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Building a Container Security Program 2018: Introduction

By Adrian Lane
The explosive growth of containers is not surprising – these technologies, such as Docker, alleviate several problems for developers deploying applications. Developers need simple packaging, rapid deployment, reduced environmental dependencies, support for microservices, generalized management, and horizontal scalability – all of which containers help provide. When a single technology enables us to address several technical problems at once, it’s very compelling. But this generic model of packaged services, where the environment is designed to treat each container as a “unit of service”, sharply reduces transparency and auditability (by design), and gives security pros nightmares. We run more code and faster, but

New Paper: Understanding Secrets Management

By Adrian Lane
Traditional application security concerns are shifting, responding to disruptive technologies and development frameworks. Cloud services, containerization, orchestration platforms, and automated build pipelines – to name just a few – all change the way we build and deploy applications. Each effects security a different way. One of the new application security challenges is to provision machines, applications, and services with the credentials they need at runtime. When you remove humans from the process things move much faster – but knowing how and when to automatically provide passwords, authentication tokens, and certificates is not an easy problem. This secrets management problem is not new, but

Secrets Management: Deployment Considerations

By Adrian Lane
We will close out this series with a look at several operational considerations for selecting a secrets management platform. There are quite a few secrets management tools, both commercial and otherwise, on the market, and each does things a bit differently. Rather than a giant survey of every product and how it works, we will focus on the facets of these products which enable them to handle the use cases discussed earlier. Central questions include how these platforms deploy, how they provide scalability and resiliency, and how they integrate with the services they supply secrets to? To better distinguish between

Secrets Management: Features and Functions (updated)

By Adrian Lane
In this section we will discuss the core features of a secrets management platform. There are basic functions every secrets management platform needs to address the basic use cases. These include secure storage and disbursement of secrets, identity management, and API access, for starters. There are plenty of tools out there, many open source, and several bundled into other platforms. But when considering what you need from one of these platforms, the key thing to keep in mind is that most of them were originally developed to perform a single very specific task – such as injecting secrets into containers at

Secrets Management: Use Cases

By Adrian Lane
This post will discuss why secrets management is needed at all, along with the diverse use cases which teams need it to address. In every case there is some secret data which needs to be sent – hopefully not in plain text – to an application or service. And in every case we want the ability to provide secrets, both when an operator is present and automatically. The biggest single issue is that security around these secrets today is largely absent, and they are kept in cleartext within documents of various types. Let’s dive in. Use Cases API Gateways and Access

Secrets Management: New Series

By Adrian Lane
This week we are starting a new research series on Secrets Management. What is secrets management and why do you care? A good number of you in security will be asking these questions. Secrets Management platforms do exactly what the name implies; they store, manage and provide secrets. This technology addresses several problems most security folks don’t yet know they have. As development teams leverage automation and orchestration techniques, they are creating new security issues to be tackled. Let’s jump into some of the back story, and then outline what we will accomplish in this research effort. It

Multi-cloud Key Management Research Paper

By Adrian Lane
Cloud computing is the single biggest change to computing we have seen, fundamentally changing how we use computing resources. We have reached a point where multi-cloud support is a reality for most firms; SaaS and private clouds are complimented by public PaaS and IaaS. With these changes we have received an increasing number of questions on how to protect data in the cloud, so in this research paper we discuss several approaches to both keeping data secure and maintaining control over access. From the paper: Controlling encryption keys – and thus also your data – while adopting cloud services is one of

Multi-Cloud Key Management: Selection and Migration

By Adrian Lane
Cloud services are typically described as sharing responsibility for security, but the reality is that you don’t working shoulder to shoulder with the vendor. Instead you implement security with the building blocks they provide you, possibly filling in gaps where they don’t provide solutions. One of the central goals of this research project was to show that it is possible to take control of data security, supplanting embedded encryption and key management services, even when you don’t control the environment. And with key management you can gain as much security as your on-premise solution provides – in some

Multi-Cloud Key Management: Service and Deployment Options

By Adrian Lane
This post will discuss how to deploy encryption keys into a third-party cloud service. We illustrate the deployment options, along with the components of a solution. We will then walk through the process of getting a key from your on-premise Hardware Security Module (HSM) into a cloud HSM. We will discuss variations on using cloud-based HSM for all encryption operations, as well as cases where you instead delegate encryption operations to the cloud-native encryption service. We’ll close out with a discussion of software-based (non-HSM) key management systems running on IaaS cloud services. There are two basic design approaches to

Multi-Cloud Key Management: Use Cases

By Adrian Lane
This post will cover some issues and concerns customers cite when considering a move – or more carefully reassessing a move they have already made – to cloud services. To provide some context to this discussion, one of the major mental adjustments security folks need to make when moving to cloud services is where their responsibilities begin and end. You are no longer responsible for physical security of cloud systems, and do not control the security of resource pools (e.g.: compute, storage, network), so your areas of concern move “up the stack”. With IaaS you control applications, data, user access, and
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