Welcome!

Server Monitoring Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Ken Schwaber

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.