Google Cloud | Security

Cloud CISO Perspectives: May 2021

May is a big month for the security industry. It’s been over a year since we gathered for RSA in San Francisco for one of 2020’s last major in-person events. While we likely won’t be together in person this year, it’s an important time for the security community to come together and reflect on many accomplishments, and to consider the challenges still ahead of us. As the world focuses on security incidents and all the risks that still need resolving, it is important to stand back, on occasion, and also note that immense progress has been made by large numbers of small, medium and large enterprises to protect themselves and their customers against increased threats. What is also amazing is to see organizations do this while accelerating their digital transformations, supporting and protecting customers and managing ongoing remote working challenges. We are privileged to play our part in supporting those great teams. 

It’s also been a busy month for us here at Google Cloud since our inaugural CISO perspectives blog post in April. Today, I’ll recap our cloud security and industry highlights, a sneak peak of what’s ahead from Google at RSA and more. 

Thoughts from around the industry 

  • Risk Governance of Digital Transformation in the Cloud – In our latest Office of the CISO whitepaper, we shared guidance on both the challenges and opportunities of cloud transformation for Chief Risk Officers, Chief Compliance Officers, Heads of Internal Audit and their teams. A misconception we sometimes see among these executives is that moving to the cloud creates more risk to manage. Having held these leadership positions in previous roles, I believe that the cloud is as much a means of managing security, resilience and other risks as it is a risk in its own right. The whitepaper dives deep into considerations for each of these leadership functions as their organization embarks on a digital transformation journey. 
  • The importance of meeting global compliance requirements – Compliance is critical for building trust with customers in regulated industries, especially the public sector. It is worth remembering that in any critical industry, where there can be material impact from incidents, strong industry practices and standards to protect customers are vital (I wrote about this last summer). At Google Cloud, we’re regularly adding new compliance and security certifications to meet our customers’ needs globally. Recently, we expanded our list of FedRAMP High-certified products to include Cloud DNS, and helped our customers in the Asia-Pacific region address various compliance requirements to meet new government regulations for security and data protections. Google Cloud was also the only cloud service provider to complete an annual pooled audit with the Collaborative Cloud Audit Group (CCAG), which is a syndicate of 39 leading European financial institutions and insurance companies who depend on cloud infrastructure and technologies to deliver innovative solutions and experiences for their customers. Having spent most of my career in the financial services industry, I know firsthand the importance of managing risk assessments for outsourced vendors to provide the necessary assurances customers need from their cloud providers. 

RSA 2021 

We have a great lineup of speaking sessions and keynotes from Googlers at RSA this year. Below are the highlights you don’t want to miss: 

  • I’ll be doing a session on May 20 about supply chain resilience, where a panel of experts will dive into how we can adjust risk and security initiatives to handle the next “punch to the supply chain.” Additionally, on May 18 I’ll join many of my esteemed CISO leaders from various industries and governments for a keynote discussion on our top security insights, lessons learned and best practices for how we move forward as an industry to address the next wave of challenges. 
  • Google’s Senior Director of Information Security Heather Adkins will deliver a session on how to build secure and reliable systems at scale, which will cover principles from Google’s Site Reliability Engineering book with the same title (available for free download here). I’m most looking forward to Heather’s advice for how we as an industry can reshape our security thinking, based on modern architectures and technologies that can help organizations design scalable and reliable systems that are fundamentally secure.
  • Nelly Porter, Senior Product Manager at Google Cloud Security, will participate in a panel discussion with security experts on the importance of Confidential Computing technology, how it’s changing the security landscape and where it’s headed. Google Cloud has made great progress in delivering a Confidential Computing portfolio for our customers in regulated industries over the past year, and we’re excited for new milestones in 2021. 

Google cloud security highlights

  • Infrastructure and SRE spotlight – Before I joined Google Cloud, I always admired the infrastructure and benefits this organization delivers that are uniquely Google – from the subsea cable innovations to SRE inventions and principles. Security and resiliency are baked into every layer of our infrastructure. Many of the Googlers who build and support our platform have sat in the same seat as our customers, so they understand those needs intimately. Over the last few months it’s been amazing to watch our technical infrastructure team grow, and the direct reliability, operational resilience and security benefits that team brings to our customers. For example, we’ve opened a new region in Polandannounced the first subsea cable that will directly connect the U.S. to Singapore with fiber pairs over an express route, and released an SRE book focused on how organizations can complete a successful cloud migration.
  • New security foundations blueprint guide – As part of our mission to deliver the industry’s most trusted cloud, we strive to operate in a shared-fate model for risk management in conjunction with our customers. This includes sharing opinionated step-by-step guidance with key decision points and focus areas for how our customers deploy workloads in Google Cloud. This is why we’ve updated our Google Cloud security foundations guide and corresponding Terraform blueprint scripts. These blueprints are tremendously helpful to many stakeholders within an enterprise, like a CISO that needs to understand our key principles for cloud security, or a C-Suite business leader that needs to quickly identify the skills their teams need to meet an organization’s security, risk, and compliance needs on Google Cloud. 

When we think about the types of features to build into products, we have many principles we follow. But the two that I keep coming back to as crucial are:

  1. The need for secure products not just security products. All products should have security built in and while we do build great security products our security and other teams remain focused on constantly enhancing the base levels of security and the security features in all our products. 
  2. Defense in Depth. We don’t just focus on defense in depth from attacks – for ourselves and our customers. We also prioritize defense in depth from configuration errors or other hazards. 

As you see below in some of the highlights of new features and products, these represent our commitment to secure products and all forms of defense in depth. 

  • Workload identity federation – Service account keys are powerful credentials, and can represent a security risk if they are not managed correctly. A safer approach is to use workload identity federation, using IAM to grant external identities IAM roles, including the ability to impersonate service accounts. This lets you access resources directly and eliminates the maintenance and security burden associated with service account keys. We also offered related overall guidance on the best way to use and authenticate service accounts on Google Cloud.
  • VPC-SC Directional Policies – With VPC Service Controls (VPC-SC), admins can define a security perimeter around Google-managed services to control communication to and between those services. Using VPC-SC, you can isolate your production GCP resources from unauthorized VPC networks or the internet. But what if you need to transfer data between isolated environments that you’ve set up? VPC-SC directional policies is a new secure data exchange feature that allows you to configure efficient, private, and secure data exchange between isolated environments. 
  • Anthos service mesh supports VMs as well as clusters – Most enterprise compute resources are still in VMs and many will remain there for a long time to come. In Anthos 1.7,  your VM-based workloads can now take advantage of the same mesh functionality as your container-based workloads.
  • Cloud Spanner CMEK and Access Approvals – Cloud Spanner is Google Cloud’s fully managed relational database that offers unlimited scale, high performance, strong consistency across regions and high availability. Spanner now supports customer-managed encryption keys (CMEK) and Access Approval, Google Cloud’s industry-leading controls to require approval before access to your content by Google support and engineering teams.
  • External Key Manager enhancements – In early 2020 we launched Cloud External Key Manager (Cloud EKM), the industry’s leading Hold-Your-Own-Key (HYOK) product. Using Cloud EKM, the keys used to protect your data stored and processed in Google Cloud are completely hosted and managed outside of Google Cloud infrastructure. Cloud EKM initially launched with support for BigQuery and GCE/PD;  we expanded support for Cloud SQLGKEDataflow Shuffle, and Secret Manager, with CMEK support currently in beta. We also provided in-depth documentation on the functionality, architecture and use cases for Cloud EKM in a new whitepaper.
  • Web App and API Protection solution –  Web applications and public APIs are increasingly important to how organizations interface with their customers and partners, and we’ve seen increased investment in tools to protect these resources from fraud and abuse. Google Cloud’s new Web App and API protection solution is based on the same technology Google uses to protect its public-facing services against web application exploits, DDoS attacks, fraudulent bot activity, and API targeted threats. It provides protection across clouds and on-premises environments.
  • Threat Intel for Chronicle – Most threat intelligence feeds require security teams to do the implementation and legwork. With our new Threat Intel for Chronicle offering, however, our intelligence insights are applied automatically across your security telemetry to present unique observations within your environment. Threat Intel for Chronicle is exclusively curated for enterprise customers by Uppercase, Google Cloud’s intelligence research and applications team to provide our perspective on threats across the internet and surface them as relevant alerts.

That wraps up another month of thoughts and highlights. If you’d like to have this Cloud CISO Perspectives post delivered every month to your inbox, click here to sign-up, and we’ll see you in June!

By: Phil Venables (VP/CISO, Google Cloud)
Source: Google Cloud Blog

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