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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

There Go My Files…To the Cloud!

Post by Chris Silva March 1, 2011

One of the many challenges that every IT administrator faces is ensuring that confidential company information stays within the corporate network.  The network is scanned for vulnerabilities, patches are deployed, perimeter firewalls are in place, and endpoint protection products are installed – all in the battle to maintain a secure infrastructure.

With all these measures in place, you may feel somewhat confident that you are doing everything you can to keep the bad guys out of your network.  But what about the good guys?  How do you keep well intentioned users from endangering confidential company information by taking it outside of the fortress you’ve built up to protect it?

For starters, many organizations disable the use of external storage (USB thumb drives, for instance).  This is for two main reasons, to keep unwanted files out, and to keep confidential files in.  Nobody wants the corporate salary spreadsheets or critical customer list left on a thumb drive within a coffee shop.  Some organizations also limit access to end users by removing administrative rights from their local accounts.  This is something we have recommended often in the past, but in talking to customers, many have yet to implement this change or have done so in limited fashion.  It seems everyone has exceptions, whether it is for the CEO, the person in accounting who is a “power user”, or the support engineer who needs to install his own software to troubleshoot customer issues.

These days, however, there is a new way of transferring files.  A way far easier than USB thumb drives or emailing yourself documents to personal accounts.  Cloud based file synchronization.  These services have become widely used for two reasons:  they are simple and solve a real problem (keeping files in sync), and they use “the cloud” which everyone wants to utilize – even if that cloud may pose a security risk for your organization.  And there are a lot of these services – Dropbox, Windows Live Drive and Sugarsync to name just a few.

Think of it this way.  Your CMO is working on the launch plans for an as of yet unannounced product.  It is Friday, and he wants to work on it over the weekend.  He simply needs to drop the file into the cloud storage folder on his desktop and poof…the file is whisked to the cloud and automatically synchronized wherever he has the client software installed – his home computer that hasn’t been patched since 2006 and his iPhone that he has left on an airplane (twice).  It took no time at all for a confidential document to go from the secure environment you worked so hard to build, out into an environment that you have no control over.

The same holds true for cloud-based backup services.  No matter how secure their data store may be, the information contained within can be restored to any workstation, including home PCs, as long as you have the account credentials.

When we talk to customers about this, some are aware of this issue, but are unsure how to remediate.  Most of these services operate off HTTPS, so it isn’t as simple as blocking a particular outbound TCP port.  The web service IP addresses for these services can be blocked, but it seems new servers are being brought online daily.

That is why we have added several audits to Retina Network Security Scanner to help you identify workstations that have this category of software installed:

  • 13893 – Mozy Enterprise Detected
  • 13899 – Mozy Home Detected
  • 13900 – Mozy Professional Detected
  • 13905 – Dropbox Detected
  • 13906 – Evernote Detected
  • 13907 – Soonr Detected
  • 13908 – Storegate Detected
  • 13909 – Syncplicity Detected
  • 13910 – Carbonite Detected
  • 13911 – SugarSync Detected
  • 13912 – OpenDrive Detected
  • 13915 – Windows Live Essentials Detected

You can utilize these audits to pinpoint workstations that may be synchronizing data to the cloud against company policy.  If you would like to see if your files are going to the cloud, please sign up for our FREE Retina Community edition or contact an eEye sales person at sales@eeye.com.

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