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Black Hat Cloud Security Training (Beta) in Seattle Next Month

I am teaching another cloud security class for Black Hat. There are two classes, one on December 9-10, and the other December 11-12. This class covers the CCSK certificate requirements and includes a test token to sit the exam (online). But we maintain the CCSK courseware, and it is time to try out some updated material. Specifically: We are streamlining the lecture day to reduce cruft and generally clean up the slides. We have even more real-world examples of how to get things done, based on our ongoing research. The labs are being updated for changes at Amazon Web Services. We are bringing more advanced material, as we did in Black Hat Vegas. The advanced material is not part of the core course, and we only get to it after the normal training requirements. It is an extension of the material I wrote about in the Software Defined Security paper. This class also qualifies as a Train the Trainer course, with some additional online training we offer for free after the class proper. If you want to become an instructor and sign up for this class, please email me and let me know ahead of time. Thanks, and hope to see you in Seattle! Share:

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You Cannot Outsource Accountability

  Given our severe skills gap in security, managed services and other security outsourcing tactics continue to be very interesting to end users. Either that, or non-security senior management gets frustrated by the inability of the internal team to get anything done, so they look at having someone else take a crack. As the NSS folks ask in their blog post, To Outsource or Not to Outsource, That is the Question!, but I don’t think that’s the right question. It’s really more about what they can outsource, not whether to outsource at all. Although their first sentence does irk me: Is it a good thing that one of the fastest growing segments in the field of information security revolves around surrendering control of your security to another party? Surrendering control? Really? That kind of attitude will get you killed. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it was from cleaning up roadkill from security folks who bought the hype, and believed that a service provider would solve all their problems. But you can’t outsource accountability. Then NSS went on to categorize some decision points for selecting a provider. And depending on what you are asking the provider to do, there are various nuances to making that selection. That’s fine. But ultimately there must be someone inside the organization responsible for the security program. Really responsible, and empowered to make decisions. That person is responsible for allocating resources to get the job done. That could mean using internal staff, deploying technology, leveraging managed services, or deeper outsourcing. I am not religious about any specific mix, but I am about the need for someone on internal to make those decisions. Share:

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The CISO’s Guide to the Cloud: Adapting Security for Cloud Computing

This is part three of a series. You can read part one or part two, or track the project on GitHub. This part is split into two posts – here is the first half: Adapting Security for Cloud Computing If you didn’t already, you should now have a decent understanding of how cloud computing differs from traditional infrastructure. Now it’s time to switch gears to how to evolve security to address shifting risks. These examples are far from comprehensive, but offer a good start and sample of how to think differently about cloud security. General Principles As we keep emphasizing, taking advantage of the cloud poses new risks, as well as both increasing and decreasing existing risks. The goal is to leverage the security advantages, freeing up resources to cover the gaps. There are a few general principles for approaching the problem that help put you in the proper state of mind: You cannot rely on boxes and wires. Quite a bit of classical security relies on knowing the physical locations of systems, as well as the network cables connecting them. Network traffic in cloud computing is virtualized, which completely breaks this model. Network routing and security are instead defined by software rules. There are some advantages here, which are beyond the scope of this paper but which we will detail with future research. Security should be as agile and elastic as the cloud itself. Your security tools need to account for the highly dynamic nature of the cloud, where servers might pop up automatically and run for only an hour before disappearing forever. Rely more on policy-based automation. Wherever possible design your security to use the same automation as the cloud itself. For example there are techniques to automate (virtual) firewall rules based on tags associated with a server, rather than applying them manually. Understand and adjust for the characteristics of the cloud. Most virtual network adapters in cloud platforms disable network sniffing, so that risk drops off the list. Security groups are essentially virtual firewalls that on individual instance, meaning you get full internal firewalls and compartmentalization by default. Security tools can be embedded in images or installation scripts to ensure they are always installed, and cloud-aware ones can self configure. SAML can be used to provide absolute device and user authentication control to external SaaS applications. All these and more are enabled by the cloud, once you understand its characteristics. Integrate with DevOps. Not all organizations are using DevOps, but DevOps principles are pervasive in cloud computing. Security teams can integrate with this approach and leverage it themselves for security benefits, such as automating security configuration policy enforcement. Defining DevOps DevOps is an IT model that blurs the lines between development and IT operations. Developers play a stronger role in managing their own infrastructure through heavy use of programming and automation. Since cloud enables management of infrastructure using APIs, it is a major enabler of DevOps. While it is incredibly agile and powerful, lacking proper governance and policies it can also be disastrous since it condenses many of the usual application development and operations check points. These principles will get you thinking in cloud terms, but let’s look at some specifics. Control the Management Plane The management plane is the administrative interfaces, web and API, used to manage your cloud. It exists in all types of cloud computing service models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Someone who compromises a cloud administrator’s credentials has the equivalent of unmonitored physical access to your entire data center, with enough spare hard drives, fork lifts, and trucks to copy the entire thing and drive away. Or blow the entire thing up. We cannot overstate the importance of hardening the management plane. It literally provides absolute control over your cloud deployment – often including all disaster recovery.* We have five recommendations for securing the management plane: If you manage a private cloud, ensure you harden the web and API servers, keeping all components up to date and protecting them with the highest levels of web application security. This is no different than protecting any other critical web server. Leverage the Identity and Access Management features offered by the management plane. Some providers offer very fine-grained controls. Most also integrate with your existing IAM using federated identity. Give preference to your platform/provider’s controls and… Compartmentalize with IAM. No administrator should have full rights to all aspects of the cloud. Many providers and platforms support granular controls, including roles and groups, which you can leverage to restrict the damage potential of a compromised developer or workstation. For example, you can have a separate administrator for assigning IAM rights, only allow administrators to manage certain segments of your cloud, and further restrict them from terminating instances. Add auditing, logging, and alerting where possible. This is one of the more difficult problems in cloud security because few cloud providers audit administrator activity – such as who launched or stopped a server using the API. For now you will likely need a third-party tool or to work with particular providers for necessary auditing. Consider using security or cloud management proxies. These tools and services proxy the connection between a cloud administrator and the public or private cloud management plane. They can apply additional security rules and fill logging and auditing gaps. Automate Host (Instance) Security An instance is a virtual machine, which is based on a stored template called an image. When you ask the cloud for a server you specify the image to base it on, which includes an operating system and might bring a complete single-server application stack. The cloud then configures it using scripts which can embed administrator credentials, provide an IP address, attach and format storage, etc. Instances may exist for years or minutes, are configured dynamically, and can be launched nearly anywhere in your infrastructure – public or private. You cannot rely on manually assessing and adjusting their security. This is very different than building a server in a test environment, performing a

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