I guess you picked the wrong god-damned rec room to break into, didn’t you?!

With the recent high-profile breach of Global Payments, information is finally coming to light as to the cause of the breach. Sadly, it seems that ineffective security around authentication was to blame this time. This is in-line with my post the other day about how internal security policies need to educate employees about why passwords and verifying content is so important to maintaining a strong security posture. Unfortunately, it looks like an employee was impersonated through authentication verification questions, giving the unauthorized user access to confidential information including several million credit card numbers. So how can this type of solution be avoided, and more importantly, what kind of cloud solutions exist to help with this challenge? Continue reading

Passwords are like underwear. You shouldn’t leave them out where people can see them. You should change them regularly. And you shouldn’t loan them out to strangers.

It’s funny when I see articles around security that focus on how Anti-Virus is the key to computer security. I know that yes, the risks from malware and virus-laden attachments are a pain in the butt for security professionals, and even regular computer users, but is A/V really the key to computer security? If you ask me, it’s really about education and process than anything. Continue reading

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

It may come as no surprise that I read a lot about cloud and security. I mean A LOT. My Twitter feeds are rammed with representation from all things cloud. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”. So when I’m not doing my day job, I’m busy writing this daily blog, writing for another awesome Canadian blog, http://cloudbestpractices.net, some vendor sites, and writing whitepapers for various conferences, doing research with the Cloud Security Alliance and the like. I do this so that I can help educate the market, particularly the Canadian market, on cloud. Continue reading

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about security, but last week I came across a really great (but frightening) example of how security is affected with virtual environments. An organization who was running a virtual environment suddenly lost access to their entire infrastructure. It wasn’t a result of a badly configured virtual environment, it was arguably one of the first examples that I have come across of an attack against a virtual environment. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it’s a very interesting story of just how the threat landscape is adapting.

Essentially what happened was that the Windows server their virtual environment was running on had suffered a malware infection. The worst thing was that it was a known exploit, but hadn’t been patched. What the exploit did was cause the server to hit the network stack with enough traffic to cause a DDoS attack against the management console. This brought not just everything down, but rendered the environment unavailable.

Can you imagine if this type of vulnerability happens in production environment, such as in a financial or e-commerce organization? Aside from the financial ramifications of not being available to customers, but if you couldn’t recover any of your data? This type of attack could theoretically cause irreparable damage to a company.

I know the whole concept of securing virtual environments is a new thing. I work with several research groups within the Cloud Security Alliance so I am aware of just how little information there is out there as it relates to best practices. But when a real-world example of how these types of attacks are starting to affect virtual environments, it makes it clear just how important these conversations are.

Now I am not sure what happened to the organization who was the unfortunate victim of the attack. I hope that the fact that they figured out it was a network issue means that once the vulnerability is patched the VMs can be restarted. But I doubt that this is a rare and isolated example, which means that it is officially time for security and infrastructure folks to step up their game.

To ensure ongoing quality of service, your death may be monitored for training purposes. Thank you.

I was recently attending a cloud conference and had the chance to talk to several of the key technology vendors that were in attendance. One of the major vendors seems to be working closely with just about everyone in the cloud and virtualization space, and it made me question what kind of benefits to solution providers and other vendors these types of relationships provide. Suddenly the main cloud players are building partnerships to develop solutions for attached security, storage, asset management, performance monitoring and other operational technologies within virtual environments. But what benefit is there to have such tight integration with one or two key cloud platform vendors? Continue reading

My software never has bugs. It just develops random features.

I came across a great article from CSO Online that talked about how cloud has created a new movement called DevOps. Normally when you think about how cloud is affecting the way businesses operate from an IT perspective, the usual culprits at the centre are the security folks, and maybe the IT infrastructure guys. What we tend to forget is that these groups aren’t the only ones who are looking at how cloud can make business processes more nimble. The DevOps movement is showing organizations how changing the way they run development can lead to some astounding results. Continue reading

If at first you don’t succeed; call it version 1.0.

If someone asked you what the biggest problem with cloud is, how would you answer? Would it be security? Complexity? Personally, I think it comes down to the fact that cloud involves so many systems, data centres, networks, security controls that it’s almost impossible to create clear segmentations of where cloud environments begin and end. Cloud is a global entity made up of fenced-off clusters of information. Continue reading

Worst. Episode. Ever.

DLP is always a strange thing for me to talk about, since I remember the first round of solutions that ended up causing more headaches than solving the problem of data leakage. But with cloud, it’s all of a sudden a new conversation and DLP is right at the forefront in classifying the types of data that are the centre of the cloud design. All of a sudden DLP cannot be ignored anymore, it’s become a critical part of the new cloud landscape. Continue reading

Greetings, programs!

The other day I was asked about application whitelisting as a way to deal with endpoint issues in virtual and cloud environments. I never really thought about it in this space, as usually application whitelisting was a technique used to control rogue users who like to install anything and everything on their desktops and laptops. So how does this practice affect virtual and cloud environments, and more importantly, does it make sense? Continue reading

I’m a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar!

I recently met with a Canadian cloud innovator, DataGardens, to provide some input on how their solutions would benefit different market segments, and be used for different key continuity and security functions. If you haven’t heard of DataGardens (I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with them either) or their flagship solution, DataGardens WAVE, you might want to take a look at them again. Especially if you have need for virtualization or cloud business continuity services. Continue reading