Plugging a SaaS access hole

We have a lot of sensitive data on Salesforce.com servers, and until now, you could access it from any device.

By Mathias Thurman, Computerworld |  Consumerization of IT

Cue grumbling from the sales department. They were used to logging in to Salesforce from anywhere on any device. Of course, that convenience is exactly the risk we are concerned about, since we can't vouch for the integrity of "anywhere" or "any device." Some employees have even accessed corporate SaaS applications from Internet cafes and hotel-lobby kiosks. Such "unknown" devices are often infected with malware, and when connected to our network, they have compromised the login credentials of our employees. OK, said sales, no more public machines, but at least grant us the convenience of accessing Salesforce from our iPads .

That we did, by deploying the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client and RSA SecureID token for the iPad. We had been planning to deploy these applications for the iPad later in the year anyway, in conjunction with our mobile device management rollout.

A Lot of Work

Restricting Salesforce by IP address is a big job. We had to obtain all the IP addresses that Salesforce uses, as well as those of third parties. Then we had to modify our firewalls to allow access to each of those destinations. We also had to modify our VPN client profiles to recognize when a connected VPN user is accessing Salesforce. Finally, we had to let Salesforce know all of our company's IP address ranges. Gathering this data took time, and more time will be needed for monitoring, so that when a change occurs -- the addition of a new office, for example --we can modify the configuration.

This latest change hasn't been pain-free, but the grumbling has subsided. The sales team seems to understand our reasoning and agrees that, given recent security events in the news, this change makes sense.

This week's journal is written by a real security manager, "Mathias Thurman," whose name and employer have been disguised for obvious reasons. Contact him at mathias_thurman@yahoo.com.

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Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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