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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Friday, July 1, 2016

Reward My Loyalty … with Spam!

Business
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 10, 2016
2:31 pm

How many times have you purchased something on line, or even just expressed a bit of interest in a new product, and are immediately hit with a seemingly endless series of marketing emails? 

The marketoonist captures this sentiment brilliantly:

Marketoonist 160606

 

Benjamin Franklin – Electricity and Freedom!

Freedom, History
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 10, 2016
1:54 pm

Today, June 10, 2016, is the 264th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s electrifying experience of flying a kite in a thunderstorm and capturing a lightning strike in a Leyden Jar.  He is fortunate that he wasn’t killed!

Franklin

Franklin’s fascination with electricity is the one of the reasons he is a personal hero to me. I share his interest in electricity, but I was able to learn about it in safer environment.

Another, more significant reason Benjamin Franklin is a hero to me was his commitment to the cause of Freedom.  He is the only one of the Founding Fathers who signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the U.S.: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787).

A print of one of my favorite paintings by Del Parson hangs in our living room. Entitled “The Old Man Wept,” it depicts Benjamin Franklin shedding a tear as he signs the Constitution of the United States.

Oldman

Thank you, Mr. Franklin!

 

First American to Walk in Space

Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 3, 2016
2:17 pm

Gemini 4

Fifty one years ago, on June 3, 1965, Edward H. White became the first American to walk in space. As pilot for the Gemini 4 mission, Ed White was able to step outside the Gemini capsule for 21 minutes, tethered to the spacecraft but propelled about by a hand held jet-propulsion gun.

I remember how fantastic that seemed to my young boy mind way back then.  It is still pretty cool to think about it now.

Unfortunately, on January 27, 1967, Ed White, along with Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, died in a flash fire in the Apollo 1 command module during a launch rehearsal test.

 

Tiananmen Square, the Internet and Freedom

Communications, Freedom, History
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 3, 2016
11:10 am

Twenty-seven years ago today, on June 3, 1989, government officials in the People’s Republic of China authorized its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing’s Tiananmen Square from protesting students and others seeking democratic reform. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of demonstrators and suspected dissidents.

China

During this time, a graduate student from China was working at the same company where I was employed.  I witnessed him using the Internet to exchange messages with freedom-loving compatriots all over the world.  He was somewhat frightened that the Chinese government would discover what he was doing and harm his family back in China, so he asked me to not tell others what he was doing at that time.

As I watched what he was doing, I realized what a powerful force global electronic communications could be in the support of personal freedom. I’m sure the tremendous advances in personal freedom that have occurred in China since that time are due at least in part, to interpersonal communications via the Internet.  If people can communicate, it is really difficult for governments to suppress them and deny freedom.

 

Identity as a Business Enabler – A New Concept?

Business, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
4:22 pm

Foundation

Sometimes, I get impatient with the pace of progress in the Identity industry in general and certain companies in particular.  Yesterday, I listened to a presentation where the speaker was extolling the virtues of thinking of Identity and Access Management as an enabler for Digital Transformation, not just a defensive protector of data and systems.  He spoke as if this were a startling new concept.

I looked back in my blog and found a couple of entries that show at least some of us considered Identity to be a key business enabler a decade ago:

From May 2005 (the first month I blogged)

Viewing Identity Management as a business enabler rather than just a cost-reduction vehicle or compliance assistant allows us to think beyond the constraints of how we do business now. Just think of how many more customers you could serve, how many more services you could deliver and how many more partner relationships you could leverage if you knew that identities of all participants were highly secure but highly connectable!

From January 2007

Identity is an essential, core enabler of online business. Identity must not be an afterthought, a necessary evil, or a function forced by government regulation. It is more properly recognized as a key business enabler. The modern business paradigm of delivering highly personalized service to individual consumers demands that Identity is at the core of the business process.

It is a concept that is still valid today.  I’m glad to see more folks are catching on.

 

 

State of the Market: IoT 2016

Information Security, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 27, 2016
1:52 pm

VerizonIoT1

This afternoon, I read a recently released Verizon report, “State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016.” It provides a quick, but fascinating read about Internet of Things market forces, real-life industry adoption, key trends and real-world successes.  The report states:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is much more than the result of seemingly fragmented and complex technologies smashed together … forward-thinking business and public sector leaders, as well as consumers and developers, are turning to the Internet of Things to address some of society’s most pressing social, economic and business challenges.

Five macro trends— data monetization, consumer expectations, the regulatory landscape, network connectivity/IoT platforms and security—are helping to speed IoT adoption and deliver measurable results across several industries and sectors.

Verizon believes we just completed the year where IoT graduated from the neat new idea stage to mainstream adoption:

In our view, 2015 was the year IoT gained legitimacy. Businesses moved beyond a “start small think big” mindset. Today, they’re building IoT into future strategies and business models. Companies across all industries now have IoT squarely on their radar.

In 2015, the emphasis of startup capital began to favor enterprise focused IoT businesses over consumer applications in a big way, and the trend appears to be accelerating:

According to analysis conducted by our venture capital (VC) arm, Verizon Ventures, we estimate that consumer IoT startups raised 15% more VC funding than enterprise-focused startups in 2014. However, in 2015, roles seemed to have reversed with enterprise outpacing consumer by around 75%. In 2016, we believe the enterprise will continue that trend, but by a much larger order of magnitude—roughly 2 – 3 times more than consumer.

The sheer size of the potential IoT market continues to boggle my mind. The following chart shows a few big numbers that barely scratch the surface of the potential for IoT growth.  

VerizonIoT4

Of the many potential IoT areas of emphasis, the Verizon report specifically addresses four:

  • Automotive: Connection, convergence, convenience and the connected car
  • Agriculture: Farming with precision
  • Smart Cities: Making communities smart and sustainable
  • Energy: Providing real-time energy insight.

Of these, the closest one to my heart is Farming with Precision – quite a big step from the old farm where I grew up, where adjusting irrigation meant installing canvas dams in ditches and using a shovel to channel water down the correct rows in a field:

Industry experts have quipped that the agriculture industry is proof that soon, every company will be an IoT business.

One of the biggest trends in farming today is precision agriculture, the practice of sensing and responding to variable soil, moisture, weather and other conditions across different plots. Farmers are deploying wireless sensors and weather stations to gather real-time data about things such as how much water different plants need and whether they require pest management or fertilizer  

Using this data, growers can customize growing processes. Indeed, one of the biggest benefits IoT offers farmers is the ability to gather much more granular data about smaller parcels of land. With site-specific data, growers can then optimize growing conditions on a plot-by-plot basis, boosting yields, improving quality and cutting costs in the process.  

VerizonIoT2

Again, the numbers are immense:

The total market size for digital precision agriculture services is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2% between 2014 and 2020, to reach $4.55 billion.

Security, is, of course, of critical importance across many facets of the IoT landscape. 

The sheer volume of IoT devices constantly producing communications, require careful security and privacy considerations. There is no current IoT protection framework that’s ahead of the implementation of this technology. The industry is keeping up with the development of technology by looking to the rising threat vectors—some old, some new—that will impact deployments and ongoing operations. Authentication of critical data, and baseline triggers for action are the emerging security focus.

VerizonIoT3

 The bottom line?

Innovation, productivity and value will thrive as private companies and the public sector both come to the inevitable conclusion that IoT is imperative to delivering the integrated, easy to use and sustainable products and services demanded by an increasingly mobile, tech-savvy 21stcentury society.

No single company or country can realize the full promise of IoT on its own. We believe collaboration, experimentation and openness will:

  • Create cleaner cities
  • Deliver better healthcare
  • Make transportation systems safer
  • Conserve water
  • Boost productivity
  • And make the digital world work better for consumers and citizens.

We live in an exciting world, at an exciting time.  Hang on for the ride!

 

Happy Birthday, Levi’s Jeans!

History
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 20, 2016
3:45 pm

Levi’s blue jeans have been a staple in my life for a long time.  Today I am wearing a new pair I bought last week. The Levi’s brand is quintessential Americana. In fact, complex.com dubbed Levis as the eighth most iconic brand of all time!

Today, we celebrate the birthday of Levi’s. According to History.com:

On this day in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada, tailor Jacob Davis are given a patent to create work pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the birth of one of the world’s most famous garments: blue jeans.

Levis

The pair of Levi’s I am wearing now don’t have classic copper rivets, but I like the comfort and fit. I suppose that wearing Levi’s is the closest I’ll ever come to being “hip.”

 

 

CSA – State of Cloud Security in 2016

Cloud Computing, Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
5:30 pm

CSA2016

The State of Cloud Security 2016, published by the Cloud Security Association Global Enterprise Advisory Board, is a short, but interesting document, focused on articulating the gaps in current cloud security practices to help cloud providers better understand the needs of their customers.

Cloud computing is an incredible innovation. While at its heart a simple concept, the packaging of compute resources as an on demand service is having a fundamental impact on information technology with far reaching consequences. Cloud is disrupting most industries in a rapid fashion and is becoming the back end for all other forms of computing, such as mobile, Internet of Things and future technologies not yet conceived. As governments, businesses and consumers move to adopt cloud computing en masse, the stakes could not be higher to gain assurance that cloud is a safe, secure, transparent, and trusted platform.

With the stakes rising in cloud adoption, cloud providers need to step up with better built-in security:

Cloud computing adoption is solid and increasing. Security and compliance can be adoption barriers. Now is the time to increase the pressure on cloud providers to build security in, not try to bolt it on as an afterthought.

Cloud computing demands new approaches to security:

We need to take a hard look at many of our existing security practices and retire them in favor of new “cloud inspired” approaches that offer higher levels of security.

Finally, solving these tough problems will require cooperative effort between cloud providers and their customers:

Both enterprises and cloud providers need to work together to better align their security programs, architectures and communications.

Let’s work together to conquer these tough challenges.  

 

Cloud Security – 2016 Spotlight Report

Cloud Computing, Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
5:02 pm

Spotlight title

This afternoon, I read the Cloud Security – 2016 Spotlight Report, presented by CloudPassage. It was an informative report based on responses from a Linkedin security community. Aside from the insight it provided about Cloud Security, I found it intriguing that social media groups are proving to be a valuable source of market information.

The report focuses on the risk factors facing enterprises as they progressively adopt cloud computing

Security of critical data and systems in the cloud remains a key barrier to adoption of cloud services. This report, the result of comprehensive research in partnership with the 300,000+ member Information Security Community on LinkedIn, reveals the drivers and risk factors of migrating to the cloud. Learn how organizations are responding to the security threats in the cloud and what tools and best practices IT cybersecurity leaders are considering in their move to the cloud.

It is no surprise that security is a key concern.  I would expect such a response from a self proclaimed information security community.

Cloud security concerns are on the rise. An overwhelming majority of 91% of organizations are very or moderately concerned about public cloud security. Today, perceived security risks are the single biggest factor holding back faster adoption of cloud computing. And yet, adoption of cloud computing is on the rise. The overwhelming benefits of cloud computing should drive organizations and security teams to find a way to “get cloud done”. This is a prime example to where security can have a profound impact on enabling business transformation.

Spotlight concern

It was not surprising that most respondents thought that traditional security tools were inadequate.

The survey results confirm that traditional tools work somewhat or not at all for over half of cybersecurity professionals (59%). Only 14% feel that traditional security tools are sufficient to manage security across the cloud.

Spotlight tools

I am not a expert on the validity of this type of survey vs. a more traditional survey conducted outside of the social media environment, but I think it provides some valuable insight.  There is a lot of work to do, folks!

 

The Treacherous Twelve: Cloud Computing Top Threats in 2016

Cloud Computing, Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
4:24 pm

Treacherous12

This week, I read an interesting report created by the Top Threats Working Group of the Cloud Security Alliance and sponsored by Hewlett Packard. Entitled, “The Treacherous Twelve: Cloud Computing Top Threats in 2016,” this report points out that new security vulnerabilities are emerging …

the improved value offered by cloud computing advances have also created new security vulnerabilities, including security issues whose full impacts are still emerging.

… and that security is no longer just an IT issue. 

The 2016 Top Threats release mirrors the shifting ramifications of poor cloud computing decisions up through the managerial ranks. Instead of being an IT issue, it is now a boardroom issue.

More vulnerabilities and increased business awareness/responsibility. The urgency of security is rising.

The report identifies security concerns so business leaders can make better decisions about security:

The purpose of the report is to provide organizations with an up-to-date, expert-informed understanding of cloud security concerns in order to make educated risk management decisions regarding cloud adoption strategies. The report reflects the current consensus among security experts in CSA community about the most significant security issues in the cloud.

The 12 critical issues to cloud security (ranked in order of severity per survey results):

  1. Data Breaches
  2. Weak Identity, Credential and Access Management
  3. Insecure APIs
  4. System and Application Vulnerabilities
  5. Account Hijacking
  6. Malicious Insiders
  7. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  8. Data Loss
  9. Insufficient Due Diligence
  10. Abuse and Nefarious Use of Cloud Services
  11. Denial of Service
  12. Shared Technology Issues

The report provides includes a variety of useful information about each critical issue, including:

  1. Description
  2. Business Impact
  3. Anecdotes and Examples
  4. List of applicable controls from the Cloud Control Matrix (CCM)
  5. Links to further information

Some of the anecdotes are both intriguing and disturbing:

British telecom provider TalkTalk reported multiple security incidents in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in the theft of four million customers’ personal information. The breaches were followed by a rash of scam calls attempting to extract banking information from TalkTalk customers. TalkTalk was widely criticized for its failure to encrypt customer data.

Praetorian, an Austin, Texas-based provider of information security solutions, has launched a new cloud-based platform that leverages the computing power of Amazon AWS in order to crack password hashes in a simple fashion.

Heartbleed and Shellshock proved that even open source applications, which were believed more secure than their commercial counterparts … , were vulnerable to threats. They particularly affected systems running Linux, which is concerning given that 67.7% of websites use UNIX, on which the former (Linux) is based.

In June 2014, Code Spaces’ Amazon AWS account was compromised when it failed to protect the administrative console with multifactor authentication. All the company’s assets were destroyed, putting it out of business.

The threat is real, folks.  Be careful out there!

 
 
 
 
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