The iPad-Enterprise-Data Security Spectrum

As I mentioned in the Incite yesterday, Symantec announced DLP support for the iPad. I have been meaning to talk about this for a while, as various products have been popping onto the market, and now seems like the time. Note: I’m focusing on the iPad because that’s what most people are interested in, but much of what I’m going to talk about also applies to the iPhone. The iPad is an extremely secure device; odds are it is much more secure than any laptop or desktop you let your users on. The main reason is that it is locked down so tightly with a combination of hardware and software controls. This is also a challenge for security, because you can’t run any background tasks. For the record, I really like this approach – it eliminates the need for things like antivirus in the first place. For data security, that means we are limited in what we can do. No DLP running in the background, for example. To fill this gap, a spectrum of approaches and tools have hit the market. I like to list them as a spectrum from least control to most. Most control doesn’t mean it’s better – which of these to use depends heavily on the needs of both your organization and your users. As a baseline I assume you allow access to corporate assets in some way using the device. I’m skipping the “do nothing” and “don’t let them in at all” options: Here we go: ActiveSync and device profiles. You allow users access to corporate email, but enforce a basic device profile to require a passcode/password and enable remote wiping if the device is lost. This enables basic encryption of the entire device (easier to crack), with data protection for email attachments. Server-side DLP. You create DLP policies that restrict the email/files going to an otherwise approved device. Websense offers this – not sure who else. Walled-garden applications. These are apps like Good for Enterprise, the new Zenprise SharePoint client for iPad, Watchdox, and GroupLogic mobilEcho. All access to documents is purely through the approved app, and the app can restrict opening or usage of that document elsewhere on the device. Remember, if you don’t totally wall the content off, any standard document format can be opened in another app – thus losing any security controls. These usually offer viewing but not editing, because that would require building in a complete editor. There is a very broad range of variation between these apps. Fully-managed device with always-on VPN. You use mobile device management (MDM) to enforce an always-on VPN connection and block unmanaged network traffic. Then you use DLP on your network to manage traffic and content. This is how Symantec works. They use an app on the device to enforce the VPN, and made changes on the DLP gateway to improve the user experience with the device. For example, the iPad doesn’t handle failed email connections well (it tends to stall), so they had to play games to block protected content from going to Gmail without ruining the device experience. Each of these models has its own advantages, and there are different levels of control within each tier. But these should give you a good idea of the options. Someday I might write a paper with more detail, but hopefully this is enough for now. Share:

Read Post

When to Use Amazon S3 Server Side Encryption

This week Amazon announced that S3 now supports server side encryption. You can encrypt S3 items through either the API or web management console, or you can require encryption for S3 buckets. A few details: They manage the keys. This is full transparent AES-256 encryption, and you only manage the access controls. Encryption is at the object level, not the bucket level. You can set a policy to require any uploads into a bucket to be encrypted. You can manage it via API or the AWS Management Console. It’s interesting, but from a security perspective only protects you from one thing – hard drives lost or stolen from Amazon. Going back to my Three Laws of Data Encryption, you would use this if you are worried about lost/stolen drives or if someone says you have to encrypt. It doesn’t protect from hacking attacks or anything like that. Client-side encryption is more important for improving security. This isn’t really much of a security play, but it’s a big assurance/compliance play. Since I like bullet lists and clear advice, you should use S3 server side encryption: If you are required to encrypt data at rest, and said requirement does not also require you to segregate keys from Amazon. You want to market that you are encrypting the data, but still don’t have a requirement to lock out Amazon. That’s about it. If you are worried about drive loss/theft it’s probably due to a compliance or disclosure requirement, and so I recommend client side encryption instead, for its greater security benefit. This is a checkbox. Sometimes you need them, but if security is that important you have other options which should be higher priority. Share:

Read Post

Incite 10/5/2011: Time waits for no one

Time is a funny thing. You don’t really think about it until it’s running out. Deadlines. Mortality. It’s all the same. Time just sneaks up on you, and then it’s gone. Yeah, I’m a little nostalgic this week because my birthday is Friday. And yes, there is some fodder for you social engineers out there. The kids get more excited about my birthday than I do. They want to know about cakes, parties, and the like. Personally, I’d take a day to sleep in, but who has time for that? There are things to do and places to be. We at Securosis hit a milestone this week, unveiling the Securosis Nexus on Monday night. Honestly, I’m both exhilarated and terrified. We (especially Rich) have spent many hours conceiving, building, and populating our new online research ‘product’. I joke that building the Nexus took twice as long and cost 3 times as much as we expected. I’m probably understating it. But all of us have built software before, so we knew what to expect. What’s a little different this time is that we funded the project out of cash flow. So every check we wrote to our developers and designers could have been used to pay my mortgage. That really makes the investment real. Rich, Adrian, and I aren’t really gamblers. We all go to Vegas a few times a year for conferences, and you’ll find us hanging out at a bar – not the tables. We live conservative lifestyles (even if Adrian drives a Corvette). On the other hand, we’re making a huge bet folks who don’t have the word Security in their titles will pay for impactful, actionable security research. And that even some folks who do have Security in their titles will find enough value to make a modest investment. But what if we are wrong? It’s not like anyone has ever successfully delivered a research product to this market segment. Are we nuts? Compound that with the fact that we have built a pretty good business. We’re very busy writing blog series, pontificating, and doing strategy work, all of which I love. So why take the risk? Why make the investment? Why not just sit on our hands, keep pontificating, and enjoy the lifestyle? I’ll tell you why. Because time waits for no one. Rich and I decided back in 2006 that this market opportunity was real, and we believe it. Just because no one has tried it before doesn’t mean we are wrong. We want to build leverage into our business and be bigger than just Rich, Mike, and Adrian showing up and waving our hands. Ultimately we want to make a difference and believe the Nexus provides a great opportunity to help folks who can’t afford Big IT research. But we aren’t kidding ourselves – it’s scary. Fear is no excuse. It won’t hold us back. The train has left the station and now we will see where it takes us. The only thing we can’t get is more time, so we plan to make the most of it. Check out the Nexus. Sign up for the beta. Help us make it great. –Mike Photo credits: “Time” originally uploaded by Jari Schroderus Share:

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.