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on November 17, 2015
It's not technical and only discuss the cloud from the management perspective
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on February 5, 2015
To supplement a Coursera Information Security and Risk Management course.
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on November 23, 2012
The work is okay, but it left me a bit underwhelmed. Metaphorically, it is like a tiny portion of a meal at an expensive dinner. I found that I was still hungry for more information after finishing the reading.
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on April 2, 2013
Users and Managers need to understand the cloud. The cloud is powerful and should be used. But get your heads out of the cloud regarding privacy.
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on October 25, 2010
This is an excellent explanation of security issues touching cloud computing. It tries to help security professionals understand why cloud computing is experiencing such rampant adoption, explains what security concerns are new or not really new in the space, and goes into a lot of good practical depth on what things you need to do to secure various kinds of cloud offerings. I thought the IAM chapter in particular was excellent. And they didn't just talk theory; they demonstrate an understanding of how Amazon, Azure, and the other major cloud players work.
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on October 23, 2009
Cloud computing is such a hot topic in today's IT world. The business reasons for adopting cloud computing to run SMB and enterprise IT operations is so strong that it is almost inevitable that we will see a movement toward more and more cloud services being offered. Perhaps a dark cloud that hangs over cloud computing is the question of security (and privacy). The authors of "Cloud Security and Privacy" have done an excellend job of describing today's landscape and the security issues swirling around cloud computing. They provide a good mix of perspectives from IT InfoSec to auditor to cloud provider. They provide a clear and organized view of the security challenges. I would recoomend this book for anyone who is thinking about using or providing cloud services.
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on November 8, 2009
There are two kinds of reactions I get when talking to various folks about Cloud computing - either they love it or hate it. The second category is primarily due to paranoia about entrusting someone else with the responsibility to keep their business systems operating safely. This book does a very good job of methodically laying out the issues and the steps to address them.

The things I liked in this book are
* easy to read with just the right mix of technical jargons
* references and links to a many practical issues that have already occurred, that makes the stuff you are reading very relevant

I am sure that this book will come in handy to me as an architect helping management decide which systems should be hosted in house vs which go into the cloud.

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on July 8, 2010
I want to be fair here. I bought this book not to read hype on what looks like an emerging technology, albeit massively overhyped but, rather, to read about legal and business issues that might moderate its acceptance. To be fair, I will return to give my appraisal after I have finished but I was forced to share this so as to, perhaps, give pause to others interested in buying this book. I've seen webinars that refer to cloud computing as 2-10 technology, massively hyped for 2 years and will take the next 10 for the industry to sort out where it fits (and maybe more importantly where it does not.

The first two glaring take-aways I've seen in this book is 1) the mashing of social web to cloud computing, vis-a-vis considering MySpace, FaceBook, and other social web sites as examples of cloud computing, they are not; 2) the notion that end users will be writing their own programs in the clouds vs. the, since the dawn of software development, programmer (or more recently developers) writing the programs, tech writers writing the documentation, marketeers hyping the program and end users buying or using, with embedded ads, the software. Both of these are orthogonal to 'cloud computing'. While it may be someday, in a "Battlestar Gallactica" age end users may speak to their computer in whatever language they speak and tell it what they'd like it to do. For now it takes specialized training and while the computer languages used are different syntactically from those used in the '60s and '70s, fundamentally they are not different at all. Of course someday maybe everyone will be flying their cars to work and to play. On your next flight anywhere, tap the pilot and ask him how much specialized training he's had in order to taxi a plane, much less leave the ground and return it in one piece to where ever they said they would land it.

The authors talk about computing being a utility as electricity providers (or cable providers) yet they also talk about global compute clouds. Are there global utility companies? They talk about replacing NetBeans, Eclipse, Microsoft Visual Studio (IDEs) with some Utopian ephemeral global software development environment where the tools and end products exist virtually in some ether. None of that has to do with IT Governance and Security much less Amazon, Terramark, Eucalyptus, RightScale, or CloudSwitch. Where they have another 10-11 chapters I withhold final judgment but I felt I owed it to others innocently looking for a good source of information, not hand-waving on this subject. Just as with any emerging technology or software development language there are plenty of people that emerge from the woodwork to write a book on it, totally independent of their experience with it. Confusing Cloud Computing and Web 2.0 is not going to garner confidence. If unwary readers do not discover this until after they have purchased the book, it will not make any difference.

As a professional software developer I can tell you provisioning an image for execution in the cloud is more intensive than provisioning a bare metal server. End users are not going to be doing anything more than issuing a run command on a pre-existing image.

Here is my take: Running your business at an undisclosed facility managed by Amazon (or others) is no more cost effective than running your business out of a service center was in the 70's or 80's. If you don't physically control the data, you don't physically control access to it either. Nowadays you are under legal obligation to do so. I spent the money on this book hoping there was more substance to the security, privacy, and governance aspects of cloud computing than I just summarized.

Since one of the authors has decided to launch personal attacks on me, I will continue with my review with Chapter 3. I didn't really pick up on this in chapters 1 and 2 but I am now concerned about who edited this book. Even at the high school level children are taught to never ever cite Wikipedia for their references. I noticed the bulk of the footnotes cited are wikipedia. Since the source of information found on Wikipedia is unknown, its validity is also unknown. The professional standard for citations are peer reviewed sources. By using these there is a level of confidence a claim made, by virtue of it's citation is likely of high quality.

An assertion, I believe, made several times, and characterized on pg 52, "The new mantra of 'the browser is your operating system...browsers have become the ubiquitous operating systems for consuming cloud services". I would call to the reader's attention in any legitimate Computer Science source the definition of an operating system. Internet Explorer is not an example of an operating system. Furthermore, services, clouded or not, where the Internet browser is the user interface (UI or GUI in this case), are but one type of solution space, often characterized as LAMP or Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. This is totally independent of cloud anything. I contend whenever one writes a book (or publishes one) there are two axises of importance, the first being is the material relevant to the topic and is the material factually accurate. While one might chose to host multiple web containers in the 'cloud' to take advantage of the elasticity of the cloud for scaling up and down with volume, another pervasive class of problem that takes place in a cloud-like environment is compute scaling, such as can be seen in grid computing. In this space a problem may arise where 100 or 1000 processors are required to solve a compute intensive problem but only for a few hours. This, as opposed to 24x7x365, is an excellent usage of public cloud (burst mode). To the extent the author is, thus far, focusing on web based interaction with the cloud he calls out but never elaborates on why there is any more vulnerability for a web container hosted at an Amazon secure facility, for instance, than there is within one's own perimeter. The threat vector is port 80 or port 8080. Of course, if there really is one, the obvious solution is to use off port, two phase SSL, where both the client side and server side are digitally authenticated and encrypted and host the open (proxy) website(s) within your perimeter. In either case the DoS attack on port 80 or 8080 is independent of the location of the web container. Isn't that correct Tim?

In chapter 3, pg 52, "Using hijacked or exploited cloud accounts, hackers will be able to link together computing resources to achieve massive amounts of computing without any of the capital infrastructure costs". Really? what about the account owner seeing running instances on their accounts they aren't using? How long does it take for a credit card owner or provider to realize an account is being misused? There is an easier vector for this, they are called bots and have been around for years. One need but Google the program Asphyxia. If you, for any decision, had a choice of hard vs. easy...which do you think a hacker would take?
In chapter 3, the author discusses type 1 and type 2 hypervisors. This is something of an arcane distinction but he refers to Xen as type 1, bare metal. This actually is incorrect as Xen is hosted by an operating system meaning it is not bare metal [...]. The authors spend much time on Xen, which is relevant from the perspective of security attacks against it but in that vein not a single mentioned, that I have found, is made of KVM which is part and parcel of all remotely recent versions of Linux from, I believe 2.6.20 and up. Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is based on KVM, as is RedHat's virtualization and cloud family. But, this is why they make second editions.

Another assertion the authors make in chapter 3 (pg 59), "Security requirements such as an application firewall, SSL accelerator, cryptography, or rights management... are not supported in a public SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS cloud". Huh???? I refer the reader to Amazon's VPC, Intel's Service Gateway, SELinux, UFW. That is simply a patently false statement. Of course you can host your applications on an instance of an image configured with SELinux in enforce mode, fully firewalled, with no open connections on unsecured ports, and be quite secure. However, if this book was written in 2008 only to be published in early 2009 this may have been a more true statement then. However few people knew what cloud was in early 2009 and the entire field has rapidly evolved since the authors wrote this book. This is why it is necessary for authors, and publishers, to maintain an errata site, perhaps in the cloud, where corrections and retractions to, best case dated, worst case patently false, statements can be made. Intel, by the way, is also producing encrypting NICs (network interface cards).

While I still subscribe to my previous comment about if you don't control your data you don't control who has access to it, I do have an addendum to it. Cloud computing is a rapidly evolving field. A book, written by anyone, 2 years or more ago on cloud computing is, almost by definition, wrong or highly questionable. Technology simply moves faster than publishers generally do. If you have data that you don't want to or, legally, can not share it, in all likelihood, does not belong in a public cloud. If you are risk averse, it does not. If you are risk tolerant then the decision should be dependent on talking to vendors, cloud and operating system (no, not web browsers). What are the cloud vendor's SLA, what is the insurance on data breaches, what is the state of the art vis-a-vis SELinux, encrypting NICs, encrypted databases, the cloud vendor's physical security, software security, etc. Who had physical access to software keys?

We are a long way from the George Jettson world. In our lifetime people won't be flying their cars to work. Provisioning of data centers, provisioning of infrastructure still, as in the case of airline pilots, should be left to trained and technically current professionals who's livelihoods depend on their ability to successfully navigate the issues. If you are somewhat risk tolerant talk to the vendors, they have no problems telling you what their competition can't do, and make your decisions based on the, then, current state of the art. Don't single source anything, seek confirmations on everything.

As I hope we are all telling our children and students, whatever they place on the Internet will be there forever.

Chapter 4 starts to get interesting although I disagree with some of the author's contentions, perhaps due to the temporal decay. In other words, in the non-SaaS world storing information as opaque encrypted blobs is certainly do-able and would be the responsibility of the system designer to, perhaps optionally, persist the data as such and, upon authenticated readers, decrypt it. Consistent with what I've said earlier, if you don't control your data, you don't control who has access to it. What the author contents is that SaaS providers, let's use SalesForce as an example, should do the same with 'your data'. If you don't control the encryption keys used, you can't even control your own access to the data. This is actually part of the value proposition of CloudSwitch. Disclaimer, I have no affiliation with CloudSwitch. I do not even know if they were even a gleam in their founder's eyes when this book was written, so their niche would be clearly out of scope for the authors (temporal decay). However, in today's state of the art, protection zones, if you will, provisioned by SELinux and afforded by KVM provide for security when data, stored externally, in read by your program and decrypted within the protected zone of the process you are running in. One merely needs to Google SELinux to see what it provides for today vs. what it provided for 2-3 years ago.

Chapter 5 is good (happy now Tim?). Technically it is very rich and philosophically, unintentionally, provides good food for thought. Something I flagged at the beginning of this review gnawed at me and chapter 5 (Authentication, Authorization, and Auditing) provided closure on this. I mentioned there seem to be an underlying premise that the 'cloud' should or will evolve into a global entity, pg 33, "For cloud computing to continually evolve into a borderless and global tool..." Why should it? I vaguely recall an episode, I believe, from Star Trek, where there was some impending catastrophe in progress when Spock commanded, as a high priority task, the computer system to solve, to the last digit, the value of pi. Spock then reminds the captain pi is an endless number the computer(s) can not solve. Uhura shortly announces to Spock and the captain that, one by one, all computer resources (cloud compute nodes) were being deployed to solve the command Spock gave it. Is that part of the problem space for cloud computing to solve? Frankly we sort of already have that in the academic world, Google condor grid and University of Wisconsin. Oddly, I proposed the same sort of thing to a friend and VP at a large software company wherein corporate data centers would now have the prospect of 'selling' their unused cpu and disk capacity by merely joining a cloud as a resource provider rather than a resource consumer. To that end the authors are now on a solid path to addressing or, at least, articulating a direction CSPs could take or must take in order to realize that goal of a 'borderless and global tool'. Where this chapter is equally valid is the use case of you (the reader now) is on a trip to some other part of the country and are in an accident. You are brought to the local hospital and the attending doctor must gain access to your medical records. In a HIPAA world what needs to happen, architecturally, for that doctor to ensure your medical privacy, maintain auditability, and gain timely access to your medical history, oh, your own doctor is out of town.

Note to authors, I also upped your score. I anxiously await the next 100 pages and your second edition.
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VINE VOICEon October 18, 2009
The biggest trend (and some would say hype) in computing today is the cloud... the ability to have software and infrastructure all housed offsite in a flexible way that allows you to instantly scale resources and only pay for what you use. But there are so many questions that this approach raises in terms of security and privacy. Tim Mather, Subra Kumaraswamy, and Shahed Latif take on those questions in their new book Cloud Security and Privacy: An Enterprise Perspective on Risks and Compliance. Before you decide to put anything "in the cloud" for your organization, you really should read this book in order to fully understand the risks and rewards of moving in that direction.

Introduction; What Is Cloud Computing?; Infrastructure Security; Data Security and Storage; Identity and Access Management; Security Management in The Cloud; Privacy; Audit and Compliance; Examples of Cloud Service Providers; Security-As-A-[Cloud] Service; The Impact of Cloud Computing on The Role of Corporate IT; Conclusion, and The Future of The Cloud; SAS 70 Report Content Example; Systrust Report Content Example; Open Security Architecture For Cloud Computing; Glossary; Index

There's no doubt that moving to the cloud has the potential for saving an organization significant amounts of money. But what good is saving money if you end up with major security/privacy breaches, or if your application is unreachable due to outages? The authors do an excellent job in explaining exactly what makes up a cloud solution, as well as what considerations come into play when you decide to give up control of part of your infrastructure to someone else. As they accurately point out, there are many cloud risks that are also present in on-premise computing solutions, such as redundancy, security, etc. It just so happens that the cloud tends to magnify those risks because you aren't physically able to say exactly where your data is and what the cloud environment looks like. Going through this book helps you understand those risk levels so that you can decide how best to address them *before* you ship your data off to who knows where.

I think I personally appreciated the fact that they didn't attempt to "sell" the cloud as a solution that fits everybody and every situation. There are some instances where a cloud solution may not work due to regulatory reasons, and they point those out. For instance, HIPAA regulations have some very stringent rules on data security and privacy on personal health information. Given that your data stored in the cloud is not physically under your control, you may well find that you would be in violation of HIPAA regs by using a cloud solution without stringent safeguards. You also have no control over the physical medium on which the data is stored. If your cloud provider were to replace a drive in their storage, can you be assured that they have properly wiped the contents so as to not reveal information should the faulty device not be disposed of securely? And how about their backup media... how and where is your data being backed up? *IS* it being backed up? These are the questions you need to be asking before you decide that $5 per person per month is a great deal.

There are no other books that I know of that attempt to deal with this subject as completely and as comprehensively as does Cloud Security and Privacy. You really do owe it to your organization to read this first in order to be able to ask the right questions. Anything less would be highly negligent on your part.

Obtained From: Publisher
Payment: Free
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on November 10, 2009
My title is no accident, I heard Marry Ann Davidson CSO of Oracle, use it in an RSA conference referring to cloud computing she also spoke about it in ISF Canada 2009. Where the whole subject has been elevated to theological warfare.

To sort the whole subject out and become familiar with the evolution of cloud computing I searched for a book on the subject and found many. To be fair to the rest of the books out there, I only read one of them, yes you guessed it, Cloud Security and Privacy. Being a security person myself the title had the 2 operative words I needed to see Security and Privacy (and yes, I am shallow).

Oh! yes about the book, this is by far the best book I have read for a long time, what impressed me is the way it is written, there are questions in nearly every chapter, as you read the question you realize that you were thinking that exact question, or you would have if you knew what to think. For example "what is cloud computing?" Ok I know that's given but stay with me; now here are some of the rest of the questions, "What Is Privacy?" I think that is one hell of a question and the answers given by the author are not ground breaking, however "What Is the Data Life Cycle?" "What Are the Key Privacy Concerns in the Cloud? ", "Who Is Responsible for Protecting Privacy?" put all these questions and more together and properly answer them all, you end up with a near masterpiece.

By the end of Chapter 3 you are not only familiar with cloud computing but you are now able to speak IAAS, PAAS, SAAS and actually understand the infrastructure security as it relates to IAAS.

I specially liked Chapter 6. Security management in the cloud, a very well written chapter about security management as it relates to the cloud computing, both ITIL and ISO27001 controls are mapped to the cloud.

Chapter Seven which deals with Privacy is one of the most important chapters, Privacy may be the single most important factor in deciding whether one chooses to use the cloud computing or not. The author includes a very reach sampling of many of the laws related to Privacy acts throughout the glob and yet in the beginning of the chapter you'll find the following dilemma " but although it may be possible to transfer liability via contractual agreements, it is never possible to transfer accountability." -Cloud Security and Privacy. I may argue that this chapter should have been the second chapter of the book.

In conclusion:
I could write a book about this book, but that would not be fair to you (as you may have noticed, I do not have the talent). Simply buy the book and read it yourself, it is not that expensive and it certainly looks more intelligent than those other books you have about Hacking something or other.

Best Fishes and thank you for reading.
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