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Tuesday, 29 August 2017 05:51

Data security must change from chasing bad to ensuring good


How do you protect critical applications in an increasingly mobile and connected world? VMware says the tech industry has failed the customer, but has a solution.


More than $100 billion is spent annually on computer security, spread across a vast array of providers and products: infrastructure security, security operations and incident response, endpoint security, risk and compliance, mobile security – the list goes on and on.


“Your job as IT leaders is to make it all work,” Pat Gelsinger, VMware chief executive, said. “It’s too complex and breaches happen too frequently. Collectively, we the tech industry, have failed you as a customer.

“We need to restructure security. It has to be built-in and those many components have to go away and be native components with the infrastructure itself. It has to be intrinsically built-in.”

At the VMworld 2017 keynote in Las Vegas this morning, Gelsinger said VMware would transform cyber security in three ways.

First, through providing secure infrastructure across users, devices, networks, storage and compute.

Secondly, through providing an integrated ecosystem, working with key partners such as RSA, Symantec, Trend Micro and others to deliver standardised key solutions.

Thirdly, through cyber hygiene. Gelsinger identified five pillars of cyber hygiene, and IT managers, application developers, systems architects, and the IT industry, in general, ought to pay attention to these logical, yet often neglected, tenets.

  1. Least privilege
  2. Micro segmentation
  3. Encryption
  4. Multi-factor authentication
  5. Patching


Applications and users alike ought to have the amount of privilege to a system required, but no more. Services and data ought to be separated to what is logically required. Data ought to be encrypted at rest and in transit. Even if a phishing attack can get your password, it ought to be useless with second or third- factor authentication. Servers, devices, software should all be kept current with updates and fixes.

VMware committed to flipping the security model on its head, from the conventional approach to security — “chasing bad” — to, via implementing the above pillars and making them intrinsic to VMware applications – “ensuring good.”

In addition, VMware announced VMware AppDefense, leveraging the virtual infrastructure to monitor applications against their intended running state, both deleting and protecting against attacks that seek to manipulate these applications. The partner ecosystem will provide integrations.

“The growing frequency and cost of security incidents points to a fundamental flaw in security models that focus solely on chasing threats,” said Tom Corn, senior vice-president, security products at VMware. “AppDefense delivers an intent-based security model that focuses on what the applications should do — the known good — rather than what the attackers do – the known bad. We believe it will do for compute, what VMware NSX and micro-segmentation did for the network; enable least privilege environments for critical applications.”

The intent-based security model is made possible through increased use of automation in application and infrastructure provisioning; use of application frameworks that provide richer and more authoritative views of intended state; application of machine learning that enables the ability to reason about state and behaviour across large populations; and increased use of virtualisation and cloud, providing greater application context and isolation.

VMware AppDefense is available in the US now for vSphere customers and will be rolled out to other markets. It is priced as a subscription at US$500 MSRP per CPU per year.

The writer is attending VMworld 2017 as a guest of VMware.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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