From The Expert Feature Article
January 16, 2015

Cloud vs Terrorists, Tyrants, Criminals and Hackers


Data Security Isn’t Like Air

My teenage daughter was having a meltdown. Awash in Apple devices (iPad, iPhone (News - Alert), iPod), it’s pretty easy to lock yourself out of a device. As most of us know, you get so many guesses at the unlock code on an Apple device, then for data protection it’ll wipe itself clean. Not a big deal if you have leveraged the power of the cloud to back it up. “If” being the key word!  Unfortunately, she hadn’t done that. Yep, Dr. Cloud’s daughter wasn’t leveraging the power of the cloud. It’s like a pastor’s son being the biggest sinner in town. But, with four kids, you get used to it.

Naturally, amidst all the tears, screeching, and bluster I convinced her to (finally) bring the device to me. It took me about ten seconds to hack her password and I was in. I then gruffly demanded she back it up to the cloud. Drama over. DEFCON 5 status re-instated at Casa de Chase. The moral of the story is this: data security is a must, but it’s not like air. Your data will likely die without it, but it hasn’t evolved to the point where you won’t notice it. The cloud and its dizzying array of tools will only save your aaS (pun intended) if you leverage it.

Why Cloud Is Impervious: Threats vs. Solutions

By design, cloud is vastly superior to any enterprise architecture you’re running at your office today and incredibly impervious to the increasing threats posed by terrorists, tyrants, and hackers. 

Let’s explore each threat and see how cloud can help.

Terrorists

  • Threats
    • Blow Your Datacenter Up
      • Most datacenters are not physically protected with terrorism in mind.  Take a look! Do you think it’d be easy to park a big rental truck outside the datacenter and blow it up? Remember the Oklahoma City bombing?   Is your datacenter going to withstand that kind of threat? Unlikely.
    • Take Out the Staff
      • Terrorists often target people, not just infrastructure.
  • Solutions
    • Cloud Replication of Servers/Data
      • So what if terrorists blow up the datacenter! Within minutes, all your servers and data have spun up at another site 1,000+ miles away. At dinCloud, we have the ability to migrate and replicate PETABYTES of data so that our Fortune 500 and mom and pop customers can easily withstand this kind of attack. It’s easy to replicate Microsoft (News - Alert) Active Directory, fileshares with DFS, entire servers, and much more.
    • Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
      • Your staff is hard to find, because they work out of virtual offices powered by the cloud all over the world. It’s hard to kill what you can’t find. Staff meetings are video/VoIP calls online. In the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last week, terrorists forced an employee who was just arriving at work to give up their door code and get them into the office. Then, the terrorists out gunned security staff and police before killing staff members.

Tyrants/Criminals

  • Threats
    • Invasion of Privacy
      • Tyrants want to know what you’re up to, just as much as criminals do (albeit for different reasons). Whether it’s to steal your pictures to put you on a most wanted poster, track down and torture your known associates and family, steal your latest robotic design for profit, or to aid their latest warmongering efforts, rest assured your data is being assaulted by remote brute force hacking programs, physical access methods, and wiretapping -- every single day, from literally everywhere in the world by more than one entity who wants “in” on what you’ve got.  If it’s not being outright stolen, it’s be lured out of you by “handy” programs like Facebook, Google (News - Alert), and others.
    • Denial of Service
      • Tyrants don’t want to control your ability to speak, share, broadcast, etc. as it threatens the power of their regime. Hackers want to manipulate your stock price or take out their frustrations or fancies by taking down your website, email system, or other key components to cause you pain and embarrassment. DDoS attacks were like digital tsunamis in 2014 – even tier 1 carriers had a hard time staying afloat in the surging surf of 500mbps+ of traffic.  And customers who run their own infrastructure? Never saw it coming and didn’t stand a chance when it hit the beach.
    • Identity Theft
  • Solutions
    • Encryption -- a lot of cloud providers offer this, but few make it the mandatory default because it negatively impacts their performance. Make sure whoever you are using in the cloud encrypts ALL your data ALL the time when that data is both in-flight and at-rest.  
    • IP Mobility -- cloud providers often have 1gbps+ Internet links across multiple carriers with thousands of public IPv4/IPv6 IPs that can be migrated anywhere in the world within seconds using the Internet’s routing protocol, BGP4/BGP6. If your cloud provider can’t do this for you, rethink your choice of providers.
    • 2-Factor Authentication – a lot of Cloud providers offer this, but few make it the mandatory default because they either have to issue tokens for it and/or it negatively impacts their performance. For example, dinCloud’s dinAuth solution can integrate with the 2-factor software of your choice or use our own token less methods (i.e. automated phone call, SMS to your phone, email, etc.).

Hackers

  • Threats
    • Ransomware – millions of people worldwide woke up to file shares of data they could no longer access. A ransomware program called “CryptoLocker” invaded their infrastructure, encrypted all their files, and held the key for ransom by online payment via bitcoin or other methods. Pay or quit accessing your files – forever! What a headache. L
    • Botnets – controlling most of these evil doers efforts are botnets: legions of already compromised PCs worldwide doing their master’s bidding to either spread a specific malware to other machines globally or to unify in distributed denial-of-service attacks against innocent targets everywhere.
    • Malware/Adware – with a single click on the wrong website or link embedded on a legitimate website that takes you in the background to a bad one, your entire PC gets malware, adware, or even a root kit installed. Your PC is now “owned” by someone else and you don’t even know it.  
    • Viruses – a well-known menace made worse because they’ve become undetectable as governments enter the cyber warfare game with more resources than corporations have including the corporations paid to protect us from viruses!
  • Solutions
    • Snapshots – dinCloud.com takes system level snapshots every 1 day and retains them for 10 days.  When we had a customer who got hit with CryptoLocker, we rolled back their data to the last 24hr marker before CryptoLocker struck and voila, the customer was back in business. No ransom paid! Few, if any, clouds do this; most opt for user level not system level snapshots and that means if you control it, so can a hacker – and delete them!   http://www.infoworld.com/article/2608076/data-center/murder-in-the-amazon-cloud.html
    • IP Reputation (IPR) – Your cloud provider should be using this type of service at all of their datacenters cloud-wide to stop botnets in their tracks. At dinCloud, we use ThreatSTOP. Millions of IPs are blocked by reputation at our Internet edge before they can abuse customers.
    • Malwarebytes/Super AntiSpyWare – If you’re not using these programs you quite simply MUST! dinCloud has included them in the base templates of ALL new servers/desktops. Otherwise you may as well not web surf at all because you are an open target without these programs watching your back!
    • DaaS -- Again?! YES! Everyone knows that if you’re SUPER PARANOID about Governments, UFOs and aliens, or North Korea embedding software NOTHING can detect then the ONLY way to protect yourself is to spin up a new virtual desktop from your pristine, virgin, never been touched or imprinted by human scent -- virtual desktop as a service template every few months. It’s as simple as that.

Takeaways

Anything insecure simply isn’t usable. Leverage the cloud. If you do, it’ll save your aaS (as a Service) more often than you know.

Yours truly,
Dr. Cloud

Mike L. Chase, J.D., CCIE# 7226 (mchase@dincloud.com) is the EVP/Chief Technology Officer for dinCloud, a cloud service provider and transformation company that helps businesses and public/private organizations rapidly migrate to the cloud through the hosting of servers, desktops, storage, and other cloud services via its strong channel base of VARs and MSPs. Visit dinCloud on LinkedIn (News - Alert): www.linkedin.com/company/dincloud.

 



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