Welcome!

Release Management Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Microsoft Cloud: Article

Is Using the Cloud Information Security Suicide for Enterprises?

Connectivity is here to stay and I hope the Sarah Palin hack helps us think about the human elements

The CTO Blog

On the face of it, the apparent hacking of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo mail account may have hurt the cloud’s onward march into enterprise credibility. By using services in the cloud to hold corporate data, as opposed to within our corporate walls, the concern is we are automatically exposing the corporate to additional risk. And it is a concern we must take seriously. But this is far from the full story. Computer hacking is as old as computers, and social engineering as old as, well, people.

With thanks to the head of enterprise architecture of one of the organizations I’m collaborating with for sharing the link, here’s a well written perspective on the hack itself. I’ve also had a couple of colleagues mention, quite rightly, that this high profile event serves as a timely reminder for us to think very carefully about the cloud’s enterprise viability.

The argument often goes that by definition a service in the cloud has ubiquitous potential access for both the authorised and the hackers alike, whereas the corporate network has restricted access (to employees) and so hacking is intrinsically harder.

The reality is somewhat different.

In fact, when you assume any real level of connectivity (and which business can afford not to be connected), the security model of the Web is intrinsically more secure than the security model pre-Web most corporates have in place today – ask your trusted security expert about application centric and moat security compared with document centric and de-perimeterisation security.

Many years ago, the best and brightest security experts figured out that, while there are many levels of security (as they went on to describe in the Orange Book), if you want the best level of security over your data, you have to put your computer in a bunker with cameras recording who uses it and whatever you do you never ever, under any circumstances, connect it to a network.

Back in the mainstream world, the technical aspects aren’t perhaps the most important factors here. The real issue is not with the cloud, it is of course with us, the ‘wetware’.

Let’s flip this around and imagine for a moment you’ve responsibility for information security for your organisation. (Go on, really try it…!)

Imagine it’s your first day in the job and you’re sat in front of a big, horizontal slider control.

It’s the security control for the corporation and it can be set to ‘default deny’ – which means no-one can do anything unless they have explicit permission signed in triplicate and approved by a corporate bureaucracy prized for its ‘beware of the leopard’ signs, or default allow which means anyone can access and share absolutely anything, and everyone is given 24 hour access to a good corporate lawyer.

The slider is set bang in the middle. On the left the label says ‘default deny’, and on the right label says ‘default allow’.

Which way do you move the slider and how far?

This is perhaps one of the toughest decisions faced by corporate and government information security policy makers - just where does security policy start on this security continuum?

What we do know is that too much technical security is as risky as too little – perhaps even more so. When corporate IT takes too much of a default deny stance, people getting on with their jobs tend to find workarounds which unwittingly weaken security.

If you’ve been following events in the UK recently, memory sticks come very much front of mind.

In the end, people tend to behave more responsibly when given more responsibility. And not connecting to the world for a business or government is a non-option. So for me, if I had my hands on the lever, we'd embrace the cloud while sliding the slider to the right. This might sound like information security suicide, but I think it’s the way go.

But wherever you’re at personally in the debate, connectivity is here to stay and I hope the Sarah Palin hack helps us think about the human elements before we get too lost in the technical mist of the cloud.

More Stories By Carl Bate

Carl Bate is Vice President & UK Chief Technology Officer, Capgemini. He contributes to The CTO blog. He is a leading contributor to Capgemini’s thought leadership in business technology and also helps facilitate Capgemini’s IT leadership community - a community of ex-CIOs, CTOs and IT Leaders who’ve personally faced the challenges of IT in business - whose goal is to provide support to executives and their leadership teams. Prior to the CTO role at Capgemini Carl ran its Technology Consulting business (TCG). Bate is co-author of the book ‘Lost in Translation’ - a 5-star rated handbook designed to offer new, practical insights to business and technology leaders seeking to make a step-change difference in addressing the ‘business/IT divide’ – www.LiThandbook.com.

Carl is a fellow of the British Computer Society and chair of its Futures Group.

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Blockchain is a new buzzword that promises to revolutionize the way we manage data. If the data is stored in a blockchain there is no need for a middleman - the distributed database is stored on multiple and there is no need to have a centralized server that will ensure that the transactions can be trusted. The best way to understand how a blockchain works is to build one. During this presentation, we'll start with covering the basics (hash, nounce, block, smart contracts) and then we'll crea...
As the fourth industrial revolution continues to march forward, key questions remain related to the protection of software, cloud, AI, and automation intellectual property. Recent developments in Supreme Court and lower court case law will be reviewed to explain the intricacies of what inventions are eligible for patent protection, how copyright law may be used to protect application programming interfaces (APIs), and the extent to which trademark and trade secret law may have expanded relev...
History of how we got here. What IoT devices are most vulnerable? This presentation will demonstrate where hacks are most successful, through hardware, software, firmware or the radio connected to the network. The hacking of IoT devices and systems explained in 6 basic steps. On the other side, protecting devices continue to be a challenging effort. Product vendors/developers and customers are all responsible for improving IoT device security. The top 10 vulnerabilities will be presented a...
Never mind that we might not know what the future holds for cryptocurrencies and how much values will fluctuate or even how the process of mining a coin could cost as much as the value of the coin itself - cryptocurrency mining is a hot industry and shows no signs of slowing down. However, energy consumption to mine cryptocurrency is one of the biggest issues facing this industry. Burning huge amounts of electricity isn't incidental to cryptocurrency, it's basically embedded in the core of "mini...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Atmosera delivers modern cloud services that maximize the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures. Offering private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions, Atmosera works closely with customers to engineer, deploy, and operate cloud architectures with advanced services that deliver strategic business outcomes. Atmosera's expertise simplifies the process of cloud transformation and our 20+ years of experience managing complex IT environments provides our customers with the confidence and trust tha...
Where many organizations get into trouble, however, is that they try to have a broad and deep knowledge in each of these areas. This is a huge blow to an organization's productivity. By automating or outsourcing some of these pieces, such as databases, infrastructure, and networks, your team can instead focus on development, testing, and deployment. Further, organizations that focus their attention on these areas can eventually move to a test-driven development structure that condenses several l...