Hacking and breaches, denial-of-service attacks, data leaks… it seems that hardly a week goes by without some major security incident being reported.
In 2017 alone, hackers stole the private information of tens of millions of people: 143 million consumers in the Equifax breach, 57 million Uber customers, 14 million Verizon customers… the list goes on. Other high-profile events included a hack of the National Security Agency (the fifth reported breach in as many years), the WannaCry ransomware infestation with thousands of victims, the months-long “Cloudbleed” problem where Cloudflare was exposing its customers’ encrypted information, and more.
Meanwhile, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks also got worse. According to a report from Kaspersky Lab, 33 percent of organizations experienced a DDoS attack in 2017. This is double the rate seen in 2016.
In this environment, how can organizations successfully defend themselves? Can cloud computing help with this?
We asked this question to Tzury Bar Yochay, CTO of Reblaze Technologies: a PCI DSS certified service provider, which offers comprehensive web security (including hacking and breach prevention, DoS/DDoS protection, bot mitigation, scraping prevention, and more) in a cloud-based platform.
Tzury said, “The security landscape has changed significantly over the last few years. Web-based attacks have become very common, and often, very sophisticated.
“But many organizations are still using legacy technologies such as appliances. These have many disadvantages, and traditional security strategies cannot defeat many of the attack techniques that we now see.
“The good news is that effective protection is still possible. Modern cloud technologies give us tremendous power. Among many other applications, we can use the cloud to get robust web security.”
What new capabilities are provided by cloud computing?
He explained, “There are many. For example, there’s the ability to run an application suite in the cloud, such as our Reblaze platform. An organization that decides to use Reblaze doesn’t need to buy any hardware, or install any software—a simple DNS change is all that’s required.
“This routes incoming web traffic through Reblaze. Our platform scrubs the traffic, blocking hostile requests while allowing legitimate traffic through to the protected sites, apps, etc. And thanks to the computational power available in the cloud, we can perform very sophisticated traffic analysis and accurately detect threats with negligible latency—generally two milliseconds or less.
“Also, because Reblaze runs in the cloud, we can manage it for our customers. Our platform does most of its work automatically, and we do the remaining administration remotely. This includes updates too. So our customers don’t need to do anything—their Reblaze deployments are fully managed, and always up-to-date.”
What other benefits does the cloud provide?
Tzury said, “The cloud obviously provides massive bandwidth. We use this in several ways, for example to defeat volumetric DDoS attacks. If a threat actor tries to DDoS one of our customers, the Reblaze platform has near-infinite bandwidth at its disposal to absorb the hostile traffic and prevent it from reaching our customer’s networks. Bandwidth and other resources scale automatically as needed. Basically, when an attacker tries to overwhelm a target with a high-volume DDoS, we have the resources of the entire global cloud at our disposal, which are deployed and load-balanced automatically.”
What challenges has Reblaze Technologies faced in using the cloud?
Tzury said, “From the earliest days of the public cloud, we understood its potential. In fact, Reblaze was founded specifically to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing. But it took a few years for most industries to catch up—for most executives to understand what the cloud can do for them.
“Today, we have the opposite problem. The cloud has become so popular, that various companies are claiming to have public cloud solutions even when they really don’t. For example, Reblaze runs on the top-tier public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), which have invested a combined $65 billion into their infrastructures. But almost all of our competitors use self-owned cloud infrastructure. Clearly, these self-owned clouds can’t compete with the top-tiers when it comes to reliability and performance.”
Are there other factors that should be considered when comparing cloud security solutions?
Tzury said yes. “A very important issue is whether or not private clouds are provided. At Reblaze, we deploy a unique, separate cloud environment for each account. It is delivered as a self-contained, scalable and elastic VPC (Virtual Private Cloud). Each Reblaze deployment has an entire dedicated stack (including DNS servers, load balancers, logs, database, etc.) for that customer’s use alone.
“In contrast to this, our competitors require their customers to share cloud resources. This exposes those customers to multi-tenancy vulnerabilities, and it also means any given customer can be affected by an attack on someone else. But Reblaze, by setting up each customer with a unique VPC, ensures that our clients can never be affected by attacks that hit others. And there are many other advantages to this approach besides these.
“Another important factor is technology. Reblaze is at the forefront of several technological trends, such as applying big data and machine learning to web security. Meanwhile, some of our competitors aren’t using these at all.”
Does the cloud make it easier to use these latest advancements?
Tzury answered, “Yes, in several ways. First of all, the top-tier cloud providers have Big Data capabilities. We use these services to collect and store massive volumes of anonymized traffic data from Reblaze deployments all over the world. We receive and process over 3.5 billion traffic requests per day, and we store every single one.
“Then we use Google Cloud Machine Learning to identify global trends in web traffic. We detect and observe new attack techniques as they’re used, and we get many other insights that are then fed back into our deployments worldwide.
“Basically, we’re harnessing the computing capacity of the global cloud and using it against hostile actors. Even as new web threats arise, the Reblaze platform is always learning and adapting, to remain effective against them.”
Speaking of Google, Reblaze Technologies is a Google Security Partner: has this relationship helped in enhancing business outcomes for its customers? Tzury said, “Our partnership with Google has gone very well. First of all, GCP (Google Cloud Platform) has a web-based Launcher where GCP users can deploy various software packages with just one click. We’ve set up Reblaze within Launcher so that potential customers can try our platform for a month, with no further obligation.
“So with just a single click, people can get robust protection for their websites and other online assets, and can also see all the other benefits that Reblaze provides (such as full traffic transparency, real-time traffic control, and so on), all with no cost or obligation.
“Of course, this one-month-trial-with-no-obligation offer is not only for GCP users—it’s available to everybody. But Google Cloud has made it very fast and simple to get started using our platform.
“Google has also been very supportive of what Reblaze is doing in the area of web security. Over the last year or so, I’ve been invited to speak numerous times at various Google events. Our partnership has had other positive outcomes as well.”
What can we expect from cloud computing in the future, especially when it comes to web security?
Tzury said, “As cloud technologies continue to advance, we’re looking forward to a great future. There’s still so much untapped potential in what the cloud could conceivably do.
“For example, the cloud makes DevOps possible, which has many advantages. So, we’ve made Reblaze into a fully DevOps-compatible platform. Most web security solutions get in the way of continuous delivery, but Reblaze supports it.
Whenever a new app or service is introduced, our platform adapts and adjusts itself, and immediately starts protecting the new apps and services just as well as the existing ones. For organizations using Reblaze, web security has become integrated with DevOps, instead of hindering it. “Here at Reblaze Technologies, we’re very excited about this and other innovations. Our continuing mission is to make robust, effective web security accessible to anybody with an Internet presence—so that the web is a safer place for everyone.”