Encryption and the Need for Key Management

For a number of decades, financial and government sectors used encryption to secure data and sensitive information. Business institutions and companies in less security minded areas have stayed away from encryption due to lack of understanding, implementation issues and reluctance to invest in technology. Over time, hardware acceleration has led to newer devices and processors incorporating built-in technology thus enhancing encryption and improving performance in document protection. Furthermore, to empower encryption at wire speeds, there was a need to evolve key management processes that would permit applications, programmes and servers to interpret and compose information explicitly. With enhanced key management, business houses would be able to employ encrypted devices, for instance, storage devices, to secure information without affecting the rest of the system.

Technological advancements in hardware have made the acceptance of encryption effortless than ever; however, the kinds and measures of data that need to be encrypted continue to grow. Today, encryption is a directive issued by a number of regulations and standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Worldwide, a number of institutions in Europe have also mandated stringent laws regarding document privacy, whereas, in the United States, certain states such as Nevada and Massachusetts have also issued directives on encrypting data.

Encryption and the Need for Key Management 1

Even though, regulations and standards concern themselves only with encrypting sensitive information such as financial data and classified information, various other kinds of content, for instance, email IDs can also be susceptible to attack and can greatly hamper an institution’s repute if the information gets mislaid or falls into the wrong hands. The dangers of non-compliance can also include substantial financial penalisations. The expenses connected to security breaches make company-wide encryption a very viable and low-cost option, particularly if encryption has been used in only selective areas and the remaining un-encrypted data is susceptible to hacking.

In an enterprise-wide process to encrypting, various methods have been used over time to secure information. Initially, encryption was used in the network layer to secure data in motion. Popular techniques such as SSL, TLS and virtual private networks were set up to protect data transmitting back and forth. Over the period of time, there arose the need to secure information in use, imposing guidelines on who could employ it and in what manner. Eventually, the growing advancement of hacking techniques along with the explosion of information stored in various servers, such as big data, prompted companies to encrypt all data at rest, stored in databases or devices.

Encryption and the Need for Key Management 2

With the evolution of encryption, the utilisation of encryption keys has also evolved. At first, symmetric keys were used for encrypting data that was further enhanced with the introduction of asymmetric keys used to authenticate techniques for secretly exchanging keys between the originator and intended recipients. Today, multiple and various types of keys are being used, thus bolstering encryption and making it a robust solution for organisations. However, as more and more companies are adopting encryption and keys, the number of keys used to encrypt data has also shot up. In all this, there is now a need to protect the life cycle of key management.

In some companies, specified departments manage encryption keys but in a number of cases, there is no conventional or scalable approach to managing the vast number of keys across huge quantities of data. Unfortunately, improper encryption key management can result in data breaches or loss of classified information.

In order to explicitly distinguish encryption capacity and allow the necessary authorisation keys to fasten and release individual drives, it is important to invest in good encryption key management solutions. These solutions not only streamline performance by functioning on most existing platforms, it can also leverage the local server’s security characteristics and employ the same high availability and disaster recovery arrangements.

Encryption and the Need for Key Management Conclusion

By facilitating consolidated management of robust encryption keys throughout the key lifecycle, encryption key management solutions can help reduce the risk of susceptibility and cut down functional expenses for the entire enterprise.

This article is written by Rafe Zetasci. He is a web analyst also works as an independent blogger, a technology buff interested in Digital Marketing, Data Science and technology. He has written this article for www.articsoft.com . You can reach him at Twitter.

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