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Traditional Approaches to Security Have Severe Limitations
We all know the attributes of the cloud; agile, dynamic, adaptable. Doesn’t it make
sense to use security products that operate the way the cloud does? From a
business standpoint, the answer is yes. From a security perspective, there simply
is no other way.
Many organizations have built elaborate network-based security systems based
on endpoints and linear flow of data. In these infrastructures, the key was to
build a hard outer shell and prevent unwanted and unwarranted entry. The
cloud, however, can only be effective when data can be shared and integrated
among users and resources. It’s ad hoc and agile, but it helps companies
achieve business goals with efficiency. All those users and data, however,
can’t be protected in an infrastructure that’s using outdated concepts for risk
management and threat detection.
Cloud security demands an end-to-end experience that delivers better context,
greater intelligence, and more sophisticated threat detection in order for
customers to make sense of the data and workloads they’re running in the cloud.
In this book are excellent examples of adept practitioners who have adopted
cloud strategies within their enterprise cloud security, and who operate with a
framework of protection while still enabling fast, scalable growth. The individuals
interviewed in this book live the challenge of security every day; we hope it’s
enlightening and helpful.
Lacework is a SaaS platform that
automates threat defense, intrusion
detection, and compliance for cloud
workloads & containers. Lacework
monitors all your critical assets in
the cloud and automatically detects
threats and anomalous activity so
you can take action before your
company is at risk. The result?
Deeper security visibility and greater
threat defense for your critical cloud
workloads, containers, and IaaS
accounts. Based in Mountain View,
California, Lacework is a privately
held company funded by Sutter Hill
Ventures, Liberty Global Ventures,
Spike Ventures, the Webb Investment
Network (WIN), and AME Cloud
Ventures. Find out more at www.
Chief Product Officer
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Director of Information Security
Senior Security Architect
Lead Security Consulting Engineer
James P. Courtney,
Certified Chief Information
Courtney Consultants, LLC.........................
Cox Automotive Inc.......................................
Milinda Rambel Stone,
Vice President & CISO
“YOU NEED TO DEFINE ACCEPTABLE
LEVELS OF RISK OR TOLERANCE,
AND TUNE YOUR TOOLS IN TERMS
One of the challenges and limitations of complex security stacks is
making sure the tools you are using are actually delivering their expected
value. We want to implement the latest tools, but if you have too many
running at once, you can lose focus of their value. It’s not just about
implementation. You need to think about the value you’re going to get out
of those tools in the context of the security control you need within your
architecture. Otherwise your resources can’t pay attention to everything,
and you accomplish less even though you have more tools.
A cloud environment operating at scale generates a huge amount of
event activity. You need to prioritize risk so that you can focus attention
on the right things. You need to define acceptable levels of risk tolerance,
and tune your tools in terms of risk and your business priorities.
Once all the security controls are defined in your environment, you
can monitor them so that you are able to evaluate how you’re doing in
vulnerability management, application security, and other important
areas. Then you can see where the weaknesses are and discuss with
your teams where you are operating at risk and how to model threats
in the context of your environment. You just have to keep looking at
it, talking about it, automating it, and measuring it. It’s a continuous
process because the cloud environment is constantly changing. n
Milinda Rambel Stone, Vice
President & CISO, Provation Medical
Milinda Rambel Stone is an executive
security leader with extensive experience
in building and leading security programs,
specializing in information-security
governance, incident investigation
and response, cloud security, security
awareness, and risk-management
compliance. As a former software engineer,
Stone has passion and experience in
building cloud security and DevSecOps
environments. She currently practices this
at Provation, where she is the vice president
and chief information security officer (CISO).
When orchestrating security in the cloud, you face the same challenges
and have to address the same threats as in an on-premises environment.
When moving to the cloud, you can’t forget that an application is still as
vulnerable as ever, and people still want to get to your data.
Yet how you orchestrate your security operations changes. The platform
is now orchestrating some of that for you, but you still need to know what
is most important, what are your showstoppers, the things you absolutely
must see first, what are your ports and access points, so you know
what you should be turning on. One key to success in this environment
is managing orchestration in a way that tunes out noise. You need to
architect all of that before you go to the cloud so you know what functions
and services you are choosing, and how to configure them operationally.
You still need to know what your firewalls and access points are telling
you, but these services are now orchestrated in the platform itself, and the
platform’s security center becomes your security operations center where
you can monitor alerts, the status of images, patch status, threat activity,
and all the things that are important to your operation.
Your approach to securing this environment is only as good as your
definition of what is critical, what requires timeliness, what alerts you need
to have, who gets them, and how to respond. Like any tool, it’s only as good
as how you tune if to fit your requirements. n
Katherine Riley, Director of
Information Security & Compliance,
Katherine (Kate) Riley is skilled in leading
teams to define cloud architecture, and
in development of controls. She has
developed and implemented security
frameworks such as ISO and NIST, and
performed compliance reviews such as
FFIEC, HIPAA, HITRUST, SOX, GDPR, and
“THE ONLY WAY TO PROCESS
ALL THAT DATA IS THROUGH
AUTOMATION, AND FOR THAT
TO WORK, YOU NEED TO SELECT
YOUR TOOLS CAREFULLY.”
One of the biggest challenges is vendor interoperability, or lack thereof.
For example, you may have a requirement that involves using a security
tool that only supports a particular cloud provider’s storage solutions.
However, let’s say the tool you use to parse logs does not work with the
type of data storage that particular security tool uses. You may be forced
either to parse the data manually, which limits your ability to operate
securely at scale, or to invest in and configure new security tools.
Operating at scale in the cloud can generate large volumes of security
data. The only way to process all that data is through automation, and for
that to work, you need to select your tools carefully. n
Paul Dackiewicz, Lead Security
Consulting Engineer, Advanced Network
Paul Dackiewicz has over 10 years of systems
engineering and cybersecurity experience in
the fields of healthcare, government, and value-
added resellers (VARs). He is currently leading
the security operations center (SOC) for a premier
managed security services provider (MSSP).
“MANY SECURITY SOLUTIONS
FOCUS ON SPECIFIC PIECES OF
THE SECURITY STRATEGY, AND
THEY PERFORM THOSE TASKS
VERY WELL. BUT WHEN YOU LOOK
AT THE ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM, LACK
OF INTEROPERATION CAN WEAKEN
A SECURITY PROFILE.”
When architecting a security strategy to protect a cloud infrastructure,
it’s important that different security tools play well together. Many
security solutions focus on specific pieces of the security strategy,
and they perform those tasks very well. But when you look at the
entire ecosystem, lack of interoperation can weaken a security profile.
Sometimes it is even difficult to have products from the same vendor
Mauro Loda, Senior Security
Mauro Loda is a passionate, data-
driven cybersecurity professional who
helped define and drive the “Cloud First”
strategy and culture within a Fortune 100
multinational enterprise. He is a strong
believer in offensive security and simple-
but-effective architecture-defense topology.
Emotional intelligence, pragmatism and
reliability are his guiding principles. He has
achieved numerous industry certifications
and actively participates in forums,
technology councils, and committees.
It’s often necessary to work closely with the vendor, and in some cases this involves writing custom
functions that enable the tools to speak to each other. This is not always easy. Vendors need to be willing
to help their customers and write code if necessary. They can often to cooperate with you on temporary
solutions, but in most cases you can’t wait six to nine months to add capabilities to an operating
platform. When operating in the cloud, solutions are deployed through the continuous integration,
continuous delivery (CICD) pipeline in time frames measured in seconds and minutes. When working
in a super-dynamic cloud environment, most vendors need to be more agile in the way they adjust to
customer needs. n
“IT’S IMPORTANT THAT EVERY
SECURITY TOOL YOU IMPLEMENT
GIVES YOU AN ADDITIONAL
ADVANTAGE THAT YOU DO NOT
One challenge when securing cloud environments is avoiding the adoption
of security tools with redundant services. You don’t want to be in a
situation where you are monitoring more tool outputs than necessary,
so it’s important that every security tool you implement gives you an
additional advantage that you do not already have. For example, you may
have a tool that monitors resources and configurations that are being used
in your cloud environment. To gain further visibility, you don’t need another
tool that does the same thing. You might want to implement a tool that has
machine-learning capabilities and can look at usage patterns and trends,
and then make predictions based on what it sees. This provides deeper
insight than you gained from the tool that simply reported on resource
Darrell Shack , Cloud Engineer, Cox
Darrell Shack is a seasoned system
engineer focused on building resilient
and high--availability solutions. He has
experience in developing solutions in the
public cloud Amazon Web Services, helping
teams manage their cost, and overall
application performance in the cloud.
Integration between the security tools in your layered security strategy
is the key, and how companies address this integration is itself a limiting
factor, because how you solve this problem can introduce vulnerabilities.
For example, one company might decide to solve the integration problem
by purchasing all of its security tools from one vendor. In this way they
can be sure that all the tools work together. But this approach creates
a flat security plan. An attacker really only has to attack one product
successfully to breach the defenses. Alternatively, a company might
choose the best security solutions from different vendors for their layered
security strategy. This approach makes a more complex security stack
that can be more difficult to attack, but if the solutions do not work well
together, there can be gaps.
Nothing is going to be 100% secure. Given enough time and
determination, an adversary will find their way in. That is why a layered
approach with a central monitoring point, such as a security information
manager, is necessary. Artificial intelligence and behavior analytics tools
are an important part of the layered approach, but if they are not properly
configured, they may miss potentially threatening activity. They must be
continuously trained for the continuously changing cloud environment,
where you can have 100 servers running one minute, and a few minutes
later business demands spin up 50 new ones. n
James P. Courtney, Certified Chief
Information Security Officer, Courtney
James Courtney is a recognized cybersecurity
professional who has spoken at multiple
conferences, including the CyberMaryland
Conference. He is a Certified Chief Information
Security Officer (one of 1,172 in the world), serving as
the IT network and operations security manager for a
private SIP consulting firm in McLean, Virginia.
“ONE SECURITY PERSON FOR
EVERY 100 DEVELOPERS…WILL
NOT BE ABLE TO DO HIS OR HER
JOB REGARDLESS OF SKILL LEVEL
AND TECHNICAL EXPERTISE.”
The greatest limitation to integrating your security solutions and
strategy in the cloud effectively is failing to have agreed-on standards
in your DevSecOps environment. For example, let’s say you have 1,000
developers working on your systems, and there are at least 1,000
different ways you can implement an application service. Every one
of those developers has their ideas about the best way to meet a
requirement, so every developer has a use case for building snowflake
instances, which are the enemies of automation. Now let’s also say that
like a typical organization with 1,000 developers, you have 10 security
people making sure the operational environment stays secure. That’s one
security person for every 100 developers out there doing their own unique
implementations. That one security person will not be able to do his or
her job regardless of skill level and technical expertise.
To address this, you need to develop basic frameworks that become
starting points for every service implementation. Developers must
be limited to just a few acceptable versions of containers or virtual
instances, and these can be enforced through automation of the DevOps
pipeline. With this kind of discipline, one security person can easily
monitor the work of 100 developers. n
Ross Young, Director,
Ross Young is a veteran
technologist, innovation expert,
and transformational leader, having
learned DevSecOps, IT infrastructure,
and cybersecurity from a young
age from both ninjas and pirates.
Young currently teaches master-level
classes in cybersecurity at Johns
Hopkins University and is a director of
information security at Capital One.
Tools used to secure a cloud environment are only as good as your definition of what is critical and how to respond. Like any
tools, they are only as good as how you tune them to fit your requirements.
Integration between the security tools in your layered security strategy is the key, and how companies address this integration
is itself a limiting factor, because how you solve this problem can introduce vulnerabilities.
When operating at scale in the cloud, if you do not have standards in your DevSecOps practice, you will end up with many
snowflake instances that make automation difficult and effective security oversight almost impossible.