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5/7/2018
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Google Security Updates Target DevOps, Containers

The tech giant explains why it's rolling out a new cloud security management tool and an open-source framework for confidential computing.

Data visibility is a chief concern for companies moving to the cloud. In an effort to help organizations control their information, Google recently announced security updates intended to protect containers and application development.

Sam Ramji, vice president of Google Cloud product development, emphasized the importance of DevOps security in his keynote last week at InteropITX. "This explosion of connectivity has led to a golden age of software development," he said, pointing to the opportunities and challenges that come with having more than one billion people using each of Google's seven products.

No matter the industry, he said, all businesses are under pressure to keep up with the demands of an increasingly connected population.

Ramji urged attendees to embrace the change. "If you build a system that can't easily connect, you'll probably regret it in the future," he said. "Problems that can be reduced to software will be reduced to software," and companies should build with that idea in mind.

This demands the means to build securely - a problem, he noted, given the shortfall of developers and security professionals. Ramji explained the rollout of Asylo, a new open-source framework and SDK built by Google for developing applications to run in trusted execution environments (TEEs). Asylo simplifies production so any container can run in secure mode.

TEEs use specialized environments called enclaves to protect against threats targeting the operating system, drivers, hypervisor, firmware, and other underlying layers of the stack, officials write in a blog post. Enclaves block malicious insiders and unauthorized threat actors. Asylo encrypts sensitive information and verifies the integrity of code in each enclave to protect the applications and the data stored inside each one.

"The actual running code in the cloud, I want it to be completely opaque to the provider," Ramji said. "I want it to be encrypted in runtime."

The process of developing and running applications in a TEE previously required developers to have specialized tools and knowledge. Asylo makes TEEs accessible to a larger pool of developers without specific hardware requirements; TEE implementations in the past have been tied to certain hardware environments both on-prem and in the cloud, Google explains.

Now developers can use TEEs without rewriting their source code or gaining technical knowledge on how they work. Asylo users are provided a Docker image via Google Container Registry; this gives them the dependencies they need to run a container anywhere.

Security Controls in the Cloud

Speaking of containers, Ramji also touched on Google's upcoming rollout of Cloud Security Command Center (Cloud SCC), a management tool in the Google Cloud platform where admins can view security data across their organization. Cloud SCC was announced a few weeks ago; however, Ramji noted five container security companies have integrated their tools to improve security for containers running on the Google Kubernetes Engine.

"Observability becomes absolutely critical in this infrastructure," said Ramji of the cloud. "The medium is abundant. What's scarce is observability."

These integrations let admins see security alerts for Kubernetes Engine clusters in one place, and view and organize cluster assets within projects across the business. Visibility is critical in managing container security, which generally requires admins to create a baseline of typical behavior and use rules to detect when activity goes outside the norm.

"Your ability to get into the data and crawl down is absolutely critical, filtering ends up being absolutely critical," he said, pointing to the importance of organizing and labeling data resources.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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