Aug
21
2018
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Foundries.io promises standardized open source IoT device security

IoT devices currently lack a standard way of applying security. It leaves consumers, whether business or individuals, left to wonder if their devices are secure and up-to-date. Foundries.io, a company that launched today, wants to change that by offering a standard way to secure devices and deliver updates over the air.

“Our mission is solving the problem of IoT and embedded space where there is no standardized core platform like Android for phones,” Foundries.io CEO George Grey explained.

What Foundries has created is an open and secure solution that saves everyone from creating their own and reinventing the wheel every time. Grey says Foundries’ approach is not only secure, it provides a long-term solution to the device update problem by providing a way to deliver updates over the air in an automated manner on any device from tiny sensors to smart thermostats to autonomous cars.

He says this approach will allow manufacturers to apply security patches in a similar way that Apple applies regular updates to iOS. “Manufacturers can continuously make sure their devices can be updated with the latest software to fix security flaws or Zero Day flaws,” he said.

The company offers two solutions, depending on the size and complexity of your device. The Zephyr RTOS microPlatform is designed for smaller, less complex devices. For those that are more complex, Foundries offers a version of Linux called the Linux OE microPlatform.

Diagram: Foundries.io

Grey claims that these platforms free manufacturers to build secure devices without having to hire a team of security experts. But he says the real beauty of the product is that the more people who use it, the more secure it will get, as more and more test it against their products in a virtuous cycle.

You may be wondering how they can make money in this model, but they do it by charging a flat fee of $10,000 per year for Zephyr RTOS and $25,000 per year for Linux OE. These are one-time prices and apply by the product, regardless of how many units get sold and there is no lock-in, according to Grey. Companies are free to back out any time. “If you want to stop subscribing you take over maintenance and you still have access to everything up to the point,. You just have to arrange maintenance yourself,” he said.

There is also a hobbyist and education package for $10 a month.

The company spun off from research at Linaro, an organization that promotes development on top of ARM chips.

To be successful, Foundries.io needs to build a broad community of manufacturers. Today’s launch is the first step in that journey. If it eventually takes off, it has the potential to provide a consistent way of securing and updating IoT devices, a move which would certainly be welcome.

Aug
21
2018
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Semmle, startup that makes code searchable, hauls in $21M Series B

Semmle, a startup that originally spun out of research at Oxford, announced a $21 million Series B investment today led by Accel Partners. It marked the second time Accel has led an investment in the company.

Work-Bench also participated in the round. Today’s investment brings the total to $31 million.

Semmle has warranted this kind of interest by taking a unique approach to finding vulnerabilities in code. “The key idea behind our technology is to treat code as data and treat analysis problems as simple queries against a database. What this allows you to do is very easily encode domain expertise, security expertise or any other kinds of specialist knowledge in such a way it can be easily and automatically applied to large amounts of code,” Pavel Avgustinov, Semmle co-founder and VP of platform engineering told TechCrunch.

Screenshot: Semmle

Once you create the right query, you can continuously run it against your code to prevent the same mistakes from entering the code base on subsequent builds. The key here is building the queries and the company has a couple of ways to deal with that.

They can work with customers to help them create queries, although in the long run that is not a sustainable way of working. Instead, they share queries, and encourage customers to share them with the community.

“What we find is that the great tech companies we work with have the best security teams in the world, and they are giving back what they created on the Semmle platform with other users in an open source fashion. There is a GitHub repository where we publish queries, but Microsoft and Google are doing the same thing,” Oege de Moor, company CEO and co-founder explained.

In fact, the Semmle solution is freely available to open source programmers to use with their applications, and the company currently analyzes every commit of almost 80,000 open source projects. Open source developers can run shared queries against their code or create their own.

They also have a paid version with customers like Microsoft, Google, Credit Suisse, NASA and Nasdaq. They have relied mostly on these strategic partners up until now. With today’s investment they plan to build out their sales and marketing departments to expand their customer base into a wider enterprise market.

The company spun out of research at Oxford University in 2006. They are now based in San Francisco with 60 employees, a number that should go up with this investment. They received an $8 million Series A in 2014 and $2 million seed round in 2011.

Aug
16
2018
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Cisco’s $2.35 billion Duo acquisition front and center at earnings call

When Cisco bought Ann Arbor, Michigan security company, Duo for a whopping $2.35 billion earlier this month, it showed the growing value of security and security startups in the view of traditional tech companies like Cisco.

In yesterday’s earnings report, even before the ink had dried on the Duo acquisition contract, Cisco was reporting that its security business grew 12 percent year over year to $627 million. Given those numbers, the acquisition was top of mind in CEO Chuck Robbins’ comments to analysts.

“We recently announced our intent to acquire Duo Security to extend our intent-based networking portfolio into multi- cloud environments. Duo’s SaaS delivered solution will expand our cloud security capabilities to help enable any user on any device to securely connect to any application on any network,” he told analysts.

Indeed, security is going to continue to take center stage moving forward. “Security continues to be our customers number one concern and it is a top priority for us. Our strategy is to simplify and increase security efficacy through an architectural approach with products that work together and share analytics and actionable threat intelligence,” Robbins said.

That fits neatly with the Duo acquisition, whose guiding philosophy has been to simplify security. It is perhaps best known for its two-factor authentication tool. Often companies send a text with a code number to your phone after you change a password to prove it’s you, but even that method has proven vulnerable to attack.

What Duo does is send a message through its app to your phone asking if you are trying to sign on. You can approve if it’s you or deny if it’s not, and if you can’t get the message for some reason you can call instead to get approval. It can also verify the health of the app before granting access to a user. It’s a fairly painless and secure way to implement two-factor authentication, while making sure employees keep their software up-to-date.

Duo Approve/Deny tool in action on smartphone.

While Cisco’s security revenue accounted for a fraction of the company’s overall $12.8 billion for the quarter, the company clearly sees security as an area that could continue to grow.

Cisco hasn’t been shy about using its substantial cash holdings to expand in areas like security beyond pure networking hardware to provide a more diverse recurring revenue stream. The company currently has over $54 billion in cash on hand, according to Y Charts.

Cisco spent a fair amount money on Duo, which according to reports has $100 million in annual recurring revenue, a number that is expected to continue to grow substantially. It had raised over $121 million in venture investment since inception. In its last funding round in September 2017, the company raised $70 million on a valuation of $1.19 billion.

The acquisition price ended up more than doubling that valuation. That could be because it’s a security company with recurring revenue, and Cisco clearly wanted it badly as another piece in its security solutions portfolio, one it hopes can help keep pushing that security revenue needle ever higher.

Aug
15
2018
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RunSafe could eliminate an entire class of infrastructure malware attacks

RunSafe, a Mclean Virginia startup, got started doing research for DARPA on how to defend critical infrastructure. They built a commercial product based on that initial research that they claim eliminates an entire class of attacks. Today, the company released a product called Alkemist that enables customers to install the solution without help from RunSafe.

RunSafe co-founder and CEO Joe Saunders says that the product began with the DoD research and a simple premise: “If you assume hardware in the supply chain is compromised, can you still build trusted software on top of untrusted hardware. And so we came up with techniques that we have since greatly expanded to protect the software from compromise. We eliminate an entire class of attacks and greatly reduce the attack surface for software across critical infrastructure,” he told TechCrunch.

Saunders uses a data center cooling system as an example. If someone were able to control the cooling systems, they could cause the whole data center to overheat in order to shut it down. RunSafe is designed to prevent that from happening whether it’s a data center, a power plant or water works.

The way they do this is by hardening the software binary so malware and exploitations can’t find the tools they need to execute across the infrastructure. In the data center example, that means the attacker could find their way in, and attack a single machine, but couldn’t replicate the attack across multiple machines.

“They’re looking for functions and memory and different things that they can use in their exploitation. What we do is we make it very difficult for the attack tool to find that information, and without the ability to find the memory or the functions, they can’t execute their attack,” he said.

He says that they do this by making every instance “functionally identical but logically unique” by relocating where functions and memory exist at a low level in the software. “When an exploit is looking for memory or function to exploit the software product, it can’t locate them,” Saunders said. And that makes it practically impossible to move across the system, he explained.

He points out this is a far different approach from how most security vendors approach the problem. “Other solutions that are leveraging intrusion detection or monitoring or analytics are detecting when there’s a compromise, but they’re not solving the problem — you still can be breached and the exploit can still execute. We’re eliminating the exploit,” he said.

The company works with hardware manufacturers to install their solution at the factory before they get deployed, and with customers like data center operators to protect their critical infrastructure. Prior to the release of Alkemist, the installation required some hand-holding from RunSafe. With today’s release, the customer can install the product themselves and that could increase their customer base.

RunSafe launched at the end of 2015 and released the first version of the product last year. They currently count a dozen customers and are protecting hundreds of thousands machines across their customer base and expect to cross one million protected machines by the end of the year, according to Saunders.

The company has raised $2.4 million in seed investment.

Written by in: Enterprise,Zend Developer | Tags:
Aug
15
2018
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Twistlock snares $33 million Series C investment to secure cloud native environments

As the world shifts to a cloud native approach, the way you secure applications as they get deployed is changing too. Twistlock, a company built from the ground up to secure cloud native environments, announced a $33 million Series C round today led by Iconiq Capital.

Previous investors YL Ventures, TenEleven, Rally Ventures, Polaris Partners and Dell Technologies Capital also participated in the round. The company reports it has received a total of $63 million in venture investment to date.

Twistlock is solving a hard problem around securing containers and serverless, which are by their nature ephemeral. They can live for fractions of seconds making it hard track problems when they happen. According to company CEO and co-founder Ben Bernstein, his company came out of the gate building a security product designed to protect a cloud-native environment with the understanding that while containers and serverless computing may be ephemeral, they are still exploitable.

“It’s not about how long they live, but about the fact that the way they live is more predictable than a traditional computer, which could be running for a very long time and might have humans actually using it,” Bernstein said.

Screenshot: Twistlock

As companies move to a cloud native environment using Dockerized containers and managing them with Kubernetes and other tools, they create a highly automated system to deal with the deployment volume. While automation simplifies deployment, it can also leave companies vulnerable to host of issues. For example, if a malicious actor were to get control of the process via a code injection attack, they could cause a lot of problems without anyone knowing about it.

Twistlock is built to help prevent that, while also helping customers recognize when an exploit happens and performing forensic analysis to figure out how it happened.

It’s not a traditional Software as a Service as we’ve come to think of it. Instead, it is a service that gets installed on whatever public or private cloud that the customer is using. So far, they count just over 200 customers including Walgreens and Aetna and a slew of other companies you would definitely recognize, but they couldn’t name publicly.

The company, which was founded in 2015, is based in Portland, Oregon with their R&D arm in Israel. They currently have 80 employees. Bernstein said from a competitive standpoint, the traditional security vendors are having trouble reacting to cloud native, and while he sees some startups working at it, he believes his company has the most mature offering, at least for now.

“We don’t have a lot of competition right now, but as we start progressing we will see more,” he said. He plans to use the money they receive today to help expand their marketing and sales arm to continue growing their customer base, but also engineering to stay ahead of that competition as the cloud-native security market continues to develop.

Aug
09
2018
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Lock Down: Enforcing AppArmor with Percona XtraDB Cluster

Enforcing AppArmor with Percona XtraDB Cluster

Recently, I wrote a blog post showing how to enforce SELinux with Percona XtraDB Cluster (PXC). The Linux distributions derived from RedHat use SELinux. There is another major mandatory discretionary access control (DAC) system, AppArmor. Ubuntu, for example, installs AppArmor by default. If you are concerned by computer security and use PXC on Ubuntu, you should enforce AppArmor. This post will guide you through the steps of creating a profile for PXC and enabling it. If you don’t want to waste time, you can just grab my profile, it seems to work fine. Adapt it to your environment if you are using non-standard paths. Look at the section “Copy the profile” for how to install it. For the brave, let’s go!

Install the tools

In order to do anything with AppArmor, we need to install the tools. On Ubuntu 18.04, I did:

apt install apparmor-utils

The apparmor-utils package provides the tools we need to generate a skeleton profile and parse the system logs.

Create a skeleton profile

AppArmor is fairly different from SELinux. Instead of attaching security tags to resources, you specify what a given binary can access, and how, in a text file. Also, processes can inherit permissions from their parent. We will only create a profile for the mysqld_safe script and it will cover the mysqld process and the SST scripts as they are executed under it. You create the skeleton profile like this:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# aa-autodep /usr/bin/mysqld_safe
Writing updated profile for /usr/bin/mysqld_safe.

On Ubuntu 18.04, there seems to be a bug. I reported it and apparently I am not the only one with the issue. If you get a “KeyError” error with the above command, try:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# echo "#include <abstractions>" > /etc/apparmor.d/scripts
root@BlogApparmor2:~# aa-autodep /usr/bin/mysqld_safe

The aa-autodep command creates the profile “usr.bin.mysqld_safe” in the /etc/apparmor.d directory. The initial content is:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# cat /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe
# Last Modified: Wed Jul 25 18:56:31 2018
#include <tunables/global>
/usr/bin/mysqld_safe flags=(complain) {
  #include <abstractions/base>
  #include <abstractions/bash>
  /bin/dash ix,
  /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ld-*.so mr,
  /usr/bin/mysqld_safe r,
}

I suggest you add, ahead of time, things you know are needed. In my case, I added:

/etc/mysql/** r,
/usr/bin/innobackupex mrix,
/usr/bin/wsrep_sst_xtrabackup-v2 mrix,
/usr/lib/galera3/* r,
/usr/lib/mysql/plugin/* r,
/usr/sbin/mysqld mrix,
/var/log/mysqld.log w,
owner /tmp/** rw,
owner /var/lib/mysql/** rwk,

This will save time on redundant questions later. Those entries are permissions granted to mysqld_safe. For example,

/etc/mysql** r

  allows to read everything in

/etc/mysql

  and its subdirectories. These lines need to go right after the

/usr/bin/mysqld_safe r,

  line. Once done, parse and load the profile with:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# apparmor_parser -r /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe

Get a well behaved SST script

If you read my previous blog post on SELinux, you may recall the

wsrep_sst_xtrabackup-v2

  script does not behave well, security wise. The Percona developers have released a fixed version but it may not be available yet in a packaged form. In the meantime, you can download it from github.

Start iterating

My initial thought was to put the profile in complain mode, generate activity and parse the logs with aa-logprof to get entries to add to the profile. Likely there is something I am doing wrong but in complain mode, aa-logprof detects nothing. In order to get something I had to enforce the profile with:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# aa-enforce /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe

Then, I iterated many times—like more than 20—over the following sequence:

  1. rm -rf /var/lib/mysql/* # optional
  2. systemctl start mysql &
  3. tail -f /var/log/mysqld.log /var/log/kern.log
  4. systemctl stop mysql
  5. ps fax | egrep ‘mysqld_safe|mysqld’ | grep -v grep | awk ‘{print $1}’ | xargs kill -9 # sometimes
  6. aa-logprof
  7. if something was not right, jump back to step 1

See the next section for how to run aa-logprof. Once that sequence worked well, I tried SST (joiner/donor) roles and IST.

Parse the logs with aa-logprof

Now, the interesting part begins, parsing the logs. Simply begin the process with:

root@BlogApparmor2:~#  aa-logprof

and answer the questions. Be careful, I made many mistakes before I got it right, remember I am more a DBA than a Sysadmin. For example, you’ll get questions like:

Profile:  /usr/sbin/mysqld
Path:     /etc/hosts.allow
New Mode: r
Severity: unknown
 [1 - #include <abstractions/lxc/container-base>]
  2 - #include <abstractions/lxc/start-container>
  3 - /etc/hosts.allow r,
(A)llow / [(D)eny] / (I)gnore / (G)lob / Glob with (E)xtension / (N)ew / Audi(t) / Abo(r)t / (F)inish

AppArmor asks you how it should provide read access to the

/etc/hosts.allow

  file. If you answer right away with “A”, it will add

#include <abstractions/lxc/container-base>

 to the profile. With all the dependencies pulled by the lxc-related includes, you basically end up allowing nearly everything. You must first press “3” to get:

Profile:  /usr/sbin/mysqld
Path:     /etc/hosts.allow
New Mode: r
Severity: unknown
  1 - #include <abstractions/lxc/container-base>
  2 - #include <abstractions/lxc/start-container>
 [3 - /etc/hosts.allow r,]
(A)llow / [(D)eny] / (I)gnore / (G)lob / Glob with (E)xtension / (N)ew / Audi(t) / Abo(r)t / (F)inish

Notice the “[ ]” have moved to the bottom entry and then, press “A”. You’ll also get questions like:

Profile:  /usr/bin/mysqld_safe
Execute:  /bin/sed
Severity: unknown
(I)nherit / (C)hild / (N)amed / (X) ix On / (D)eny / Abo(r)t / (F)inish

For such a question, my answer is “I” for inherit. After a while, you’ll get through all the questions and you’ll be asked to save the profile:

The following local profiles were changed. Would you like to save them?
 [1 - /usr/bin/mysqld_safe]
(S)ave Changes / Save Selec(t)ed Profile / [(V)iew Changes] / View Changes b/w (C)lean profiles / Abo(r)t
Writing updated profile for /usr/bin/mysqld_safe.

Revise the profile

Do not hesitate to edit the profile if you see, for example, many similar file entries which could be replaced by a “*” or “**”. If you manually modify the profile, you need to parse it to load your changes:

root@BlogApparmor2:~# apparmor_parser -r /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe

Copy the profile

Once you have a server running with AppArmor enforced on PXC, simply copy the profile to the other servers and parse it. For example:

root@BlogApparmor3:~# cd /etc/apparmor.d
root@BlogApparmor3:/etc/apparmor.d# scp ubuntu@10.0.4.76:/etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe .
ubuntu@10.0.4.76's password:
usr.bin.mysqld_safe                                   100% 2285     3.0MB/s   00:00
root@BlogApparmor3:/etc/apparmor.d# aa-enforce usr.bin.mysqld_safe
Setting /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.mysqld_safe to enforce mode.

You can always verify if the profile is enforced with:

root@BlogApparmor3:/etc/apparmor.d# aa-status
apparmor module is loaded.
42 profiles are loaded.
20 profiles are in enforce mode.
 /sbin/dhclient
 ...
 /usr/bin/mysqld_safe
 ...
 man_groff

Once enforced, I strongly advise to monitor the log files on a regular basis to see if anything has been overlooked. Similarly if you encounter a strange and unexpected behavior with PXC. Have the habit of checking the logs, it might save a lot of frustrating work.

Conclusion

As we have just seen, enabling AppArmor with PXC is not a difficult task, it just requires some patience. AppArmor is an essential component of a layered security approach. It achieves similar goals as the other well known DAC framework, SELinux. With the rising security concerns and the storage of sensitive data in databases, there are compelling reasons to enforce a DAC framework. I hope these two posts will help DBAs and Sysadmins to configure and enable DAC for PXC.

The post Lock Down: Enforcing AppArmor with Percona XtraDB Cluster appeared first on Percona Database Performance Blog.

Aug
07
2018
--

RiskRecon’s security assessment services for third-party vendors raises $25 million

In June of this year, Chinese hackers managed to install software into the networks of a contractor for the U.S. Navy and steal information on a roughly $300 million top-secret submarine program.

Two years ago, hackers infiltrated the networks of a vendor servicing the Australian military and made off with files containing a trove of information on Australian and U.S. military hardware and plans. That hacker stole roughly 30 gigabytes of data, including information on the nearly half-a-trillion dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Third-party vendors, contractors and suppliers to big companies have long been the targets for cyber thieves looking for access to sensitive data, and the reason is simple. Companies don’t know how secure their suppliers really are and can’t take the time to find out.

The Department of Defense can have the best cybersecurity on the planet, but when that moves off to a subcontractor how can the DOD know how the subcontractor is going to protect that data?” says Kelly White, the chief executive of RiskRecon, a new firm that provides audits of vendors’ security profile. 

The problem is one that the Salt Lake City-based executive knew well. White was a former security executive for Zion Bank Corporation after spending years in the cybersecurity industry with Ernst & Young and TrueSecure — a Washington, DC-based security vendor.

When White began work with Zion, around 2 percent of the company’s services were hosted by third parties; less than five years later and that number had climbed to over 50 percent. When White identified the problem in 2010, he immediately began developing a solution on his own time. RiskRecon’s chief executive estimates he spent 3,000 hours developing the service between 2010 and 2015, when he finally launched the business with seed capital from General Catalyst .

And White says the tools that companies use to ensure that those vendors have adequate security measures in place basically boiled down to an emailed checklist that the vendors would fill out themselves.

That’s why White built the RiskRecon service, which has just raised $25 million in a new round of funding led by Accel Partners with participation from Dell Technologies Capital, General Catalyst and F-Prime Capital, Fidelity Investments’ venture capital affiliate.

The company’s software looks at what White calls the “internet surface” of a vendor and maps the different ways in which that surface can be compromised. “We don’t require any insider information to get started,” says White. “The point of finding systems is to understand how well an organization is managing their risk.”

White says that the software does more than identify the weak points in a vendor’s security profile, it also tries to get a view into the type of information that could be exposed at different points on a network.

According to White, the company has more than 50 customers among the Fortune 500 that are already using his company’s services across industries like financial services, oil and gas and manufacturing.

The money from RiskRecon’s new round will be used to boost sales and marketing efforts as the company looks to expand into Europe, Asia and further into North America.

“Where there’s not transparency there’s often poor performance,” says White. “Cybersecurity has gone a long time without true transparency. You can’t have strong accountability without strong transparency.”

Jul
25
2018
--

Virtru teams up with Google to bring its end-to-end encryption service to Google Drive

Virtru, which is best known for its email encryption service for both enterprises and consumers, is announcing a partnership with Google today that will bring the company’s encryption technology to Google Drive.

Only a few years ago, the company was still bolting its solution on top of Gmail without Google’s blessing, but these days, Google is fully on board with Virtru’s plans.

Its new Data Protection for Google Drive extends its service for Gmail to Google’s online file storage service. It ensures that files are encrypted before upload, which ensures the files remain protected, even when they are shared outside of an organization. The customer remains in full control of the encryption keys, so Google, too, has no access to these files, and admins can set and manage access policies by document, folder and team drive.

Virtru’s service uses the Trusted Data Format, an open standard the company’s CTO Will Ackerly developed at the NSA.

While it started as a hack, Virtru is Google’s only data protection partner for G Suite today, and its CEO John Ackerly tells me the company now gets what he and his team are trying to achieve. Indeed, Virtru now has a team of engineers that works with Google. As John Ackerly also noted, GDPR and the renewed discussion around data privacy is helping it gain traction in many businesses, especially in Europe, where the company is opening new offices to support its customers there. In total, about 8,000 organization now use its services.

It’s worth noting that while Virtru is announcing this new Google partnership today, the company also supports email encryption in Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.

Jul
25
2018
--

Google takes on Yubico and builds its own hardware security keys

Google today announced it is launching its own hardware security keys for two-factor authentication. These so-called Titan Security Keys will go up against similar keys from companies like Yubico, which Google has long championed as the de facto standard for hardware-based two-factor authentication for Gmail and other services.

The FIDO-compatible Titan keys will come in two versions. One with Bluetooth support for mobile devices and one that plugs directly into your computer’s USB port. In terms of looks and functionality, those keys look quite a lot like the existing keys from Yubico, though our understanding is that these are Google’s own designs.

Unsurprisingly, the folks over at Yubico got wind of today’s announcement ahead of time and have already posted a reaction to today’s news (and the company is exhibiting at Google Cloud Next, too, which may be a bit awkward after today’s announcement).

“Yubico strongly believes there are security and privacy benefits for our customers, by manufacturing and programming our products in USA and Sweden,” Yubico founder and CEO Stina Ehrensvard writes, and goes on to throw a bit of shade on Google’s decision to support Bluetooth. “Google’s offering includes a Bluetooth (BLE) capable key. While Yubico previously initiated development of a BLE security key, and contributed to the BLE U2F standards work, we decided not to launch the product as it does not meet our standards for security, usability and durability. BLE does not provide the security assurance levels of NFC and USB, and requires batteries and pairing that offer a poor user experience.”

It’s unclear who is manufacturing the Titan keys for Google (the company spokesperson didn’t know when asked during the press conference), but the company says that it developed its own firmware for the keys. And while Google is obviously using the same Titan brand it uses for the custom chips that protect the servers that make up its cloud, it’s also unclear if there is any relation between those.

No word on pricing yet, but the keys are now available to Google Cloud customers and will be available for purchase for anyone in the Google Store, soon. Comparable keys tend to sell for around $20 to $25.

Jul
25
2018
--

Google Cloud introduces shielded virtual machines for additional security

While we might like to think all of our applications are equal in our eyes, in reality some are more important than others and require an additional level of security. To meet those requirements, Google introduced shielded virtual machines at Google Next today.

As Google describes it, “Shielded VMs leverage advanced platform security capabilities to help ensure your VMs have not been tampered with. With Shielded VMs, you can monitor and react to any changes in the VM baseline as well as its current runtime state.”

These specialized VMs run on GCP and come with a set of partner security controls to defend against things like rootkits and bootkits, according to Google. There are a whole bunch of things that happen even before an application launches inside a VM, and each step in that process is vulnerable to attack.

That’s because as the machine starts up, before you even get to your security application, it launches the firmware, the boot sequence, the kernel, then the operating system — and then and only then, does your security application launch.

That time between startup and the security application launching could leave you vulnerable to certain exploits that take advantage of those openings. The shielded VMs strip out as much of that process as possible to reduce the risk.

“What we’re doing here is we are stripping out any of the binary that doesn’t absolutely have to be there. We’re ensuring that every binary that is there is signed, that it’s signed by the right party, and that they load in the proper sequence,” a Google spokesperson explained. All of these steps should reduce overall risk.

Shielded VMs are available in Beta now

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