In a nutshell, private clouds are Amazon-like cost-effective and scalable infrastructures but run by companies themselves within their firewalls.
Private clouds are about extending the enterprise to leverage infrastructure that makes use of cloud computing capabilities and is not (only) about internally locating the resources used to provide service. It's also not an all-or-nothing proposition.
It occurs to me that private clouds make a ton of sense as an enabler to enterprises who want to take advantage of cloud computing for any of the oft-cited reasons, but are loathe to (or unable to) surrender their infrastructure and applications without sufficient control.
Private clouds mean that an enterprise can decide how and how much of the infrastructure can/should be maintained as a non-cloud operational concern versus how much can benefit from the cloud.Private clouds make a ton of sense; they provide the economic benefits of outsourced scaleable infrastructure that does not require capital outlay, the needed control over that infrastructure combined with the ability to replicate existing topologies and platforms and ultimately the portability of applications and workflow.These capabilities may eliminate the re-write and/or re-engineering of applications like is often required when moving to typical IaaS (infrastructure as a Service) player such as Amazon.From a security perspective -- which is very much my focus -- private clouds provide me with a way of articulating and expressing the value of cloud computing while still enabling me to manage risk to an acceptable level as chartered by my mandate.
Technorati Tags: Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Christopher Hoff, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, CloudCenter, David Linthicum, Dimitry Sotnikov, GoGrid, Internal Clouds, James Urquhart, Private Clouds, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, Virtualization
Updated: 2/10/09 10:07 EST - v1.4
There have been some excellent discussions of late regarding how to classify and explain the relationships between the many Cloud Computing models floating about.
The comments are working again. I've had 30-40 comments via email/twitter, so if something you wanted to communicate isn't addressed, fire away below in the comments!
I'm happy to say that there appears to be some good news on the PCI DSS front with the promise of a SIG being formed this year for virtualization. This is a good thing.
You'll remember my calls for better guidance for both virtualization and ultimately cloud computing from the council given the proliferation of these technologies and the impact they will have on both security and compliance.
In that light, news comes from Troy Leach, technical director of the PCI Security Standards Council via a kind note to me from Michael Hoesing:
This is a good first step. if you've got input, make sure to contribute!
Technorati Tags: Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, Michael Hoesing, PCI, PCI Compliance, PCI DSS, PCI Security Standards Council, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, Troy Leach, VirtSec, Virtualization, Virtualization Security
I wrote about the notion of EDoS (Economic Denial Of Sustainability) back in November. You can find the original blog post here.
The basic premise of the concept was the following:
I had a thought about how the utility and agility of the cloud computing models such as Amazon AWS (EC2/S3) and the pricing models that go along with them can actually pose a very nasty risk to those who use the cloud to provide service.
That thought got me noodling about how the pay-as-you-go model could be used for nefarious means.
usage-based model potentially enables $evil_person who knows that a
service is cloud-based to manipulate service usage billing in orders of
magnitude that could be disguised easily as legitimate use of the
service but drive costs to unmanageable levels.
If you take Amazon's AWS usage-based pricing model (check out the cost calculator here,) one might envision that instead of worrying about a lack of resources, the elasticity of the cloud could actually provide a surplus of compute, network and storage utility that could be just as bad as a deficit.
Instead of worrying about Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attacks from botnets and the like, imagine having to worry about delicately balancing forecasted need with capabilities like Cloudbursting to deal with a botnet designed to make seemingly legitimate requests for service to generate an economic denial of sustainability (EDoS) -- where the dyamicism of the infrastructure allows scaling of service beyond the economic means of the vendor to pay their cloud-based service bills.
At any rate, here are a couple of interesting related items:
It's likely we'll see additional topics that relate to EDoS soon.
UPDATE: Let me try and give a clear example that differentiates EDoS from DDoS in a cloud context, although ultimately the two concepts are related:
DDoS (and DoS for that matter) attacks are blunt force trauma. The goal, regardless of motive, is to overwhelm infrastructure and remove from service a networked target by employing a distributed number of $evil_doers. Example: a botnet is activated to swarm/overwhelm an Internet connected website using an asynchronous attack which makes the site unavailable due to an exhaustion of resources (compute, network or storage.)
EDoS attacks are death by 1000 cuts. EDoS can also utilize distributed $evil_doers as well as single entities, but works by making legitimate web requests at volumes that may appear to be "normal" but are done so to drive compute, network and storage utility billings in a cloud model abnormally high. Example: a botnet is ativated to visit a website whose income results from ecommerce purchases. The requests are all legitimate but the purchases never made. The vendor has to pay the cloud provider for increased elastic use of resources where revenue was never recognized to offset them.
We have anti-DDoS capabilities today with tools that are quite mature. DDoS is generally easy to spot given huge increases in traffic. EDoS attacks are not necessarily easy to detect, because the instrumentation and busines logic is not present in most applications or stacks of applications and infrastructure to provide the correlation between "requests" and " successful transactions." In the example above, increased requests may look like normal activity.
Given the attractiveness of startups and SME/SMB's to the cloud for cost and agility, this presents a problem The SME/SMB customers do not generally invest in this sort of integration, the cloud computing platform providers generally do not have the intelligence and visibility into these applications which they do not own, and typical DDoS tools don't, either.
So DDoS and EDoS ultimately can end with the same outcome: the target whithers and ceases to be able to offer service, but I think that EDoS is something significant that should be discussed and investigated.
Technorati Tags: Amazon AWS, Brett O'Connor, Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Christopher Hoff, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, DDoS, Economic Denial Of Sustainability, EDoS, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, Trend Micro, VirtSec, Virtualization, Virtualization Security, Wei Yan
Technorati Tags: Akamai, Amazon, AWS, Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, EC2, f5, Greg Ness, Infoblox, Infrastructure 2.0, Lori Mac Vittie, Mike Brittain, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, S3, UltraDNS
Technorati Tags: Amazon, Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Christopher Hoff, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, CloudCenter, GoGrid, Internal Clouds, James Urquhart, Private Clouds, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, Virtualization
How many of them are completely unafraid, however, to make complete idiots of themselves and rock out to the same musical arrangements in front of total strangers because instead of "karaoke" it's called "Guitar Hero" and runs on an XBox in the living room rather than the "Tiki Room" on Wednesday nights?
With all the definitions of the Cloud and the vagaries associated with differentiated value propositions of each, folks have begun to use the phrases "jumping the shark" and "Cloud Computing" in the same breath.
For the sake of argument, if we boil down what Cloud Computing means in simpler and more familiar terms and agree to use rPath's definition (from Cloud Computing in Plain English) as an oversimplified example we get:
Again, overly-simplified example notwithstanding, what's interesting to me -- and the reason for the goofy title and metaphor associated with this post -- is that with the popularity of "Cloud" becoming the umbrella terminology for the application of proven concepts (above) which harness technology and approaches we already have, we're basically re-branding a framework of existing capabilities and looking to integrate them better.
...oh, and make a buck, too.
That's not to diminsh the impact and even value of the macro-trends associated with Cloud such as re-perimeterization, outsourcing, taking cost of the business, economies of scale, etc., it's just a much more marketable way of describing them.
The cloud: a cooler version of Internet karaoke...
*Image of Triston McIntyre from ITKnowledgeExchange
Middlesex Lounge: 315 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge 02139.
BeanSec! is an informal meetup of information security professionals, researchers and academics in the Greater Boston area that meets the third Wednesday of each month.
I say again, BeanSec! is hosted the third Wednesday of every month. Add it to your calendar.
Come get your grub on. Lots of good people show up. Really.
Unlike other meetings, you will not be expected to pay dues, “join up”, present a zero-day exploit, or defend your dissertation to attend.
Don't worry about being "late" because most people just show up when they can. 6:30 is a good time to aim for. We'll try and save you a seat. There is a plenty of parking around or take the T.
The food selection is basically high-end finger-food appetizers and the drinks are really good; an attentive staff and eclectic clientèle make the joint fun for people watching. I'll generally annoy you into participating somehow, even if it's just fetching napkins. ;)
Previously I had gracious sponsorship that allowed me to pick up the tab during BeanSec! but the prevailing economic conditions makes that not possible at this time. If you or your company would like to offer to sponsor this excellent networking and knowledge base, please get in contact with me [choff @ packetfilter . com]
See you there.
/Hoff, /0Day, and /Weld
I'll be updating my speaking itinerary shortly, but I wanted to let folks know I'm working on three major VirtSec/CloudSec presentations for 2009:
The Frogs Who Desired a King
The Frogs Who Desired a King is based on the topical reference to one of Aesop's fable about a discontented population of frogs who appealed to Zeus for a king.
Ultimately, through a comedy of errors, the frogs finally got their new king -- a stork -- which promptly ate them.
We, as a discontented legion of frogs, decry our dark overlords' choices (or lack thereof) of security in virtualized and cloud computing environments and long for security solutions to magically solve all our problems.
Just like the frogs, we better be careful what we wish for, as our prayers might just be answered, consuming us all. This is the sequel to my "Four Horsemen of the Virtualization Security Apocalypse" series.
What was in is now out.
This metaphor holds true not only as an accurate analysis of adoption trends of disruptive technology and innovation, but also parallels the amazing velocity of how our datacenters are being re-perimiterized and quite literally turned inside out.
One of the really scary things happening with the massive convergence of cloud computing is its effect on security models and the information they seek to protect.
Where and how our data is created, processed, accessed, stored, backed up in what is sure to become massively overlaid cloud-based services -- and by whom and whose infrastructure -- yields significant concerns related to security, privacy, compliance and survivability.
This "infrastructure intercourse" makes it very interesting to try and secure your assets when you don't own the infrastructure and in many cases cannot provide the same levels of functionality we can today.
Mozart's sequel to the Barber of Seville was lauded as one of the most profound works of its time.
Its staggering complexity, inviting overtures, rich textures and variety of orchestration were perceived by many as unapproachable, unfathomable and in some cases unintelligible.
Yet so remarkable and unique was the composition that people flocked to its performances although in many cases were blinded by the simplicity of its underlying complexity.
Such are the parallels with the deeply profound cacophony surrounding the issues of securing Cloud Computing and the tonal miscues hidden amongst its various acts.
This presentation will review the most pressing security, privacy, sustainability and resiliency
issues surrounding the marriage of convenience, economics and computing.
It is my pleasure to introduce the fruits of the labor of months minutes of diligent research and engineering prowess -- my opus magnum -- the next generation of Cloud Computing. Pending standards-body approval shortly:
I'm looking for extensive peer review prior to standards body submission. Open source also considered. Please ensure you comment below in order to ensure transparency. There are no ivory towers here, flame away (although you might want to open the window first.)
Here's a theme I've been banging around for quite some time as it relates to virtualization, cloud computing and security. I've never really sat down and written about it, however.
As we trend towards consolidating and (re)centralizing our computing platforms -- both endpoints and servers -- using virtualization and cloud computing as enablers to do so, we're also simultaneously dealing with the decentralization and distributed data sets that come with technologies such as Web2.0, mobility and exposure of APIs from cloud platforms.*
So here we are all frothed up as virtualization and cloud computing have, in a sense, led us back to the resource-based consolidation of the mainframe model with all it's centralized splendor and client virtualization/thin clients/compartmentalized remote access is doing the same thing for endpoints.
But the interesting thing is that with Moore's Law, the endpoints are also getting more and more powerful even though we're dumbing them down and trying to make their exposure more limited despite the fact that they can still efficiently process and store data locally.
These models, one could argue, are diametrically opposed when describing how to secure the platforms versus the information that resides on or is utilized by them. As the cyclic waffling between centralized versus distributed continues, the timing of how and where we adapt to securing them always lags behind. Which do we focus on securing and where? The host, centralized server, network.
The unfortunate answer is always "yes."
Remember this (simplified) model of how/where we secure things?
If you juxtapose the image above mentally with how I represent the centralized <--> distributed trends in IT below, it's no wonder we're always behind the curve. The computing model technology changes much more quickly than the security technology and processes do, thus the disconnect:
At any rate, it's probably obvious and common sense, but when explaining to people why I spend my time pointing out gaps with security in virtualization and cloud models, I found this useful.
* It's important to note that while I refer to/group cloud computing models as centralized, I understand they have a distributed element to them, also. I would ask you to think about the multiple cloud overlays as centralized resources, regardless of how intrinsically "distributed" in processing/load balancing they may be.
P.S. I just saw an awesome post titled "The Rise of the Stupid Endpoint" on the vinternals blog that shares many of the same points, although much more eloquently. Check it out here. Awesome!
Posted at 01:03 PM in Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, Data Centralization, Data-Centric Security, Information Centricity, Information Security, Information Survivability, Virtualization | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, Information Centricity, Information Security, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, VirtSec, Virtualization, Virtualization Security, Web 2.0
In honor of my friend @quine on Twitter who today complained thusly:
In case you're reading this with Lynx (you web pimp, you!,) Zach was lamenting the fact that vendors who don't support customer operating systems of choice are simply sloughing off development efforts and support by suggesting that customers should simply run it as a VM instead.
Ah, it used to be called "software," but now it's a "virtual appliance!" Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.
One might suggest this is a perfectly reasonable use of virtualization technology -- neigh one of the very purposes behind its genesis. I'd agree, to a point. However, I've noticed an alarming uptake recently by product managers who are simply short-cutting roadmap/development paths by taking the "lazy" way out.
Hey, it cuts down support, testing, regression and troubleshooting...for the vendor. But in my favorite commentary, it's simply a "squeezing the balloon problem" because it surfaces a whole host of other issues such as performance, scale, and in some cases support for various virtualization platforms.
What say you? Do you see this happening more in your enterprise? Do you care? Is it a good thing?
Alan from the VirtualDC blog wrote a great post today titled "Cloud Security: A New Level of Trust" summarizing some of his thoughts regarding Cloud (in)security.
It's a little depressing because that "new level" of trust he's referring to isn't heightened, it's significantly reduced. I'll hack his longer post a bit to extract two interesting and relevant nuggets that focus on the notion of this changing nature of trust:
In simply closing our eyes, holding our breath and accepting that in the name of utility, agility, flexibility, and economy, we're ignoring many of the lessons we've learned over the years, we are repeating the same mistakes and magically expecting they will yield a different outcome.
I'll refer back to one of my favorite axioms:
We're willing to give up and awful lot for the sake of convenience, don't you think. Look, I accept the innovation and ultimate goodness that will come out of this new world order, really I do. Heck, I use many of these services.
I also see how this new suite of adapted services are beginning to break down in the face of new threats, use cases and risk models by a cross-pollinated generation of anonymized users that simply do not care about things like privacy or security -- until it affects them personally. Then they're outraged. Then the next day, they're back to posting about how drunk they were at the orgy they attended last night (but they use SSL, so it's cool...)
So for me, security and the cloud is really a matter of RUST, not trust: the corrosion of expectations, requirements, controls and the relaxation of common sense and diligence for the sake of "progress."
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was...
If I may be as bold to call Andy Jaquith a friend, I'll do so as I welcomed both his first research report and blog as an analyst for Forrester.
Andy's first topic -- Data-Centric Security Requires Devolution, Not a Revolution -- is a doozy, and an important one given the recent re-focus on information protection. The notion of data-centric security has caused quite the stir over the last year with the maturation, consolidation and (some might say) commoditzation of certain marketspaces (DLP) into larger mainstream security product suites.
I will admit that I did not spend the $350 to read Andy's research. As much as I like to support the ever-turning wheels of the analyst sausage machine, I'm going to upgrade to Apple's newly-announced iLife/iWork '09 bundle instead. Sorry, Andy. I'll buy you that beer instead.
However, Andy wrote a great blog entry summarizing the research here:
My only comments are that much like the X-Files, the truth is "out there." It is most certainly somewhere in between as users and the business will always take the convenient path of least resistance and security will impose the iron fist.
Securing information must be a cooperative effort that involves the broader adoption of pervasive discovery and classification capabilities across the entire information lifecycle. The technology has to become as transparent as possible such that workflow isn't interrupted. That's no easy task
Rich Mogull and I have been writing and presenting about this for quite some time, and we're making evolutionary progress, but not revolutionary progress.
To that point, I might have chosen a different by-line. Instead of "devolution, not a revolution," I would suggest that perhaps "goverened delegation, not regulation" might be appropriate, too.
Can't wait for that iLife/iWork bundle!
Technorati Tags: Andy Jaquith, Chris Hoff, Christofer Hoff, Data Leakage Prevention, Data Loss Prevention, Data-Centric Security, DLP, Forrester, Information centricity, Information Lifecycle, Rational Security, Rational Survivability, Rich Mogull