Three Strategies to Avoid Becoming the Next Capital One

Friday, August 30, 2019

George Gerchow

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Recently, Capital One discovered a breach in their system that compromised Social Security numbers of about 140,000 credit card customers along with 80,000 bank account numbers. The breach also exposed names, addresses, phone numbers and credit scores, among other data.

What makes this breach even more disconcerting is Capital One has been the poster child for cloud adoption and most, if not all, of their applications are hosted in the cloud. They were one of the first financial companies - a very technologically conservative industry -- to adopt the cloud and have always maintained the cloud has been a critical enabler of their business success by providing incredible IT agility and competitive strengths.

So, does this mean companies should rethink their cloud adoption? In two words: hell o! The agility and economic value of cloud are intact and accelerating.  Leading edge companies will continue to adopt the cloud and SaaS technologies. The breach does, however, put a finer point on what it means to manage security in the cloud.

So how do you avoid becoming the next Capital One? At Sumo Logic, we are fully in the cloud and work with thousands of companies who have (or are planning to) adopt the cloud. Our experience enables us to offer three strategies to our enterprise CISO/security teams:

1. Know the “shared security” principles in the cloud environment.

The cloud runs on a shared security model. If you are using the cloud and building apps in the cloud, you should know that your app security is shared between you (the application owner) and the cloud platform. .

Specifically, the cloud security model means that:

  • The cloud vendor manages and controls the host operating system, the virtualization layer, and the physical security of its facilities.
  • To ensure security within the cloud, the customer configures and manages the security controls for the guest operating system and other apps (including updates and security patches), as well as for the security group firewall. The customer is also responsible for encrypting data in-transit and at-rest.
  • Have a strong IAM strategy, access control and logging are key to stopping inseider threats
  • Consider a Bug Bounty program, this was an essential point in what Capital One did right to identify the breach.

Hence, running in the cloud does not absolve you of managing the security of your application or its infrastructure, something all cloud enterprises should be aware of. It is also a good time to step up you security to invite ethical hacking on your services. At Sumo Logic, we have been running Bounties on our platform for two years using both HackOne and BugCrowd to open the kimono and gain trust from our consumers that we are doing everything possible to secure their data in the cloud.

Your call to action: Know the model. Know what you are responsible for (at the end of the day, almost everything!).

2. Know and use the cloud native security services

Some elements of cloud infrastructure and systems are opaque -- all cloud providers provide native security services to help you get control of access/security in the cloud. It’s imperative enterprises in the cloud use these foundational services. In Sumo Logic’s third annual State of the Modern App Report, we analyzed the usage of these services in AWS and saw significant usage of these services.

Your call to action: Implement the cloud platform security services. They are your foundational services and help implement your basic posture.

3. Get a “cloud” SIEM to mind the minder

A security information event management (SIEM) solution is like a radar system pilots and air traffic controllers use. Without one, enterprise IT is flying blind in regard to security. Today’s most serious threats are distributed, acting in concert across multiple systems and using advanced evasion techniques to avoid detection. Without a SIEM, attacks are allowed to germinate and grow into emergency incidents with significant business impact.

Cloud security is radically different from traditional SIEM’s. There are many key differences:

  • The architecture of cloud apps (microservices, API based) is very different from traditional apps
  • The surface area of cloud applications (and therefore security incidents) is very large
  • The types of security incidents (malware, ransomware etc.) in the cloud could also be very different from traditional data center attacks

While you consider a SIEM, consider one focused on new threats in the cloud environment, built in the cloud, for the cloud.

So, there you have it -- three strategies to preventing catastrophic cloud security issues. These strategies will not fix everything, but they are the best starting points to improve your security posture as you move to the cloud.

About the author: As Sumo Logic's Chief Security Officer, George Gerchow brings over 20 years of information technology and systems management expertise to the application of IT processes and disciplines. His background includes the security, compliance, and cloud computing disciplines.

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