Cloud security refers to the technologies, controls, processes, and policies that work together to safeguard the cloud-based systems, data, and infrastructure. It falls under the umbrella of computer security and, more broadly, information security. Implement a cloud security strategy to safeguard the data, ensure regulatory compliance, and protect the privacy of the customers. As a result, customers are shielded from the reputational, financial, and legal consequences of data breaches and data loss.
Let us create a comprehensive guide to cloud security in this article. We will learn why cloud security is important, investigate the security risks of moving to the cloud, learn about cloud security best practices, and identify the certifications that need to improve cloud security.
Why is Cloud Security important?
Most businesses are already using cloud computing in some form or another, cloud security is crucial. According to various reports the worldwide market for cloud services grew in the past several years.
However, as increased applications and data are moving to the cloud, IT professionals are concerned about security, governance, and compliance issues. They are concerned that sensitive information may be exposed because of unintentional leaks or sophisticated cyber threats.
Maintaining a strong cloud security assists organisations in realising the widely recognised benefits of cloud computing:
- Centralized Security
- Reduced Cost
- Reduced Administration
- Increased Reliability
Security Risks of Cloud computing
1. Compliance Violations -
With increasing regulatory control, many of these regulations demand that the business should understand where the data is kept, who has access to it, how it is processed, and how it is protected. A careless data transfer to the cloud, or a switch to the wrong provider, can put the company out of compliance.
2. Risk of Misconfiguration –
Misconfiguration-related security incidents are the most common. It describes situations in which resources are made publicly available (S3 bucket, ElasticSearch database, etc.). Firewall (security system) rules and port management are also part of the configuration process. Leaving administration-related ports (SSH) open, for example, is a risky practice. The danger of data leaks is significant because the consequences can be severe (economic, legal, and commercial).
3. Insecure Application User Interface (API) –
We might use an API to implement control when operating systems in a cloud infrastructure. Any API built can give customers access internally or externally. External-facing APIs are the ones that can put cloud security at risk. Any insecure external API serves as a point of entry for cybercriminals looking to steal data and manipulate services.
4. Loss of Visibility –
Most businesses will use multiple devices, departments, and locations to access cloud services. Without the right tools in place, this level of complexity in a cloud computing setup can lead to a loss of visibility into the infrastructure. We can lose track of who is using the cloud services if we do not have the right processes in place. What data they are accessing, uploading, and downloading, for example. We cannot protect something we cannot see. Increasing the likelihood of a data breach and loss.
What are the Best Practices for Cloud Security?
Good practices can help to mitigate these risks. Here are a few that we believe are important for cloud computing.
1. Understand Shared Responsibility Model –
When we partner with a cloud service provider and move the systems and data to the cloud, we enter a shared security implementation partnership. Reviewing and understanding the shared responsibility is an important part of best practice. Identifying which security tasks will remain the customer’s responsibility and which will be handled by the provider. Depending on whether we are using SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or an on-premises data centre, this is a sliding scale. Leading cloud service providers, such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud, publish a shared responsibility model for security.
2. Identity and Access Management (IAM) –
Control resource access - who has access to what and when? The concept of least privilege must be followed. Use a tool to manage the IAM. This tool allows us to establish user groups with extremely specific roles and permissions. Predefined roles are available to build on, depending on the cloud provider. A strong IAM tool provides structural visibility into access. For all the users, develop a strong authentication policy.
3. Review Cloud Provider Contracts and SLA’s –
Although we may not see reviewing the cloud contracts and SLAs as a security best practice, we should. SLAs and cloud service contracts only provide assurance of service and remedy in the event of a problem. The terms and conditions, annexes, and appendices contain a lot more information that can affect security. Examine who owns the data and what will happen to it if we stop using the service.
4. Implement Encryption –
Encrypting the data is a security best practice regardless of location, but it becomes even more important once we migrate to the cloud. By storing the data on a third-party platform and transmitting it back and forth between the network and the cloud service, we expose the data to more danger. Ensure that data in transit and at rest is encrypted to the greatest level possible. Before uploading data to the cloud, we should consider using our own encryption methods and encryption keys to keep complete control.
Cloud Security Certifications –
Advanced cloud security skills and knowledge will be required to successfully protect the cloud platform. We have compiled a list of cloud security certifications to earn in 2022.
1. AWS (Amazon Web Services) Certified Security – Specialty
Demonstrate the knowledge of data classifications, encryption methods, secure Internet protocols, and the AWS mechanisms required to implement them by earning the AWS Certified Security certification.
2. Microsoft Certified – Azure Security Engineer Associate
Microsoft recently changed their certification paths to be role-based. As a result, earning the Azure Security Engineer Associate certification includes being able to protect data, applications, and networks in a cloud setting. Managing identity and access, as well as implementing security controls and threat protection.
3. Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Security Engineer
We can design, develop, implement, and manage secure infrastructure on the Google Cloud Platform by earning Google’s Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification. We will accomplish this by utilising Google security technologies that are compliant with industry standards and best practices.
4. (ISC)2 – Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
The CCSP is a globally recognised cloud security certification for IT and security leaders. The CCSP certifies that we have the knowledge and strong technical skills needed to design, manage, and secure cloud data, applications, and infrastructure.
When we move to the cloud, we must be prepared to implement a comprehensive cloud security strategy right away. This begins with selecting the appropriate cloud service provider(s), followed by implementing a strategy that incorporates the appropriate tools, processes, policies, and best practices.
While applying authentication on any device or application, the first thing that comes is Password. Since the last decade. People prefer passwords for authentication. To make our password strong, mostly people use alphanumeric, special characters, bold letters, etc. Even though the user tries to apply the strongest password it has few
1. We use it in combinations of alphanumeric, characters, special characters, so they are easily forgetful
2. It has a high chance of getting hacked, pattern breached.
3. Keeping and maintaining different passwords or their patterns all over different platforms like web applications, cards, electronic gadgets is very difficult.
Considering all the above things, we have to use stronger techniques to avoid such breaches. There are so many techniques available currently to authenticate such as:
- One Time Passwords(OTP)
- Two Factor Authentications
- Multifactor Authentication(MFAs)
- Security Assertion Mark-up Language(SAML)
These techniques are used in authenticating users on different platforms such as electronic devices, web applications, bank accounts, and most enterprise levels, etc.
This is the most famous authentication method. In this technique, fingerprint and face recognition is used. For securing more critical apps like Military, Space information uses retina ID as retina is the most unique biometric ID.
This is based on what users have already saved for authentication, in technical terms it is called the “Query” with one or more samples of fingerprints, face Ids. The process of collecting these Ids is called enrollment. Verification is done with matching the sent Query with enrolled data.
- Simple to enroll and verify.
- It is much faster.
- It is available in a wide range of platforms such as Microsoft’s windows, Apple’s devices.
- There are some researches which show the biometric can be build up using high-resolution images.
- There are many Biometric systems that have accuracy issues.
One Time Passwords(OTP)
This technique is used to confirm the transaction is being done through the Authorized person who is associated with that particular account or credit card.
Step 1. The transaction is triggered after sending SMS/Email/Call to a registered communication medium.
Step 2. The Receiver receives the code on an opted communication medium.
Step 3. Receiver access to this code and uses it to authorize the transaction.
Step 4. The OTP which was unique and generated from the system expired within a few seconds, so it gets deleted from Push Messages.
Step 5. Entered OTP Automatically sends data to for verification and Transaction gets completed with valid OTP.
- It is safe from replay attacks.
- The communication modes are Email/SMS/and Calls so it’s convenient to use.
- It expires within seconds so it may go out of sync.
- Multiple wrong attempts can block your account.
Two Factor Authentication
2FA means whenever you log in to any application it will double-check if the user is authorized and a request is coming from an associated user. 2FA is mostly used to minimize the risk of getting an account hacked if the password is compromised.
- User logins to the application with Username and Password.
- If the first authentication step is cleared by the user second level of authentication enables for the user.
- The authentication user sends a unique code to the second-factor device(registered).
- The user confirmes the second level authentication by entering the code to the application.
Few methods of achieving 2FA: Authentication Apps(Like Duo), U2F devices, Passcodes(OTPs), Tokens, Calls on registered numbers, Smartcards, etc.
- It is an inexpensive method to prevent cyber attacks and helps to protect sensitive application
- Userfriendly and easy to use.
- Multiple options to use 2FA
It is the most effective way to provide advanced security and avoid brute force attacks. When any application uses MFA it creates multiple layers to authenticate the associated user who is sending a request to authenticate. Though any of the levels get breached by an attacker, the user’s data is still secure as an attacker will not have other levels.
MFA can be achieved using some combinations of listed elements below:
- Codes Generated by Authentication apps
- USB devices, Smartcards or other physical devices
- Certificates, tokens
- Biometrics like Retina, facial Id, Fingerprints
- Security Question, Images patterns
- Behavioral Patterns
Above listed elements can be categorized under three different Factors
- Knowledge-Based: Password, Pins, security question, different patterns
- Possessions: USB devices, Smartcards, Different Token on Apps
- Inheritance: Biometrics like face, voice, fingerprint, retina
The use of this MFA can be decided using AI and implemented based on different use cases for example if the user is sign in from unusual devices, network connection, locations, time of accessing the application etc..
Security Assertion Mark-up Language(SAML)
This is an open standard to exchange the Authenticated and Authorised data between Identity Providers and Service Providers. This method uses XML based markup language for security assertions. Assertions are statements that service providers use to make access control decisions.
SAML enables a single sign-on method to login to the service provider. There are two terms used in SAML ie. Service providers and Identity providers
Service providers – are those who grant access to a user in a particular application.
Identity providers – are those who send a request to SPs with enabled user rights.
- Users access the application using provided URL
- After successful identification of the user, it sends the Identity provider request for Authentication.
- Now Identity providers check for active browser session or create a new one by logging in to identity provider
- IP builds a response containing the user’s username or email address in the XML format document. This uses the X.509 Certificate and posts the user’s information to the service provider.
- Service provider checks for the identity provider as it already has a certificate fingerprint; retrieves the authentication response and validates using certificate fingerprint.
- When the identification of the user is established, the application is accessible to the user.
Advantage of SAML is that user don’t need to log in to the application using credentials and the same credentials can be reused for log in to other service providers
Conclusion:Attackers are busy finding ways to breach the security of applications and devices but Users are even Smarter, they are using different Authentication techniques to protect data.
This is an IEEE paper where Multimodal biometric approaches are explained in detail like facial detection, Fingerprint scanning, Voice recognition.
Application Security is a major concern for business organizations today. It exposes customer data, monetary transactions, and other sensitive business information to the outside world. Thus, it is among the core concerns for security professionals and businesses today. With unforeseen circumstances, there is no way to guarantee 100% security, although there are certain approved methods which organizations can practice diminishing app security challenges.
Through this post, we will understand the essentials of Application Security. It will cover what is Application Security, why is it important. Then followed by major security attacks/threats an app can confront and the proposed best possible solutions to prevent those.
What is Application Security?
Application security comprises measures taken at the application level itself to enhance the security of any software application often by finding, fixing and preventing security vulnerabilities like Cross Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection ,Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF).
Application security mainly encompasses the security considerations which take place during Application Design and Development, but it also entails procedures and methodologies to safeguard apps after they get deployed into the production environment. It can be enforced using hardware, software, and procedures which recognize or reduce security vulnerabilities.
Why is application Security crucial?
Application security is not optional anymore, it has become inevitable. Nowadays, almost every business is exposed to the outside world through internet-connected applications, consequently, there are several reasons why application security is important to any business. These range from maintaining a sound market reputation and brand naming, to preventing security breaches which could impact the trust that your clients and shareholders have in your business.
What recent case studies reveal?
Veracode, a software application security company, have published a growing number of organizations, from small to large, falling victim to cyberattacks, resulting in data security breaches as well as hefty financial losses to the affected parties.
Another shocking stats from, Veracode’s State of Software Security Vol. 10 report, 83% of the 85,000 applications verified found at least one security flaw. As per research they found a total of 10 million flaws, and 20% of all apps infected with at least one high severity flaw. Not all those flaws pose a substantial security risk, however the sheer number draws attention.
Above discussed, the alarming figure raises numerous questions, one of which is whether companies are doing their level best to safeguard customer information and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, and why they should do so. Below are outlined some benefits all companies gain from application security, and reasonably be a driving force to tighten up their application security without any further delay.
- Protect Brand Image: – By envisioning security and preventing leaks
- Protect and Build Customer Confidence: – Customer experiences drive competition
- Protect and Safeguard Data: – Both Organizational and Customers
- Winning investor’s and lender’s trust: – Mitigating security risk improves reliability
OWASP TOP 10 VULNERABILITIES
Although the Veracode case studies detected hundreds of software security flaws, we provide a razor focus on finding the problems that fall under OWASP Top 10 list. These flaws are so common and dangerous that no web application should be delivered to customers without some evidence that the software does not contain these errors.
What is OWASP?
The (OWASP) Open Web Application Security Project is an open-source application security non-profit organization with the objective to improve the security of apps. Its industry-standard top 10 guidelines provide a list of the most crucial application security risks to assist developers better securing the applications they design and deploy.
OWASP Top 10 Security Risks and How to prevent those:
The following given identifies each of the OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risks and recommends solutions and best practices, to avoid or remediate them.
Injection flaws, such as SQL injection, CRLF injection and LDAP injection take place when an attacker sends untrusted data to an interpreter that is executed as a command without proper authorization.
*Application security testing can easily detect injection flaws. Developers ought to use parameterized queries when coding to prevent injection flaws.
- Broken Authentication and Session Management
Improperly configured user and session authentication could permit attackers to negotiate passwords, keys, or session tokens, or take control of user’s accounts to impersonate their identities.
* Multi-factor authentication, such as FIDO or dedicated apps, diminishes the risk of compromised accounts.
- Sensitive Data Exposure
Applications and APIs which do not appropriately protect sensitive data such as usernames, passwords and financial data could allow attackers to access such information to perform fraud or steal user-identities.
* Encryption of data at rest and in transit can assist you to comply with data protection regulations.
- XML External Entity
Inadequately configured XML processors assess external entity references within XML documents. Attackers can make use of external entities for attacks including remote code execution, and to disclose internal files and SMB (Server Message Block) file shares.
* Static application security testing (SAST) can detect this issue by examining dependencies and configuration.
- Broken Access Control
Inappropriately configured or missing restrictions on authenticated users permit them to gain access to unauthorized functionality or data, such as accessing other user’s accounts, viewing sensitive documents, and altering data and access rights.
* Penetration testing is vital for detecting non-functional access controls; other testing methods only detect where access controls are missing.
- Security Misconfiguration
This risk refers to incorrect implementation of mechanisms intended to keep application data safe, such as error messages containing sensitive information (information leakage), misconfiguration of security headers and not updating or patching systems, frameworks, and components.
* Dynamic application security testing (DAST) can identify misconfigurations, such as leaky APIs.
- Cross-Site Scripting
Cross-site scripting (XSS) flaws provide attackers the capability to inject client-side scripts into the application, for example, to redirect users to malicious websites.
* Programmers can be trained to prevent cross-site scripting with best coding best practices, such as encoding data and input validation.
- Insecure deserialization
Insecure deserialization flaws can enable an attacker to execute code within the application remotely, tamper with it, delete serialized objects, elevate privileges and perform injection attacks.
* Application security tools can find deserialization flaws, but penetration testing is frequently required to validate the problem.
- Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Developers often do not realize which open source and third-party components are in their applications, making it difficult to update components when new vulnerabilities are discovered. Attackers can take advantage of an insecure component to take over the server or steal sensitive data.
* Software composition analysis performed at the same time as static analysis can detect insecure versions of components.
- Insufficient Logging and Monitoring
The time taken to identify a breach is frequently measured in weeks or months. Inadequate logging and ineffective integration with security incident response systems allow attackers to pivot to other systems and maintain persistent threats.
* Think like an attacker and use pen testing to find out if you have adequate monitoring; inspect your logs after pen-testing.
We have a team of security experts with knowledge of application security, policies, procedures, guidelines, and ready to assist product companies in securing the application. Please feel free to connect with us at email@example.com.
The fact that the dynamic rise of the internet has brought the world closer but also at the same time, it has left us with various kinds of security threats. To ensure the confidentiality and integrity of valuable information of a corporate network from outside threats and attacks, we must have some strong mechanism which is why this firewall comes into the picture.
What is a Firewall?
A firewall is a type of cyber-security tool that is used to filter traffic on a network. Firewalls can be used to segregate network nodes from external traffic sources, internal traffic sources, or even specific applications. Firewalls can be software, hardware, or cloud-based, with each type of firewall having its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
The primary goal of a firewall is to block malicious traffic requests and data packets while allowing legitimate traffic through.
It can be compared with a security guard standing at the entrance of a president’s home. He/She keeps an eye on everyone and physically checks every person who wishes to enter the house. It won’t allow a person to enter if anyone is carrying a harmful object like a knife, gun, etc. Likewise, even if the person doesn’t possess any banned object but appears suspicious, the guard can still prevent that person’s entry.
Top 5 types of firewalls
Firewall types can be segregated into several different categories based on their general structure and method of operation. Here are the top 5 types of firewalls:
- Packet filtering firewall
- Circuit-level gateway
- Stateful inspection firewall
- Application-level gateway (aka proxy firewall)
- Next-generation firewall (NGFW)
Packet-filtering firewalls basically are the oldest type of firewall architecture that creates a checkpoint at a traffic router or switch. The firewall performs a simple check of the data packets which are coming through the router, inspecting information such as the destination IP address, packet type, port number without opening up the packet to inspect its contents.
The good thing about these firewalls is that they don’t require exclusive access to large amounts of data. This means they don’t have a huge impact on system performance and are relatively simple. However, they are also relatively easy to bypass compared to firewalls with more robust inspection capabilities.
Another schematic firewall type that is meant to quickly and easily approve or deny traffic without consuming significant computing resources, circuit-level gateways work by verifying the transmission control protocol (TCP) handshake which is designed to make sure that the session the packet is from is legitimate.
While exceedingly resource-efficient, these firewalls do not check the packet itself. By any chance, if a packet held malware, but had the right TCP handshake, it would pass right through. That’s why circuit-level gateways are not enough to protect your business by themselves.
Stateful Inspection Firewalls
Stateful inspection firewalls combine both packet inspection technology and TCP handshake verification to create a level of protection bigger than either of the previous two architectures could provide alone.
However, these firewalls do put more exertion on computing resources which may slow down the transfer of legitimate packets compared to the other solutions.
Proxy Firewalls (Application-Level Gateways/Cloud Firewalls)
Proxy firewalls operate at the application layer to filter incoming traffic between your network and the traffic source—hence, the name “application-level gateway.” These firewalls are delivered via a cloud-based solution or another proxy device. Instead of letting traffic connect directly, the proxy firewall first establishes a connection to the source of the traffic and inspects the incoming data packet.
This security check is similar to the stateful inspection firewall in that it looks at both the packet and at the TCP handshake protocol. Likewise, proxy firewalls may also perform deep-layer packet inspections, checking the actual contents of the information packet to verify that it contains no malware.
Once the security check is complete, and the packet is approved to connect to the destination, the proxy sends it off. This creates an extra layer of separation between the client and the individual devices on your network, obscuring them to create additional anonymity and protection for your network.
If there’s one drawback to proxy firewalls, it’s that they can create a significant slowdown because of the extra steps in the data packet transferal process.
Most recently released firewall products are being touted as “next-generation” architectures. Nonetheless, there is not as much consensus on what makes a firewall truly next-gen.
Few common features of next-generation firewall architectures include deep-packet inspection (checking the actual contents of the data packet), TCP handshake checks, and surface-level packet inspection. Next-generation firewalls may incorporate other technologies as well, such as intrusion prevention systems (IPSs) that work to automatically stop attacks against your network.
Choosing the ideal firewall begins with understanding the architecture and functions of the private network being protected but also calls for understanding the different types of firewalls and firewall policies that are most effective for the organization.
Whichever of the types of firewalls you choose, keep in mind that a misconfigured firewall can, in some ways, be worse than no firewall at all because it lends the threatening impression of security while providing little or none.
Cloud computing offers many benefits to the organization, but these benefits are likely to be undetermined by the failure to ensure appropriate information security and privacy protection when using cloud services. The aim to provide practical reference and help organizations information technology and business decision-makers to analyze information security of cloud computing.
When considering a move to cloud computing, we should have a clear understanding of security benefits and risks associated with it.
Services are segregated in 3 categories
- Infrastructure as a service(IaaS)
- Platform as a service(PaaS)
- Software as a service(SaaS)
There are a number of risks associated with cloud computing that must be addressed.
Loss of governance ownership
In a public cloud deployment, customers give authority to cloud computing providers
over a number of issues that may occur, which may affect the security and privacy of sensitive data. Yet cloud service agreements may not offer a commitment to resolve such issues as a part of the cloud service provider thus leaving gaps in security and defenses.
Responsibility for aspects of security and privacy is shared between the cloud service provider and customer, due to this there is a possibility of sensitive information that may remain unguarded, hence there is failure to allocate responsibilities to cloud providers and customers clearly. This split of responsibilities vary on cloud service model used like(IaaS, SaaS)
Authentication and Authorization
Despite the fact that sensitive cloud information can be accessed from anywhere, there is a serious need for a strong authentication and authorization algorithm for identity management to access the data. As there are employees, contractors, partners, and customers. And the data access layer of each category is different. Due to this reason Authentication and authorization becomes a critical concern.
Handling security incidents
The detection, reporting of subsequent management is outsourced to cloud service providers. And these incidents impact the customer. To resolve this Notification rules need to be negotiated clearly in cloud service agreement so that customers are not unaware or should be informed in an unacceptable delay
Traditionally application was protected by security solutions knowing all physical and virtual configurations, and in trusted zones. outsourcing this responsibility of security infrastructure to cloud service providers, reconsideration of security measures over the network should be done by applying more controls to the application at the user level.
The same level of security measures should be applied at cloud by cloud service providers.
The major concerns can be releasing personal or sensitive data, or to bear loss or unavailability of data. It is important for cloud service customers to check the data handling process of cloud service providers. This problem is worse in the situation of multiple data transfer which may result in a lack of ownership transparency in data processing.
Personal data regulation
It is common in most of the jurisdiction that personal data must be treated according to respective rules and regulations of the jurisdiction. This is something beyond the protection of personal data as well as it involves rights to, inspect, correct or delete the data and in some cases data to be transferred from one location to another. Any cloud service using personal data should meet this requirement and at the same time data should be secured
Malicious behaviors of insiders
Damage caused by malicious action of authorities working inside an organization can be substantial, given the access and authorization, this risk is compounded in a cloud computing environment. And this activity may occur from both customer organizations or cloud service provider organizations.
This could be caused by hardware, software, or any network communication failures.
Lack of portability
Dependency on cloud service providers could lead customers to be tied to the service provider. This causes a lack of portability and lack of portability poses a risk of service unavailability in case any change requests occur in an application.
Insecure or incomplete data deletion
The termination of a contract with a provider may not result in the deletion of the customer’s data from the provider’s and providers’ third-party systems. Backup copies of data usually exist, and maybe mixed on the same media with other customers’ data, making it difficult to selectively erase. thus represents a higher risk to the customer.
Analyzing the above-mentioned risk parameter for cloud security for migrating an application or moving data on a cloud service provider will help to minimize the risk of surface attacks and avoid substantial risks caused by data loss.
DevOps provides an environment with great potential to enhance security. Practices such as collaboration, continuous testing, automation better feedback loops, provides an opportunity to integrate security as a component of the DevOps processes.
Mostly, a wide range of security flaws and risks exist in the cloud environment, containers, and other resources developers rely on when making applications. This includes the third-party code, tools, networks, and other components of the development systems. Without proper tools, control, and protection, these areas can lead to unstable and insecure applications.
Some factors that increase vulnerabilities include:
- Wrong configurations and weakness in containers
- Insecure in-house and third-party code, privilege exposures, etc.
- Security flaws in the scripts or CI/CD tools
- Malicious insiders
- Insecure infrastructure and employee behavior.
Many common DevOps practices inherently lend themselves to providing a development and delivery pipeline that can improve your overall security posture.
Three biggest risks to IT security are as follows:
- Human error
- Lack of process
- External threats
DevOps can positively impact all three of these major risk factors, without negatively impacting the stability or reliability of the core business network.
Best DevOps practices to boost your security
Here, is a list of the top five DevOps practices and tooling that can help boost overall security when incorporated directly into your end-to-end continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline:
- Security test automation
- Configuration and patch management
- Continuous monitoring
- Identity management
Collaboration and understanding your security requirements
Many of us are required to adopt a security policy. It may be in the form of a corporate security policy, a customer security policy, or a set of compliance standards (ex. SOX, HIPAA, etc). Even if you are not mandated to use a specific policy or regulating standard, we all still want to ensure we follow the best practices in securing our systems and applications. The key is to identify your sources of security requirements information and, collaborate early so they can be incorporated into the overall solution.
Security test automation
Whether you are building a brand new solution or upgrading an existing solution, there likely are several security considerations to integrate. Due to iterative agile development, handling all security at once in a “big bang” approach likely will result in project delays. To be certain that projects keep moving, a layered approach often can be helpful to ensure you are continuously building additional security layers into your pipeline as you progress from development to a live product. Security test automation can ensure you have quality gates throughout your deployment pipeline giving immediate feedback to stakeholders on a security standpoint and allowing for quick remediation early in the pipeline.
In traditional development, servers/instances are equipped and developers are able to work on the systems. To make sure servers are equipped and managed using consistent, repeatable, and reliable patterns it’s critical to ensure you have a strategy for configuration management. The key is to be certain you can reliably guarantee and manage consistent settings across your environments.
Similar to the concerns with configuration management, you need to make sure you have a method to quickly and reliably patch your systems. Missing patches are a common cause of exploited vulnerabilities including malware attacks. Being able to swiftly deliver a patch across a large number of systems can drastically reduce your overall security exposures.
Make certain you have monitoring in place across all environments with transparent feedback is important so it can alert you quickly of potential breaches or security issues. It is important to identify your monitoring needs across the infrastructure and application and then take benefits of some of the tooling that exists to quickly identify, isolate, and remediate potential issues before they become vulnerable. Most of your monitoring strategy also should include the ability to automatically collect and analyze logs. The analysis of running logs can help identify exposures quickly and compliance activities can become extremely expensive if they are not automated early.
DevOps strategies allow us to integrate early with security experts which increase the level of security tests and automation to enforce quality gates for security and provide better mechanisms for ongoing security management and compliance activities.
Incorporating security practices into your DevOps processes boosts in creating an effective security layer for the environment and applications. This, in the future, ensures security and compliance in a more proactive and efficient way.
Microservices is an architecture in which all the components of the system are put into individual components that can be built, deployed, and scaled individually. Microservices can serve as an elegant way to break the shackles of monolithic architectures when building or deploying applications. Apart from pioneers such as Netflix, which began exploring this territory a few years ago, chances are microservices are something relatively new for your organization. Protection against cyber-attacks illustrates an even bigger unknown for many.
Let me explain to you a simple analogy
You must have seen how bees build their honeycomb by orienting hexagonal wax cells. In the first instance, they start with a small section using various materials and continue to build a large beehive out of it. These cells form a pattern resulting in a strong structure that holds together a particular section of the beehive. Here, each cell is independent of the other but it also corresponds with the other cells. This means that damage to one cell doesn’t damage the other cells so bees can recreate these cells without impacting the complete beehive.
In this above diagram, each hexagonal shape represents an individual service component. Similar to the working of bees, each agile team builds an individual service component with the available frameworks and the hand-pick technology stack. Just as in a beehive, each service component forms a robust microservice architecture to provide better scalability. Besides, issues with each service component can be handled individually by the agile team with minimal or no impact on the entire application.
you are developing a large/complex application
you need to deliver it rapidly, frequently and reliably
over a long period of time
the Microservice Architecture is often a good choice
Microservices Security – Presumably not what you think it is
Microservices and container security are sometimes incorrectly referred to interchangeably, even though they are two different things. This may be due, in part, to how most enterprises run microservices on containers.
The incertitude between containers and microservices might also have a lot to do with how container security protocols can help to protect against potential vulnerabilities of microservices within containers.
It would be easier if there were a simple algorithm on how to secure a microservice. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. However, there are some practices that can be used as a guide on the way to securing microservices.
1. Use TLS protocols for all APIs
Any application consisting of microservices needs an API as a key. If there are many independent API services, this software might require some additional tools to manage those APIs.
So, what you definitely need is access control. That will provide you secure authentication and authorization. There are some frequently used servers that allow administrators and developers to attain tokens for API authentication.
You can also use third-layer-security protocols for all the APIs to make sure that the system is protected from practicable attacks. All APIs that might be exposed must have an HTTPS certificate. One more last but not the least essential element is to encrypt all the communication between client and server with transport layer security (TLS).
2. Profile all your APIs due to their deployment zones
Malicious software, such as bots often aims at exposing the capabilities of the service too many more recipients than required. Technically, only authorized users are supposed to have access to them. To avoid unnecessary exposure, developers can label all the APIs to ensure who should be able to access them.
The API topology goes as follows:
- Corporate Zone – private traffic.
- Hybrid Zone – minimal deployments can be recorded at the data center.
- DMZ – a zone for traffic originating from the Internet.
- Ethernet – the app is vulnerable to those outside the data center.
There is also a process called network segmentation. This allows developers to perform partition of traffic and illustrate different content to different user segments.
3. Use OpenID or OAuth 2.0
The main task of these tools is to allow the developer to process user tokens. OAuth 2.0 protocol particularly simplifies the process of securing microservices.
It is an authorization framework that allows users to procure admittance to a resource from the resource server. This is done using tokens.
There are 4 different roles that OAuth 2.0 can play in microservices security patterns: resource server, resource owner, authorization server, and client. These tokens are accountable for access to the resource prior to its expiry time.
There are also refresh tokens that are in charge of requesting new access after the original token has expired.
4. Don’t show sensitive data as plain text
Plain text is easy to read, copy, and overwrite by people and machines. While working on securing the personally identifying information you need to make sure that it is not being displayed as a plain text. All the credentials – passwords and usernames should be masked during the storing in logs or records.
However, adding extra encryption above TLS or HTTP won’t add protection for traffic traveling through the wire. It can only help a little bit at the point where TLS terminates, so it can protect sensitive data from accidentally dumping into a request log.
Additional encryption might help you protect data against those attacks that aim at accessing the log data but it will not help with those which try accessing the memory of the application servers or the main data storage.
5. Use Multi-factor Authentication
It is safer to use a multi-factor authentication system when a user comes to the website and you need to authorize that user. Most apps use two-factor authentication, which requires a username and password as well as another form of identity verification.
By using multi-factor authentication (MFA), you offer your users better protection by default as some aspects are harder to steal than others. For example, using biometrics for authentication takes microservice security on a whole new level.
6. Protect Public APIs From Denial-Of-Service-Attacks
It’s not a rare situation for applications to get sabotaged by Denial-Of-Service-Attacks. Deliberately those are attempts of sending an overwhelming number of service messages with the aim of causing website failure. Such attacks can present themselves in many different shapes. They can also target the entire platform and network stack out of which most of the DoS attacks concentrate on volumetric flooding of the network pipe.
There is a way to prevent huge numbers of API requests causing the DoS attack or other problems with API services. You need to set a limit or restriction on how many requests in a given period of time can be sent to each API.
If the number exceeds the limit, you can block the access from a particular API for some reasonable interval, and also make sure to analyze the payload for threats.
7. Use Encryption Before Persisting The Data
We have already discussed additional encryption of sensitive data instead of showing it as a plain text. Another option that is highly recommended is that you encrypt the user data before persisting it.
You can also adopt some strong cryptographic algorithms such as RSA 2048+ or Blowfish. They make data transmission much safer. Remember to make sure that the algorithms are compliant with industry standards.
Microservices security requires non-trivial or ready-made solutions. We categorized some of the best practices that might help you with the security of your applications.
Nevertheless, remember that when it comes to security, there is always room and demand for innovation. It’s always better to use cutting edge tools and technologies than sticking with old-fashioned approaches and hoping for the best.
As this is the challenging time for both the employees and employers due to COVID-19, the demand for transitioning users to full-time remote workers is striking.