Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Derek Weeks, Gordon Haff, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

@BigDataExpo: Article

Protecting Data in the Cloud

Today’s cloud-driven, always-connected world enables organizations to be very agile but is also putting data integrity at risk

The cloud plays an integral role in enabling the agility required to take advantage of new business models and to do so in a very convenient and cost-effective way. However, this also means that more personal information and business data will exist in the cloud and be passed back and forth. Maintaining data integrity is paramount.

Today's approach to security in the cloud may not be sufficient; it doesn't focus on putting controls close to data, which is now more fluid, and it doesn't discriminate one set of data from another. All data is not created equal and should not be treated in the same manner; a one-size fits all model doesn't work.

In this always-connected world, protection measures in the cloud need to focus on what really matters - the type of data, how it is used, and where it goes.

Data Classification
In order to adequately protect data in the cloud, organizations need to start considering how to classify data. One approach is to use a three-tier data protection model to cater to data of different sensitivities and relevance across industries. This model would include:

Tier 1, Regulated: Data subject to regulation, or data that carries with it proprietary, ethical, or privacy considerations such as personally identifiable information (PII). Unauthorized disclosure of regulated data may have serious adverse effects on an organization's reputation, resources, services, or individuals and requires the most stringent level of control.

Tier 2, Commercial: Industry-related, ecommerce or transactional and intellectual property data whose unauthorized disclosure may have moderately adverse effects on an organization's reputation, resources, services, or individuals. Commercial data requires a moderate level of security.

Tier 3, Collaborative: Collaborative and DevOps-type data that typically is publicly accessible, requires minimal security controls and poses little or no risk to the consuming organization's reputation, resources, or services.

Using this model, security teams can strategically partner with business users to understand requirements and determine the right approach for their organization. Small to mid-sized organizations, enterprises, and service providers can apply this model to begin classifying their data based on contextual attributes such as how the data will be accessed, stored, and transmitted. Once the data is classified, they can then apply appropriate data protection measures focused on protecting work streams and transactions that continue to evolve to enable business agility. Given that most of today's data breaches are a result of user-access issues, security considerations such as Identity and Access Management, Authorization, and Authentication are critical.

The Data Integrity Challenge
Understanding and classifying data is just a first step, albeit an important one. Organizations also need to determine how to ensure data integrity when the perimeter is amorphous and control of the endpoints and the data is diminished mobility and cloud services.

Business departments are increasingly encouraged to find efficient and innovative ways to generate new business. This requires identifying new applications and ways to support the business anywhere and anytime. Business users often make the decision to use the cloud before involving IT since they can get up and running in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to provision in house.

With this unprecedented change in operations and infrastructure comes an unprecedented need for ensuring data integrity - ultimately working through the life cycle of data that can, at any point, be within the confines of a company, out to a network of partners and suppliers, or floating in a cloud. The challenge in this fractured landscape is that the perimeter is amorphous, but legacy security solutions are not; designed for a time when there was a more well-defined perimeter. The result is that attackers now use various techniques to bypass traditional perimeter-based defenses and compromise data - be it through tampering, stealing, or leaking data. Point-in-time defenses are no longer sufficient.

To effectively protect data wherever it may be, defenses must go beyond simply blocking and detection to including capabilities such as data correlation, continuous data analysis, and retrospective action when data has been found to have been corrupted, tampered with, or exfiltrated.

A New Approach to Applying Controls
In order to protect the classes of data described earlier - regulated, commercial, and collaborative - security teams need a mix of policy, process, and technology controls. These controls should be applied based on user and location context and according to a security model that is open, integrated, continuous, and pervasive:

  • Open to provide access to global intelligence and context to detect and remediate breaches and to support new standards for data protection.
  • Integrated solutions that enable policy to be automated and minimize manual processes can close gaps in security and support centralized management and control according to data classifications.
  • Both point-in-time solutions as well as continuous capabilities are needed to identify new threats to data.
  • Pervasive security delivers protection across the full attack continuum - before, during, and after an attack.

Let's take a closer look at the advantages of applying controls to protect data based on this model.

Openness provides:

  • The opportunity to participate in an open community of users and standards bodies to ensure consistent data classification and standards of policy and process.
  • Easy integration with other layers of security defenses to continue to uphold data protection best practices as IT environments and business requirements change.
  • The ability to access to global intelligence with the right context to identify new threats and take immediate action.

Integrated enables:

  • Technology controls that map to data tiers and also track data through different usage contexts and locations to support the fundamental first step of data classification.
  • Identity and access controls, authorization, and authentication that work in unison to map data protection to data classifications.
  • Encryption controls applied based on deemed data sensitivity to further strengthen protection, including strong encryption key standards (minimum AES256) and encryption keys retained by data owners.
  • Security solutions and technologies that seamlessly work together to protect data across its entire lifecycle.
  • Centralized policy management, monitoring, and distributed policy enforcement to ensure compliance with regulatory and corporate policies.

Continuous supports:

  • Technologies and services to constantly aggregate and correlate data from across the connected environment with historical patterns and global attack intelligence to maintain real-time contextual information, track data movement, and detect data exfiltration.
  • The ability to leverage insights into emerging new threats, take action (automatically or manually) to stop these threats, and use that intelligence to protect against future data breaches.

Pervasive translates into:

  • Defenses (including technologies and best practices) that address the full attack continuum - before, during, and after an attack. Before an attack, total, actionable visibility is required to see who is accessing what data from where and how, and to correlate that information against emerging threat vectors. During an attack, continuous visibility and control to analyze and take action in real time to protect data is necessary. After an attack, the key is to mitigate the damage, remediate, quickly recover, and prevent similar, future data breaches, data tampering, or data corruption activities.
  • The ability to address all attack vectors - including network, endpoints, virtual, the cloud, email and Web - to mitigate risk associated with various communications channels that could be used by an attacker to compromise data.

Today's cloud-driven, always-connected world is enabling organizations to be very agile but it is also putting data integrity at risk. IT teams need to quickly adapt to this new way of doing business despite having less control of the endpoints and the data. Traditional data protection models fail due to their inability to discriminate one set of data from another. By putting in place protection measures based on the type of data, how it is used, and where it goes, and backed by a security model that is open, integrated, continuous, and pervasive, organizations can take advantage of new business opportunities the cloud affords without sacrificing data integrity.

More Stories By Raja Patel

Raja Patel is a Senior Director, Cloud Security Product Management, at Cisco, where he is responsible for the portfolio strategy and development of security solutions for Cisco's Security Business. His responsibilities include building solutions and managing operations associated with Cloud, Threat Intelligence, Web and Email Security. Raja has been at Cisco for 13 years and during this tenure he has product managed a broad portfolio of products within Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business Group, developed and accelerated new consumption & business models such as Enterprise Licensing, and lead strategic initiatives to develop more agile business practices across Cisco.

Mr. Patel holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and an MBA in Global Business Management.

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
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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 strategy.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.