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Everything’s in the Cloud: Now What?

Today’s applications are either virtualized in our own data center or being hosted by any number of providers. But is our security built around our current security reality or is it living in the past? During one of my Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit presentations, I shared best practices in a rapidly changing environment, where cloud vendor hype isn’t matching our security reality. Now that everything is in the cloud, we need a strategic approach to cloud security.

 

Here’s how to make it happen:

Ensure safe data handling when working with cloud provider. Considering cloud providers are an extension of your business, it is vital to ensure how your provider handles security for storing and transmitting your data. What provisions are in place to make sure data is secure once it has been transmitted? Determine if your provider has firewalls, data encryption, and user authentication to keep your data safe.

Combat growing threats. As cloud-based technologies grow more sophisticated over time, so do the possibilities of threats. A proactive approach to security means that we enable technology like cloud-based threat intelligence to detect a threat as they happen – or in some cases before they happen. Other anti-threat measures such as deep packet inspection and proactive monitoring can also help combat viruses, spam and other intrusions. Learn more. You don’t have to be a security expert to take security seriously. Leverage industry bodies, like the Cloud Security Alliance, for guidance on benchmarking service provider security capabilities. Learn what certifications and security practices your cloud provider has, including daily risk audits. And look for ways to increase security processes when you work with cloud providers. See how Cisco can help you protect your business assets and meet compliance requirements.

Learn more. You don’t have to be a security expert to take security seriously. Leverage industry bodies, like the Cloud Security Alliance, for guidance on benchmarking service provider security capabilities. Learn what certifications and security practices your cloud provider has, including daily risk audits. And look for ways to increase security processes when you work with cloud providers. See how Cisco can help you protect your business assets and meet compliance requirements.

To know more follow me on Twitter  @e_desouza  and check my blog and Gartner presentation  on Three Data Center Security Innovations to Accelerate Your Business

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Coordinated Attacks Against the U.S. Government and Banking Infrastructure

Prologue

On April 10, 2013, a collective of politically motivated hacktivists announced a round of planned attacks called #OPUSA. These attacks, slated to begin May 7, 2013, are to be launched against U.S.-based targets. #OPUSA is a follow-up to #OPISRAEL, which were a series of attacks carried out on April 7 against Israeli-based targets. Our goal here is to summarize and inform readers of resources, recommendations, network mitigations, and best practices that are available to prevent, mitigate, respond to, or dilute the effectiveness of these attacks. This blog was a collaborative effort between myself, Kevin TimmJoseph KarpenkoPanos Kampanakis, and the Cisco TRAC team.

Analysis

If the attackers follow the same patterns as previously witnessed during the #OPISRAEL attacks, then targets can expect a mixture of attacks. Major components of previous attacks consisted of denial of service attacks and web application exploits, ranging from advanced ad-hoc attempts to simple website defacements. In the past, attackers used such tools as LOICHOIC, and Slowloris.

Publicly announced attacks of this nature can have highly volatile credibility. In some cases, the announcements exist only for the purpose of gaining notoriety. In other cases, they are enhanced by increased publicity. Given the lack of specific details about participation or capabilities, the exact severity of the attack can’t be known until it (possibly) happens. Read More »

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Ask the DC Security Expert: Three things to know about data center firewall application visibility and control

I recently interviewed Mike Geller, a 15-year Cisco veteran and a security architect, who focuses on securing infrastructure, devices, and services delivered by service and cloud providers to governments, enterprises, and end users. I asked Mike to discuss three key feature sets that firewalls should have today to enable users to securely access the applications in the data center. This topic is very timely as application control is quite the “in vogue” topic.

#1: Network Integration

Mike takes the position that security is an attribute of the network versus a siloed, bolt-on element. With applications delivered from a combination of the cloud, service provider or hosted data center (the on premise data center at the enterprise or the mobile endpoint), security is pervasive across all domains. Integrating security into the network fabric that is used to deliver key business applications is the only way to offer services at the size and scale of today and tomorrow. How do you approach full integration of security?  Let’s break it down.  Read More »

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The Three Pillars to Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy: Part 3 Visibility

In this last part of this series I will discuss the top customer priority of visibility.  Cisco offers customers the ability to gain insight into what’s happening in their network and, at the same time, maintain compliance and business operations.

But before we dive into that let’s do a recap of part two of our series on Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy on threat defense. In summary, Cisco understands that to prevent threats both internally and externally it’s not a permit or deny of data, but rather that data needs deeper inspection. Cisco offers two leading platforms that work with the ASA 5585-X Series Adaptive Security Appliance to protect the data center and they are the new IPS 4500 Series Sensor platform for high data rate environments and the ASA CX Context Aware Security for application control.  To learn more go to part 2 here.

As customers move from the physical to virtual to cloud data centers, a challenge heard over is over is that they desire to maintain their compliance, security, and policies across these varying instantiations of their data center. In other words, they want to same controls in the physical world present in the virtual – one policy, one set of security capabilities.  This will maintain compliance, overall security and ease business operations.

By offering better visibility into users, their devices, applications and access controls this not only helps with maintaining compliance but also deal with the threat defense requirements in our overall data center.  Cisco’s visibility tools gives our customers the insight they need to make decisions about who gets access to what kinds of information, where segmentation is needed, what are the boundaries in your data center, whether these boundaries are physical or virtual and the ability to do the right level of policy orchestration to maintain compliance and the overall security posture.  These tools have been grouped into three key areas: management and reporting, insights, and policy orchestration.

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TechWiseTV 120 Defending the Data Center

We had to dig further, past our initial meetings internally and determine what would make this particular story unique from previous ones we have told this year.  As it turns out, we had plenty of material to share but three really good shows done earlier, now provide great context for appreciating the innovation we talk about in this one.

Check out: Fundamentals of High End FirewallsFundamentals of Intrusion Prevention and (TechWiseTV 115) Firewall Reinvention with the ASA-CX

So topically, Security in the Data Center is an easy hit of course.  It almost sounds like an Oxymoron as many are convinced it is some kind of insurmountable obstacle. Nothing could be further from the truth.   It seems to top many lists.  [Watch ‘Defending the Data Center’ Right Now.]

As Cisco broadens the tool set with new models and deployment options, we broke this one down along party lines:

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