Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Kevin Jackson, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, FinTech Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Avoiding Compliance Risk with Better Access Management | @CloudExpo #Cloud #Security #Compliance

Networks have become large, complex entities that are increasingly difficult to manage and control

Avoiding Compliance Risk with Better Access Management

Networks have become large, complex entities that are increasingly difficult to manage and control. Security, audit, risk and compliance professionals know that their organizations rely on them for effective risk management, control and governance processes that are essential to the safety of their network environment. Yet compliance and security are more challenging than ever before as additional layers are added to this environment.

One of the challenges lies in the fact that there is an ongoing, huge access gap in network security and compliance - and it has been residing within the environment for more than 20 years. This tool, known as the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, grants privileged access to all types of production environments.

A Problem Gaining Attention
The problem is propagated by a lack of awareness at the management level. Network, system and database administrators are aware of the SSH key access in terms of granting them access to do their jobs. Unfortunately, it's an elevated access that is not being managed and governed and has no management visibility. As organizations attest to compliance and indicate that they have effective access controls and can attest to authorized access at all times to production, they are totally missing the boat in terms of attesting to SSH keys access.

Consider how you grant critical application access to vendors and administrators; that privileged access going into production with SSH keys is not being controlled by any means of logging, auditing or review. The point of privileged access is to obtain approval to elevate your access to do a certain function, to audit and check your work, and then sever the session and review it after the fact. Unfortunately, those steps and the control of privileged access fail when you don't have true governance over SSH keys.

More professionals are becoming aware of this access gap, chiefly through practitioner guidance and industry events discussing the protocol and, unfortunately, by means of large security breaches (such as the SONY breach) stemming from poorly managed SSH key environments.

Material Weakness and Invisible Threats
Now that this huge risk regarding elevated, direct access to production that is not audited, logged, controlled or governed has come to light, what can organizations do? Auditors must take action to assess the risk, govern it, minimize it and take control over SSH keys. Failure to act is likely to have several negative consequences.

One of the consequences would be the spectacular failure of an audit. Not having control over 30 percent of your production access could be construed as material weakness to your environment, from a controls perspective. And if you talk about a financial institution that is publically traded, and they fall under the Sarbanes-Oxley umbrella, this is a huge problem. From a SOX perspective, when a CFO or CEO signs off on attestations, they are saying they have complete visibility and control over access. However, the reality is that they have no visibility or control over their production due to poor or non-existent SSH key management.

Another consequence of poorly managed SSH key environments is that it creates an open door for threats that you don't even have visibility into. For instance, a malicious insider could be leveraging uncontrolled, unaudited privileged access that is not monitored or logged and you wouldn't be able to tell. By the same token, if you are being breached by an attacker who is leveraging back doors or exploits in this environment, the same thing would happen. You would have no visibility into the data that is being compromised or potentially compromised, and by law you must notify and report accordingly. So, what would your reported evidence look like?

Best Practices
To ensure SSH access is authorized and that the access falls within governance guidelines, organizations must adopt best practices, leverage automation, establish ongoing monitoring and auditing, and govern all access equally.

Because this situation warrants immediate attention and action, ISACA has recently released a new guidance document, SSH: Practitioner Considerations. In collaboration with industry experts, practitioners and ISACA subject matter experts, the white paper provides an excellent overview of what SSH is, its background, assurance considerations and practitioner impacts and suggested controls.

The document offers the following best practices to manage SSH keys and mitigate risk:

  • Ownership and accountability:Define roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows who owns SSH key management.
  • Usage procedures: Institute recurring access reviews, document and disseminate security policies and standards, and implement required IT controls.
  • Configuration management: Set up and deploy hardening configuration, and periodically review the configuration. Consider automated tools to manage the configuration and apply integrity control checks and monitoring over critical files.
  • Provisioning: Take an inventory of keys and usage tracking as part of the overall provisioning of users and accounts.
  • Automation and standardization: Automation is critical for the success of SSH key deployments. Standardization is required, and access restrictions are key.

Toward Greater Compliance
ISACA warns that organizations are at risk of incomplete attestation regarding access compliance if they do not take SSH keys into account. The organizations goes on to say that SSH key environments that are poorly managed can result in not only audit infractions but data breaches as well. Use the best practices recommended above to remove these unnecessary risks by taking control of your SSH key management.

More Stories By Fouad Khalil

Fouad Khalil is VP of Compliance at SSH Communication Security with extensive experience in the technology space with more than 25 years spanning disciplines in software development, IT support, program and project management and most recently IT Security and Compliance management. He has come up the technology ladder his entire career from network, system and database administration, software programming, system, software and GUI design, project and product development, solution implementation and much more.

He has been an active member in ISACA, IIA and Infragard for over ten (10) years and an active contributor to ISSA and ISC2 regionally and nationwide. He is CISA and ITIL Foundations certified.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...