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Meeting Today’s Data Security Imperative | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Encryption strategies are critical for securing data today but must be deployed in a thorough, holistic way

Organizations are experiencing a new emphasis when it comes to cybersecurity. They are moving from securing the perimeter to securing the data within it, which is the result of the proliferation of connected devices in organizations today: smartphones, tablets and the IoT. Organizations used to focus their efforts on keeping attackers outside the perimeter, because just a few years ago, the network perimeter was much more static and limited. Today, the perimeter is everywhere - and constantly moving.

Furthermore, hackers have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to breach network perimeter security. And as the workplace and the devices and applications employees use have become increasingly distributed, the focus has changed to protecting the data and not just the perimeter.

Consequently, IT security teams are setting their sites on pervasive data security. Encryption strategies are critical for securing data today but must be deployed in a thorough, holistic way. Otherwise, data may be protected in one place but not in other multiple locations. That's a false sense of security that can lead to data disaster.

Encrypting for Data Security
As organizations design a holistic data protection initiative, they must look at not just financial data or payment information but also personally identifiable information (PII) that has become so valuable to criminals. This data demands the utmost protection, because while someone stealing your credit card is a problem, you can always cancel your card - you can't cancel your identity or change your date of birth.

In the quest to protect data, organizations are finding that encryption is a good partner. Every organization needs an encryption strategy, starting with the protection of an organization's most confidential or sensitive information. When encrypting this data, it is compulsory that key management is simple and easy. This way, no matter where your data is located, it's encrypted and it's secure.

However, a huge question for the majority of organizations is: Where exactly IS your data? Organizations fall into the trap of protecting data only when it exists in a particular area, but that same set of data exists in potentially many other places. If it's not protected everywhere, it is then vulnerable. Organizations need to understand, discover and know where all their sensitive data is located and ensure data is encrypted at rest, in use and in transit.

Data protection was once an item on a list to check off and then forget about. But in light of the most recent hacks on high-profile organizations, data protection is a boardroom discussion - and we've seen what happens to senior executives who haven't properly protected their sensitive data. In addition, customers are becoming more concerned about the safety of their data.

At this point, enterprises understand that they need encryption - yet some still hesitate. Why? Because encryption can get challenging - but it doesn't have to. Here are five top pervasive encryption techniques to help maximize data protection while minimizing the challenges:

  1. First things first: Start off on the right foot by creating a comprehensive encryption strategy that allows you to understand what data you are encrypting, how you are managing your keys and the underlying policy controls for user access.
  2. Protect what you treasure: Encrypt any data that would be considered sensitive.  And ensure you're encrypting it in all phases of its life cycle - at rest, in use and in transit.
  3. Separation of powers: Create policy controls that enforce separation of duties between network personnel and security professionals. Separating out the security components and the network management components or the application user components is critical to ensuring that only the people who need to access the different systems are able to access them.
  4. Deploy an HSM: Because the goal is to protect sensitive data, use a hardware security module. It has the highest level of assurance to keep your most important keys inside a secure hardware boundary.
  5. Remain vigilant: Vulnerabilities will evolve, so stay safe by continually monitoring your people, processes and security posture. You need to look at your people processes as well to make sure you have some kind of checks and balances in your technology strategy and continue to evolve it to see vulnerabilities.

More Stories By Peter Galvin

Peter Galvin is a product and marketing strategist for Thales e-Security with over two decades of experience in the high tech industry. He has worked for Oracle, Inktomi, Openwave, Proofpoint and SOASTA.

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