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What to Expect at AWS re:Invent 2017

The annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference is just around the corner (the show kicks off November 27 in Las Vegas). Rest assured, there will be lots of AWS-related products, partners, and customer news. Not to mention, more than a few parties. Here’s what to expect at AWS re:Invent 2017—and a few more topics we hope to hear about.

1.)  Focus on IOT, Machine Learning, and Big Data

IOT, Machine Learning, and Big Data are top of mind with much of the industry—insert your own Mugatu “so hot right now” meme here – and we expect all three to be front and center at this year’s re:Invent conference. These Amazon Web Services are ripe for adoption, as most IT shops lack the capabilities to deploy these types of services on their own.  We expect to see advancements in AWS IOT usability and features. We’ve already seen some early enhancements to AWS Greengrass, most notably support for additional programming languages, and would expect additional progress to be displayed at re:Invent. Other products that we expect to see advancement made are with AWS Athena and AWS Glue.

In the Machine Learning space, we were certainly excited about the recent partnership between Amazon Web Services and Microsoft around Gluon, and expect a number of follow-up announcements geared toward making it easier to adopt ML into one’s applications. As for Big Data, we imagine Amazon Web Service to continue sniping at open source tools that can be used to develop compelling services. We also would be eager to see more use of AWS Lambda for in-flight ETL work, and perhaps a long-running Lambda option for batch jobs.

2.)  Enterprise Security

To say that data security has been a hot topic these past several months, would be a gross understatement. From ransomware to the Experian breach to the unsecured storage of private keys, data security has certainly been in the news. In our September Enterprise Security Survey, 73% of respondents who are IT professionals don’t fully understand the public cloud shared responsibility model.

Last month, we announced our collaboration with Palo Alto Networks to help enterprises realize the business and technical benefits of securely moving to the public cloud. The 2nd Watch Enterprise Cloud Security Service blends 2nd Watch’s Amazon Web Services expertise and architectural guidance with Palo Alto Networks’ industry-leading VM series of security products. To learn more about security and compliance, join our re:Invent breakout session—Continuous Compliance on AWS at Scale— by registering for ID number SID313 from the AWS re:Invent Session Catalogue. The combination delivers a proven enterprise cloud security offering that is designed to protect customer organizations from cyberattacks, in hybrid or cloud architectures. 2nd Watch is recognized as the first public cloud-native managed security provider to join the Palo Alto Networks, NextWave Channel Partner Program. We are truly excited about this new service and collaboration, and hope you will visit our booth (#1104) or Palo Alto Networks (#2409) to learn more.

As for Amazon Web Services, we fully expect to see a raft of announcements. Consistent with our expectations around ML and Big Data, we expect to hear about enhanced ML-based anomaly detection, logging and log analytics, and the like. We also expect to see advancements to AWS Shield and AWS Organizations, which were both announced at last year’s show. Similarly, we wouldn’t be surprised by announced functionality to their web app firewall, AWS WAF. A few things we know customers would like are easier, less labor-intensive management and even greater integration into SecDevOps workflows. Additionally, customers are looking for better integration with third-party and in-house security technologies – especially   application scanning and SIEM solutions – for a more cohesive security monitoring, analysis, and compliance workflow.

The dynamic nature of the cloud creates specific challenges for security. Better security and visibility for ephemeral resources such as containers, and especially for AWS Lambda, are a particular challenge, and we would be extremely surprised not to see some announcements in this area.

Lastly, General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will be kicking in soon, and it is critical that companies get on top of this. We expect Amazon Web Service to make several announcements about improved, secure storage and access, especially with respect to data sovereignty. More broadly, we expect that Amazon Web Service will announce improved tools and services around compliance and governance, particularly with respect to mapping deployed or planned infrastructure against the control matrices of various regulatory schemes.

3.)  Parties!

We don’t need to tell you that AWS’ re:Play Party is always an amazing, veritable visual, and auditory playground.  Last year, we played classic Street Fighter II while listening to Martin Garrix bring the house down (Coin might have gotten ROFLSTOMPED playing Ken, but it was worth it!).  Amazon Web Services always pulls out all the stops, and we expect this year to be the best yet.

2nd Watch will be hosting its annual party for customers at the Rockhouse at the Palazzo.  There will be great food, an open bar, an awesome DJ, and of course, a mechanical bull. If you’re not yet on the guest list, request your invitation TODAY! We’d love to connect with you, and it’s a party you will not want to miss.

Bonus: A wish list of things 2nd Watch would like to see released at AWS re:Invent 2017

Blockchain – Considering the growing popularity of blockchain technologies, we wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Web Service launched a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) offering, or at least signaled their intent to do so, especially since Azure already has a BaaS offering.

Multi-region Database Option – This is something that would be wildly popular but is incredibly hard to accomplish. Having an active-active database strategy across regions is critical for production workloads that operate nationwide and require high uptime.  Azure already offers it with their Cosmos DB (think of it as a synchronized, multi-region DynamoDB), and we doubt Amazon Web Service will let that challenge stand much longer. It is highly likely that Amazon Web Service has this pattern operating internally, and customer demand is how Amazon Web Service services are born.

Nifi – The industry interest in Nifi data-flow orchestration, often analogized to the way parcel services move and track packages, has been accelerating for many reasons, including its applicability to IoT and for its powerful capabilities around provenance. We would love to see AWS DataPipeline re-released as Nifi, but with all the usual Amazon Web Services provider integrations built in.

If even half our expectations for this year’s re:Invent are met, you can easily see why the 2nd Watch team is truly excited about what Amazon Web Services has in store for everyone. We are just as excited about what we have to offer to our customers, and so we hope to see you there!

Schedule a meeting with one of our AWS Professional Certified Architects, DevOps or Engineers and don’t forget to come visit us in booth #1104 in the Expo Hall!  See you at re:Invent 2017!

 

— Coin Graham, Senior Cloud Consultant and John Lawler, Senior Product Manager, 2nd Watch

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Current IoT Security Threat Landscape

By Paul Fletcher, Alert Logic

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a broadly accepted term which basically describes any Internet-connected devices (usually via Wi-Fi) that isn’t a traditional computer system.  These connected, IoT devices offer many conveniences for everyday life.  Also, it’s difficult to remember how life was before you could check email, weather and stream live video using a smart TV.  It’s now considered commonplace for a smart refrigerator to send you a text every morning with an updated shopping list.  We can monitor and manage the lights, thermostat, doors, locks and web cameras from wherever we may roam, thanks to smartphone apps and the proliferation of our connected devices.

With this added convenience comes a larger digital footprint, which makes for a larger target for attackers to discover other systems on your network, steal data or seize control of your DVR.  The hacker community is just getting warmed up in regards to attacking IoT devices.  There are a lot of fun things hackers can do with vulnerable connected devices and/or “smart” homes.  The early attacks were just about exploring, hackers would simulate ghosts by having all the lights in the house go on and off in a pattern, turn the heater on during the summer and the air conditioning in the winter or make the food inside the fridge go bad with the change of a few temperature levels.

The current IoT security threat landscape has grown more sophisticated recently and we’ve seen some significant attacks.  The most impactful IoT-based cyber attack happened on Oct. 21, 2016, when a hacker group activated 10% of their IoTBotNet, with malware called “Mirai.”  Approximately 50,000 web cameras and DVR systems launched a massive DDoS attack on the Dyn DNS Service, disrupting Internet services for companies like Spotify, Twitter, Github and others for more than 8 hours.  The attackers only used 10% of the 500,000 DVR’s and Web Camera’s infected by the malware, but cause monetary damage to customers of the Dyn DNS service.  A few months later, attackers launched a new IoT-specific malware called “Persirai” that infected over 100,000 web cameras.  This new malware comes complete with a sleek detection avoidance feature.  Once the malware executes on the web cam it only runs in the RAM memory space and deletes the original infection file, making it extremely difficult to detect.

The plain, cold truth is that most IoT manufacturers use stripped down versions of the Linux (and possibly Android) operating system, because the OS requires minimal system resources to operate.  ALL IoT devices have some version of an operating system and are therefore; “lightweight” computers.  Since most IoT devices are running some form of Linux or Android operating system, this means that they have vulnerabilities that are researched and discovered on an on-going basis.  So, yes, it’s possible that you may have to install a security patch for your refrigerator or coffee maker.

Special-purpose computer systems with customized versions of operating systems have been around for decades.  The best example of this is old school arcade games or early gaming consoles.  The difference today is that these devices now come with fast, easy connectivity to your internal network and the Internet.  Most IoT manufacturers don’t protect the underlying operating system on their “smart” devices and consumers shouldn’t assume it’s safe to connect a new device to their network.  Both Mirai and Persirai compromised IoT devices using simple methods like default usernames and passwords.  Some manufacturers feel like their devices are so “lightweight” that their limited computing resources (hard drive, RAM etc.) wouldn’t be worth hacking, because they wouldn’t provide much firepower for an attacker.  The hacking community repeatedly prove that they are interested in ANY resource (regardless of capacity) they can leverage.

When an IoT device is first connected to your network (either home or office), it will usually try to “call home” for software updates and/or security patches.  It’s highly recommended that all IoT devices be placed on an isolated network segment and blocked from the enterprise or high valued home computer systems.  It’s also recommended to monitor all outbound Internet traffic from your “IoT” network segment to discern a baseline of “normal” behavior.  This helps you better understand the network traffic generated from your IoT devices and any “abnormal” behavior could help discover a potential attack.

Remember “hackers gonna hack,” meaning the threat is 24/7. IoT devices need good computer security hygiene, just like your laptop, smartphone and tablet.  Make sure you use unique and easily remembered passwords and make sure to rotate all passwords regularly.  Confirm that all of your systems are using the la patches and upgrades for better functionality and security.  After patches are applied, validate your security settings haven’t been changed back to the default settings.

IoT devices are very convenient and manufacturers are getting better at security, but with the ever-changing IoT threat landscape we can expect to see more impactful and sophisticated attack in the near future.  The daily burden of relevant operational security for an organization or household is no easy task and IoT devices are just one of the many threats that require on-going monitoring.  It’s highly recommended that IoT cyber threats be incorporated into a defense in depth strategy as a holistic approach to cyber security.

Learn more about 2nd Watch Managed Cloud Security and how our partnership with Alert Logic can ensure your environment’s security.

Blog Contributed by 2nd Watch Cloud Security Partner, Alert Logic

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