Connected=hacked, cloud=leak, why

An article originally from 2019 Sept on LinkedIn, copied here as is for reference

Hacker squirrel which will steal all your data

Most of you know my tag line, and most know me for being against the cloud, or ranting against it.

It’s about time to clarify the situation.

I am NOT against the cloud, I am against the wrong cloud implementation, the marketing lies, the shortcuts, against the message that cloud is the silver bullet.

In my last job experience, which has been more than 8,5 years, I had a chance to maintain a 24/7 low TCO infrastructure mainly on premise, using some collocation hosting, and some cloud.

As in everything, it’s a matter of requirements, needs, compliance, skills, bandwidth, best practices, cost, scalability etc.

Is the cloud absolutely wrong ? No

Is the cloud an absolute rip off ? … often

Is the cloud a solution ? certainly

Is the cloud leaking non stop on daily basis ? yes

Is the cloud a trash word where marketing has put everything and anything and doesn’t mean anything nowadays ? yes.

Dedicated hosting, collocation, private cloud, serverless computing, software as a service, infrastructure as a service, services as a service, this is all cloud (failure as a service, DDOS as a service…).

Why is the cloud showing so many failures ( implementation failures, configuration failures, etc, as my contacts always tilt on my shortcuts when I state cloud is a failure).

Issue is, in most failed situation (data leak, data loss), we have many factors involved as stated above.

The main point is the misunderstanding of the shared responsibilities model, which drive most of the cloud services.

Yes, underlaying cloud infrastructures are top notch, cutting edge security and barely fail (they do, but not often, and when they do, there is nothing you can expect, aside of maybe, a partial refund of the current billing cycle, most of the time, peanuts).

So why are we leaking, failing….. we do so because we have the following factors in place :

  • Non skilled staff planning cloud deployment
  • Cloud hosting legacy design not suitable for cloud
  • Misunderstanding of the requirements to make a cloud project a success (going to the cloud to be in the cloud, doesn’t mean using the best tool to respond to a need)
  • Unsafe default settings in cloud deployment
  • Constantly changing cloud platforms making it a nightmare to follow the best practices
  • Lack of legal staff reviewing all the (constantly changing T&C) of each subscribed service

I did once break down what is need as a very base to build a potentially successful (in regards to architecture and security) cloud deployment.

The entry ticket is about 1M$ / year if you want to make things the right way (Yes….. but then, if scalability is needed, you’ll start to save a lot, as much as load grows and you scale up).

Here is a very basic resources required to build a proper cloud anything project :

  • A cloud architect (covering application and infrastructure requirements to be matched with proper services)
  • A cloud developer (will implement automation and deployment), devsecops power !
  • A second developer (because you can’t have a SPOF at this position)
  • A CISO (or vCISO/consultant) that will drive the compliance and security review
  • A security analyst for the infrastructure (logs, SIEM and advising)
  • A security analyst for the applications (code review, best practice for devsecops, alignment with sec requirement)
  • A network engineer because you need to handle redundancy and availability to reach your cloud (CIA don’t you ? )
  • A DBA / or data governance specialist, which will work from app design, to app monitoring, hands in hands with the SOC (CISO, analysts, network engineer)
  • Sysadmins, because yes, when you have VMs to handle your workloads, you still need sysadmins
  • A dedicated cloud specialized legal team, for contract management and collaboration with security teams in regards to risk assessments.

Take this bare minimum anyway you want, ou are above 1M$ / year, and yet, you did not even pay the overpriced cloud infrastructure.

I may forget some on the way, but that’s a good base. You need all of this because the cloud is online, connected on internet, unlike on premise legacy, which would allow much less staff to cover, such as a sysadmin and network guy.

Now, all these nice people, following the best practices (not forgetting the backup team…) may be a very good starting point.

So this is often why cloud = leak, because proper resources where not in place at the very base, and the thing is, even with the proper resources, you are still vulnerable, as the attackers are still out there, trying by any means to get into your infrastructure (and there is a high chance for them to succeed).

This is based on facts, my own PII leaked in many breaches (equifax, nissan finance, capital one, linkedin, adobe, canadian taxes etc) and this is extremely annoying.

Identity theft are on the rise, and we seem not to learn the lessons. So I decided to act, raising awareness. Been accused of spreading FUD, but you know what, any other things have not helped so far, so yes, FUD is needed.

Now, why connected = hacked ? This one is my favorite, want it or not, if there is a link, there is a way, and transnational crime organizations have almost unlimited resources , script kiddies are never tired, and hacker creativity is unlimited.

Hacking something is using a tool designed for a specific use, and hijack it for another purpose, as simple as that. Believe me, creativity has no limit, and when minds are trained to be creative, each one inspire each other, and they can’t be stopped.

Therefore, you can’t keep something safe online, given the complexity of the attack surface, from supply chain to final delivery.

If you want to keep something confidential, avoid technology, and cover your perimeter. Then, if you have too, assess your risk.

If you do a bit more than the average, cover all the basics and apply best practices, you might stay a bit longer out of cloud=leak and connected=hacked, but it’s a constant fight. There is no set and forget, it’s more like set and worry !

Last point, I also state often « wireless is weak », indeed it is, there is almost ZERO wireless technology that is secured. Nothing affordable anyway on consumer market.

A quick one, a wireless mouse only, use an receiver which falls under HID class driver, which basically allow the device to interact with the HID stack (human interface device stack), which imply that you can intercept (record) key press from keyboard over a mouse receiver. This is called mousejacking. And sadly this can be done from far far away.

This overall why I share what I share, I want people to be aware, I want my data to remain safe, I don’t want to face and identity theft situation for me.

Some basics :

  • Don’t connect things that are sensitive
  • Don’t connect things that do not absolutely need to be connected (IoT will get your network hacked)
  • Assume there are zerodays and backdoors in all your technology, compose accordingly (zerotrust people)
  • MFA is mandatory
  • Security through obfuscation is an illusion, open source with audited code is so much better
  • Screens are lying
  • Technology only goal is to manipulate you, do you really control it ?
  • Don’t share information that you would not like to see on TV, what is shared online or on technology support will leak, be aware it will end public. Do you want this ?
  • This is a world of deception, chose your side
  • Never use default OS and cloud security settings, always harden them
  • Always seek out OEM and software Best Security Practices and implement them which are achievable and relevant
  • Use Padlock high strengh Extended Validation (EV) Certificates. Develop your SSL expertise
  • Use HLB or SLB hardening plus design GS backup strategy stored off servers -> expect to be hacked
  • Make sure you have patch management plan
  • Monitor alerting and logging plan for forensic post incident
  • Internet is a battlefield, with organized bad guys, keep in mind that each time you connect, you consent to face the consequences.

Have a good day, comment, discuss, prove me wrong, share solutions, let’s make all of this a better place, let’s make this trustable.

*edited for correction and adding couple of point recommended by my contacts


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juin 2024

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