Welcome!

Release Management Authors: Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, Release Management , Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Security Automation Connects Silos

The true promise of security automation

A wealth of security information exists in our networks from a variety of sources - policy servers, firewalls, switches, networking infrastructure, defensive components, and more. Unfortunately, most of that information is locked away in separate silos due to differences in products and technologies, as well as by companies' organizational boundaries. Further complicating the issue, information is stored in different formats and communicated over different protocols.

An open standard from the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) offers the capability to centralize communication and coordination of information to enable security automation. The Interface for Metadata Access Points - IF-MAP for short - is like Facebook for network and security technology, allowing real-time sharing of information across a heterogeneous environment.

IF-MAP, part of TCG's Trusted Network Connect (TNC) architecture, makes it possible for any authorized device or system to publish information to a Metadata Access Point (MAP), a clearinghouse for information about who's on the network, what endpoint they're using, how they're behaving, and many other details of the network. Systems can also search the MAP for relevant information and subscribe to any updates to that information. Just as IP transformed communications, IF-MAP revolutionizes the way systems share data.

Security automation is any part of a security system that is able to operate without - or with only limited - administrative involvement. As shown in Figure 1, a security administrator can define a unified security policy that applies to different types of protective mechanisms, such as next-generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), unified threat management (UTM) systems, and more. Best-of-breed components from multiple vendors can share information using a standard information bus.

Figure 1: Effective security automation includes several protection mechanisms.

This coordination can extend beyond front-line access control products to back-end systems such as authorization databases, virtualization technology, and reputation systems. A policy server might create and modify policy based completely on the information received from other resources in the environment.

Logs from multiple sources can be collected and correlated by a security information and event management (SIEM) system, which itself acts as both a consumer of information and a provider of real-time intelligence based on that information. Security operations personnel can easily oversee activities in the network and provide human intervention in cases where full automation may not be achievable or desirable. Security automation enhances fundamental security solutions, adding dynamic, responsive, intelligent decision-making.

Establishing Network Trust
One of the basic solutions enabled by the TNC architecture is Comply to Connect, which incorporates Network Access Control (NAC) principles - an endpoint must first show its compliance with selected endpoint health requirements before being granted access to the network. Figure 2 shows a common Comply to Connect scenario.

Figure 2: The TNC architecture enables evaluation and enforcement of compliance at admission.

The endpoint, on the left, is a device attempting to access a protected network. The enforcement point is a guard that grants or denies access based on instructions from the policy server. The policy server is really the brains of the operation; it looks at the configured policy and decides what level of access should be granted. Then it informs the enforcement point, which executes those instructions.

Many enforcement options exist; the example in Figure 2 shows a wireless access point and a switch, but environments may also use a firewall or a virtual private network (VPN) gateway. Each of these has its own pros and cons; for example, a wireless access point with 802.1X can totally block unauthorized users. But while it provides admission control, it doesn't offer enforcement deeper in the network. For that reason, most NAC solutions support a combination of different enforcement points, which can be used individually or in combination.

The security policy controlling the compliance check shown in Figure 2 is quite simple: every Windows 7 endpoint on the network must have a self-encrypting drive (SED), up-to-date anti-virus protection, and a personal firewall. When a new Windows 7 endpoint comes on the network, the enforcement point will query it and then consult the policy server. If the endpoint complies with security policy, it is given access to the production network. Another endpoint that does not have an SED may be given only limited access to the network. That way, if either endpoint is lost or stolen, protected information is only on the endpoint that could store it securely on an SED.

Expanding Network Trust Evaluation
Behavior monitoring is another way to evaluate an endpoint. Many security-related sensor devices are already deployed in networks to monitor behavior: intrusion detection systems, leakage detection systems, endpoint profiling systems, and more. The TNC architecture lets users integrate those existing systems with each other and with the NAC solution by sharing information via a MAP.

Figure 3 shows an approach to check behavior. Security sensors in the network monitor behavior, and a security policy identifies acceptable behavior.

Figure 3: Behavior checking enables automated response to changes in the endpoint's activity.

Once an endpoint has connected to the network, even if it has passed authentication and compliance checks, it could behave in an unauthorized fashion. If the endpoint starts violating security policy by trying to spread a worm, that traffic is detected and stopped by an IPS sensor.

Even more important, that sensor publishes information to the MAP about the attack it stopped. The MAP notifies the policy server, which evaluates its security policy and instructs the enforcement point to move the endpoint to a remediation network until it can be addressed.

The end result is an entire network security system that is working together. Each part performs its function, and each piece is integrated with the whole using the open IF-MAP standard.

Extending Security to Mobile Devices
TNC standards have enabled NAC to evolve into a foundation technology for business requirements such as mobile security and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). A common scenario in today's connected world occurs when a mobile user accesses the Internet and social networks on a personal device, such as a smartphone, which they also use to access their corporate network. If the smartphone inadvertently becomes infected with malware, corporate data on that device is now at risk. And it's even worse when the user connects their smartphone to the corporate network; the attacker, who has taken control of the device, can access sensitive information.

This situation occurs when a company's security team lacks the tools to accommodate employees using their own consumer devices to improve productivity. Without the appropriate technology, the IT team cannot:

  • detect malware on the mobile device
  • protect the user from cloud-based threats
  • control access based on user identity, device, and location
  • coordinate security controls to protect sensitive information

This clearly needs a new approach!

Addressing the new requirements of BYOD and providing broad protection involves flexible deployment models that can be tailored to individual environments and security context, and coordination to keep users protected against the dynamic threat landscape.

Security automation makes it possible to detect and address compromised mobile devices; protect the user from malicious sites and applications; restrict network and resource access based on user identity, device, and location; and correlate endpoint activity monitoring across the corporate network infrastructure.

Leveraging Standard Network Security Metadata
These capabilities are enabled by TNC's standardization of basic metadata for network security. Metadata is the information stored in a MAP, representing anything that is known about the network: traffic flows, scan results, user authentications, or other events. In the case above, metadata represents information about network components and applicable security policies. The MAP is a clearinghouse for metadata; MAP clients can publish metadata to it, search it for specific metadata, and/or subscribe to metadata about endpoints in the network.

These inquiries include common things that it might be helpful to know about an endpoint - the type of device, identity of the user operating the device, role assigned to that user, association between the MAC address and IP address of the endpoint, location of the endpoint, and any events related to that endpoint.

Extending Security Automation to Other Use Cases
While standard metadata is useful for out-of-box interoperability, much more information about an endpoint or a network is available. IF-MAP can be extended by creation of vendor-specific metadata, similar to Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) in RADIUS, enabling anyone to publish anything that can be expressed in XML!

Imagine a manufacturing line, where a physical process is controlled by a digital component called a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). An operator display panel, the Human Machine Interface (HMI), is typically physically remote from the actual process that needs monitoring. As changes in the process occur, the operator display updates in real-time.

Many HMIs use a legacy protocol called Modbus to poll the PLC, retrieve these process variables, and display them. Originally designed to be run over a serial connection, Modbus has been ported to TCP. One of the problems with the Modbus protocol and many others in this space is that there are zero security features in the protocol - no authentication, no authorization - which means no way of knowing whether a requestor is authorized to gain access requested, or even who is sending data the request. If an endpoint (or intruder) can ping the PLC, it can issue commands to it!

Many control systems components operate this way. Until now, they have been small islands of automation with very little interconnection to other systems. Running over a serial bus required physical serial connections - typically, the operator had to be present in front of the machine to affect it, so physical security was sufficient. And once these systems are in place, they are designed to stay in production for decades. So now these systems are getting more and more interconnected with the enterprise network - and, by extension, to external networks - and they encounter the same types of security issues as enterprise systems.

Overlaying Security onto Industrial Control Systems
A single manufacturing line could have hundreds, or even thousands, of these PLCs. Replacing them is out of the question, as is retro-fitting them to add on security. But what if a transparent security overlay was inserted to protect these legacy components?

Deployment and lifecycle management for such an overlay would be a huge challenge - unless there was a mechanism for provisioning certificates, communication details, and access control policies to the overlay components. That's exactly what one manufacturing company has done with IF-MAP, by using vendor-specific metadata for provisioning of certificate information and access control policy, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: IF-MAP enabled security overlay protects industrial control system components.

The first step is to add the overlay protection. In this case, the enforcement points are customized components, designed for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks, that can create an OpenHIP "virtual private LAN" on top of standard IP networks. This requires no changes to the underlying network, protects communications between SCADA devices, and is completely transparent to the protected SCADA devices.

A MAP and a provisioning client enable centralized deployment, provisioning, and lifecycle management for the myriad enforcement points. The provisioning client publishes metadata to the MAP to define the HMIs and PLCs and to specify security policies that allow them to talk to each other, but do not allow external access to them.

For example, when an HMI comes into the network and queries for a PLC, the HMI does an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) lookup. The enforcement point receives that traffic, searches the MAP, and finds the access control policy determining whether this specific HMI can talk to that particular PLC. Enforcement points can be moved around the network without requiring manual reconfiguration or reprovisioning, since all of the provisioning is centralized via the MAP.

This is not just a neat thought experiment - it is actually in production deployment on hundreds of endpoints in critical manufacturing lines today!

The Future of Security Automation
We've barely scratched the surface of security automation. For one thing, it goes far beyond access control. Imagine...

  • A content management database (CMDB) receives notification of a new device on the network and scans the new endpoint, then updates its data store
  • An analysis engine observes some behavior on the network and requires more information about the associated endpoint, so it requests an investigation by another component such as an endpoint profiler or vulnerability scanner
  • Carrier routers redirect traffic through deep packet inspection based on suspicious user activity
  • A security administrator modifies an existing security policy, or adds a new policy, and various policy servers / sensors are notified, triggering a re-evaluation of the network's endpoints
  • An application server publishes a request for bandwidth for a particular user based on the service the user is accessing, and network infrastructure components change QoS settings for those traffic flows based on that request
  • An IF-MAP enabled OpenFlow switch controller makes packet-handling decisions based on information from other network components
  • An analysis system determines that there's an attack underway; in addition to triggering a response, it notifies security administrators of the attack taking place, populating a dashboard with information to create a "heat map" of the attack

All of these are examples of a common three-step process: sensing, analysis, and response. Security automation is enabled by the abstraction and coordination of these functions across multiple disparate components in the network.

Imagine the power gained by linking together information from all of the various infrastructure and security technologies in a network and using that information to make dynamic, intelligent, automated decisions. That's the true promise of security automation - and the realization of that promise is in its infancy.

More Stories By Lisa Lorenzin

Lisa Lorenzin is a member of the TNC Work Group at Trusted Computing Group and a Principal Solutions Architect at Juniper Networks.

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
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
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 and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
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.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
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...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...