Host-Based Vs. Network-Based Firewalls For Cloud Security

18th July, 2017

If you are planning to move your company’s data to the cloud, it is important that you take the necessary steps to safeguard it against viruses and malicious attacks. No matter you own a small start-up business or a well-established organization, hackers are always on the lookout for unprotected confidential information that can be exploited for malicious purposes.

It is recommended to use a firewall solution to stay protected against any online attack or malware infection. The firewall will record the incoming requests, inspect data packets and block any unauthorized or unusual traffic to the network. There are different firewall options available depending upon the level of control required and where you want to deploy it. The two main types of firewall are – host based and network based.

Given below is a complete comparison of both the options so that you can choose the right one for your cloud data.

Host Based Firewall

A host based firewall is installed on every virtual machine that is connected to the cloud. It helps to monitor all the incoming and outgoing traffic to determine if it is safe to be directed to the device. Host based firewall offers the following advantages:

  • More Flexibility: Virtual machines and applications can be easily moved between the cloud environments without the need to change the firewall’s security policy.
  • Better Features: Host based firewall also supports anti-virus and data loss prevention to provide complete protection to the virtual machine.
    Customization: The firewall settings of each device can be individually configured according to the level of security required.

Network Based Firewall

Network based firewall refers to a solution that is embedded into the cloud infrastructure. It is a good option to be deployed in a larger network. It offers a slightly stronger defense as compared to host based firewalls. Some of the advantages of using network based firewall are:

  • Greater Security: This type of firewall solution is quite difficult to circumvent. In a host based firewall, the hacker can directly access the virtual machine and easily gain administrative privileges. However, in a network based firewall, unauthorized access is likely to be detected right at the network level.
  • Scalability: These firewalls can easily be scaled up if the client requires additional bandwidth.
    Affordability: Network based firewalls prove to be cost-effective in the long run as they do not require a dedicated IT team to monitor regular maintenance and updates on every server.

For more tips on choosing the right firewall solution for cloud data, you can contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Building A Successful IT Security Program

12th July, 2017

The increase in the number and frequency of hacking attacks in the recent years has led many to organizations to strengthen their cyber security. Having a well-formulated IT security program is not only essential to safeguard sensitive data and conform to legal requirements, it helps to boost employee productivity as well as reduce bandwidth consumption.

Given below are some tips that will help you in building a successful IT security program in your organization:

Establish A Core Team

First and foremost, it is important to formulate a core team to handle the information security of your business firm. The team should have complete knowledge of different aspects of network security such as managing IT assets, minimizing threats and vulnerabilities, establishing policies and regulations, conducting regular audits, training the employees etc. Make sure that you include employees from all levels, instead of assigning the job solely to the IT department.

Create An Inventory Of Organizational Assets

In order to be able to identify and manage potential risks, you should have a clear idea of what all you need to protect. Therefore, you must create a detailed inventory of all the hardware, applications, FTP sites, network drives, databases etc. Categorize these assets according to their level of importance and confidentiality. This will help you to apply security controls in a better way, making sure that the more sensitive assets are safeguarded on priority.

Assess Threats And Vulnerabilities

The next step involves identifying all the threats and vulnerabilities in the organizational assets. Make a list of all the risks, classify them and assign a rank on the basis of the potential damage they can cause to the company. You should also note down all the back doors in the software programs, applications and network that may be exploited to initiate a security breach against the organization.

Implement Security Controls

Access control mechanisms also need to be put in place to minimize risks arising out of unwanted and unauthorized use of data. Set strict guidelines regarding the use of computer systems, hardware, software etc. Forbid the employees from connecting removable storage devices to the organization’s computer systems. Downloading unwanted software or applications should also be prohibited.

We, at Centex Technologies, can help to create and implement an IT security program in your Central Texas based organization. For more information, feel free to call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Multi-Cloud Management Tips

30th June, 2017

In the present time, majority of businesses are making the switch to cloud computing to keep their data and apps secure. However, with the increase in critical workloads and demand for massive storage space, it may become difficult to find a single provider that offers the perfect solution.

An alternative that most businesses are preferring is to go for a multi-cloud strategy. This involves working with two or more cloud service providers to drive better value. It allows more flexibility and reduces the risk of data loss and downtime. However, entrepreneurs may find it difficult to manage a multi-cloud environment efficiently. Keeping certain important factors in mind can help to streamline the process and improve your company’s productivity. Some of these have been discussed below:

Make An Informed Decision

Firstly, it is important to ensure that the cloud providers you choose deliver all the services you require. Multi-cloud system may not be completely effective if it has rendered unidentified gaps in your IT infrastructure. Map down your entire network to get an idea of any potential issues, access control problems, security vulnerabilities etc. You must choose a company that not only handles cloud deployment, but also provides regular reports on the state of services, new features, potential threats etc.

Know Your Users

You must also gain insights into the way your end users are interacting with the multi-cloud solution. Know what apps they are using and how the tools are helping them in working faster as well as more expeditiously. This will give you an idea about the services that are most used, from which devices, on wired or wireless networks, for what purpose and duration etc. Also, regular audit will help you to scale down on the services that have similar functionality and retain the ones that maximize business’ efficiency.

Automate Low Level Tasks

Automating the functioning of low-level cloud services is another option that can not only save costs but also streamline business operations. Incident response, scaling processes, alerts and updates are a few tasks that can be automated. Create as well as implement policies that state what tasks have been automated and how they have been allocated among the different cloud service providers. This will let your IT professionals focus on monitoring the higher-level services.

For more information on multi-cloud management, get in touch with Centex Technologies. We can be reached at (855) 375 – 9654.

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How To Identify And Manage Software Testing Risks

26th June, 2017

Software testing is a complex process that involves in-depth identification and management of the potential risks. These may be concerned with different aspects of software development, such as legal liabilities, security, data integrity, project failure, nonconformity to quality standards etc.

Mainly, the risks can be classified into two types:

  • Product Risk: Also known as quality risk, it refers to the potential inability of a software to meet the expectations of the end users or stakeholders.
  • Project Risk: This involves factors that may defer or hamper the software testing project, i.e. unavailability of a test environment, shortage of staff, lack of required skills, delay in fixing issues etc.

Given below is a step by step guide to risk management in software testing:

Risk Identification

The most important step in identification is to analyze the risks faced in the previously developed software programs. Go through the project plan carefully and analyze the elements that may be vulnerable to any type of security risk. It is important to assess the risks in line with the objectives of the project. For a better understanding, you can create a flowchart and document all the risks in detail so that they can be retained in the project memory.

Risk Prioritization

It is recommended to sort the risk list on the basis of priority. This can be done on two basic principles, the probability of the risk being manipulated and the consequences it can have for the users as well as stakeholders. Rank each risk on a scale of 1 to 10 or high to low. Analyzing both these aspects in conjunction will give you an idea about the risks that are high on severity and need to be managed immediately.

Risk Management

Once all the risks have been analyzed and prioritized, the following measures may be applied to fix them:

  • Avoidance: This may be used if the risk is concerned with a new or minor element in the software. It involves delaying the release of the element, provided that it does not play a major role in the functioning of the software.
  • Transfer: In this, the risk management process is outsourced to a specialist who has the required tools and expertise to fix the problems identified. It may increase the overall cost of the project.
  • Acceptance: Any risk that cannot be treated due to factors like cost or non-availability of skilled staff, has to be accepted. It will be present in the current as well as future versions of the software.

For more information and tips on software testing, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Secure Coding Guidelines For Mobile Apps

19th June, 2017

Mobile applications play a major role in almost all the tasks that we perform on a daily basis. Right from social networking, checking emails, shopping to paying utility bills, there is an application for everything. However, considering such an extensive usage, hackers have left no stone unturned to jeopardize the security of mobile apps. This is usually done to steal customer’s sensitive information, gain control over a server or user’s computer or make the app inaccessible. Developing a secure code is essential to keep the app safeguarded against such attacks.

Listed below are a few factors that must be kept in mind in order to write a secure code for your mobile app:

Ask Only The Required Information

When a customer signs up to the app, you should not put forward extensive form for him to fill. Make sure you ask only for the data which is absolutely required to complete the sign up process. Irrelevant information will take time to process, take up a lot of disk space and provide a reason to the hackers to break in to your network. As far as possible, you must try to keep the form fields simple and small.

Perform Input Validation

Form fields in an application serve as the most common access points for the hackers. This may be done by entering unusual and arbitrarily long strings of data into the form with the goal of rendering the app unusable. It may also lead to database corruption or manipulation and system crashes. Therefore, it is important that you regularly test user input as well as validate it for a predefined type, length, format and range criterion.

Use Encryption For Sensitive Data

Data encryption is extremely important as it makes the hackers unable to view, access, manipulate or steal any information. Make sure you add encryption to the application’s code to keep all the sensitive data and authentication credentials absolutely secure. This will prevent them from getting leaked through logs or web cache. All the transactions should take place over a secure channel. You must implement stringent checks for attacks that involve manipulating form fields, changing amounts, recording credit card details etc.

For more tips on developing a secure code for your mobile application, you can contact Centex Technologies. We can be reached at (855) 375 – 9654.

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