The Universal Cloud Threat Model

The Universal Cloud Threat Model is a collaboration between PrimeHarbor Technologies and Securosis. It is a cloud-centric threat model to help organizations focus security efforts on the most-common attacks most organizations will experience. The UCTM is designed as an adjunct to other threat models. From the introduction: The Universal Cloud Threat Model applies to all organizations which operate in the public cloud, regardless of industry and which cloud provider(s) in which they operate on. The UCTM was designed as a cloud-centric update to traditional threat modeling. Standard threat models such as STRIDE are excellent, but do not account for the different operating models of cloud computing. The UCTM was developed to address three primary gaps in existing models: In the cloud, infrastructure and applications are often deeply entangled and even indistinguishable thanks to options like serverless and infrastructure as code. In the public cloud, the Internet-facing attack surface now includes the administrative management plane. This is unlike traditional infrastructure, where most administrative functions are protected on internal networks behind firewalls and DMZs. In the public cloud nearly all organizations run on the shared infrastructure of three primary cloud service providers, followed by a slightly larger set of secondary providers (for IaaS, our focus for this threat model). These three differences combine to expand the range of undifferentiated (target of opportunity) attacks, along with the potential for an attacker to pivot into a differentiated/targeted attack. Attackers search first for common initial vectors for attacks on a cloud provider, such as exposed credentials. Then they may use them for a more targeted attack if they identify a target of potentially higher value, such as financial services. The vectors and sequences of these attacks can be mapped, and pivot points identified. In our research and experience, the vast majority of cloud attacks fall first into the untargeted/undifferentiated category, even for highly desirable targets, and defenders who focus first on these vectors are more resilient. Similarly, even small and uninteresting targets offer greater financial rewards to attackers who then use the smaller target as a foothold into the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) for ‘free’ resources such as cryptomining — even a small cloud customer can run extensive and expensive resources before hitting service limits — or as a platform for launching other attacks. Successful exploitation of even such a small and uninteresting target enables free networking and IP addresses — at least for the attacker. Download the model here: The Universal Cloud Threat Model Version 1.0     Share:

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Modernizing SecOps for Cloud

Security Operations, SecOps for short, has been one of the more difficult security domains to  modernize for cloud. It requires a combination of new subject matter expertise, new technologies, process updates, and even a slightly different mindset. Cloud impacts SecOps in ways both obvious and subtle, and because most organizations still have datacenters and offices, teams need to add new skills and update operations while still supporting everything already on their plates. It’s a daunting challenge, but one that can be made much easier to tackle by distilling down, into the core of how cloud changes things, and taking lessons from the successes of early adopters.  This paper will detail the impact of cloud on SecOps, review the core technical capabilities needed to respond, and highlight techniques for successfully modernizing security operations to support cloud operations. We will finish up with example processes you can use as templates for your own operations.   We would like to thank FireMon for licensing the content in this paper. Our unique Totally Transparent Research model allows us to perform objective and useful research without requiring paywalls or other such nonsense, which make it hard for the people who need our research to get it. A day doesn’t go by where we aren’t thankful to all the companies who license our research. Download: Modernizing_SecOps_For_Cloud   Disclosure: the author is partly employed at FireMon but this content was developed and posted independently and reviewed and edited by non-FireMon personnel. The content was originally posted as a blog series at Security Boulevard. Share:

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Securing APIs: The New Application Attack Surface

The way applications are built, deployed, and maintained in most organizations is being disrupted. Macro changes include the ongoing cloud migration disrupting the tech stack, new application design patterns bringing microservices to the forefront, and DevOps changing dev/release practices. As we’ve been slowly navigating this sea change, the common thread across these changes is increasing reliance on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs have quickly emerged as the most attractive and least- protected target within new applications because they have access to critical data and services. In this paper, Securing APIs, we work through how application architecture and attack surfaces are changing, how application security needs to evolve to deal with these disruptions, and how to empower security in environments where DevOps rules the roost. So you are better prepared to protect whatever applications look like moving forward. Our research is licensed by forward-looking companies that realize the importance of educating their communities on the rapidly changing technology landscape. We thank our friends at Salt Security for licensing this report. Our research is done using our Totally Transparent research methodology. This allows us to do impactful research while protecting our integrity. You can download the paper (PDF). Share:

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Security Hygiene: The First Line of Security

After many decades as security professionals, it’s depressing to keep seeing the same issues and mistakes. It feels like we’re stuck in hacker Groundhog Day. Get up, clean up the mistakes made by users or administrators, handle a new attack, and fill out compliance reports, only to have to do it all over again the next day. The most basic advice we give anyone building a security program is to make sure you handle the fundamentals well. You remember security fundamentals, right? Things like ensuring visibility for every asset, and maintaining a strong security configuration and posture for those assets. You also need to patch systems efficiently and effectively when vendors issue updates. In this Security Hygiene: The First Line of Security paper, we’ll provide a reminder as to the importance of the fundamentals and present a process to ensure you can fix issues efficiently and effectively. Our research is licensed by companies that understand the need to keep their communities not just at the cutting edge of technology, but to do it securely. We thank our friends at Oracle for licensing this report. Our research is done using our Totally Transparent research methodology. This allows us to do impactful research while protecting our integrity. Download the paper (PDF). Share:

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Data Security in the SaaS Age

Data security remains elusive. You can think of it as something of a holy grail. We’ve been espousing the idea of data-centric security for years, focusing on protecting the data, so you can worry less about securing devices, networks, and associated infrastructure. As with most big ideas, it seemed like a good idea at the time. In practice, data-centric security has been underwhelming — it gradually became clear that having security policy and protection travel along with the data, as it spreads to every SaaS service you know about (and a bunch you don’t), was just too much to count on. What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked. Not at scale anyway. We need to take a step back and stop trying to solve yesterday’s problem. Protecting data by encrypting it, masking it, tokenizing it, or wrapping a heavy usage policy around it wasn’t the answer, for various reasons. In this Data Security in the SaaS Age paper, we rethink both the expectations and potential solutions to protect the data stored in SaaS applications. Our research is licensed by companies that put a premium on educating their communities on important shifts in technology, and how security must evolve accordingly. We’re pleased that AppOmni licensed this report. Our research is done using our Totally Transparent research methodology. This allows us to do impactful research while protecting our integrity. You can download the paper (PDF). Share:

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Enterprise DevSecOps

This is our latest iteration on how to build a DevSecOps program. This research paper is the result of hundreds of hours of research and several hundred conversations with Fortune 1000 firms on the challenges companies face and the problems they are most interested in tackling. We go deep into covering all phases and facets of secure application development. And we did a complete reversal on the naming convention; from DevOps to DevSecOps. It became obvious during our calls that despite the idealism involved with leaving ‘Sec’ out of the title, security is getting short shifted and it needs to be called out. From the paper: In our 2015 work “Building Security Into DevOps” we embraced the idea that security was an equal partner and there was no reason to call out security specifically. In hindsight, this was wrong. The fact is security practitioners are having a much harder DevOps journey, and they are the ones struggling, and they are the ones who need a roadmap on security integration. Stated another way, practitioners of DevOps who have fully embraced the movement will say there is no reason to add ‘Sec’ into DevOps, as security is just another ingredient. The DevOps ideal is to break down silos between individual teams (e.g., architecture, development, IT, security, and QA) to better promote teamwork and better incentivize each team member toward the same goals. If security is just another set of skills blended into the overall effort of building and delivering software, there is no reason to call it out any more than quality assurance. Philosophically they’re right. But in practice we are not there yet. Developers may embrace the idea, but they generally suck at facilitating team integration. Sure, security is welcome to participate, but it’s up to them to learn where they can integrate, and all too often security is asked to contribute skills which they simply do not possess. It’s passive-aggressive team building! This is a major re-write of our 2015 research work and we hope you will find it beneficial. And we wanted to thank Veracode for licensing this content. Our licensees are what makes it possible to bring this paper to you free of charge! You can download a copy of the research here: Enterprise_DevSecOps_2019_V2.FINAL_.pdf Share:

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Understanding and Selecting RASP 2019 Research Paper

So what is RASP? Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is an application security technology which embeds into an application or application runtime environment, examining requests at the application layer to detect attacks and misuse in real time. RASP functions in the application context, which enables it to monitor security – and apply controls – very precisely. This means better detection because you see what the application is being asked to do, and can also offer better performance, as you only need to check the relevant subset of policies for each request. There is no lack of data showing that applications are vulnerable to attack. Many applications are old and simply contain too many flaws to fix. You know, that back-office application that should never have been allowed on the Internet to begin with. These applications are often unsupported, with the engineers who developed them no longer available, or the platforms so fragile that they become unstable if security fixes are applied. In most cases it would be cheaper to re-write the application from scratch than patch all the issues, but economics seldom justify (or even permit) the effort. Other application platforms, even those considered ‘secure’, are frequently found to contain vulnerabilities after decades of use. Heartbleed, anyone? New classes of attacks, and even new use cases, have a disturbing ability to unearth previously unknown application flaws. We see two types of applications: those with known vulnerabilities today, and those which will have known vulnerabilities in the future. But the real audience for this technology is developers who want to build security into their applications. As more and more software development shops embrace automation, RESTful APIs are no longer optional. Security need to be as automated and agile as development teams. Tooling that can both embed into the application stack for scalability and deployment, as well as help isolate which bits of code are truly vulnerable, are needed more than ever before. RASP is getting to be a mature product class and delivering security in the development pipeline and in production. You can download our 2019 updated version of our Understanding and Selecting RASP paper on the link below: Share:

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Multicloud: Deployment Structures and Blast Radius

In this, our second Firestarter on multicloud deployments, we start digging into the technological differences between the cloud providers. We start with the concept of how to organize your account(s). Each provider uses different terminology but all support similar hierarchies. From the overlay of AWS organizations to the org-chart-from-the-start of an Azure tenant we dig into the details and make specific recommendations. We also discuss the inherent security barriers and cover a wee bit of IAM. Share:

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Firestarter: So you want to multicloud?

This is our first in a series of Firestarters covering multicloud. Using more than one IaaS cloud service provider is, well, a bit of a nightmare. Although this is widely recognized by anyone with hands-on cloud experience that doesn’t mean reality always matches our desires. From executives worried about lock in to M&A activity we are finding that most organizations are being pulled into multicloud deployments. In this first episode we lay out the top level problems and recommend some strategies for approaching them. Share:

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Security Monitoring State of the Union

A few years ago we wrote a paper called Security Monitoring Team of Rivals, which really highlighted the reality that you had to make your SIEM and security analytics products work together. The analytics platforms could not provide the broader capabilities delivered by the SIEM, especially in the areas of compliance and incident response. And the SIEM wasn’t really built to do higher end analytics, and it showed when trying to do anything but fairly simple correlation. Oh, how the times have changed. We’ve seen a pretty dramatic evolution of features on both sides of the discussion. And shockingly enough, all of the players in the market are positioning to provide the strategic platform for security monitoring. We see existing SIEM players bundling in security analytics capabilities, and security analytics players positioning their products as next-generation SIEM. As usual, customers are caught in the middle, trying to figure out what is the truth and what is marketing puffery. So in this Security Monitoring State of the Union paper, we delve into the use cases driving the need for security monitoring, the product/service requirements that emerge from these use cases, and the buying process to choose your security monitoring platform. As always our research is licensed by forward-looking companies that realize the importance of educating their communities on the rapidly changing technology landscape. Our friends at McAfee have licensed this report. Our research is done using our Totally Transparent research methodology. This allows us to do impactful research while protecting our integrity. You can download the paper (PDF). Share:

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