Automating Security List Rule reviews in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

If you’re running workloads in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) then it’s likely you’ll be familiar with Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) resources such as Subnets, Route Tables, Gateways etc. These software defined components allow you to build networks in OCI for you to deploy and run your workloads.

Oracle has documentation that explains VCN access and security features which include things like Security Rules, Security Zones, Local and Network Firewalls, and IAM policies. Security rules are made up of Security Lists and Network Security Groups (NSG’s) and are a foundational element of every VCN and Subnet that you create. They define what traffic is allowed in and out of your subnets and what hosts can talk to one another. When you create a subnet a Security List is automatically created with some default rules:

Default Security List Ingress Rules
Default Security List Egress Rules

When it comes to implementing network access controls, you can use Security Lists, Network Security Groups or both. They are virtual firewall features that control traffic at the packet level. I’ll be covering Network Security Group reviews in a later post as I want to focus on Security Lists, specifically how you can easily review and validate rules to ensure they align with your workload, organisational, security and compliance requirements.

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Managing multiple Let’s Encrypt certificates with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

In my previous post I explained how you can use Let’s Encrypt and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) serverless functions to obtain a publicly signed SSL certificate, and automatically manage its renewal lifecycle. The solution works as expected; I have a Let’s Encrypt certificate for my website automatically renewing 30 days before expiry. If you haven’t read my previous post I’d recommend taking a look before following the setup outlined below as it covers how the solution works, and some prerequisites.

Having multiple workloads running in various OCI regions I started thinking about a more elegant way to provision certificates across multiple regions. Certificates stored in the certificate service are only available to resources in the same region and would have required a function to be deployed in each region, and for each SSL certificate required.

I’ve since updated the solution to address this requirement. It is now possible to provision certificates across multiple OCI regions using a single OCI Function application. I’ve also taken the opportunity to implement other features such as:

  • Loading a list of certificates you want to manage from a JSON file stored in Object Storage.
  • Adding support for wildcard SSL certificates.
  • Adding support for Subject Alternative Names (SAN) in addition to the CN name.
  • Adding support for the use of DNS zones and Vaults that reside in different regions to the OCI Function.

Adding support to specify which vault, and region to use for a given certificate ensures that workloads with strict cryptographic key material requirements can still benefit from this solution.

If you’ve already followed the instructions from my previous post, the solution will continue to work as described. The only limitation being that it’ll only work for a single certificate. By following the steps below you can easily upgrade to issuing multiple certificates. If you haven’t set anything up yet that’s also fine as I’ll be covering the full install again here.

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Let’s Encrypt serverless automation with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Let’s Encrypt made its debut back in late 2015. It is a free Certificate Authority provided by the Internet Security Research Group. The goal was to support the adoption of SSL / TLS to ensure the privacy of information sent over the public Internet. Let’s Encrypt is now serving over 2.5M certificates per day.

If you’re reading this it’s likely you’ve had to deal with SSL certificates before. It’s also likely some of you will have investigated an outage, only to find that an SSL certificate expired somewhere that no one knew about. Certificate discovery, management, and renewal can be time consuming and not much fun.

Cloud providers have made this job easier with the introduction of certificate services that are able to issue public Domain Validation (DV) certificates. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) currently allows you to create private Certificate Authorities (CA’s), private Certificates, and private Certificate Authority bundles. Private certificate resources are used to secure communication across a private network, where certificates can be installed and trusted to enable secure communication.

But what about publicly signed certs for users connecting over the Internet? Using a private OCI certificate will result in a “certificate not trusted” error in your web browser; this is where Let’s Encrypt comes in. I’m going to show you how to run a completely automated serverless Let’s Encrypt solution in your OCI tenancy to install and automatically renew certificates that show as trusted in your web browser.

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Virus & Malware Scanning Object Storage in OCI

If you’re like me, then working in IT means you also assume Tech Support duties for friends, family, and those distant relatives that only seem to call when they’ve got a problem.

I just clicked on this link, and my computer is doing something weird. I think my PC has a virus, what do I do?

When it’s just a single computer, the answer is simple, contain and validate the rouge software is removed, install an AV solution, change their passwords, enable MFA, and provide some education on what to look out for next time.

But now imagine you’re an organisation building a new application, or are moving applications to the cloud. Are you simply performing a lift-and-shift or are you planning to make use of cloud native services? Where are you going to store your data, specifically user uploaded files? Object Storage was built specifically to solve the challenges of how to store unstructured data in the cloud.

However, there is a catch. If you were previously storing files on a server file system, then it’s likely you were also running an anti-virus / anti-malware solution to identify malicious files. With Object Storage the underlying file system is transparent, so you can’t install AV, yet many compliance requirements still state “Uploaded files must be scanned for viruses and malware”.

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OCI User Access Review Made Easy

I’m sure we can all agree, adopting a cloud strategy is awesome. The opportunities and benefits it affords are many. However cloud governance is an ongoing problem that plagues security, compliance, and management teams, which cloud vendors like Oracle are continually trying to solve.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been asked, or heard at least once:

Who has access to what in our environment?

Any Security / Compliance Manager

The answer should be easy and simple. However the reality is likely lots of manual time & work, spreadsheets, and endless clicking in a cloud console. If you’re doing this manually then I agree, it’s time that you could be dedicating to more important tasks.

The challenge in trying to answer these questions:

  • What users exist and what groups do they belong to?
  • What does my OCI tenancy compartment structure look like?
  • What policies have users explicitly created?
  • What permissions do users have in my tenancy?
  • Are there any excessive / non-compliant policies & permissions in my tenancy?

is that these complex relationships can’t be easily represented and interpreted in a table-like format. In the OCI ecosystem:

  • users can be federated with an Identity Provider and can belong to one or many federated, or local IAM groups,
  • policies can be defined for “any-user” or for a group,
  • policies are inherited meaning they apply to all sub-compartments from which the policies are applied.

To make things easier I’ve created a solution using Oracle tools and services to simplify the auditing of OCI tenancies and user permissions called “Peek”.

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Field Level Encryption with Oracle Integration and OCI Vault

Integration platforms are often required to handle confidential information such as personal details, payment information or other data protected by compliance and regulatory standards such as HIPAA, GDPR, PII and PCI.

Various methods exist to protect data from unauthorized access while data is in transit and at rest. These approaches typically encrypt the entire payload. As a complementary approach Field Level Encryption has an important role to play by ensuring that only appropriately configured clients can read sensitive data fields. This approach also allows clients without the encryption keys to work with the non-sensitive data which would be impossible to do with a fully encrypted payload.

Although Field Level Encryption (FLE) is not natively supported in Oracle Integration (OIC) today, this blog will explore several options that will allow you to implement FLE with OIC. In this blog, I will present these options, discuss some guiding principles and showcase some sample implementations.

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#DaysOfArm (15 of X)

This is my 15th #DaysOfArm article that tracks some of the experiences that I’ve had so far. It’s been a little while since I’ve worked on this series however saying that … much of what I’ve been doing didn’t seem different from any other type of environment.

And just to recap from the first post (here) on June 12 2021.

It’s been just over 2 weeks since the launch of Ampere Arm deployed in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Check this article out to learn more (here). And it’s been about one week since I started looking into the new architecture and deployment, since I started provisioning the VM.Standard.A1.Flex Compute Shape on OCI and since I started migrating a specific application that has many different variations to it to test it all out.

This is my next learning where I looked into Let’s Encrypt to create a set of free certificates for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure A1.Flex VM Instances.

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Bastion Access For Minecraft

In the previous post, I did some work in managing Security Lists to protect the Minecraft Server. To read about that, head (here). Another method of connecting to the Minecraft Server is through a Bastion Host. As part of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, it is free to create a session through the Bastion Service (service limits do apply). Here’s a brief encounter of getting this up and going.

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Security Lists for Minecraft

The Minecraft Server has been up and running for a little while now on my Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Always Free Tier. And it’s something that has become more valuable. The hours of crafting, building and mining is something that needs attention. I’ve experienced the situation when months of work has been wiped or worse hacked. It’s not a good feeling.

I’ve been using the Security Lists in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to define specific ingress rules. What I’ve done now is make that easier.

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Adding OAuth to ORDS

Adding security over the APIs across multiple layers was something that we considered when putting this project together. This perspective was reinforced at the #DigitalDefence hackathon in Nov 2020. Check out what happened (here).

We focus on the score and event APIs exposed by Autonomous Data Warehouse.

Here we will focus on the different REST APIs exposing the data hosted by Autonomous Data Warehouse. We started off with HTTP Basic Authentication but quickly turned to using OAuth. Here we’ll explore more about the OAuth side and how to get that started.

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