Click here to close now.

SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Dana Gardner, tru welu, Blue Box Blog

Related Topics: Security, Java, Microservices Journal, Linux, Open Source, Cloud Expo

Security: Article

The Upside of Heartbleed

How a global security crisis created a common litmus test

There are two pieces of good news to come out of Heartbleed. First, we haven't heard of any significant security breaches, which mean that the industry as a whole is getting better at fixing problems as they arise.

The second is that, because Heartbleed presented every single cloud provider with the exact same challenge, it created an excellent global litmus test for crisis response. Everyone started from the same baseline, which eliminates the variability in evaluating their response.

If you're a customer of the cloud, you can review any provider's public response to Heartbleed to evaluate both their technical dexterity (how long did it take them to issue a fix?) as well as their communications and customer service (did their communications assure you that you were in good hands?). And if you're a provider, you can see how your response compared to the competition - and, if necessary, make changes.

Below are a few key crisis response elements that you should look for.

Response Time
In the event of a security crisis, it is critical that customers are notified as quickly as possible, and with as much pertinent information as is available. Most important, customers should know what is being done to protect them. Timing is everything. Did the company you're evaluating have a public response on their blog? On Twitter? Via email? And how quickly did they start communicating?

The communication does not necessarily have to include a comprehensive action plan. But it must be enough to assure you that the service provider is aware of the issue and actively working on a solution.

Who Is Doing the Communication?
After a major security breach, it is important that customers know that the service provider is taking the matter very seriously. Therefore, customer communication should be attributed to a C-level executive within the company. For something as significant as Heartbleed, you want to hear from the company's security or operations executives.

Transparency About Impact and Potential Risks
If a company has been impacted, they should be open and up-front about it. They should clearly articulate which services have - and have not - been affected. It should be easy to assess the impact on users, how long they've been exposed to the risk, and what action the company has taken (e.g., systems patched/certificates reissued).

Responsible Disclosure Policies
It's just as important for a company to disclose what they don't know as it is to disclose what they do know. For instance, could there have been hackers who may have accessed user data? Users would want to know where the company stands on the patch management programs and if there is a tool to check if a service/product/site is still vulnerable.

Sharing of Best Practices
After the initial communication has been delivered, customers will need clarity around what next steps should be taken. IT teams will want to know if immediate upgrades are needed; users will want to know if it's time to change passwords. It is important that customers know where to go for answers to potential questions - whether it's the company's blog, an online forum, or a support phone number. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer: if you still had questions, would it be clear from the provider's communications what you should do next?

Heartbleed may soon be history, but there will inevitably be another crisis. You should use the trail of communications left behind by Heartbleed as a litmus test for crisis response. If you're a customer, make sure that all your providers delivered the level of communications you needed to feel comfortable. If you're a provider, make sure that customer communications is as much a part of your crisis response processes as is your technical work.

More Stories By Ryan Barrett

Ryan Barrett is Vice President of Security & Privacy at Intermedia, the world’s largest one-stop shop for cloud-based email, phones, collaboration and security services for SMBs.

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.


Latest Stories
Due of the rise of Hadoop, many enterprises are now deploying their first small clusters of 10 to 20 servers. At this small scale, the complexity of operating the cluster looks and feels like general data center servers. It is not until the clusters scale, as they inevitably do, when the pain caused by the exponential complexity becomes apparent. We've seen this problem occur time and time again. In his session at Big Data Expo, Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackI...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT transformation?
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
For better or worse, DevOps has gone mainstream. All doubt was removed when IBM and HP threw up their respective DevOps microsites. Where are we on the hype cycle? It's hard to say for sure but there's a feeling we're heading for the "Peak of Inflated Expectations." What does this mean for the enterprise? Should they avoid DevOps? Definitely not. Should they be cautious though? Absolutely. The truth is that DevOps and the enterprise are at best strange bedfellows. The movement has its roots in t...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impac...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. 8th International Big Data Expo, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. As advanced data storage, access and analytics technologies aimed at handling high-volume and/or fast moving data all move center stage, aided by the cloud computing bo...
Every day we read jaw-dropping stats on the explosion of data. We allocate significant resources to harness and better understand it. We build businesses around it. But we’ve only just begun. For big payoffs in Big Data, CIOs are turning to cognitive computing. Cognitive computing’s ability to securely extract insights, understand natural language, and get smarter each time it’s used is the next, logical step for Big Data.
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
There's no doubt that the Internet of Things is driving the next wave of innovation. Google has spent billions over the past few months vacuuming up companies that specialize in smart appliances and machine learning. Already, Philips light bulbs, Audi automobiles, and Samsung washers and dryers can communicate with and be controlled from mobile devices. To take advantage of the opportunities the Internet of Things brings to your business, you'll want to start preparing now.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
In a world of ever-accelerating business cycles and fast-changing client expectations, the cloud increasingly serves as a growth engine and a path to new business models. Dynamic clouds enable businesses to continuously reinvent themselves, adapting their business processes, their service and software delivery and their operations to achieve speed-to-market and quick response to customer feedback. As the cloud evolves, the industry has multiple competing cloud technologies, offering on-premises ...
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the...
The OpenStack cloud operating system includes Trove, a database abstraction layer. Rather than applications connecting directly to a specific type of database, they connect to Trove, which in turn connects to one or more specific databases. One target database is Postgres Plus Cloud Database, which includes its own RESTful API. Trove was originally developed around MySQL, whose interfaces are significantly less complicated than those of the Postgres cloud database. In his session at 16th Cloud...
Over the years, a variety of methodologies have emerged in order to overcome the challenges related to project constraints. The successful use of each methodology seems highly context-dependent. However, communication seems to be the common denominator of the many challenges that project management methodologies intend to resolve. In this respect, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be viewed as powerful tools for managing projects. Few research papers have focused on the way...
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, Netflix and so on is at the heart of CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...