Security Experts:

McAfee Expands Cloud Security Program

At RSA Conference 2018 in San Francisco, CA, McAfee announced two additions to its cloud security program, and published a new analysis of the corporate adoption of cloud services. The new services are centered on securing containers in the cloud, and adding consistent security to third-party cloud services. The analysis, Navigating a Cloudy Sky, surveyed 1,400 IT decision makers around the world, and interviewed several C-level executives.

Key findings from the survey (PDF) are that cloud adoption is continuing to grow, but the cloud-first strategy has slowed. Ninety-seven percent of organizations now use cloud services (either public, private, or both; up from 93% one year ago); but the adoption of a cloud first strategy has dropped from 82% last year to 65% this year.

It isn't immediately clear why the cloud first strategy has slowed, but it could partly be down to uncertainty about the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in May 2018. While fewer than 10% of organizations expect to decrease their cloud investments because of GDPR, there are marked differences in the expected increases. Forty-nine percent of firms expect to increase their investment in private and hybrid cloud; but only 37% expect to increase investment in the public cloud (where they are likely to have less control of and visibility into their data).

A disparity between the growing use of containers and serverless computing in the cloud, and the secure use of those technologies is also apparent from the survey. Eighty percent of those surveyed are using or experimenting with these technologies, while only 66% have a security strategy for containers, and 65% have a security strategy for serverless computing.

This issue is now addressed with McAfee's announcement that support will be included in its Cloud Workload Security (CWS) v5.1, which will be available before the end of Q2 2018. 

"As enterprises turn to the cloud to transform themselves into a digital business and develop compelling experiences for their customers, they often overlook the security challenges involved in adopting a multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud environment," said Rajiv Gupta, SVP of the cloud security business unit. "McAfee Cloud Workload Security enables organizations to secure cloud workloads and containers across AWS, Azure, VMware, and their private cloud, addressing key security, compliance and governance requirements so that they can accelerate their business in the cloud."  

This version will discover new Docker containers within five minutes of their deployment. It allows administrators to quarantine concerning workloads or containers using micro- and nano-segmentation with a single click, isolating threats and inhibiting their spread. It also offers enhanced threat monitoring and detection with AWS GuardDuty alerts available within the CWS dashboard; and includes policy compliance assessments to PCI, SOX, HIPAA and more to enable simple remediation.

McAfee has also, and separately, announced the McAfee CASB Connect Program. This is designed to allow customers to apply the same set of security policies across all their cloud applications. It is, says McAfee, the industry's first self-serve framework and accompanying program that enables any cloud service provider or partner to rapidly build lightweight API connectors to McAfee® Skyhigh Security Cloud within days, without writing a single line of code.

But only if the cloud service is incorporated within the 'McAfee CASB Connect Catalog'. Right now, there are just 12 entries in this catalog (out of some 20,000 different cloud services); but they include heavyweights such as O365, Box, Salesforce, Slack and Dropbox. 

Gopi Krishna Boyinapalli, a senior product manager with McAfee's CASB, explains the problem being addressed in an associated blog: "Organizations not only need to enforce appropriate security controls for different cloud services, they also require a central control point to enforce the same set of security policies across their SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS deployments. In fact, Gartner predicts that, through 2020, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer's fault. This has caused enterprises to look for ways to enforce additional security controls on their cloud solutions beyond what a cloud service provider offers natively."

Clearly, the Connect Catalog will need to expand before it is of serious value to the McAfee customer; but we can expect the company to react to customer requests for the inclusion of new cloud services, just as we can expect new and small, perhaps niche, cloud providers to seek inclusion to become more attractive to the existing McAfee cloud customer base.

In time, it should benefit both cloud service providers and cloud service consumers. The providers can minimize the cost and complexity of customizing their security controls to meet the data and security requirements of different customers; while consumers can more easily and rapidly adopt new cloud services without having to extend their security and compliance policies to every new service.

"One of the core tenets of our vision," explains Rajiv Gupta, SVP of the McAfee cloud security business unit, "is to make cloud the most secure environment for businesses. The McAfee CASB Connect Program framework enables every cloud service in the catalog to easily conform to the security needs of enterprises, thus minimizing the security barriers that hinder cloud adoption and allowing enterprises to confidently adopt cloud services to accelerate their business."

McAfee's cloud security business unit combines McAfee with the Skyhigh cloud access security broker that it acquired in January 2018. McAfee itself was spun out of Intel in April 2017. Intel had acquired McAfee for $7.68 billion in 2010.

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Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines – from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.