Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Data security and the "chasm of protection"

I was thinking a bit more about the notion of data-centric or information-centric security and why this is absolutely the future of data protection...

Say you are a retailer. You have data in your POS devices, encrypted with the POS application as cards are read in. As this data is required by another application, it has to be first decrypted so this in-store application can read it. It may then encrypt it again as it stores on in-store servers. Now assume you have another application in the data centers that is used for card settlement. Another decrypt-encrypt cycle from the store to the data-center!

This scenario is not limited to a retail environment. Consider a similar cycle repeating itself in most companies as data is moved from location to location, analyzed and processed by multiple applications and on multiple devices and multiple internal and external networks - each time being decrypted, stored or transfered in the clear till it gets encrypted again. Each time this cycle repeats, there is a weakness that can be exploited - since there is a gap in the consistent protection of data.

Being data-centric however, brings in persistence and consistency in the protection of that data element, thereby removing this "chasm".

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