Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Rishi Bhargava, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, API Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Google-China Tiff: A Clash of Cyber Civilizations?

BriefingsDirect analysts discuss ramifications of Google-China dust-up over corporate cyber attacks

The latest BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition, Volume 50, focuses on the fallout from the Google’s threat to pull out of China, due to a series of sophisticated hacks and attacks on Google, as well as a dozen more IT companies. Due to the attacks late last year, Google on Jan. 12 vowed to stop censoring Internet content for China’s web users and possibly to leave the country altogether.

This ongoing tiff between Google and the Internet control authorities in China’s Communist Party-dominated government have uncorked a Pandora’s Box of security, free speech and corporate espionage issues. There are human rights issues and free speech issues, questions on China’s actual role, trade and fairness issues, and the point about Google’s policy of initially enabling Internet censorship and now apparently backtracking.

But there are also larger issues around security and Internet governance in general. Those are the issues we’ll be focusing on today. So, even as the U.S. State Department and others in the U.S. federal government seek answers on China’s purported role or complicity in the attacks, the repercussions on cloud computing and enterprise security are profound and may be long-term.

We’re going to look at some of the answers to what this donnybrook means for how enterprises should best protect their intellectual property from such sophisticated hackers as government, military or, quasi-government corporate entities and whether cloud services providers like Google are better than your average enterprise, or especially medium-sized business, at thwarting such risks.

We'll look at how users of cloud computing should trust or not trust providers of such mission-critical cloud services as email, calendar, word processing, document storage, databases, and applications hosting. And, we’ll look at how enterprise architecture, governance, security best practices, standards, and skills need to adapt still to meet these new requirements from insidious world-class threats.

This periodic discussion and dissection of IT infrastructure related news and events with a panel of industry analysts and guests, comes to you with the help of our charter sponsor Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS business process management system.

So, join me now in welcoming our panel for today’s discussion: Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research; Jason Bloomberg, managing partner at ZapThink; Jim Hietala, Vice President for Security at The Open Group; Elinor Mills, senior writer at CNET, and Michael Dortch, Director of Research at Focus. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:

Mills: We now have a huge first public example of a company coming out and saying, not only that they've been attacked -- companies don’t want to admit that ever and it’s all under the radar -- but also they’re pointing the fingers. Even though they're not specifically saying, "We think it’s the Chinese state," but they think enough of it that they're willing to threaten to pull out of the country.

It’s huge and it’s going to have every company reevaluating what their response is going to be -- not just how they’re going to do business in other countries, but what is their response going to be to a major attack.

Bloomberg: It’s not as big of a wakeup call as it should be. You can ask yourself, "Is this an attack by some small cadre of renegade hackers or is this attack by the government of the People’s Republic of China? That’s an open question at this point.

Who is the victim? Is it Google, a corporation, or the United States? Is it the western world that is the victim here? Is this a harbinger of the way that international wars are going to be fought down the road?

We’ve all been worried about cyber warfare coming, but we maybe don’t recognize it when we see it as a new battlefield. It's the same as terrorism. It’s not necessarily clear who the participants are.

When you place the enterprise into this context, well, it’s not necessarily just that you have a business within the context of a government subject to particular laws of particular government, you have the supernational, where large corporations have to play in multiple jurisdictions. That’s already a governance challenge for these large enterprises.

We already have this awareness that every single system on our network has to look out for itself and, even then, has levels of vulnerability.



Now, we have the introduction of cyber warfare, where we have concerted professional attacks from unknown parties attacking unknown targets and where it’s not clear who the players are. Anybody, whether it’s a private company, a public company, or a government organization is potentially involved.

That basically raises the bar for security throughout the entire organization. We’ve seen this already, where perimeter-based security has fallen by the wayside as being insufficient. We already have this awareness that every single system on our network has to look out for itself and, even then, has levels of vulnerability. This just takes it to the national level.

Kobielus: I don’t see anything radically or fundamentally new going on here. This is just a big, powerful, and growing world power, China, and a big and growing world power on a tech front Google, colliding. ... There has always been corporate espionage and there’s always been vandalism perpetrated by companies against each other through subterfuge, and also by companies or fronts operating as the agent of unseen foreign power. ... This is international real-politic as usual, but in a different technological realm.

Hietala: In terms of the visibility it’s gotten and the kinds of companies that were attacked, it’s a little bit game-changing. From the information security community perspective, these sorts of attacks have been going on for quite a while, aimed at defense contractors, and are now aimed at commercial enterprises and providers of cloud services.

I don’t think that the attacks per se are game-changing. There’s not a lot new here. It’s an attack against a browser that was couple of revs old and had vulnerability. The way in which the company was attacked isn’t necessarily game-changing, but the political ramifications around it and the other things we’ve just been talking about are what make it a little game-changing.

Dortch: This puts Google in the very interesting position of having to decide. Is it a politically neutral corporation or is it a protector of the data that its clients around the world, not just here, and not just from governments but corporations? Is it a protector and an advocate of protection for the data that those clients have been trusted to it? Or, is it going to use the fact that it is a broker of all that data to sort of throw its muscle around and take on governments like China’s in debates like this.

The implications here are bigger than even what we’ve been discussing so far, because they get at the very nature of what a corporation is in this brave new network world of ours.

Gardner: This boils down to almost two giant systems or schools of thought that are now colliding at a new point. They've collided at different points in the past on physical sovereignty, military sovereignty, and economic sovereignty. The competition is between what we might call free enterprise based systems and state sponsorship through centralized control systems.

Free enterprise won, when it came to the cold war, but it's hard to say what's going to happen in the economic environment where China is a little different beast. It's state sponsored and it's also taking advantage of free enterprise, but it's very choosy about what it allows for either one of those systems to do or to dominate.

When you look at the Google, Google made itself into a figurehead of representing what a free enterprise approach could do. It's not state sponsored or nationalistic. It's corporate sponsored. So, it would be interesting to see who has the better technology, who has the better financial resources, and ultimately who has the organizational wherewithal to manifest their goals online that wins out in the marketplace.

If an organized effort is better at doing this than a corporate one, well then they might dominate. But so far, we've seen a very complex system that the marketplace -- with choice, and shedding light and transparency on activities -- ultimately allows for free enterprise predominance. They can do it better, faster, cheaper and that it will ultimately win.

I think, we're really on the cusp here of a new level of competition, but not between countries or even alliances, but really between systems. The free enterprise system versus the state-sponsored or the centralized or the controlled system. It should be very interesting.

Bloomberg: ... If anything, cloud environments reduce the level of security.

They don’t increase it for the very reason that we don’t have a way of making them sovereign in their own right. They’re always not only subject to the laws of the local jurisdiction, but they’re subject to any number of different attacks that could be coming from any different location, where now the customers aren’t aware of this sort of vulnerability.

So, “Trust, but verify,” is a good point, but how can you verify, if you’re relying on a third party to protect your data for you? It becomes much more difficult to do the verification. I'd say that organizations are going to be backing away from cloud, once they realize just how risky cloud environments are.

Mills: Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith recently gave a keynote at the Brookings Institute Forum, and he talked about modernizing and updating the laws to adapt specifically to the cloud. That included privacy rights under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act being more clearly defined, updating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and setting up a framework so that differences in the regulations and practices in various countries can be worked out and reconciled.

Hietala: I don’t think there is a silver-bullet cloud provider out there that has superior security to have that position. All enterprises still are going to have to be at the top of their game, in terms of protecting their assets, and that extends to small or medium businesses.

At some point, you could see a cloud provider stake out that part of the market to say, "We’re going to put in a superior set of controls and manage security to a higher degree than a typical small-to-medium business could," but I don’t see that out there today.

Dortch: Many small businesses outsource payroll processing, customer relationship management (CRM), and a whole bunch of things. A lot of that stuff is outsourced to cloud service providers, and companies haven’t asked enough questions yet about exactly how cloud providers are protecting data and exactly how they can reassure that nothing bad is going to happen to it.

For example, if their servers come under attack, can they demonstrate credibly how data is going to be protected. These are the types of questions that incidents like this can and should raise in the minds of decision-makers at small and mid-sized businesses, just as they're starting to raise these issues, and have been raising them for a while, among decision-makers at larger enterprise.

Kobielus: I think what will happen is that some cloud providers will increasingly be seen as safe havens for your data and for your applications, because (A) they have the strong security, and (B) they are hosted within, and governed by, the laws of nation states that rigorously and faithfully try to protect this information, and assure that the information can then be removed -- transferred out of that country fluidly by the owners, without loss.

How about governments in general, maybe it's the United Nations who steps in? Who is the ultimate governor of what happens in cyber space?



In other words, it's like the Cayman Islands of the cloud -- that offshore banking safe haven you can turn to for all this. Clearly, it's not going to be China.

... In terms of who has responsibility and how will governance best practices be spread uniformly across the world in such areas of IT protection, it's going to be some combination of multilateral, bilateral, and unilateral action. For multilateral, the UN points to that, but there are also regional organizations. In Southeast Asia there is ASEAN, and in the Atlantic there is NATO, and so forth.

Bloomberg: Who decides what is enough? We have these opposing forces. One is that information should be free, and the Internet should be available to everybody. That basically pushes for removing barriers to information flow.

Then you have the security concerns that are driving putting up barriers to information flow, and there is always going to be conflict between those two forces. As increasingly sophisticated attacks develop, that pushes the public consensus toward increasing security.

That will impact our ability to have freedom, and that's going to be, continue to be a battle that I don’t see anybody winning. It's’ really just going to be an ongoing battle as technology improves and as the bad guys attacks improve. It's going to be an ongoing battle between security and freedom and between the good guys and the bad guys, as it were, and that's never going to change.

Hietala: Large enterprises are going to have to be responsible for the security of their information. I think there are a lot of takeaways for enterprises from this attack. If you're talking about specific individuals, it’s almost hopeless, because your average individual consumer doesn’t have the level of knowledge to go out and find the right solutions to protect themselves today.

So, I'll focus on the large enterprises. They have to do a good job of asset inventory, know where, within their identity infrastructure, they're vulnerable to this specific attack, and then be pretty agile about implementing countermeasures to prevent it. They have to have patch management that's adequate to the task of getting patches out quickly.

They need to do things like looking at the traffic leaving their network to see if people are already in their infrastructure. These Trojans leave traces of themselves, when they ship information out of an organization. When people really understand what happened in this attack, they can take something away, go back, look at what they are doing from a security standpoint, and tighten things up.

If you're talking about individuals putting things in the cloud, that’s a different discussion that doesn’t seem real feasible to me to get them to the point where they can secure their information today.

Kobielus: I don't think Google is going to leave China. I think they are going to stay in China and somehow try to work it out with the PRC. I don't know where that's going, but fundamentally Google is a business and has a "don't do evil" philosophy. They're going to continue to qualify evil down to those things that don't actually align with their business interest.

In other words, they're going to stay. There's going to be a lot of wariness now to entrust Google's China operation with a whole lot of your IT -- "you" as a corporation -- and your data. There will be that wariness.

Preferred platforms

Other cloud providers will be setting up shop or hosting in other nations that are more respectful of IP, other nations that may not be launching corporate or governmental espionage at US headquartered properties in China. Those nations will become the preferred supernational cloud hosting platforms for the world.

I can't really say who those nations might be, but you know what, Switzerland always sort of stands out. They're still neutral after all these years. You've got to hand that to them. I trust them.

Bloomberg: In the short-term, the noise is going to die down or going to go back to business as usual. The security is going to need to improve, but so are hacks from the bad guys. It's going to continue, until there is the next big attack. And the question is, "What's it going to be and how big is it going to be?"

We're still waiting for that game changer. I don't think this is a game changer. It's just a way to skirmish. But, if a hacker is able to bring down the internet, for example, targeting the DNS infrastructure to the point that the entire thing collapses, that’s something that could wake people up to say, "We really have to get a handle on this and come up with a better approach."

Hietala: From our perspective [at The Open Group], we're starting to see more awareness at higher levels in governments that the threats and issues here are real. They’re here today. They seem to be state sponsored, and they're something that needs to be paid attention to.

Secretary of State Clinton recently gave a speech where she talked specifically about this attack, but also talked about the need for nations to band together to address the problem. I don't know what that looks like at this point, but I think that the fact that people at that level are talking about the problem is good for the industry and good for the outlook for solutions that are important in the future.

Mills: I think Google is going to get out of China and try and lead some kind of U.S. corporate effort or be a role model to try to do business in a more ethical way, without having to compromise and censor.

There will be a divergence that you'll see. China and other countries may be pushed more towards limiting and creating their own sort of channel that's government filtered. I think the battle is just going to get bigger. We're going to have more fights on this front, but I think that Google may lead the way.

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@ThingsExpo Stories
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, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...