Nevertheless, what I am seeing, and am not surprised by seeing is the standard reaction from some security professionals “no.” It is long past time to continue with the same old tired refrain of “no” and move on to where business is going. Security has been rapidly working on making themselves in a much more tenuous position when they keep on saying no. It is long past time for that tired information security professional refrain to be retired.
It is time to start embracing where business is going, and trying to make sure that they are doing it in the safest way possible.
When headlines like “RMS hates cloud computing; says you should too”, “Cloud Computing a Trap” or “Cloud computing puts your health data at risk” show up on the internet, it looks like the same old FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) that have been the inevitable response from the security community or from people who do not accommodate change well.
The problem is also that we are not providing answers back to the security community that needs support and guidance. It is one thing to create FUD, it is quite another to offer no solutions or pointers to the solutions for the problems we are seeing. To remain credible we have to provide solutions to go along with what we are talking about.
The problem is that while they are saying that the house is going to burn down, it might not necessarily be that way. There are very few information security experts in cloud computing. It is hard to have your average IDS watcher, or network security engineer understand that cloud computing offers benefits and risks, just as much as virtualization, or even the Iphone.
What security professionals need to be doing rather than creating their own FUD is work out ways to make it safer. It is time to stop fearing change and learn about cloud computing technology and what it can and cannot do for the business. Work through a risk matrix, work through measures and counter measures, do all those good things that security engineers should be doing.
What I am seeing in the community, on blogs, and in private communications is the same earnest viewpoint of proposing a six million dollar security solution for a 15-minute wireless test by insisting that a faraday cage had to be built around the two buildings we wanted to use in the test. That the faraday cage would have invalidated the test because we never would have been able to go point-to-point wireless as the test protocol asked for.
While we might struggle with new technology, it is time for information security folks to step up to the plate and get smart on how the technology works, what the risks are, and how those risks can be reasonably addressed by good security solutions.
There are tricks to cloud computing that will remind you of a SAN, there are things that will annoy you like logging, there are things that will make you happy like automatically having an MD5 has on every object on the system if you use Amazon AWS or S3. Or using the power of the cloud to acquire and digest computer images for forensics. Let alone the power that the cloud represents in actually meeting C2 logging levels for databases, or the raw log crunching power of the system. Or the ability to test patching routines for systems by building instances against images and regression testing there instead of on a thrown together test bed. There is a lot of love when it comes to cloud computing.
There are things to worry about, privacy, control of objects, legal discovery, who has access to what questions that arise anyways in a corporate environment, e-mail security, database security, what about the provider going out of business, or a host of other legitimate concerns about the security, privacy, access, and availability of the data or the objects.
There is also very little usable information from the security viewpoint on these issues, some of this is addressable, some of it will mean that information security professionals learn as they go using the best practices. They will also have to fall back on what they know, what they are legally responsible for, and what the real issues are to help management make the best decision that they can. They will not make a decision that security folks will like, because many data points are going to move off the local networks, and go to reside somewhere else in the world.
There are some great resources for good information, Cloud Ave is one of them, but trend micro, IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and others who have all figured out that this can be a very neat technology and help companies expand and contract according to business need and market conditions.
While it is not ‘inevitable’, it is probable that companies are going to move some operations off the local network and into the cloud. The best bet right now for the security engineer is to work through the process, and get smart now so that management can benefit from what you have learned.