Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Cloud 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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
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...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...