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1 A lag in the adoption of encryption is owing to a misperception that the technology slows systems. Sponsored by

2 Despite negative press following revelations about the Heartbleed bug, encryption is still the way to go, reports Jesse Staniforth. Even as millions of computer users have been forced to change their passwords because of the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug discovered in April 2014, one question often raised by the mass media is easy to answer: Is encryption worth it? The experts strongly agree that it is and that the Heartbleed bug wasn t an encryption failure at all, but rather a lapse in coding. While the mass media framed the crisis as the undoing of encryption, many who work in information security worried that such a tone would only further discourage the adoption of encryption technology at a time when far more data remains unencrypted than should be. Mac McMillan, CEO of IT security consulting firm CynergisTek, and chair of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Privacy and Security Policy Task Force, says that those who haven t adopted encryption are not using their heads. is the one control that can absolutely minimize their risks and costs from incidents while providing protection for their data, he says. However, plenty of organizations have not yet encrypted their most important data. Mc- Millan notes, for example, that there are still large segments of the health care information environment that are not encrypted. Jim Ivers, chief security strategist for datacentric security group Covata, says that the nervousness many feel about approaching encryption is natural. I think encryption scares people, he says. I think they re worried about losing their keys and about effectively digitally shredding their data. A lot of encryption is tied to PKI [public key infrastructure], which has been a great and very serviceable technology, but PKI was created before the web was adopted broadly, before the cloud, before mobility. This whole notion of having to buy and provision certificates seems complicated to people. Richard Moulds, vice president of strategy for Thales e-security, agrees that the permanence of encryption is a singular obstacle for some people. There s a sense that if your anti-virus system fails, so what? You might miss something coming in for the period that it s down, but that s about it, he says. Same for your intrusion-detection system, same for your patch-management system. You might be a day late in doing your patches, but that s about it. But if you ve encrypted your database or your archives, and you lose the key, then you re never going to get that data back. However, Moulds says that another reason for a lag in the adoption of encryption is that the technology still suffers from a reputation of slowing systems that dates back to a computing environment of 10 or 20 years ago. Moulds would like those assumptions to be put to rest. Lately, encryption has become more of an embedded capability, and it s done in a much more efficient fashion than it was in the past, he says. A lot of [the performance reduction] has been mitigated, but it s still there in people s minds. There s also the issue of cost. Getting the right people in place who understand [encryption] and can configure and deploy it smartly and efficiently is difficult, says Hord Tipton, executive director of (ISC) 2, a nonprofit organization that offers information security education and certifications. Those people are not cheap. Then you ve got the issue of actually maintaining it. You get into some real trouble if you deploy encryption systems even on an enterprise level and don t do your due diligence to keep them serviced and maintained. Larger companies and organizations generally have sophisticated encryption in place, Tipton says. However, midsized and smaller 72% of outbound messages from Gmail to other providers was encrypted. Google Transparency Report 2

3 businesses are often the ones that have not yet adopted encryption. And according to Tipton, that s like playing Russian roulette. Businesses that have not protected their data, he says, could be breaking numerous laws that could subject them to substantial fines that they may not be aware of until something goes wrong. He cites, in particular, HIPAA, the Data Privacy Act, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, as well as the PCI DSS components of banking laws all of which apply to business owners who store customer information. If you re keeping somebody s credit card, CVV or PIN number, and it s not encrypted, you re breaking the law, he points out. And, you will be, number one, fined, and secondly, probably sued once someone gets into your computer regardless of how small [a breach] it is. But Jeff Barto, trust strategist and website security advocate at Symantec, says that the incentive for encryption goes far beyond the cost of any Our experts: punishment a company might face for lapses of security. Drawing on his background in advertising, he says it s important to think always of protecting your brand. Your brand is the most important thing you have as a business, he says. What happens if you lose control of your brand? One method of doing so is losing control of sensitive and confidential data. Stop and consider the consequences. For this reason, Barto counsels not just relying on encryption technology, but making it a selling point as part of a brand s public face. There s a story that our customers and businesses can tell that s about projecting Jeff Barto, trust strategist and website security advocate, Symantec Don Hayford, senior research leader, Battelle Jim Ivers, chief security strategist, Covata Mac McMillan, CEO, CynergisTek Richard Moulds, VP of strategy, Thales e-security trust, like: We password-protect and hash all passwords, we store them offline, we secure all your data at 128-bit minimum encryption, he says. There are a lot of websites that are out front in projecting trust because it s a reflection of their brand, and therefore holding on to a trusted relationship. Think of encryption as a brandprotection mechanism. Barto encourages those wavering on the edge of encrypting their data to consider how easily serious security breaches can occur as a result of what he calls the accidentalinsider threat a person inside an organization who damages the organization s data security by accident. He cites a survey by Ipswich and Symantec showing that 84 percent of employees have sent sensitive data to a personal address, 30 percent have lost a thumb-drive containing confidential information, and 50 percent have housed company data on a cloud-hosted shared drive. What s more, 62 percent of employees have stored work documents on personal devices or computers. Of that last figure, Barto says, The majority of all of those documents are never deleted and the fact that they re not on protected or encrypted machines exposes the documents themselves to risk, not just the data in them. So, he adds, once the documents get back into the environment, not only could the data have been compromised, but the documents themselves could spread malware and viruses around too. Upwards of 97 percent of data mishaps and breaches, he says, could have been avoided through very simple and affordable means. Sean Murphy, VP, health care information security, Leidos Health Solutions Group Hord Tipton, executive director, (ISC) 2 55% of inbound messages from outside providers to Gmail were encrypted. Google Transparency Report 3

4 The problem here is usually the fault of a human being who didn t do something simple that wouldn t have cost anything, because it s something that somebody already implemented. Some of these are as simple as encrypting data or encrypting servers. encryption is good, but there s always going to be the client. Sean Murphy, VP, health care information security, Leidos Health Solutions Group Personal versus business In any discussion about encryption, there is always an invisible division between encrypting the data of private individuals and the data of corporations. When it comes to basic individual privacy, the consensus is that the obvious things should be protected name, address, phone number, city, state, ZIP codes, address, vital statistics, Social Security number, logins, passwords, bank account numbers. But what about personal s? Or data related to sensitive issues like health and family, or even that related to shopping choices or travel plans? When it comes to the information that comprises individual lives, the discussion about encryption often moves from being about how to encrypt to whether or not it s necessary. Few individuals feel the need to encrypt their private data, and even for those who do want to adopt encryption technologies, the learning curve is steep enough to discourage all but the most ardent privacy advocates. is hard enough to deploy that Carnegie Mellon University researchers have twice reported (in 1999 and 2007) that most users cannot understand PGP encryption technology well enough to successfully encrypt a message with it. I ve always envisioned and communications security and privacy as really more of a client-side problem, says privacy advocate Sean Murphy, vice president, health care information security at Leidos Health Solutions Group, who would like to see the discussion about personal security become more like the discussion about security at the enterprise level. encryption is good, but there s always going to be the client. Today it s Gmail. It was Outlook back in the day. What allocations are they using? Why aren t these applications protecting people? For Murphy, encryption shouldn t even be an option in standard clients. Rather, he sees it as something that should be mandatory and built in without question. I think everyone should be using it, he says. But at the same time I don t think that people should be burdened with having to make the choice. It should be something that we do by default we being entities, companies, communication providers. We should be doing that to make sure people are protected. A major stumbling block, however, is the lack of incentive on the part of providers to make those changes. Big businesses Google, for one make their money on advertising and invasive searching of your data. If they don t have your data, they can t do that, Murphy says. This was precisely the argument that arose when Google announced as part of the Reset the Net day of action against NSA surveillance in June 2014 that it had always supported encryption in transit by using Transport Layer Security (TLS), and will automatically encrypt your incoming and outgoing s if it can. While that may be so, assailed critics, once private s are received and prior to their being sent, the company continues to mine them for information used to create the targeted ads on which more than 90 percent of the company s revenues are based. Google also announced a PGP-plugin for 52% of organizations saw their unstructured data volumes increase by at least 25 percent in the past year. Dell Software, June

5 Chrome, which initially seemed like a huge victory to encryption supporters. Murphy doesn t see it that way. Once you start using it, he says, then you realize it s just an experimental type of thing. Something that maybe gives them a better appearance in the media and to technologists, to look like they are concerned about this sort of stuff. But when you see these big developer conferences, like WWDC, Google I/O or Facebook s conference, how much time do they spend talking about protecting users privacy? In fact, Facebook released this privacy dinosaur [as a mascot]. A dinosaur! An extinct concept something that s been dead for a long time! Applying encryption in your enterprise is one of those things that sounds like a great idea until you try to do it... Richard Moulds, VP of strategy, Thales e-security At their core, Murphy contends, businesses like Google and Facebook have no genuine interest in user privacy. They re saying these things to make you feel good: you can be private now, and have control over your private data, he says. But you don t. A lot of the stories we re going to see about these companies adopting encryption are really just about trying to save face. Businesses will never be in a hurry to encourage technology that works at odds with their ability to profit off of their data, and Murphy says we shouldn t expect them to start any time soon. Instead, he says, users are going to have to demand that encryption become both standard and easy to use. In the past four to seven years, since iphones debuted, we ve seen so much fragmentation, he says. People are on Facebook for one activity, then they re on Instagram for another, and then they go to SnapChat for another. But none of these entities are privacy-first. So that s what users need to demand to say, We re aware of what s going on. We know that three-letter U.S. government agencies are doing this, that and the other, and we know that corporate entities are spying on our data. So we want to vote with our dollar and we don t want that to be the case anymore. The major changes won t just come from the ground up on the client side, however. Murphy insists that they will begin at the grassroots level for business as well, with the small and medium businesses not only adopting [privacy-first approaches], but developing solutions for these kinds of things. That s what we really need to have a focus on privacy-first entities, communication providers, protocols, whatever they happen to be. That s what needs to happen. Where to start isn t much easier to grasp for those at the enterprise level about to plunge into encrypting their systems, however. Thales esecurity s Moulds warns that the complexity of determining what to encrypt can be intimidating. Applying encryption in your enterprise is one of those things that sounds like a great idea until you try to do it, he says. Then you realize you ve got lots of choices: You can encrypt your network, you can encrypt your databases, your file systems, your tapes, your web servers. You could encrypt almost any of it. But which one should you do? It s a question of where to start. Tipton says that determining what data needs to be encrypted, and to what level, is the most important preliminary step in these decisions. He encourages those adopting encryption technology to begin by asking themselves, What data do I have that is so critically important that I have to take extreme precautions to protect it? 26% of organizations do not use database encryption on databases that contain sensitive information. InfoWeek Report: Why NoSQL Equals NoSecurity 5

6 Then, he adds, you have to answer whether you want full encryption, data-atrest encryption, or encryption of data in transit. You have to take the time to find the stakeholders and the people who own this data to decide what policies you re going to put on it. What happens if this data is lost or stolen? What are the impacts and consequences? In other words, what s critical? McMillan strongly concurs, noting that part of the daunting price of encryption may result from organizations encrypting more data than necessary. Before looking at cost, we should be looking at data management, he says. Who needs it, in what form, where, when, how much, and so on? If companies did a better job of data management the costs of encryption could be significantly reduced by eliminating areas where it would no longer be required, he adds. The problem with encryption is that there is always a user involved. Mac McMillan, CEO, CynergisTek For Moulds, it s a question of classifying data by level of importance. The military, he notes, has been doing that for decades, and it s a sensible practice for any business with information it wants to protect. A lot of organizations, if you map out the various classes of data that they have, you ll end up with a pyramid that says that most of the data at the base is relatively boring, Moulds says. You might not want to send it over the internet, but other than that you might regard it as having a threat profile not really justifying any internal encryption. Meanwhile, Barto sees deciding what to encrypt like an episode of the TV detective show Columbo: It s all about following people and resources carefully. Think of the possible ways to leak information, he says. The idea is to follow the user, whether they re internal or external, whether it s a human or not. Follow your data. Where does it travel through different systems, and where does it come to rest? It s not that tough to do, he says. It can be done from a user standpoint, but it can also be accomplished as a process-flow in a business: Where is my data moving from, at what point does it become exposed to external vectors or places where people can throw it onto a thumb drive or upload it onto another container? At what point is it not secured with SSL as it moves? Does it go out to a cloud location? Does it cross borders? Do I need to worry about external things? The gold standard One thing that all parties agree on is that the AES 256 cipher remains the gold standard of encryption algorithms. AES is a top-notch algorithm, says Don Hayford, senior research leader for Battelle, an independent research and development firm. There are some other ones Skipjack, Twofish, Bluefish which are also pretty good. We think those are secure and probably will be for the next decade. Tipton at (ISC) 2 agrees. You can go stronger if you want, he says, but generally the breaking of that particular key and algorithm is due to other causes. That s where we return to the problem of the Heartbleed bug: It wasn t caused by a flaw in OpenSSL s encryption, but rather by a coding error in the heartbeat extension of its Transport Security Layer. Because of this, it revealed the fundamental flaw in encryption not the algorithm itself, but its implementation. The problem with encryption is that there is always a user involved, says McMillan., unfortunately, can almost always be opiated by an authorized user. Or, in the case of Heartbleed, by the coder responsible for the missing bounds check that led to that bug. For that reason, Hayford says his firm wants to take encryption to its next level: Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Hay- Survey 36% of organizations are confident in their ability to properly manage encryption keys so data can be recovered as needed. InfoWeek Report: 2012 Data 6

7 ford s team has identified key-transfer processes as the most vulnerable part of any encryption mechanism. In response, Battelle is working on developing a keytransfer process in which information is coded onto photons. Photons are subject to physicist Werner Heisenberg s uncertainty principle, which originally described how, when attempting to measure the action of particles, a precise measurement is unattainable because the act of observing influences the situation. Building upon this idea, QKD transfers key information by pairs of bits: If one bit is intercepted or inspected, the second one cannot due to quantum physics be measured. If QKD can be effectively mounted, Hayford says, it should drastically reduce the inherent vulnerability built into most key transfers. Somebody really wants your data and that somebody has a lot of money and time. Jim Ivers, chief security strategist, Covata Its time may come Of course, that will take time. At the moment, because of the uncertainty of photons traveling along a fiber, QKD is only functional within distances of no more than about 100 miles. Soon, however, Battelle hopes to introduce daisy-chains of trusted node servers, which would allow the transfer of quantum keys over far greater distances. Later, the process will be taken over by quantum repeaters, containing the entire process within quantum links. Between the two, Hayford says QKD will make information transfer far safer for major data centers, financial institutions, medical record holders and companies with sensitive trade secrets. Initially, it s going to be the big players, says Hayford. In the long term, though, eventually you ll see it at the small-business and personal level. QKD will not be ready for mass deployment via trusted nodes for a couple of years, while quantum-repeater technology will not be on the market for a decade. Still, with quantum computing on the rise, Hayford says that those who want to keep their data safe have to be thinking about the future. We think AES 256 is very safe, he says, and, in fact, we use it as part of our key exchange mechanism. The things that we re concerned about [have to do with ] key exchange RSA, Diffie-Hellman Elliptic Curve they re vulnerable now, as we ve seen. And, of course, quantum computers make all that stuff easily broken. That has led Hayford to an ominous conclusion: We think that if you have data that you have to protect for more than five years, you should think about something like QKD. Because even if your adversary can t decrypt your data right now, in five years we think they probably will be able to. For the moment, however, most of the problems with encryption have nothing to do with the strength of algorithms. These days, if someone has enough computing strength and knowledge to break your encryption, you ve got bigger problems, says Covata s Ivers. Somebody really wants your data and that somebody has a lot of money and time. Broadly, I think the protections are still in place, even if you re dealing with enemy nation-states. From his perspective, the true issue is keyexchange mechanisms. People see encryption as some kind of voodoo, but it really is about this key management process and how I m holding on to those, how I m making them available. Regardless of what changes the future may hold, says Tipton, for the time being, encryption is nonetheless both safe and necessary. He encourages businesses and other bodies to examine existing best-practices and adapt them to their particular organizations. The 90% of organizations have sustained at least one data breach in the past year. Ponemon Institute and Juniper Networks 7

8 consequences of ignoring those guidelines, he says, can be dire. Just in the U.S. alone, last year, it was estimated that 12,000 laptops were stolen every week, he says. That s like one laptop stolen every 53 seconds. If you look at cellphones, the Ponemon Institute reported that, in a 12-month period, 143,000 smartphones had been lost or stolen. And well over half of those don t have passwords on them, much less encryption of any sort. They also estimate that the cost of a lost laptop is $50,000. So it s not the value of the laptop itself that is the problem. Eighty percent of that is the data that s on there company data, intellectual property and those kinds of things. He also refers to the estimation that encryption can save $20,000 per lost laptop. You can see, with that type of protection, you can pay for your encryption policies pretty quickly, he says. I dare say, there s an industry or company anywhere that has not lost USB devices, mobile phones, laptops, tablets. With that market growing at 20 percent a year now, you can see what it s going to be like this time next year. They absolutely have to be encrypted with some sort of a scheme., stresses Tipton, is no longer a matter of if, but of when. Businesses would be insane not to insure their physical holdings, and to Tipton, encryption is essentially another form of insurance for data. It s just a matter of knowing what your important data is, knowing what will happen if you lose it, and how many customers are going to take their business elsewhere if you do get hacked, says Tipton. So, encryption is a vital part of any enterprise s security assessment. What role does encryption play in your organization? It better be playing a big one. n For more information about ebooks from SC Magazine, please contact Illena Armstrong, VP, editorial, at 52% of breaches were caused by insiders. Ponemon Institute and Juniper Networks 8

9 Protect your website and grow your business. Symantec Website Security Solutions include industry-leading SSL, certificate management, vulnerability assessment and malware scanning. The Norton Secured Seal and Symantec Seal-in-Search assure your customers that they are safe from search, to browse, to buy. For more information, visit Sponsor Masthead EDITORIAL VP, EDITORIAL Illena Armstrong ASSOCIATE EDITOR Teri Robinson MANAGING EDITOR Greg Masters DESIGN AND PRODUCTION ART DIRECTOR Michael Strong PRODUCTION MANAGER Krassi Varbanov SALES VP, SALES David Steifman (646) REGION SALES DIRECTOR Mike Shemesh (646) WEST COAST SALES DIRECTOR Matthew Allington (415) SALES/EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Ashley Carman (646)

10 Not all SSL certificates are the same. We have the Internet s most trusted mark. Symantec Website Security Solutions include industry-leading SSL, certificate management, vulnerability assessment and malware scanning, Express Renewal, and 24x7 support. The Norton Secured Seal and Symantec Seal-in-Search assure your customers that they are safe to search, to browse, and to buy. With 100 percent uptime since 2004, military-grade data centers, and industry-leading SSL, Symantec is the leading provider of website security for your business. Call (866) or visit to learn more about Symantec Website Security Solutions. Copyright 2013 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, the Checkmark Logo, and Norton are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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