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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Paul Taylor

Recent Posts

Advantages of Third-Party IBM i (AS400) Encryption

Posted by Paul Taylor on May 18, 2012 1:46:00 PM

automatic encryptionThe newest version of the IBM i (AS400) operating system, V7R1, brings sophisticated new security tools from IBM’s larger systems to mid-range markets. These new features allow third-party companies such as Townsend Security to offer NIST-certified automatic AES encryption, so that you can now encrypt your sensitive data without application changes!

With the update from V5R4 or V6R1 to V7R1, the AS400 can now protect data more efficiently by using FIELDPROC, an “exit point” technology that works in the database instead of in application programs. Previously, IBM i (AS400) encryption was an application-level process where a user had to first identify the field such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other private information and then decide on an approach that usually involved modifying applications. This required programmers to make changes and undergo a sophisticated test cycle.

The new FIELDPROC exit point allows a user to identify all fields they wish to encrypt with Townsend Security’s automatic AES encryption without making application changes.

It is crucial to keep in mind that administrators can use strong encryption in a weak manner by neglecting the use of proper encryption key management. In using a third-party encryption  provider such as Townsend Security, a company with more than 20 years of IBM i (AS400) experience has three distinct advantages:

  1. AES encryption is automatic, meaning that no changes in applications need to be made. This saves your company time and money by focusing on your business instead of a complicated encryption project.
  2. NIST-certified encryption will pass all state, federal, and industry compliance regulations. Townsend Security guarantees our NIST certified Alliance AES/400 solution will meet or exceed encryption standards in PCI, SOX, HIPAA/HITECH and other regulations.
  3. Third-party encryption can be faster. Alliance AES/400 from Townsend Security can encrypt one million credit card numbers in one second of CPU time--100 times faster than competing encryption libraries on the same IBM i platform.

Because encryption has a reputation for creating performance problems, the newly specialized FIELDPROC tool optimizes encryption and sets up secure caches. Townsend Security’s Automatic AES Encryption integrates seamlessly with these features to create the most secure data environment available on the IBM i (AS400) today.

Download our podcast on "The Benefits of FIELDPROC Encryption" to learn more about FIELDPROC capabilities and the benefits of automatic encryption.  Additionally, we have a podcast titled "FIELDPROC Performance - Speed Matters" for those who are wondering how it will impact their systems.

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Topics: Encryption, AES, FIELDPROC

Data Breaches Drive Encryption Projects in 2012

Posted by Paul Taylor on May 16, 2012 1:45:00 PM
data breach 2012

In today's interconnected world, your company's reputation can be won or lost on the strength of your data security. Almost every day, you can read news reports about data breaches that expose confidential customer information. Credit card numbers, banking information, even home addresses and telephone numbers have been exposed by unscrupulous hackers and inattentive employees. Social network and online news outlets quickly spread the word of any potential breaches, exposing your company to public scrutiny and ridicule. Data breaches also expose your business to legal liability and sanctions. Once the data is out, there is no putting the cat back into the bag. You will be forced to explain what precautions you've taken, and why they didn't work. If you fail to meet any federal, state, or industry standards for data security, you could find yourself in a very precarious position.

Data breaches come about in a variety of ways. Many highly publicized exposures are the result of direct efforts by hackers. These hackers can have a variety of motivations, from purely financial to personal ideology, but the end result for your company is the same. If they get in, and get useful information, your bottom line and reputation can suffer irreparable harm.

Another infamous, but no less harmful, form of data loss can be caused by employee negligence. Lost laptops, misplaced flash drives, and low-quality passwords can all lead to data loss. A common thief who steals a notebook computer from a car may find himself in possession of your most sensitive data. Even though these exposures can't be directly attributed to any failure on your part, your business will still be responsible for a breach notification.

To adequately protect your data from all conceivable threats, you need to be protecting it with encryption and key management, which goes farther than just access prevention. A dedicated hacker or inattentive employee can circumvent the most secure firewall and bypass the most stringent security protocols. The only way to make sure your data is truly secure is to make sure that, no matter where it's located, it's useless to unauthorized personnel.

It's almost impossible to ensure that your sensitive data remains where you put it. Whether intentional or accidental, there is always the possibility that sensitive data will be removed from your site. The best defense against harmful data breaches is a comprehensive security protocol that utilizes data. When your data is properly encrypted, compliance regulations state that you aren’t responsible for a breach notification – because there is no useable data!

Townsend Security provides NIST-certified AES encryption for all major enterprise platforms and a FIPS 140-2 certified encryption key management hardware security module (HSM) – technology that will help you avoid a breach notification. There is no better way to securely store data and minimize your exposure. 

Download our white paper "AES Encryption Strategies - A White Paper for the IT Executive" to learn more about key issues in data security, how to choose the right data security partner, and how to develope a strategy that insures early successes.

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Topics: security, Data Privacy

How Emory Healthcare Could Have Avoided A Data Breach Notification

Posted by Paul Taylor on Apr 23, 2012 10:17:00 AM

Breach Notification Safe-Harbor

PCI Compliance White Paper

Download the white paper "Achieve Safe-Harbor Status from HITECH Act Breach Notification" to learn more about encyption and key management best practices.

Click Here to Download Now

Data breaches in the medical industry are occurring at a greater rate now than ever before. Emory Healthcare recently experienced a significant PHI (Private Health Information) breach and has announced that approximately 315,000 medical records have gone missing.

Included among those records are those of the chief executive officer of the hospital, who has tried to calm public outcry by noting that, to his knowledge, none of the personal information had been used in attempts at identity theft. But the loss is significant because it violates patient privacy rights and could have been prevented if Emory Healthcare was properly encrypting the data.

In total, 10 backup discs for the hospital system have been gone from their storage facilities since mid-February. Within each record was a wealth of information, including patient names, Social Security numbers, and surgical procedures and dates.

Emory has said that it had strong policies in place to protect the personal information of patients. It also attributed the cause of the theft to an honest mistake made by an employee.  However, HIPAA states that an organization is responsible for a breach notification regardless of whether the data was “hacked” or just lost.

As part of their remediation plan, Emory is providing free resources to help patients combat and prevent identity theft. While Emory has said it is revisiting its policies and procedures to better protect patient information, it's unclear if they are making systemic changes that could protect patients even if data is stolen in the future. Regardless of what security measures they take to better protect patient information, the only way Emory -- or any other medical facility -- can guarantee patient information is safe and avoid a breach notification will be to protect it with encryption and key management.

If you are not familiar, AES encryption (the standard for Data at Rest) is a form of data protection that uses an algorithm to transform information in a way that makes it unreadable by other entities. AES encryption that is certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is used to attain the highest levels of security. Encryption can't be ignored as a security measure.

The second part of the encryption process is managing the encryption key. Only by knowing the encryption key can that information be unlocked and read. When data such as patient information is encrypted with proper key management, it is safe from being compromised by hackers or other entities that steal the information. Without the encryption key, the data is worthless.

With breaches in the healthcare industry up 32% in the last year, it is more important than ever to be encrypting PHI.  Data breaches have dollars lost directly tied to each record lost.  Download our white paper “Achieve Safe-Harbor Status from HIPAA/HITECH Breach Notification” to learn more about how your organization can protect PHI with encryption and key management.

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Topics: Data Privacy, HIPAA, Security News

IBM i (AS/400) – Is it a Legacy Platform?

Posted by Paul Taylor on Apr 17, 2012 12:55:00 PM

IBM iWhenever I am asked what Townsend Security does I have to explain that we aren't in the business of deploying security cameras or contracting out shopping mall guards. We are actually a software security vendor for the IBM i (AS/400) platform.  It's usually at this point the recipient's eyes glaze over and I am left simply stating that I am in the 'computers' field.  On occasion however I will be chatting with a colleague who also works in the tech industry who will scoff when they hear the name AS/400, iSeries, Systemi (take your pick).  Often I'll hear, "Whoa, that's legacy technology. You have customers still using that platform?"

The simple answer is “yes”, many of the companies that we rely on for consumer needs, medical services and entertainment, to name a few, depend upon the stability of IBM's iSeries platform.  It's the system that you rarely have to IPL.  As a matter of fact, I was surprised to learn many of the casinos in Nevada and N.J. run on AS/400's. 

However, despite the pervasive use of the platform, is it legacy?  The AS/400 was introduced in 1988 and is actually younger than the PC!   Much like the PC, IBM rolls out continuous hardware and software improvements to keep the platform stable and secure.   As a matter of fact, I am sure many of you are planning to upgrade your systems as V5R4 nears its EOL date later this year.  Take a look at this blog on why skipping V6R1 and going straight to V7R1 will benefit you.

Security on the IBM i

Townsend Security offers a variety of security solutions to help your business meet regulatory compliance.  In addition to our AES encryption and key management offerings for the enterprise platforms, we offer solutions specifically for the IBM i (AS/400).  For instance, FTP manager, our secure managed file transfer offering, can automatically transfer PGP encrypted files using sFTP or SSL to banks or trading partners.  Or Alliance LogAgent, our system logging solution, can be used to capture all your logs from your AS/400's audit journal and transmit them via UDP,TCP, or SSL to a log collection server to just name a few.

For more information on data privacy, download our podcast Data Privacy for the Non-Technical Person.  Patrick Townsend, our Founder & CTO, discusses what PII (personally identifiable information) is, what the most effective methods for protecting PII, as well as the first steps your company should take towards establishing a data privacy strategy.

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Topics: Data Privacy, IBM i

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