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Jason Miller, Executive Editor for FederalNewsRadio, write in his article, “Agencies to justify not using cloud computing to OMB” that OMB “will require agencies to develop an alternative analysis discussing how they could use cloud computing for all major technology projects for the fiscal 2012 budget.” This is according to an internal budget documents obtained by FederalNewsRadio. The document details OMB’s plans for such high-profile initiatives such as data center consolidation and the use of cloud computing and cybersecurity spending.

Miller goes on to report that OMB will require “agencies launch a series of cloud computing pilots across the government in 2010 using the E-Government Fund.” In 2013, Miller reports, agencies must provide OMB “a complete alternatives analysis for mixed life cycle projects where agencies are spending new money-known as development, modernization and enhancement-and steady state or operations and maintenance funding for how they could move to cloud computing.”

Miller quotes a former government official as saying, “They are not saying use it, but are pushing us to look at it and do an analysis of alternatives and make a decision based on our business needs. They are pushing us to look at it, yet giving us the ability to decide whether it makes sense.”

How well does your organization understand cloud computing? How will security be handled? What can you do to prepare? During this time of tight budgets, maybe you do not have the funds and/or time to attend conferences and training events. Fortunately, presentations are being posted regularly to the web, allowing you to keep informed on technological challenges. For example, the ZISC Workshop on Security in Virtualized Environments and Cloud Computing, held September 10-11th in Zurich, recently posted all their presentations:

Welcome note Bernhard Plattner and Diego Zamboni
Talk 1: Not Every Cloud has a Silver Lining Gunter Ollmann, Damballa Inc., Atlanta GA, USA
Talk 2: Virtualization and Cloud Computing: Security’s Golden or Gilded Age Kevin Skapinetz, IBM Internet Security Systems, Atlanta GA, USA
Talk 3: Using virtualization technology for fault and intrusion tolerance Hans P. Reiser, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Talk 4: A survey of current security-related operating systems research Timothy Roscoe, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Talk 5: Of Cold Steam, Mist and Vapour: A View from the Inside of the Cloud Dirk Kuhlmann, HP Labs Bristol, UK
Talk 6: New Cloud Computing challenges: the security impact in the “social” world. Massimo Villari, University of Messina, Italy
Talk 7: Paradigms in virtualization based host security Tal Garfinkel, VMware Inc., Palo Alto, CA, USA / Stanford University, Palo Alto CA, USA
Talk 8: Cloud Computing and Security: a Googley Perspective Peter Dickman, Google Inc., Zurich, Switzerland
Talk 9: A NIST Perspective on Cloud Computing Tim Grance, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA
Talk 10: ENISA Risk Assessment of Cloud Computing – Preliminary Results Giles Hogben, ENISA, EU
Talk 11: Attack Graphs + Mechanically Generated Constraints Lee Badger, National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA
Wrap-up and end Bernhard Plattner and Diego Zamboni

Following NIST’s involvement in an area like cloud computing can help you judge the direction the government is heading. Tim Grance presented at the 5th Annual IT Security Automation Conference and Expo Presentations and the presentations have been made available. Grance presented on the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) (see my previous post “Standardization and Interoperability in Security” for additional information on SCAP). A cloud computing track consisting only of slides (no video) was also posted. If lack of video does not concern you, the following conferences have posted slides on cloud security:

If you prefer to listen and do not need to see slides, Tim Grance can be heard on Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect podcast, “Panel Discussion: Is Cloud Computing More or Less Secure than On-Premises IT?.” The discussion includes a panel of all stars from the cloud security community, including Glenn Brunette, distinguished engineer and chief security architect at Sun Microsystems and founding member of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA); Doug Howard, chief strategy officer of Perimeter eSecurity and president of USA.NET; Christofer Hoff, technical adviser at CSA and director of Cloud and Virtualization Solutions at Cisco Systems; and Dr. Richard Reiner, CEO of Enomaly. The podcast was recorded at the Open Group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in Toronto on July 20-22, 1009, along with:

For more video presentations on the cloud security, awhile back I posted “CERT, CERIAS, the Academy, and Google Video: Training Online.” Two other sources include the SecurityTube and O’Reilly Webcasts. Below are a few examples of the presentations available:

  • The Belgian Beer Lovers Guide to Cloud Security (Brucon 2009) Tutorial by Craig Balding at Brucon 2009: In this presentation Craig covers why talking about “cloud” is akin to walking into a Belgian bar and asking for “beer”; the common cloud architectures and their implications for you – the security dude; what the beer brewing Trappist Monks can teach us about cloud security; attacking clouds (aka getting free beer); and dealing with the hangover: cloud incident response & forensics.
  • Evolution of Security (Fsecure) Tutorial by F-Secure: an animated series on the various threats out there on the Internet and also talks about their state of the art AV (self promotion) ;-) They also talk about “cloud security” and how the next generation AV will be in the cloud and not isolated.
  • Cloud Security and Privacy by Tim Mather, Subra Kumaraswamy, Shahed Latif: discusses cloud computing’s SPI delivery model, and its impact on various aspects of enterprise information security (e.g., infrastructure, data, identity and access management, security management), privacy, and compliance. Security-as-a-Service and the impact of cloud computing on corporate IT is also discussed.
  • Architecting Applications for the Cloud by Jorge Noa: This presentation analyzes aspects of the Amazon EC2 IaaS cloud environment that differ from a traditional data center and introduces general best practices for ensuring data privacy, storage persistence, and reliable DBMS backup.
  • Cloud Computing: The Next Frontier for Open Source by Bernard Golden: discusses how the trends of open source and cloud computing reinforce one another, and why cloud computing is a significant driver of enterprise open source adoption.
  • Getting Started with Amazon Web Services by Cloud Security Deep Dive by Subra Kumaraswamy, Shahed Latif, Tim Mather: will take a deep dive into cloud security issues and focus on three specific aspects: (1) data security; (2) identity management in the cloud, and; (3) governance in the cloud (in the context of managing a cloud service provider with respect to security obligations). Each of these three topics will be covered in a 30 minute segment that will include a presentation and Q&A with the audience.
  • Cloudburst (Hacking 3D and Breaking Out of VMware) Blackhat 2009 by Kostya Kortchinsky: VMware products include implement a lot of functionality, and as such have a decent chance to include some bugs. CLOUDBURST is the combination of 3 of those found in the virtualized video device (more specifically the 3D code). Combined, these allow a user in a Guest to execute code on the Host. Since the virtualized device code is the same for all the branches of the products, this impacts Workstation, as well as Fusion or ESX. Immunity, Inc. will present the various vulnerabilities and the techniques used to exploit the bug reliably, even on platforms with ASLR or DEP such as Vista SP1. Once exploited, Immunity will demonstrate how to establish MOSDEF between the Host and Guest.
  • Virtualization: Resource Coupling and Security across the Stack by Dennis Moreau, Configuresoft: The session briefly addressed extension to the cloud and utility computing infrastructures to address how to use configuration and behavioral information to address the increased complexity of security, compliance and risk assessment in virtualized environments.

Other BruCON Security Conference (held September 18-19, 2009) videos are available at their vimeo channel. O’Reilly maintains on YouTube an O’Reilly Media Channel along with an area to sign up for future webcasts. Blackhat DC 2009 video, audio, whitepapers, and slides are also available. Content is ever changing, so keep checking the sites.

Remember that Vivek Kundra, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the United States of America, outlined as his team’s priorities:

  1. Innovation
  2. Lowering the cost of Government
  3. Transparency
  4. Engaging Citizens
  5. Ensuring a safe computing environment

In response, FedScoop! started hosting one event each quarter around these pillars. On October 14 at the Newseum, they did their first event bringing together executives in the White House and federal CIO’s, CTO’s, and decision-makers to talk about lowering the cost of government with technology. Check out the video of the Cyber Security Panel. Since one of the topics was cloud computing, FedScoop! scheduled a follow-up event. On December 9th, 2009, they hosted and posted the “Cloud Computing Shoot Out.”

FederalNewsRadio has posted a three part video series on secure cloud computing. The panelists include Jim Flyzik, President of the Flyzik Group; Henry Sienkiewicz, Technical Program Director, Computer Services, Defense Information Systems Agency; Ronald Bechtold, Army Architecture Integration Center at Headquarters, Department of the Army, Chief Information Office/G6; Curt Aubley, Chief Technology Officer CTO Operations & Next Generation Solutions, Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services; Dale Wickizer, Chief Technology Officer-Public Sector, NetApp, Inc.; and Aileen Black, Vice President of Public Sector VMware Inc.

CNET’s editor of Webware, Rafe Needleman and senir writer Stephen Shankland talked with Christofer Hoff on the Reporters’ Roundtable podcast about the “Dangers of Cloud Computing.” Chris also presented at Microsoft’s BlueHat, “Cloudifornication: Indiscriminate Information Intercourse Involving Internet Infrastructure.” Any presentation with such a great title must be watched. There is a short interview with Chris from Bluehat.

One of my favorite stories of Abraham Lincoln involved the McCormick-Manny case of 1855 where Lincoln was one of Manny’s lawyers. Lincoln basically was pushed aside and humiliated. After the trial, he told Ralph Emerson, a young lawyer who was present at the trial, “I am going home. I am going home to study law.” Emerson asked, “Mr. Lincoln, you stand at the head of the bar in Illinois now! What are you talking about?” Lincoln replied, “Ah, yes, I do occupy a good position there, and I think that I can get along with the way things are done there now. But these college-trained men, who have devoted their whole lives to study, are coming West, don’t you see? And they study their cases as we never do. They have got as far as Cincinnati now. They will soon be in Illinois.” Emerson stated Lincoln turned to him, his countenance suddenly assuming that look of strong determination which those who knew him best sometimes saw upon his face, and said, “I am going home to study law! I am as good as any of them, and when they get out to Illinois, I will be ready for them.”

Change is coming. If you try just to get along, the future will overwhelm you. While we do not live in a world of unlimited funds for conferences and training, people are sharing a wealth of information. Take advantage of it and get ready for whatever might be heading your way.

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