Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie, Andreas Grabner, Janakiram MSV, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Analyzing the Top 10 Benefits of Unified Security

Providing collaborative intelligence from the cloud

Of all the strategies and tactics available to prevent breaches, deter data leakage and theft, control access and secure beyond the so-called network perimeter, the one that is emerging as an achievable and affordable best practice is that of unified security from the cloud.

But if you look across the web, you will no doubt come across various versions of what constitutes “unified,” what is “protected,” and, what is “security from the cloud?” Luckily this means that the concept of unified security from the cloud is becoming more and more of a best practice. In general, the practice of unified security is the centralization of all security functions under one umbrella across the enterprise. This means more than ensuring data encryption. It means more than access policies. It means more than intrusion detection, malware blocking, data review. It’s more than ensuring compliance to the various regulatory bodies that provide general guidelines. It is the sum of all these things… and more.

So what is unified security? In short, it is an enterprise-powered tactical strategy that not only centralizes various security toolsets, but creates the seamless means to create cooperative functionality between them all. And as a cloud-based security initiative, this creates several tangible benefits that will allow any-sized company to upgrade their protection, but expand their protection beyond the network-centric traditional models of perimeter security.

To properly expand visibility, unified security is typically comprised of several solutions including system log archiving (the collection and storage of all online activity), identity management (administration of users, passwords and applications), access management (enforcement of identity rules and channeled access to data) and SIEM (the  intelligence that correlates and contextualizes all activity).

True unified security is also more than the solutions it comprises; it includes the analysis, management, and the implementation of access and intelligence policies that transform it from passive to proactive and immediately responsive. And by developing and managing these security features, solutions and policies from the cloud is more than the obvious cost savings, it allows for the exponential expansion of  real time visibility over a broader landscape and facilitates a more secure transaction compatibility with the way modern enterprises exchange, process and share  information.

To that end, the following are 10 benefits of implementing unified security from the cloud.

10. Right size as the situation dictates – In today’s business landscape, change is often fast and evolutionary. Being able to keep up is a major challenge for IT and IT security. One of the hallmarks of a cloud-based implementation is the flexibility and agility to adjust its scope quickly and without the oppressive costs and time of a consultant or IT service. Considering the hoops of fire and Herculean strength needed to expand coverage to a new department or division, on-premise security initiatives may require the purchase of new expensive servers, resource-heavy reconfiguration and re-prioritization of core competency projects.   With the cloud’s natural economies of scale, these costs are already absorbed and changes are more fluid and immediate. And with unified security, it’s more than just applying a sensor or agent on a server to collect new data. The changes to right size affect more than a single solution, —you must consider the constant fluctuation of change within an enterprise-the ebb and flow of staffing, the adjustment of new, updated and retired applications, and all the moving parts that come with incorporating vendors, suppliers and customers into the permission and protection mix. Unified security from the cloud creates the freedom and necessary speed to evolve with a company’s changing situation on an as-needed basis without an Act of Congress while still ensuring the adjustments across all the entire security landscape.

9. Make compliance easier: One of the substantial drains of time and energy go into the process of proving to various regulatory bodies that various slices of data are free from prying keyboards. Some companies go so far as dedicating personnel to simply comb through logs and find and report upon instances of breach and questionable activities. As I’ve insisted many times before, this practice is akin to looking for the horse in a gigantic haystack long after its left the barn (no matter how often sys-logs are reviewed, it is done in a rear-view mirror. These are events that have already occurred. And the damage is already done).

When evaluating what organizations like PCI and HIPAA require, the scope is more than just continuous monitoring (see blog regarding continuous monitoring satisfies compliance, but not security). They require proof of compliance for everything from firewall configuration to vulnerability scans, from data storage protocols to the development of identity authentication, password management and access privileges. I've identified about 20 common critical controls that are typically required by all compliance agencies. Unified security consolidates all the capabilities so that the reporting is considerably more streamline and accessible. Instead of four or five solutions each requiring four or five reports, logins and the physical coordination, collection and review for reporting, compliance is achieved by an automated model (see the white paper Mapping Compliance Requirements). It is the multiple collaborative and concurrent layers of security that support the automations, create better accuracy and significantly reduce the time previously dedicated to compliance reporting.

8. Easier, faster to deploy and find ROI. Forrester noted that 73% of major software implementations don’t get past phase 1. Whether a result of scope creep, budget issues or flagging executive buy-in, the promise of ROI for on premise security initiatives are difficult; not to mention the drag on IT productivity and lack of measurable results. And it’s those results we depend on to drive ROI and solve the business need (see the article: Is your security initiative “one inch into a mile”? ) It’s no secret that way too many companies view security solutions as a “nice to have” luxury or a grudgingly purchased cost center. But this is a different business environment than even that of 5 years ago; beyond the drivers of compliance and industry required governance IT security must be built into the fabric of every online facet of the business. Ignore reality at your own peril.

Assuming that security investments are not simply a luxury, the question remains how do you find ROI in a prevention initiative? On-premise point solutions are expensive. There’s no getting around that fact. Installing them is expensive. Configuring them is expensive. Maintaining them is expensive. In fact, Gartner estimates the annual cost to own and manage traditional on-premise security software applications can be 4X the initial purchase. Each and every move is a significant bite out of the any potential ROI gain in productivity. It might be more than 3 years before the investment starts paying off in any tangible way. Now the cloud, especially the unified security configuration, removes all of the waiting time. As a multi-tenant deployment, there is no hardware to buy, no software to install. Your complex, planned multi-phased, multi-year rollout can be fused a single week (sometimes “installation-to-insight” in minutes). Therefore the cloud version is providing the immediate benefits and immediate returns. Moreover, unified cloud security removes the complexity in configuration, installation and deployment because it is already built and easily customized to fit any sized organization.

We’ll deal with cost later on, but in terms of ROI, because there are no capital expenditures and the ability to keep investment minimized and output maximized means you can realign resources based on immediate business needs. The ROI is the elimination of negative impact—no compliance fines, no trust-busting breaches while waiting for the system to be fully functional, reduced risks and liabilities may decrease various insurance costs, no employees slipping away unnoticed with a database of your customers, no having to put out malware fires, no excessive time management conflicts from multi-sourced coordination, no de-centralized shadow IT, etc..

7. Better safeguard against BYOD: It may be the buzzword of the moment, but it is a trend that will continue to proliferate. Employees are increasingly using their own potentially-unsanctioned devices (smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices) to access your network, applications and data. (Read the blog “The Genie, the bottle and BYOD).  Users love the mobility and the immediacy of these devices, but forget these devices are just hand-held computers prone to the same intrusions, attacks, viruses and risks as the computers used in the office. The larger problem is many users don’t see that, so every time they sign on to your network or download an app, it creates a wider and wider vulnerability gap for the enterprise network. However, by implementing unified security (that includes access control and identity management), you can minimize what an employee (or supplier, partner or any other group) can see and what tools they can access. Additionally unified security policies can create an alert every time one of these unsanctioned devices tries to access the enterprise. Based on your protocols and administrative policies, the system can grant access or block for these mobile devices. It is one way in which identity management, access management; log management and SIEM work seamlessly together and prevent unwarranted access or careless usage issues.

6. Security-as-a-service offers continuous tribal knowledge (expertise) without adding headcount. One of the constant impediments to shrinking the vulnerability gap is recruiting and retaining the specific type of talent necessary to maintain an enterprise-level security initiative. But The MSPAlliance reports that the unemployment rate for such professionals is less than 1%--and the salary for these specialists has doubled in the past three years. Security-as-a-service is the “secret” value-add that accompanies a cloud-based deployment.  Having an expert that understands more than what a denial of service/brute force attack looks like can be invaluable; one that knows how to read in between the lines; that understands context and can trigger an alert or dismiss a possible threat as harmless—and to do it without any additional personnel costs to a company is a huge benefit.

We will be continuing this list next week with our entries of 5 through our number one benefit. However, in case you can’t wait, here’s a preview...

5. Control applications and who gets to use them

4. Know what’s happening faster, more completely

3. Real time actionable information

2. One single, centralized management component

1. More protection, less cost

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
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, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.
OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), sponsor of the IoTivity open source project, and AllSeen Alliance, which provides the AllJoyn® open source IoT framework, today announced that the two organizations’ boards have approved a merger under the OCF name and bylaws. This merger will advance interoperability between connected devices from both groups, enabling the full operating potential of IoT and representing a significant step towards a connected ecosystem.