Friday Jun 05, 2009

Cloud Security from Sun's CommunityOne

As we come to the close of yet another week, I am reminded that this week was different. Unlike most weeks, I was actually off from work, recovering from surgery, and yet at the same time, several of my projects were living lives of their own at CommunityOne West and Java One. Since I could not be there in person to talk about this work, I figured the next best thing was to take a few moments to highlight them here and offer an open invitation to publicly discuss them on their project pages.

There were three Cloud Computing security projects that were discussed and demonstrated this week:

  • Security Hardened Virtual Machine Images.
    Summary: Sun and the Center for Internet Security have been working together for over six years to promote enterprise-class security best practices for the Solaris OS. Building upon their latest success, the Solaris 10 Security Benchmark, they have adapted its security guidance to the OpenSolaris platform and today are announcing the availability of a virtual machine image pre-configured with these settings.

    Key Points: Sun is the first commercial vendor to publish and make freely available a hardened virtual machine image - secured using industry accepted best practices. Images will be made available for both Amazon EC2 and Sun Cloud.

    More Information: Announcement.

  • Cloud Safety Box.
    Summary: Security is a key concern for customers everywhere, and the Cloud is no exception. Customers who are concerned about the confidentiality of their information should encrypt their data before sending it to the Cloud. This utility simplifies the process of encrypting files and storing them in the Cloud (as well as decrypting them after they have been retrieved).

    Key Points: The tools leverage strong, industry standard encryption (AES 256-bit) but are configurable to accommodate other algorithms and key sizes. The tools can leverage the cryptographic acceleration capabilities of systems configured with Sun's UltraSPARC T2 (Niagara 2) processor enabling ~7x speed improvement over software encryption. The tools support multiple client platforms and multiple cloud providers today including Sun Cloud and Amazon S3.

    More Information: Project Page

  • Encrypted ZFS Backups.
    Summary: Customers often encrypt their backups before sending them off-site for storage, so why should the Cloud be any different. This utility integrates with the OpenSolaris ZFS automatic snapshot service to automatically encrypt the content before storing it into the Cloud. This way, backup data is always stored in an encrypted form in the Cloud and the decryption keys never leave your organization. Recovery is as easy as downloading and decrypting the snapshots (using the Cloud Safety Box tool, for example) and reverting to those snapshots using standard ZFS methods.

    Key Points: The tool leverages strong, industry standard encryption (AES 256-bit) but is configurable to accommodate other algorithms and key sizes. The tool can leverage the cryptographic acceleration capabilities of systems configured with Sun's UltraSPARC T2 (Niagara 2) processor enabling ~7x speed improvement over software encryption. The tool supports multiple cloud providers today including Sun Cloud and Amazon S3.

    More Information: Project Page

Each of these projects were also highlighted during the Cloud Computing keynote delivered by Lew Tucker (VP/CTO, Cloud Computing) as shown in the replay, starting about 2:18 seconds into this video:

In addition, the Cloud Safety Box and ZFS Encrypted Backups projects were demonstrated at the Sun Cloud demonstrations pods and were featured prominently on both the Sun Cloud Computing landing page as well as on Project Kenai. Click the snapshots below for larger versions:

If you have not already, please give these projects a look and send me feedback! Cloud Computing security is in its infancy in many ways, and these projects are just a start down a long and winding road. I remain convinced as ever that Cloud Computing will have a role to play in raising the information security bar for everyone, but we still have work to do! As a teaser, I would say that this is just the beginning and we have quite a number of other tricks still up our sleeves! So stay tuned and send along your ideas and feedback!

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Friday May 01, 2009

Cloud Safety Box

Yesterday, I wrote about the ZFS Encrypted Backup to S3 project that I started over at Project Kenai. This project integrates with the ZFS Automatic Snapshot service to provide a way for automatically storing encrypted ZFS snapshots into the Cloud.

So, what if you wanted to just store and retrieve individual files? Well, there is a tool to help fill this need as well! The Crypto Front End to S3 CLIs project offers a couple tools that allow you to encrypt and upload files to the Cloud (and of course download and decrypt files as well). This project provides a very simple to use interface in the form of the Cloud Safety Box, a tool that leverages a number of pre-configured default settings to trade-off flexibility for ease of use. For those wanting more control over the settings (including encryption provider, encryption algorithm, key type and other settings), simply use the s3-crypto.sh utility. A diagram is available showing how these tools work together.

Since these tools can be configured to use OpenSSL as their cryptography provider (and there are no further dependencies on OpenSolaris, you can actually use this tool on other operating systems (e.g., Mac OS X was successfully used during one of the tests).

It should be noted that the s3-crypto.sh utility can be used to download and decrypt an ZFS snapshot uploaded to the Cloud using the ZFS Encrypted Backup to S3 utility so that with these two tools you have a way of storing and retrieving regular files as well as ZFS snapshots.

You can find all of the details, documentation and download instructions (as well as a Mercurial gate) at the Crypto Front End to S3 CLIs project page. So, please give it a try and let us know what you think!

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Thursday Apr 30, 2009

Saving Encrypted ZFS Snapshots to the Cloud

Are you an OpenSolaris user? Do you use ZFS? Have you tried the ZFS Automatic Snapshot service? If so, you might be interested in a new tool that I just published over at Project Kenai that enables you to encrypt and store ZFS snapshots to either the Sun Cloud Storage Service (Employees Only at the moment) or Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3).

You can find all of the details, documentation and download instructions (as well as a Mercurial gate) at the ZFS Encrypted Backup to S3 project page. So, please give it a try and let us know what you think!

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This area of cyberspace is dedicated the goal of raising cybersecurity awareness. This blog will discuss cybersecurity risks, trends, news and best practices with a focus on improving mission assurance.

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