When it comes to data security, the question every single CEO and CISO should be asking her or himself is, "how do I prevent a data breach from happening to me?"
I recently sat down with data security expert Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO of Townsend Security to discuss the challenges around protecting sensitive data in the cloud and the most common methods of how people are protecting data in the cloud today.
Watch the video of that discussion here.
We live in a word today where data breaches are no longer a matter of "if" but "when." It is almost certain that some unauthorized person will at some point access your company's sensitive data, either by mistake, or with malicious intent to commit fraud. Whether it's by accident or intentional, unauthorized access of unencrypted sensitive data is usually grounds for data breach notification.
With so many companies moving their data storage to the cloud, preventing a data breach or unauthorized access to sensitive data becomes even trickier. Across the board, the number one concern people have with the cloud is data security. Because the cloud is fundamentally a shared environment in a location most users don't typically have physical access to, people are right to wonder, "Am I inadvertently sharing data with other people, and I don't know it?"
The truth is, in the cloud it's really hard to tell who you may inadvertently be sharing data with. That's why in order to prevent a data breach and avoid data breach notification it's critical to encrypt your sensitive data in the cloud, and you must use key management best practices. In fact, the concepts of protecting data in the cloud are fundamentally the same as protecting data outside of the cloud. You must (in review):
1. Encrypt the data
2. Use key management best practices to protect encryption keys
Using key management best practices for data in the cloud is fundamental, especially if you need to pass compliance regulations such as PCI-DSS, FFIEC, or FISMA.
As you'll learn in the video, there are really three ways to protect keys for encrypted data in the cloud:
1. Store the keys "in-house"
2. Store the keys in a hosted environment
3. Store the keys in the cloud
All three methods have their own advantages. But there are also ways with each method to incorrectly protect encryption keys. In the end, it's essential that you use key management best practices, and often times the easiest way to make sure you're doing that is by using an third party vendor with expert knowledge of key management best practices for the cloud.
Check out "Encryption Key Management for the Cloud" where Patrick Townsend discusses the challenges and solutions for protecting encryption keys.