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Cloud storage security storm: When it rains, it pours

What’s the state of cloud storage security? Not great. Cloud storage vulnerability research found 56 million records of unprotected data in cloud databases.

This week was particularly newsworthy regarding mobile [in]security. Three different cloud storage vulnerabilities affecting users and platforms in various ways were announced.

Let’s look at that last vulnerability mentioned. The business case for using cloud storage with your applications is compelling and sensible. You want to be able to access your data no matter what device you use, right? There are a great many people that enjoy seamless synchronization of data across different devices. Of course, they also expect their data to be protected wherever it’s stored and as it moves from device to device.

How can you avoid mobile app vulnerabilities?

It starts with a secure design. Each of these vulnerabilities appears to be weaknesses in the design of the software or a breakdown in the process of building and deploying software. These are often difficult problems to find unless you are specifically looking for them. That is why, in August of 2014, the IEEE Center for Secure Design was created to raise awareness and to help people avoid some common software design flaws.

The Samsung SwiftKey keyboard vulnerability lines up nicely with the guideline “Understand how integrating external components changes your attack surface.” It is completely normal to include external software as you build your software, but it is your responsibility to understand the security risks of including that external software.

The insecure storage of data in the cloud maps to the guideline “Identify sensitive data and how it should be handled.” If your software is going to make use of sensitive data, it is also your responsibility to safeguard it as best as you can. And that means using the appropriate APIs provided by the vendors, which may not be the simplest APIs to use.

Show me what APIs I’m using

The bottom line

You absolutely must look at the design of your software from a security point of view and understand where the greatest security risks exist. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the 10 common design flaws documented by the IEEE CSD, and at least try to avoid those. They have been seen many, many times in the past.

Jim DelGrosso

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Jim DelGrosso

Jim DelGrosso

Jim DelGrosso is a senior principal consultant at Synopsys. In addition to his overarching knowledge of software security, he specializes in architecture analysis, threat modeling, and secure design. Jim is the Executive Director for IEEE Computer Society Center for Secure Design (CSD). He also predicts that “OpenSSL will have at least one new vulnerability found in the next 12 months. You can pick the start date—it’s the ‘12 months’ that matters.” Jim relaxes and decompresses from work by playing with the dogs, listening to music, or just chilling out with a beer and a movie.

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