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When it comes to the cloud, security has always been the No. 1 concern for users. After all, as data travels around the Internet, there are numerous windows of opportunity for data interception or capture. A single weak link can lead to system compromise and lost information.

Now there’s a cloud application to handle that. With a new service launch on Jan. 31, 3-year-old CloudPassage aims to solidify security in the cloud with a new offering, Halo Netsec, which features a firewall, two-factor authentication and intrusion-detection capabilities.

At this point, Halo Netsec is unique when it comes to securing cloud services, because it enables administrators to build a perimeter defense without having to worry about the physical network. Thus, it secures everything from the endpoint to the virtual server, even if that traffic is passing over a public Internet or even from private or hybrid cloud to cloud.

This can prove very important for administrators, especially when managing cloud services, because those administrators have no control or management capabilities for the public portion of cloud communications.

Small Agent Runs Communications

Halo NetSec works by running a small security daemon (in this case, just 3MB) on a virtual server, which handles communications across CloudPassage’s computing grid, through which all traffic passes on its way from the endpoint to the host, and vice versa. The small footprint of the security daemon makes it easy to set it up on a virtual server, without impacting performance–and, in most cases, associated hosting costs.

"When people look at adding security to a cloud system, they generally think they’re buying a slice of something," CloudPassage founder and CEO Carson Sweet told eWEEK. "So now we’re doing full-blown dynamic firewall management, and it’s multi-cloud.

"We can have servers in EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud , in Rackspace and in Terremark, with one policy over all of them. We rolled out new account management, so you can create change management accounts on servers dynamically, no matter where they are. Intrusion detection, which was tough to do in the cloud–given all the technical differences there–is rolling out now in beta.

"The most interesting aspect of all of this continues to be that it all just works in the cloud."

Once installed and configured, administrators are able to apply firewall rules and policies to any connection accessing public, private or hybrid cloud services. The security daemon works hand-in-hand with CloudPassage’s computing grid to enforce rules, policy and monitor for intrusions.

"What we’ve done is create a cloud-ready platform that handles automatically all management and policy controls with a combination of a lightweight host-based agent and software as a service grid," said Rand Wacker, vice president of product at CloudPassage. Halo NetSec also offers two-factor authentication for administrators for accessing servers.

USB Key for One-Time Password

According to Wacker, an administrator goes to CloudPassage’s Web portal and uses a USB key to generate a one-time passcode, and then access is granted to the servers.

Halo NetSec is significant in the fact that it brings edge-like security to public cloud-based services. Enterprises looking to leverage public cloud platforms, services and applications can now define the security needed to grant access to users with two-factor authentication–making sure only the appropriate end user and endpoint are granted access to that cloud service. Something, that up until now, was quite difficult to do.

Halo NetSec costs 3.5 cents per server per hour, although volume discounts apply and other discounts are available with a monthly minimum usage commitment.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: CloudPassage Fills Gaps in Private-Public Cloud Security