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Bright future for security in the cloud

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

As reverberations from last week’s ransomware attack continue to be felt throughout the world and the security industry, the answer to how we can minimize the impact that these types of attacks can have on a company may be found in the cloud. For example, WannaCry ransomware, as it is called, preyed on Microsoft computers that failed to update the latest security patch that was issued in March, an oversight that an IT savvy company operating in the cloud would not fall victim to.

The good news continues to pour in on increased adoption of cloud-based services, including a new report from Intel Security, titled Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The State of Cloud Adoption and Security, which finds that cloud services are now a regular component of IT operations, and are utilized by more than 90 percent of organizations around the world.

Many are working under a “cloud first” philosophy, only choosing to deploy an internal service if there is no suitable cloud variant available, and as a result, IT architectures are rapidly shifting to a hybrid private/public cloud model, with those surveyed expecting 80 percent of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months, according to the report.

For the report, Intel Security surveyed more than 2,000 IT professionals in September 2016 to produce this annual review of the state of cloud adoption, representing a broad set of industries, countries, and organization sizes. In the face of a continuing shortage of skilled security personnel, the impact of this scarcity on cloud adoption was a priority for this year’s report.

“Cloud first. Two simple words, but the approach is now well and truly ensconced into the architecture of many organizations across the world,” Raj Samani, chief technology officer, EMEA, Intel Security, said in the report. “Our initial assumption when designing the survey, that there was a gap between intent and implementation and that the transformation to cloud would take several years, was proven inaccurate. The desire to migrate quickly towards cloud computing appears to be on the agenda for most organizations.”

In the forward to the report, Jim Reavis, CEO, Cloud Security Alliance, said, “This report clearly resonates with the anecdotal information I have received in my travels representing the Cloud Security Alliance this past year. Cloud computing is maturing and broad-based adoption is occurring.”

Overall, the study found that cloud services are widely used in some form, with 93 percent of organizations utilizing software-, infrastructure-, or platform-as-a-service offerings. Cloud architectures also changed significantly, from predominantly private-only in 2015 to increased adoption of public cloud resulting in a predominantly hybrid private/public infrastructure in 2016. Also, the average number of cloud services in use in an organization dropped from 43 in 2015 to 29 in 2016, indicating potential consolidation of cloud providers or solutions.

Interestingly, almost half (49 percent) of the professionals surveyed stated that they had slowed their cloud adoption due to a lack of cybersecurity skills.

The trust and perception of public cloud services continues to improve year-over-year, the report said, and most organizations view cloud services as or more secure than private clouds, and much more likely to deliver lower costs of ownership and overall data visibility. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust public clouds by more than 2:1. Overall, 62 percent of organizations reported storing personal customer information in public clouds.

“Improved trust and perception, as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management, is encouraging more organizations to store sensitive data in the public cloud,” the report found.

Virtualization of private data center architectures is progressing, and on average, 52 percent of an organization’s data center servers are virtualized, and most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data center completed within 2 years, according to the findings.

Because businesses are trusting cloud services with a wide range of applications and data, much of it sensitive or business critical, the report stated that this movement of sensitive data to the public cloud may attract cybercriminals.

“Security vendors are delivering tools to address fundamental security concerns, such as protecting data in transit, managing user access, and setting consistent policies across multiple services,” the report concluded. “Attackers will look for the easiest targets, regardless of where they are located. Integrated or unified security solutions are a strong defense against these threats, giving security operations visibility across all of the services the organization is using and what data sets are permitted to traverse them."

The report noted that organizations should ensure that they are using authentication best practices, such as distinct passwords, multi-factor authentication, and even biometrics where available.

“Despite the majority belief that Shadow IT is putting the organization at risk, security technologies such as data loss prevention (DLP), encryption, and cloud access security brokers (CASBs) remain underutilized,” according to the findings. “Integrating these tools with an existing security system increases visibility, enables discovery of shadow services, and provides options for automatic protection of sensitive data at rest and in motion throughout any type of environment. Consider adopting a Cloud First strategy to encourage adoption of cloud services to reduce costs and increase flexibility, and put security operations in a proactive position instead of a reactive one.”

The bottom line: The cost and resource savings of cloud services are real, and the wide variety of offerings makes it possible to choose the best fit for the organization, according to the report.

Click here for the full report.

Migration to the cloud inevitable, study finds

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Companies across industries are increasingly leveraging the cloud for security applications, with 42 percent of respondents in a new study commissioned by Schneider Electric indicating they currently run security applications in the cloud and almost half (45 percent) stating they are likely or extremely likely to transition security operations to the cloud in the future.

The survey, conducted by Morar Consulting, included input from more than 300 U.S. CIOs, CTOs, IT directors, security/facilities managers and operations personnel across industries including construction and trade, education, financial services, healthcare, IT/technology, manufacturing and industrial and professional and business services.

“Leveraging the cloud for security applications is becoming increasingly accepted—and required—as we move into a 24/7 digital world,” Steven Turney, security program manager, Schneider Electric, said in the announcement. “Especially for companies where security management improvements are imminent, it makes sense to consider innovation at every level of their organization to meet their security needs. As businesses are required to be more agile, the cloud helps to unify and simplify security measures so an organization’s data, people and assets are constantly protected.”

According to the findings, organizations utilize the cloud for existing applications including data storage, human resources, email and security, and are eager to continue adopting it for security operations, with 57 percent of respondents believing the cloud is secure, including IT and technology professionals having the most confidence (78 percent), followed by education (70 percent), construction (68 percent) and financial services (52 percent). However, some skeptics remain, with 18 percent of respondents indicating they do not trust the cloud.

“Nearly three-fourths of respondents said network security is an important feature for security systems in their organizations,” the study’s authors found. “While the state of security continues to advance, respondents indicate security systems aren’t where they should be in order to adopt emerging technologies (54 percent), and despite business leaders being supportive of emerging technology (95 percent), many barriers to adoption exist.

Organizational/administrative barriers such as procedures, lack of perceived value and ROI were the top barriers identified that are inhibiting organizations from achieving their security goals, according to the study.

“While integration remains an obstacle to achieving security goals, almost 80 percent feel it is important to integrate security systems with other buildings and IT systems as part of an organization’s cloud strategy,” the study found. “Currently, photo ID badging, active directory, intrusion and CCTV are the top four systems organizations integrate into their security systems. The two top non-security systems organizations currently integrate with their security systems are automation and lighting.”

To learn more about the study, you can review the full results here.

Note: SSN continues to report on this story, including an upcoming interview with Steven Turney, security program manager for Schneider Electric.

Mysteries of the cloud fading as benefits become clear

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03/08/2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—Talking points are in abundance when integrators try persuading customers to consider cloud-based storage and management solutions. Two themes, however, seem to resonate, and for different reasons.

News Poll: Majority of respondents use cloud

Video surveillance, analytics and storage listed as key usage by half
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02/01/2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—A majority of companies responding to Security Systems News’ latest News Poll said they are using the cloud, and selling more than ever, but several highlight difficulties in understanding the technology—either with employees or end users.

Big year ahead for biometrics

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Colo.—Biometrics are coming of age, and 2017 has the potential to be a big year for the continued adoption of biometric technologies, according to Acuity Market Intelligence, which released its "Ten Top Trends for Biometrics and Digital Identity" for 2017 this week.

"Biometrics and digital identity are often perceived as threats to privacy and security," Maxine Most, Principal of Acuity Market intelligence said in the announcement.. "However, taken together these technologies have the potential to enhance privacy, increase personal data control, and shift power relative to the monetization of consumer data."

No. 2 on the top ten list is iris biometrics, which will have a "breakout year as smartphone availability drives consumer acceptance up and price points down,” according to Acuity.

This is not surprising. During Security Systems News’ Battle of the Biometrics session at last year's TechSec Solutions conference, our panel of expert judges chose iris technology as the top pick over other biometrics, including fingerprint and facial. This year at TechSec, which is Feb. 27-28 in Delray Beach, Fla., the reigning champion from last year's session, Blaine Frederick, VP of product management for Eyelock, returns to continue the conversation with Jeff Kohler, product line and business development director for Princeton Identity, as they look at how lower price points are increasing demand and opening up new applications across many different verticals.

Another interesting finding, and one that does not surprise us here at SSN—the creator of the Cloud+ conference—is the rise of cloud-based biometrics.

According to Most, “2017 will be a tipping point as cloud-based biometrics, secure mobile credentials, and fintech innovation coalesce into consumer-centric solutions offering previously unobtainable levels of accessibility, security, and individual control over PII (Personally Identifiable Information)."

The following is Acuity's ten top trends for biometrics and digital identity:

1. Behavioral biometrics on smartphones, and the associated privacy issues and PII concerns, become mainstream.

2. Iris biometrics "breakout" as smartphone availability drives consumer acceptance up and price points down.

3. Security impact and liability implications of PII via IoT (Internet of Things) begins to influence Enterprise Executives.

4. Cloud biometrics are recognized as critical Infrastructure for global digital payments and commerce platforms.

5. Links between digital identity, smartphones, and mobile and stationary smart devices begin to be monetized.

6. New monetization models for digital identity emerge, shifting power from commercial enterprises to consumers.

7. Secure mobile smartphone credentials drive infrastructure development with migration from tests and pilots to deployments.

8. Many fintech innovators are swallowed by BFSIs thwarting their impact on industry transformation.

9. A handful of fintech standouts, committed to disruption, emerge as potential threats to the status quo.

10. Biometrics and digital identity begin to be understood as forces for social justice, equity, privacy, and accessibility.

Virtual roundtable: Monitoring in the cloud

What are the benefits? Who’s jumping onboard?
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09/07/2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—In the past few years, several providers have introduced monitoring center software that will enable central station infrastructure to sit in the cloud. Proponents of this software say it can reduce the cost of entry for new monitoring stations to start up, bring new capabilities to existing monitoring stations and make it easier for end users to set up proprietary monitoring stations.

Cloud services, IoT driving data center market growth

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08/25/2016

LONDON—A new report from Technavio forecasts the global data center market to grow at a CAGR of close to 11 percent during 2016-2020, driven by increased spending on cloud data centers, growing IoT and increased use of big data analytics.

Who wins as access control moves to the cloud?

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07/26/2016

The security industry is notorious for proprietary systems that make it difficult to integrate different components/devices with one another. The cloud will change this for all manufacturers, and will quickly have an impact on the installer channel.

ESX 2016 sessions look at key topics for central stations

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ESX recently announced its educational tracks for its 2016 show; Run Your Company, Grow Your Business, Maximize Your Central Station, and Rethink the Future. At the end of 2015, I wrote about the biggest trends of the year for monitoring, and I see quite a few of those topics coming up in the Maximize Your Central Station track at this year’s ESX.

ASAP to PSAP had a big year last year, with the announced involvement of big names like ADT, Vivint and Stanley. On June 9, ESX has a session on the program, called “ASAP to PSAP - The Game Changer for the Central Station.”

Cloud came up quite bit last year too, with IBS, Dice, and Bold Technologies each announcing a cloud-based central station platform. The session   “The benefits and limitations of cloud storage in a central station environment,” and, “How UL-827 will impact you and what will be required to secure your technical configurations.”

Other topics sound new and intriguing. Lela Panagides, founder and CEO of Leap Into Leadership, will present a two-part session on “The Art of De-stressing Your Central Station.” The first part will address “How to Know When Your Team Needs a Chill Pill,” and the second will seek to give attendees “The Healthy Workplace Toolkit.”

The complete list of sessions in this track, as well as the others, is available on ESX’s website, www.esxweb.com.

Video analytics market poised for growth

Security will remain largest use for video analytics to 2020
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12/28/2015

DALLAS—The North American market is, and will remain, the largest segment of the global video analytics market from 2015 to 2020 as the market grows worldwide. Cloud integration is a key trend and, while business intelligence is a rising application, security and life safety remains the top application for video analytics.

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