Welcome!

Log Management Authors: Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Bucking the Trend: How Security Will Drive Cloud Adoption, Not Hinder It

Security, when done properly, is an argument in favor of cloud adoption

Security Track at Cloud Expo

If you've investigated cloud computing even a little bit, you've encountered story after story about how security is slowing adoption. There is some truth beneath all of the hand wringing, but not nearly as much as you'd think.

When deployed correctly, security should drive cloud adoption, rather than impede it.

Large cloud providers, such as Amazon, Google and Salesforce.com, have many more security tools in their data protection toolbox than you do. They have many dedicated security pros on staff, data centers that can withstand natural disasters, stringent security policies and procedures and the most up-to-date security solutions.

Why All the Doom and Gloom, Then?
Bad news sells. Whether it's an analyst report or an industry publication, fear-based headlines attract attention. Security vendors themselves are guilty of hyping the problem, hoping to push more product.

One recent op-ed by a VP from a very prominent security vendor noted that cloud applications are only as strong as "your weakest password." Um, that's not a cloud security problem; that's an access/authentication problem. You can say this exact same thing about any type of data in any storage medium with any sort of connection to the outside world. *

Similarly, a recent Forrester research report * noted that those moving to the cloud need to worry about identity management, compliance and disaster recovery.

Again, these are in no way specific to the cloud. These are general business computing issues.

This is not to say that there are not actual cloud security concerns. There are, and I'll get to some in a moment. However, for every cloud security issue, there is a corresponding security tool to address it - even though the hype would have you believe otherwise.

How Did We Get into This Mess in the First Place?
Simple: as with so many technologies that came before, developers created the applications first (or cloud-enabled existing ones) and left security concerns for later.

Fortunately, many security issues are being solved for you even as you read this story. All of the big cloud vendors are hyper-aware of the need to lock down their customers' data. All of them have best practices in place and a slew of security tools wrapped around their services designed to protect the integrity of your data.

Unfortunately, the cloud providers can't solve everything. The one fundamental security issue that you must solve for yourself is identity. Application access and the integrity of users' identities, as well as their roles and privileges, must be tackled by the enterprise.

Cloud providers can only do what you tell them to when it comes to identity enforcement. They can grant access to those who you've given credentials to and block all others, but if you don't have solid identity enforcement in place, there's not much they can do about it.

This is where many organizations falter. Using the same logic that drove people to cloud-enable applications before figuring out the security ramifications, many organizations have decided to synch identities to the cloud. Bad idea. Now, instead of protecting one identity directory, you must defend, patch and manage two, and you've doubled your risks.

The second misguided option that organizations consider is forklifting their entire infrastructure, including identity management, to the cloud. In this age of outsourcing, there is some herd-mentality logic to this line of thinking. However, I believe that identity is the absolute last thing you want to outsource.

Where Should You Draw the Line?
Nothing in the Internet age is 100% secure, but when you give away the keys to the front door, you better make sure the lock is sound and that only the people who are supposed to have keys actually get them.

If you give away your directory services, such as Active Directory or LDAP, you are basically ceding control over who gets keys and who doesn't.

Control over directory services, then, is where you draw the line.

Imagine what happens when something goes wrong. If identities are off in the cloud, you must trust that the identity provider is honest, forthcoming and quick in responding. If identities are in house, you track down those accountable and tell them they'll be working nights and weekends until the problem is solved.

Similarly, when identities are in house, your IT staff has much more power to enforce organizational policies when users stray away from best practices or concoct workarounds. If users screw up, IT shuts down their accounts, suspends privileges, requires password resets, etc.

Now imagine an even touchier scenario. A frisky IT pro suspends privileges to your CEO for bucking some security policy. With outsourced identities, your CEO (or most likely an executive secretary) wastes a lot of time on the phone trying to reach an overseas help desk to figure out the problem. When handled internally, the CEO is either granted an exception or brought up to speed on the importance of the policy by a colleague who understands your organization's bottom-line business concerns.

Other reasons to keep identities in house include maintaining compliance, avoiding vendor lock, protecting interoperability and avoiding opening yourself up to insider attacks from people who are actually outsiders to you.

Bridging the Enterprise to the Cloud by Becoming Your Own Identity Provider
The trouble with keeping directory services in house is that they were not designed for the cloud. However, this problem isn't nearly as big as it seems.

Most organizations are already under regulatory pressure to modernize authentication. What a few progressive identity enforcement providers are doing is hooking strong, multifactor authentication into directory services.

Because these new identity enforcement solutions are designed to be platform agnostic and to authenticate remote and mobile workers, they are perfectly situated to serve as a bridge between internal directories and public clouds.

Some of the big cloud providers, most notably Salesforce.com and Google, allow you to use an identity provider to enforce access and privileges. As a result, a bunch of small point solutions delivered as services have already popped up. Some of the vendors probably have staying power. Many do not.

However, there is no reason you can't act as your own identity provider. You've done it for years for client/server applications, and many organizations are already acting as an identity provider for internally hosted apps served up as a service to various departments, branches and partners, as well as to remote and mobile workers.

Instead of just authenticating users, you can control, manage and enforce user access, no matter where the users are or where the application data resides.

Returning to the title of this story, what does this all mean when it comes to cloud adoption? It means that security, when done properly, is an argument in favor of cloud adoption. The big providers have better resources to protect data than you do, while you have the ability to retain the control and management of your user base even as it accesses cloud-based applications.

You get the best of everything. Identities stay locked in house, data protection is improved and applications gain flexibility and operational efficiency by residing in the cloud.

More Stories By Craig Lund

Craig Lund is CEO of MultiFactor Corporation, a provider of two-factor SSO authentication and identity enforcement solutions. MultiFactor’s flagship product, SecureAuth, bridges applications from the enterprise to the cloud through strong, flexible identity enforcement.

As chief executive officer, Craig is responsible for guiding the overall strategy and operations of MultiFactor Corporation. He is a seasoned veteran of high technology management with over 25 years experience managing high performing teams in some of the world’s leading technology companies and startups alike. Craig holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from Utah State University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.