|By Lori MacVittie||
|August 18, 2009 06:15 PM EDT||
The recent admission / announcement that “Amazon EC2 is not PCI compliant” (this is not exactly true, but we’ll get to that later) has set off a rush of blogs, articles, and tweets that say, in effect, EC2 is no longer “safe”. But a lack of compliance does not make Amazon any more less safe than achieving PCI compliance makes a site more safe.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I submit as proof the admission of Heartland CEO Robert Carr that even though their “site” and “systems” were designated as PCI compliant, still they were attacked, breached, and the subject of ridicule and scorn for months in the press and security-focused blogosphere.
“PCI compliance doesn't mean secure. We and others were declared PCI compliant shortly before the intrusions.” – Heartland CEO Robert Carr in an interview with Bill Brenner, Senior Editor, CSO Online.
PCI compliance doesn’t automatically make a site safe. Lack of PCI compliance doesn’t make EC2 unsafe, either. It means it isn’t compliant with the policies designated by the PCI council for handling credit card transactions and sensitive data. And, if we look past the hand-waving, we’ll find that Amazon admits you can’t build a PCI Level 1 compliant application using EC2 and S3, but you can build a PCI Level 2 compliant application.
“It is possible for you to build a PCI level 2 compliant app in our AWS cloud using EC2 and S3, but you cannot achieve level 1 compliance.”
So how does this statement translate into “OMG! Amazon is unsafe!”? This is clearly about what the customer can and cannot do, not an admission of the security status of Amazon’s underlying infrastructure.
Amazon clearly states you cannot be level 1 compliant because it requires on-site auditing that they simply can’t (or won’t) allow. The inability to meet a requirement because of logistics (level 1 requires an on-site audit which Amazon states is not possible) is hardly the same as failing to meet the requirement for a firewall, or default password use. The inability to meet that one requirement is hardly reason for condemnation of Amazon’s overall security posture. Its inability for you to meet PCI compliance does not automatically mean its systems and environment are “unsafe”. Amazon points to the “on-site audit” requirement as a reason why you cannot achieve PCI Level 1 compliance. For all we know Amazon meets or exceeds every other requirement for PCI level 1 compliance that is required of a service-provider. Inferring anything about the security posture of Amazon’s internal systems from one message in a forum is simply not possible.
Furthermore, Amazon says YOU cannot build a PCI Level 1 compliant application. In other words, its announcement wasn’t an observation about the security of its systems, it was an observation regarding what you, the customer, can and cannot achieve using its systems.
In fact, in that same forum message that set off this Chicken Little episode, the Amazon representative clearly states Amazon does, in fact, meet PCI compliance standards elsewhere:
Our payment system is PCI compliant and it is an “alternative payment processing service” meaning your users re-direct to our platform to conduct the payment event using their credit cards or bank accounts. [emphasis added]
Nothing in Amazon’s “confession” implies anything about its security posture; if anything its note that its payment systems are PCI compliant means its underlying systems are as secure as any other meeting PCI compliance. Therefore there is no reason to believe that Amazon is any less safe than it was last week. In fact, the statement that you can achieve level 2 compliance means Amazon has, in fact, checked over its systems and that they will meet the requirements required for much of the PCI standard – probably the pieces that are important to assuring the security of systems.
PCI compliance is not a rubber stamp of safety. Achieving PCI compliance does not automatically confer some special safety status upon an organization. Neither does the reverse hold true; organizations that do not fall under PCI and therefore need not worry themselves about compliance with its standards are not necessarily “unsafe”.
This entire situation is a raw deal for Amazon. EC2 and S3 are no more – or less – secure than they were before this unsurprising announcement regarding PCI compliance and applications built atop its systems. The misinterpretation of its admission and its viral-like spread is little more than FUD that does more harm than good – both to Amazon and cloud computing in general.
Related blogs & articles:
- Heartland CEO on Data Breach: QSAs Let Us Down
- An Open Letter to Robert Carr, CEO of Heartland Payment Systems
- PCI Compliance in the Cloud: Get it in writing!
- Amazon Web Services Developer Community: Does Amazon EC2 meet PCI Compliance
- WILS: InfoSec Needs to Focus on Access not Protection
- Cloud Changes Cost of Attacks
- An Unhackable Server is Still Vulnerable
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Feb. 10, 2016 10:04 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:30 AM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 379
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 180
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Feb. 10, 2016 08:00 AM EST
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 10, 2016 07:45 AM EST Reads: 433
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
Feb. 10, 2016 07:00 AM EST
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 197
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 206
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Feb. 9, 2016 10:15 PM EST Reads: 242
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 9, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 176
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 9, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 611
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 9, 2016 03:15 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 9, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 209
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 9, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 405
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 9, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 383
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 9, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 417
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Feb. 9, 2016 07:45 AM EST Reads: 101
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 759
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 819