Encrypting or encoding data is one of the best ways to protect information especially among the corporate sector. The only other option is to avoid storing data at all if encryption isn’t possible! Let’s consider the case of exploiting file sharing applications like Dropbox. If you’re the only user with accessibility rights of the files stored there, encrypting each file or the entire folder with relevant tools like 7-zip before you migrate them to the cloud.
However, it’s possible you wish to share the files with someone else which calls for an encryption software at the other end as well as access rights. Now, it’s your responsibility to figure out how to share the keys safe and sound as you share them; protection is most important aspect of all.
It isn’t the technology that’s hardest thing about encryption but what it actually protects and risks that lie beneath is the real complication. Under the hood, encryption is utterly complicated and requires sufficient technical expertise. Once realising the complexity that encoding brings, you need to start designing for the location where you actually encrypt, where and how you store the data and management of the encryption keys.
In the above example of file sharing, the motive is to encrypt the data the way it exists at the cloud vendor’s end. You’ve no choice but to trust the vendor however preventing a search warrant is crucial which forces the provider to surrender the data.
The encrypted data stored inside your laptop or desktop hard drive as well as at the file sharing service provider. You can always memorise the details or write then down somewhere which actually mitigates the risk of losing them to the unwanted.
To clarify things further, we need to look deeper at the enterprise level customer relationship management system. The archived data includes a huge set of customer information that may raise privacy concerns especially when exploiting the public cloud.
The encryption solutions
In order to protect the data, you might want to prevent that’s migrating to the cloud unencrypted. Since cloud technology has advanced beyond imagination, there’re number of solutions that exist in the current market.
One involves choosing a separate cloud vendor who filters the entire CRM traffic and replaces the open customer data with encrypted version. Accessing the information will be decoded by the same encryption provider thus keeping safety and privacy intact.
Still, you need to put some trust in the source provider but they’ll no longer keep the un-decoded files which further mitigates the risk of data loss.
Software developer(s) who use IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) which means the program actually runs on a virtual machine/server at the cloud vendor’s end. The real question is; what type of risks exist there that encryption may reduce.
That server has a virtual drive on which all the data has been stored and of-course, there’s a risk from the staff working there having access to the information. More likely that the disk could be cloned and taken away for further inspection and that’s another form of cybercrime we’re less aware of.
The risk assessment procedure
Risks can be addressed by decoding the operating system’s hard-drive similar to the one in your laptop or desktop computer at home. It’s rather easy in most of the operating systems but the biggest headache is getting the encryption key to the virtual server as it boots at start-up. While it’s possible, the discussion goes beyond the scope of this article so we’ll leave it for another time!
Our discussion so far has been about the stored and stationary data; let’s have a few words on data in motion. A finest example is using HTTPS for web traffic as the data moves, other cases are of file transfers like with FTP and terminal traffic. But, these techniques are now outdated so you should prefer using the SFTP and SSH where the letter “S” refers to Secure.
Let’s streamline the details. Most of the data breaches are a result of hackers breaking into the system which is a result of leaving computers unprotected and data unencrypted. So, make sure all the backdoors are locked of the data centre as well as virtual endpoint for added protection.