SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Securing assets and applications in the cloud

Mon 3 Jul 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

More organisations in Hong Kong are adopting and recognising the strength of cloud. One of the main attractiveness of cloud for Hong Kong companies is the convenience, efficiency and cost savings. According to the Cloud Readiness Index released by Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) last year, Hong Kong and other Asia Pacific countries such as Singapore and Australia ranked above markets compared to United States and United Kingdom. Hong Kong in particular claimed top spot with a jump of 4 ranks, scoring CRI of 78.1, while Singapore takes second with CRI score of 76.7.

With this, the debate surrounding the security of cloud computing, specifically whether data was more secure in the cloud or not, has for the most part been settled. A growing number of organizations now view the cloud as secure, and in many cases, more so than an on-premises deployment.

Beyond that, as each of the public cloud vendors point out, security in the cloud is a shared responsibility – with the organization as the application owner being responsible for protecting applications, the OS, supporting infrastructure, and other assets running IN the cloud.

From a security standpoint, public cloud vendors’ management consoles are a key weak point and consequently an attractive target for an attacker, often via a phishing attempt. As such, it’s important to lock down and secure privileged credentials in a digital vault to secure the management console. As such, the enterprise’s responsibilities, specifically the functions above the hypervisor, include securing the privileged credentials used by applications and scripts accessing other applications and assets, such the enterprise’s customer database.

Unfortunately these credentials are all too often hardcoded. This is a particularly troubling vulnerability as there can be a large number of hardcoded credentials used throughout cloud and hybrid environments.

Hard-coding and embedding credentials in the code or a script can initially make them easy to use – but this represents a significant vulnerability because attackers or malicious insiders can also easily access them, especially if the credentials are in clear text. But, even worse, when credentials are hard-coded or locally stored, they are nearly impossible to rotate, further making them a static and easy target for attackers.

The risk is real. As part of the DevOps process developers often share source code they’ve developed on code repositories such GitHub. While it’s part of the DevOps process, it’s an all too common example of how embedded passwords and credentials can become public if they’re hardcoded.

Even if the code is only saved in the enterprise’s internal code repositories – those passwords and credentials can easily be accessed by other developers and used either inadvertently or maliciously. It also becomes difficult, if not impossible, to fully identify which applications or scripts are interacting with other applications and other enterprise assets.

In the past, these mistakes might not have been so risky, exploitable and damaging within an on-premises environment. However, in a cloud environment, because of the rapid pace of change, the ability to quickly scale, and the tools being used, these vulnerabilities are amplified and can pose unacceptable levels of risk.

To minimize risk and follow best practices, enterprises should avoid hardcoding passwords and credentials used by applications and scripts, and instead, secure credentials in a secure digital vault and rotate them according to policy.

With this approach, just like with human users, enterprises can assign unique credentials to each application, code image or script, and then track, monitor and control access via a secure digital vault. Taking this approach, IT administrators will know which applications access resources such as a customer database. Also, when an application or script is retired, the administrator or script can simply turn off the credentials.

A core business benefit of cloud is elasticity – the ability to easily and instantaneously scale up and scale down the number of compute instances, or virtual servers, to meet the needs of the business at a specific point in time. With on-demand cloud computing, the business only pays for the compute, storage and other resources they use.

No human intervention is required. The cloud automation tools are either built-in as a capability of the public cloud vendor’s offerings, such as AWS Auto Scale, or as part of the orchestration and automation tools used with DevOps, such as Puppet, Chef, Ansible, etc.

On-demand computing in the cloud, enabled by the automation tools, is a huge business benefit, but it also presents challenges and new potential risks – when these new application instances are created and launched, they need privileges and credentials to access resources. The automation tools can provide the credentials, but these credentials also need to be secured.

Consequently, when a new application instance is created, as the compute environment dynamically scales, a best practice is to immediately secure the permissions and credentials assigned to the new instance in the secure digital vault. This ensures that the credentials can immediately be monitored, managed, secured and rotated according to policy. When the compute instances are retired, the associated credentials can also be removed. This is achieved with integrations between the various automation tools and the secure digital vault.

Whether the enterprise is fully in the cloud with IaaS or PaaS or is migrating to the cloud, it is critical to ensure applications, scripts and other assets use secure passwords and privileged credentials to access other applications and assets in the cloud.

Article by Jeffrey Kok, Director of Pre-Sales, Asia Pacific and Japan, CyberArk.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
VPN
Palo Alto Networks says ZTNA 1.0 not secure enough
Palo Alto Networks is urging the industry to move to Zero Trust Network Access 2.0 because previous versions have major gaps in security protection.
Story image
Ransomware
Ransomware hits 65% of organisations in Singapore
Next-generation cybersecurity firm Sophos has released its annual survey and review of real-world ransomware experiences in the State of Ransomware 2022.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Physical security systems guide the hybrid workplace to new heights
Organisations are reviewing how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect and enhance their business operations in unique ways.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock releases Autonomous Access solution powered by AI
ForgeRock has officially introduced ForgeRock Autonomous Access, a new solution that uses AI to prevent identity-based cyber attacks and fraud.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ransomware
Zerto unveils updates to ransomware recovery capabilities
"Organisations face increased risks from the volume and sophistication of ransomware attacks prevalent today."
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Phishing
KnowBe4 celebrates reaching 50,000 customers worldwide
KnowBe4 has reached the milestone of 50,000 customers, adding nearly 2,500 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Workato
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
DDoS
NT selects Radware to improve telecom cyber defenses
National Telecom Public Company (NT) has chosen Radware to strengthen the cyber defences of its international telecommunications infrastructure.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Cybersecurity
ThoughtLab reveals 10 best practices for cybersecurity in 2022
The benchmarking study reveals best practices that can reduce the probability of a material breach and the time it takes to find and respond to those that happen.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.