API hygiene. Good practice includes diligent oversight of items such as inventory, testing, auditing, and abnormal activity protections.” Also, “consider using standard and open API frameworks (e.g., Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI) and Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface (CIMI)).” 

8. Weak control plane. “The cloud customer should perform due diligence and determine if the cloud service they intend to use possesses an adequate control plane.”

9. Metastructure and applistructure failures. “Cloud service providers must offer visibility and expose mitigations to counteract the cloud’s inherent lack of transparency for tenants. All CSPs should conduct penetration testing and provide findings to customers.” 

10. Limited cloud usage visibility. “Mitigating risks starts with the development of a complete cloud visibility effort from the top down. Mandate companywide training on accepted cloud usage policies and enforcement thereof.  All non-approved cloud services must be reviewed and approved by the cloud security architect or third-party risk management.” 

11. Abuse and nefarious use of cloud services. “Enterprises should monitor their employees in the cloud, as traditional mechanisms are unable to mitigate the risks posed by cloud service usage.”



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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

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