Monday, April 12, 2010

Announcing Enomaly ECP High Assurance Edition for Trusted Cloud Computing

Today I am in Beijing, China at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) and am happy to announce the latest Enomaly product offering, The ECP High Assurance Edition (HAE). ECP HAE has been something we've been busy developing in partnership with Intel over the last 18 months and continues on the previous research of world renowned security expert Dr. David Lie from the University of Toronto. The platform uses a variety of hardware assisted security mechanisms to provide what we believe is the most secure public cloud computing platform for service providers available today. In this post, I thought I'd take a moment to dive into some of the technical capabilities of HAE and our rationale. 

Like it or not, security concerns have been a key factor limiting the adoption of cloud computing services. We believe that customers with higher security requirements, such as banks, health and government agencies, have been right to be cautious about the security capabilities of exiting public clouds. Our new technology will enable these customers to begin to reap the benefits of cloud computing, by giving them reliable proof the underlying environment hasn't been compromised. In the most simple terms, ECP HAE provides a trusted and verified cloud computing infrastructure. 

To give a little more background, the Enomaly ECP HAE platform allows a remote cloud user to establish trust in a cloud provider's platform. The end customer uses Enomaly's ECP HAE client, which uses our patented technology to verify the integrity of the cloud provider's software stack. When the client is connected to an "approved" HAE-verified platform, Enomaly's HAE client displays a prominent positive verification screen indicating that the platform is safe to use. Validation can also be provided programmatically and integrated into existing application monitoring solutions and business processes engines which enables a extra level of verifiable trust when using remote cloud resources. If a remote providers environment changes for any reason you will know proactively before it's too late. HAE changes cloud security from a reactive process to a proactive one and enables a variety of new potential applications never possible before because of the lack of insight into cloud service providers' infrastructures. 

What might happen if the cloud provider's hypervisor were to be tampered with?  This could happen for a variety of reasons.  For example, a disgruntled employee at the cloud provider might want to steal secrets from the cloud provider's customers, or there could be a malicious insider paid by a competitor to spy on the VMs of the cloud users.  Similarly, the hypervisor itself may have a security vulnerability that is exploited, allowing a remote attacker outside of the cloud provider to tamper with the cloud provider's hypervisor. Since the hypervisor is the most trusted component in a cloud computing infrastructure, any loss of its integrity means an immediate and catastrophic breach of security which could easily never be detected because of the very nature of the hypervisor - it makes you or your applications see what whatever it whats you to believe. So even a exploited hypervisor will appear to be normal from the point of a virtual machine making VM based security a risky endeavor to say the least. HAE goes a long way toward solving this problem. 

Enomaly HAE enables our hosting & cloud service provider customers to securely establish the integrity of the remote platform. To do this, Enomaly's HAE system uses Intel's TXT processor extensions along with a Trusted Computing Group (TCG) Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in conjunction to the Xen hypervisor. We use a mechanism called remote attestation, which until now has only been explored [mostly] in experimental research settings. Thanks in part to the work of our lead security architect, Dr David Lie, we've taken the bold step of making attestation practical by integrating it into the ECP system targeting IaaS hosting providers. HAE takes care of all the complexity of making the attestation requests, ensuring that the requests cannot be tampered with and distilling the result of the attestation requests into a simple and easy to understand safe / not safe message. More importantly, this trust can be directly integrated into existing monitoring and business processes to ensure only truly secure remote cloud environments are being utilized in a completely automated way. 

ECP High Assurance Edition is available immediately to service providers interested in offering a high-security cloud computing platform to their customers.  In addition to its unique security features, ECP HAE includes the industry-leading capabilities of Enomaly's ECP platform, enabling a service provider's customers to access and manage any number of virtual servers, running Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris, or any other operating system with the software applications of their choice.  Customers can access and manage their virtual servers through a web-based dashboard, and can also automatically scale up and down their use of cloud servers through a robust API.

We are delighted to be able to deliver this uniquely differentiated offering to our service provider customers We believe the fast-growing market for cloud computing services will benefit from the improved security that service providers can offer their customers by using Enomaly ECP HAE. 

(Posted via email from China - please ignore any strange formatting)

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