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Cloud Expo: Article

REACT to the Cloud: A Tale of Horror and Unified Security

Breaking down the independent security silos through better correlated intelligence

Today's is a cautionary tale. One that you've probably heard before, but I promise a new spin on making sure it won't happen again.

It's a true story. It recently happened to a colleague's friend's business. But it is not an isolated incident. Because the information is sensitive and the wounds still raw, I have changed the names to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Dan is the  CEO and CTO of a privately owned business that develops software tools to manage lease lifecycles and other financial information. His primary customer is commercial real estate agencies across the country. For the past 12 years, it has been highly successful despite some of the economic battering the housing market took over the past several years. The company clears somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-50 million per year. He employs about 150 people. And it is the story of one of those employees where the story takes a dark turn.

Recently Dan parted ways with his VP of Sales. Dan thought the split was amicable, but according to my colleague, in less than a month, Dan was confronted with the reality that the veep actually felt slighted, and allegedly took steps to hobble the company.

It seems  several days after this employee left the company, he was able to access the network and allegedly remove client databases from the CRM, all his work files and even sent an "anonymous" message from the company's info@ email account to every customer decrying how Dan was personally trying to cheat them. And as a last "get stuffed" act was able to access several other applications and erased a good deal of data. Apparently he was able to clean his trail or else I would be talking about how this guy is currently being sued or in jail for theft. It is also why I cautiously use the word allegedly. Nonetheless, there was some serious damage done.

Now in terms of security, Dan had a decent firewall and anti-virus protection. He also had a log management solution for his financial compliance issue. Now the log didn't pick up any machine code of the veep's alleged visit because all the financial data required by the regulatory agency is on another server.

Now Dan is faced with several business issues and related costs of having to recreate the wheel, replace lost information and shore up security. Aside from the tribal knowledge and the recovery of the data, Dan's biggest mountain to climb is making sure something like this never happens again. If Dan relies on existing paradigms (buying new servers, workstations and 4 different software packages, finding a knowledgeable consultant to develop the processes, and development/deployment time) it is going to cost him a pocket load of front-ended capital expenditures, hundreds of man hours and other assets that will siphon resources from his core competencies.

Or not.

If Dan REACTs and looks to the cloud, many of those headaches fade without the crushing blow to time, money and resources. REACT or Realtime Event and Access Correlation Technology is part of a game-changing holistic paradigm called UniSec (unified security) which delivers a comprehensive suite of solutions deployed and managed from the cloud. It comprises all the security elements that would've prevented Dan's breach and data theft and leverages all the various silos information into a centralized real time contextual analysis. In other words it provides 360o enterprise visibility to see who is doing what , when and where for any part of the IT landscape.  It takes the historical backbone of Log Management, the intelligence of SIEM, the authenticating of Identity Management and the control of Access Management  and provides a Single Source of analysis, alert and action in real time

Without the benefit of cloud computing, this solution would be well beyond the budget means of Dan's company. Even one doing as well as his. REACT puts enterprise power in the hands of smaller companies in a very affordable, scalable and flexible manner. Just deploying a single sign on initiative can be pricy. Then you add all these layers, all these endpoints... It used to make very little sense for modest organizations to invest in such protection. However bundled , deployed and managed from the cloud (for less than what it would cost support & maintenance for an on premise equivalent) Dan is able to better protect his assets and has a clearer vision of business needs; what department needs which application and providing access only to them.

Four solutions...does Dan really need all that? Yes. Is it overkill? Absolutely not. If Dan had each element deployed (realizing it is just a single solution underneath the REACT umbrella): 1) an identity management solution would have immediately  prevented an ex-employee from coming in through automatic deprovisioning and password retirement, 2) access management would have blocked his way from reaching SaaS apps and downloading CRM databases and other proprietary files 3)SIEM would have noted his attempts to touch any part of the network and create an intrusion alert and Log Management would have recorded it all for compliance audits. That this solution is scalable to the exacting need and business requirements (today and tomorrow) of Dan's company make it a perfect fit. That the solution is zero-day deployment ready means no waiting on ROI and the important functionality it brings. That the solution is pay-as-you-go he's spending no CapEx money. That the solution includes security-as-a-service means he has an expert analyst working on his behalf that isn't on his payroll. The financial and administrative benefits make Dan the CEO sleep better at night. The enterprise power allows Dan the CTO to have more pleasant dreams.

REACT and UniSec are paradigm changing concepts in the security and cloud computing sphere that I predict will soon become the norm.

Of course, in the  interest of full disclosure, I called Dan last week and I am optimistic he will be subscribing at the end of the month.

Kevin Nikkhoo
Cloud REACTor

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.

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