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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Is Drupal Ready for the Enterprise?

Posted by Luke Probasco on Feb 17, 2015, 10:35:00 AM

Drupal is growing up. Currently, over one million websites run on Drupal. It is the CMS of choice for the Weather Channel, American Express and the White House. And with Drupal 8 right around the corner, promising to bring new features and capabilities, it is a very attractive CMS for agencies who need to build solutions for their clients.

What Data Needs To Be Encrypted In Drupal?While these are some major wins for the platform, there is still a large segment of enterprises not quite ready to adopt Drupal. With headlines like “Drupal Sites, Assume You’ve Been Hacked” (after Drupalgeddon) it is easy to understand why there may be some hesitation. Security is a top concern for enterprises and they are scrutinizing anything that collects and stores personally identifiable information (PII) on behalf of their brand.

Increased security requirements are now trickling down via RFPs to agencies and developers who need to choose a CMS. As far as these enterprises are concerned, they don’t care what CMS is used on their project, as long as it can: (1) help manage their risk of a data breach and (2) meet compliance requirements. Enterprises know that the regulations they fall under (PCI DSS, HIPAA, FISMA, etc.) can be unforgiving in the event of a breach, especially if the proper technology was not in place.

So, is Drupal ready for the enterprise?

As a platform, yes-ish. Enterprises have security requirements that go beyond what is available in Drupal core. Fortunately, there are members within the Drupal community that understand this and have developed modules and services that easily integrate into Drupal installations. It is now up to developers to use these tools to build secure, enterprise-ready web sites and applications.

In order to win bids, developers need to not only know how to code, but also need to know security best practices. Concepts like dual control and separation of duties are now considerations when planning for web site security. Developers are also learning what compliance regulations consider sensitive information – data that they previously didn’t think twice about leaving unprotected. Beyond the obvious – credit card and social security numbers – email addresses, phone numbers, and zip codes can constitute PII that needs to be encrypted.

DrupalCon Encryption 
Slide from Hugh Forrest’s (Director, SXSW Interactive Festival) keynote from DrupalCon 2014 on the importance of encryption.

The importance of encryption and key management cannot be overstated. Encryption is the hardest part of data security, and key management is the hardest part of encryption. Storing encryption keys within the Drupal database, settings file, or even a protected file on the server, will never pass an enterprise security team’s sniff test or compliance audit. Hackers don’t break encryption, they find keys, and without key management, developers are leaving their private data open to any hacker that cares to take a look.

“We recently began talks with a Fortune 100 company regarding their platform,” said Chris Teitzel, CEO of Cellar Door Media. “Encryption was a requirement for this project. The primary question the security team brought up was how we are able to manage the keys.”

With the importance of encryption and key management realized, who is responsible for implementing it? Unfortunately, currently no major Drupal hosting providers offer it within their environments. However, it is not difficult to deploy using modules like Encrypt, Key, Form Encrypt, Field Encrypt, Key Connection, etc. These modules all have integrations with services that allow for encryption and key management outside of the Drupal installation.

It is also important to note that, while hosting providers can claim they are compliant with your specific regulation, their compliance does not extend to you, the developer. Hosting providers can attain an Attestation of Compliance (AOC) for their platform, however, it does not extend to what their customers do within their environments. Additionally, regulations like PCI DSS make it clear that in the event of a breach, it is the enterprise, not the hosting provider or development agency, that is responsible.

For Drupal to truly be a contender in the enterprise space, which it clearly is, it is prudent that members of the Drupal community understand how to secure data within their deployments, who is responsible in the event of a breach (their clients), and what they need to do to secure sensitive data in Drupal to make it a viable option.What Data Needs Encrypted In Drupal?

Topics: Encryption, Encryption Key Management, Drupal

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