"When I left eBay, we saw a lot of attacks coming from the cloud," Cullinane said. Sometimes the problems emanated from customer PCs where malware was attacking even in the midst of customer transactions. And now the recent massive denial-of-service attacks on about a dozen U.S. bank websites is another reminder of how grim things are getting -- and how sharing information would help IT staffs in getting the big picture.
In another keynote today at CSA, Tim Rains, a director in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, alluded to the fact that lawyers -- as well as C-level management -- at a company considering cloud services to hold data are often the ones who make the decision to go ahead or not. One CISO at the conference, who asked not to be identified by name, said his corporate attorney is the one with a final say over using cloud services, and the answer is typically "no" due to security worries.
Trying to build confidence, Microsoft is striving for transparency by submitting information related to security in its Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and other cloud offerings to the CSA's Security Trust and Assurance Registry (STAR), a repository of vendor-submitted information about security practices. (A CSA official today noted third-party certification of cloud-provider security is expected to be in place next year as well to augment the service provider self-attestation found in STAR).
Microsoft has also created what it calls the Cloud Security Readiness Tool, described as a set of questions on security architecture, authentication and other topics that can be used for "starting the conversation" with executives and help them get comfortable with concepts they may not be familiar with. "There's still a lot of confusion about what cloud computing is," Rains said in his keynote.
In yet another talk, Tom Kellermann, vice president of cybersecurity at Trend Micro, gave a riveting description of East European and Asian cybercrime and espionage and how victimized companies are being "hunted" as part of a massive "colonizing of the infrastructure." He also added a few observations about lawyers.
The IT security professional is going to have to work to explain the nature of today's security threats to the company lawyer, among others, including the CIO. "Take your general counsel to lunch," he recommended.