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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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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