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Securely Migrate Critical Applications to the Cloud

By October 8, 2018February 25th, 2019No Comments7 min read

More and more networked devices are used in different industries. The evolution towards cloud-based services and systems is accelerating. In principle, if something is part of the IoT, then it is inevitably present in a cloud

Unfortunately, not all service providers meet the necessary security criteria. There are many examples where critical infrastructures have been successfully hacked and valuable data stolen.

The assumption that all cloud platforms have the same structure is a mistake that can lead to serious failures. The IoT is intentionally a relatively open network architecture so devices can be added, removed and replaced. In it data (often unencrypted) are freely transmitted between devices that were not necessarily fully authenticated. Access to the network is not necessarily secure, unless the infrastructure has been designed with security in mind right from the start – security for each and every device on the network.

Understand the threat

Cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated. To underestimate it has become even more dangerous. Instead of a frontal attack today, they often use multi-vector attacks and launch volumetric attacks or attacks at the application level and protocol level continuously or simultaneously. The systems must be prepared to ward off these attacks, regardless of their origin and approach.

There are reports showing that multi-vector attacks increased by more than 300% between 2015 and 2016. This proves that they are highly effective and difficult to defend against them. Attacks are changing and evolving. So it is logical that the defense mechanisms must change and evolve. This calls for a platform architecture that supports secure updates and patches throughout the lifecycle.

Security at every level

The IoT is a dynamic and complex network of devices and services coming from different vendors. The ability to connect them in this way is made possible by the standards underlying the technology. Although these elements also include security elements, their use is not mandatory.

A cloud storage platform can bring the IoT into some order. As a centralized resource, all devices and services that make up a network with critical infrastructure can be physically hosted on this platform, as is common practice today. This is the opportunity to put internet security in the heart of the infrastructure. However, this requires a platform that is prioritized throughout its design security.

A typical service has a life cycle that starts with a concept and then followed by a design. If this works stably, everything is implemented. Maintenance is required throughout the life cycle, updates and data must be shared. At each of these levels, there are attack points that hackers would love to exploit. Cloud platforms must take this fact into account and do everything possible to mitigate security risks. This means putting security at the center of the solution.

Confidence is based on all security and the same is true in the IoT. IT architecture must focus on providing comprehensive protection against threats to current threats and attacks, including the development of network function virtualization (NFV) to host critical infrastructure applications. Which may only develop in the future.

This means that every aspect of the product family should be designed to be secure, beginning with the first line of code. For example, the critical parts (such as the operating system, the kernel, and all kernel modules) are cryptographically should be signed when the final build builds. Any attempt to manipulate the code can be detected at any time. But security starts long before that time.

Code reviews are required during the development phase. If ready for approval, it should be subjected to rigorous testing. This is done using a third-party security tool. This is to identify vulnerabilities and render them harmless, including configuration vulnerabilities or possible attack vectors.

Only after all possible vulnerabilities have been detected and resolved, the product will be cryptographically signed and released. After installation and during the first boot process, all important parts of the system to be checked bit-by-bit by low-level system firmware. This ensures that the system received is identical to the shipped system. The validation should take place by means of cryptographic signatures with public keys that comply with the so-called UEFI Secure Boot process and X.509 signatures.

But these security measures are not everything. On-site, the installation process stores the customer’s TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates in the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) of the hardware platform. TLS certificates are used during system administration sessions. By storing the certificates in a TPM, they are separated from the actual hardware and provide further protection against access manipulation that has been unauthorized at the hardware level. This means that security threats based on physical access to the system are a thing of the past.

As a platform for NFV, Cloud hosts virtual machines (VMs) provide the highest security levels. Because VMs are started by the system, they are assigned their own TPMs. These stores and protect the important data that is relevant to them. These are completely isolated from the underlying platform, which establishes another level of security. The architecture should also support the secure migration of any data stored in TPMs during VM Live Migration.

Runtime Security

A wealth of additional security measures integrated into the platform provide further protection at runtime. These include built-in network filters, access control lists (ACLs), firewalls, and QoS (Quality of Service) policy controls. These measures protect both the platform and the services running against threats originating from inside or outside the network.

Platform Providers are encouraged to consult relevant industry security forums such as United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) to keep up to date with any reported vulnerabilities that may affect services that are hosted by the United States Platform running. Issuing updates and alerts whenever a potential threat is detected.

Holistic view on security

As the benefits of cloud-hosted critical infrastructures persuade more and more businesses, governments and other organizations to switch to “as a service” platforms, a holistic view of security becomes even more important.

There are no easy solutions. Establishing security only at the point of use is not enough. Security must be deeply rooted in the hardware, software and design philosophy of the vendor. Security is a multi-faceted challenge that can not be accomplished with a single solution. While this may protect a system from some threats, it is not comprehensive enough.

The only way to combat the threat of cybercrime is to integrate security from the first line of code and ensure it throughout the development process.

Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™  services and solutions in how we can help your business.