By Lionel Snell, Editor, NetEvents

It must be a sign of the times. The world is growing so weary of all those malware massacres in the Internet Wild West, that security is beginning to feel quite sexy.

The recent NetEvents EMEA Press Spotlight discussion – Enterprise Security Considerations for the Cloud – Containers, Perimeters, and Access Controls – added greater intelligence to the mix.

Ovum Principle Analyst, Rik Turner, discussed the challenges, and beginning with Cloud Security, he introduced the Shared Responsibility Model – chart below – and was surprised how few people in the audience had been aware of it.

His diagram showed three different delivery mechanisms, or ways of consuming cloud services: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). So, what is the security responsibility for the customer and what for the cloud service provider?

In IaaS for example: Amazon Web Services (AWS) take care of all the grey bits, from Virtualization down to Networking. But above that it’s the customers’ responsibility. “You are not going to get any money back from them if you are breached because you didn’t secure those layers above.” Similarly, for PaaS you are responsible for security in the top two layers. “If anything goes wrong with any of that, AWS would have to refund some money, or whatever”.

The shared security model is clearly very important for any enterprise migrating to the cloud: the enterprise will have to take care of security in all the red bits. So these are the very parts provided for by security vendors to the enterprise.

The joy, and the temptation, of SaaS is that it was so easy to sign up for – the IT department does not even need to know about it – hence the whole notion of shadow IT and the rise of Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) that sit between the users and their services – Fig 2. CASB was the first security response as it were to cloud adoption but: “A lot of the CASB guys have been acquired by somebody else and are now disappeared into the belly of much larger security companies with big broad portfolios”.

IaaS and PaaS are more complicated, because the enterprise customer has broader responsibility for security. What’s more, it is no longer just a question of spinning up Virtual Machines (VMs) because of increasing use of Containers, Microservices, or Serverless services – each with their own format. It’s a progression: VMs remove the dependence on physical servers; containers spare the spinning up of new VMs, and Serverless means you can forget these and just specify the functions to be supported – with a 70-80 percent saving in infrastructure costs.

So people are now talking more about Cloud Workload Protection Platforms – blocking and remediating attacks, and restarting the workload somewhere else – and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), see the chart below.

CSPM is essentially a compliance function. It’s so easy now to spin up another instance either in the developer community or the actual production environment, that all of a sudden you’ve got another 50 VMs that security didn’t know about. So CSPM technology monitors and manages the spread of VMs to ensure compliance with company policies.

Rik Turner suggested: “I personally think that these two worlds will ultimately converge, because CSPM is itself starting to move in the direction of actually doing the remediation rather than just alerting. So, those two will become one… It gets a little bit more difficult with containers, in as much as you are starting to see smaller packages of code.” And with serverless: “things become more ephemeral… the life of a piece of code that’s running in a serverless environment may be a matter of milliseconds. How do I secure it?”

The theory is that we are moving towards a DevSecOps world, where the developers become responsible for embedding the security: “not a traditional developer concern, but we’re starting to see that”.

Moving to discuss perimeters and access control – Rik said: “the reason I want to make these separate is because this is the traditional world of virtual private networks… all very old-world stuff. Now, not only are your applications moving into all kinds of other environments, but fundamentally, your users have gone everywhere… So, I’m seeing a lot more complexity in terms of the actual access issue and the access control than there had been previously.”

After this very clear introduction, Rik opened up the discussion with his panel from Hotshot Technologies, nCipher Security, NetFoundry, Versa Networks and BA TestLabs.

Atchison Frazer, Worldwide Head of Marketing, Versa Networks, explained: “Versa is an innovator in the SD-WAN or WAN edge infrastructure space… one of the few vendors that from the beginning actually built a full-blown next-gen firewall UTM and web security into the same platform as the SD-WAN functionality. The issue for our clients isn’t so much the on-premise traffic; all SD-WAN vendors encrypt traffic on-premise at the highest standards.”

Philip Griffiths, Head of EMEA Partnerships, NetFoundry: “We are changing how the world connects their applications.” Referring to Rik’s examples he added: “So a DevOps developer could create connectivity between their branches, devices, containers, virtual machine environment – anything anywhere – using the public internet only… in minutes using APIs in a fully cloud-native approach.” Delivering the security, performance and reliability of fibre, over the public Internet.

Peter Galvin, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, nCipher Security – a company offering a hardware security module for protecting business critical applications and data for “things like digital payments, lift and shift to the cloud, encrypting information and protecting the keys and hardware – allowing a very high level of assurance.”

Aaron Turner, CEO & Co-Founder, Hotshot Technologies: “a security company that provides the best security to protect the least sophisticated customers from the most sophisticated attackers. We take the power of very high entropy encryption, combine it with the location services that are available, and help people shift to a true zero trust model for messaging, collaboration and identity.”

Jan Guldentops, Director, BA Test Labs: “I have been playing around with security for 20 years, sometimes as a journalist, sometimes as a neutral consultant. What I would like to do today is take all these cool ideas, all the terminology and see what can be real and what are the problems”.

Rik noted that the panel had four non-competing vendors, all with different approaches. Of these, only nCipher would he classify as a “true security company” because “the reason it exists is in order to secure stuff.” The same analyst’s eye would describe Hotshot as “an application provider who happens to provide secure applications, but it is in the business of certainly selling applications with security wrapped into them.” Whereas “NetFoundry is an application networking company which can, if it needs to, sell alongside an SD-WAN, but it can also sell independently as an alternative to SD-WAN”. Then: “You could say that Versa are really wrapping security in from the outset into SD-WAN offerings. So, it’s a little bit of a different thing. But they’ve still got – each got their own take on what are the great issues around cloud security and equally, around network access and access control”.

Starting with Jan Guldentops, who pointed out how people who could not manage security used the cloud as an excuse: “We’re going to outsource to the cloud as it’s all secure and all the problems are gone. That’s the first misconception I see all the time. We are going to the cloud just to be able to secure”. He also reiterated Rik’s point about the need for designed-in, rather than bolted on, security.

Peter Galvin did not agree. For him the cloud driver was agility and reducing spending on data centers. But what was overlooked was the top layer in Rik’s Shared Responsibility: the need to protect one’s own data. Guldentops reminded us that this protection was also a legal requirement.

Phillip Griffiths pointed out that people were rushing to a fast-evolving cloud with legacy thinking: “what we now see as wrong used to be best practice.” He criticized over-use of the term zero trust: “you can’t be zero trust if you trust the network or the perimeter”. Aaron Turner agreed about dated ideas of a perimeter, then referred to the very recent Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report that reported a doubling of the number of nation-state level attacks against small business: “how’s the average small business going to defend themselves against a nation-state adversary?” Hence his company’s emphasis on: “a new solution that helps those least sophisticated people protect themselves from the most sophisticated adversaries”.

The conversation moved to false expectations of perimeter firewalls in a world where every single cloud connected device is now a potentially vulnerable endpoint. Again, a tendency to trust security to the cloud, the latest add-on, rather than seeing the need to design it in.

Griffiths shifted the emphasis from trust to verify with: “we work with a three-letter government agency… to access applications on the cloud, they have to show five points of trust. They have to have a client on their laptop, they enter a password onto that laptop, they are wearing a watch with unspoofable hardware, they put their thumb on that watch to give biometric proof of trust and that watch also measures their EKG, so it can’t all be done under duress.”

As the team recovered form this paranoid bombshell, Guldentops reminded us: “If the prize is big enough – I mean if the prize on the end of the hack is big enough – somebody will come up with something”. Griffiths hit back with: “If you’re harder and more expensive to hack, people find another victim. It’s about having better shoes to run faster than other people when the bear comes along.”