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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Our Top 10 Most Popular Data Security Blog Posts of 2014

Posted by Michelle Larson on Dec 31, 2014 10:37:00 AM

Encryption, Key Management, and Data Security…Oh My!

This has been a busy year at Townsend Security with the addition of 2FA, the introduction of Key Management in AWS, Azure, and Key Connection for Drupal. Looking back over our data security blog and the most-viewed topics, I wonder... Did you miss out on any of these?  Take some time to check them out!

Heartbleed

Heartbleed and the IBM i (AS/400)

by Patrick Townsend  (April 11, 2014)

Key take-away: It is important to understand that while the IBM i platform may not be directly vulnerable to the Heartbleed problem, you may have lost IBM i User IDs and passwords over VPN or other connections which are vulnerable. An exploit of Heartbleed can expose any information that you thought was being protected with session encryption.

From the blog article you can download additional content:  
Ebook: Turning  a Blind Eye to Data Security

What are the Differences Between DES and AES Encryption?

by Michelle Larson  (September 4, 2014)

Key take-away: Even Triple DES (3DES), a way of using DES encryption three times, proved ineffective against brute force attacks (in addition to slowing down the process substantially).

From the blog article you can download additional content:    
White Paper: AES Encryption & Related Concepts

Encryption & Key Management in Windows Azure

by Michelle Larson  (February 13, 2014)

Key take-away: In February 2014 we released the first encryption key manager to run in Microsoft Windows Azure. This blog highlights four of our most frequently asked questions about providing data security IN the Cloud.

From the blog article you can download additional content:    
Podcast: Key Management in Windows Azure 

Homomorphic Encryption is Cool, and You Should NOT Use It 

by Patrick Townsend  (October 6, 2014)

Key take-away: Homomorphic encryption is a promising new cryptographic method and hopefully the cryptographic community will continue to work on it. It has yet to achieve adoption by standards bodies with a proper validation processes.

From the blog article you can download additional content:  
eBook: the Encryption Guide

Authentication Called For By PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, and GLBA/FFIEC

2FA Resource Kitby Michelle Larson  (March 24, 2014)    

Key take-away: Two-factor authentication (2FA) plays a critical role in both meeting compliance regulations and following data security best practices. This trend will only grow within various industries and throughout the overall data security environment.

From the blog article you can download additional content:  
2FA Resource Kit: White paper, Webinar, Podcast

Encrypting Data In Amazon Web Services (AWS)

by Patrick Townsend  (August 28, 2014)

Key take-away: Amazon Web Services is a deep and rich cloud platform supporting a wide variety of operating systems, AWS services, and third party applications and services. This blog explores some of the ways that our Alliance Key Manager solution helps AWS customers and partners protect this sensitive data.

From the blog article you can download additional content:  
Podcast:  Encrypting Data in AWS

Key Connection - The First Drupal Encryption Key Management Module

by Michelle Larson  (February 21, 2014)

Key Connection for Drupal

Key take-away:  Working together to solve the Drupal data security problem, the security experts at Townsend Security and Drupal developers at Cellar Door Media have released the Key Connection for Drupal solution, which addresses the need for strong encryption and encryption key management within the Drupal framework. Now personally identifiable information collected during e-commerce checkouts and user account that contain names and e-mail addresses can be easily encrypted, and the encryption keys properly managed, by organizations that collect and store that sensitive information.

From the blog article you can download additional content:   
Podcast: Securing Sensitive Data in Drupal

Nine Guidelines for Choosing a Secure Cloud Provider

by Patrick Townsend  (July 8, 2014)

Key take-away:  Security professionals (CIOs, CISOs, compliance officers, auditors, etc.) and business executives can use the following set of key indicators as a way to quickly assess the security posture of a prospective cloud provider and cloud-based application or service. Significant failures or gaps in these nine areas should be a cause for concern and suggest the need for a more extensive security review 

From the blog article you can download additional content:  
eBook: The Encryption Guide 

Never Lose an Encryption Key in Windows Azure       

by Patrick Townsend  (March 7, 2014)

Key take-away: This blog discusses backup/restore, key and policy mirroring, availability sets, and mirroring outside the Windows Azure Cloud.  Alliance Key Manager in Windows Azure goes the distance to help ensure that you never lose an encryption key. You might be losing sleep over your move to the cloud, but you shouldn’t lose sleep over your encryption strategy.

From the blog article you can download additional content:    
Free 30-day Evaluation of Alliance Key Manager for Microsoft Azure

3 Ways Encryption Can Improve Your Bottom Line

by Michelle Larson  (May 20, 2014) 

Key take-away: In a business world that is moving more towards virtualization and cloud environments, the need for strong encryption and proper key management is critical. Due to all the recent and well-publicized data breaches, we all know about the ways your brand can be damaged if you don’t encrypt your data. This blog takes a look at the benefits of encryption, and three of the ways it can have a positive effect on your business.

Additional content:  You’ll also discover that this is the third time in this Top-10 list that the eBook: The Encryption Guide is offered… so if you haven’t read it yet… what are you waiting for?

The Encryption Guide eBook

Topics: Data Security, Encryption, Best Practices, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Encryption Key Management, Virtualized Encryption Key Management, two factor authentication, Microsoft Windows Azure

Protecting Sensitive Data in Amazon Web Services

Posted by Michelle Larson on Oct 29, 2014 1:40:00 PM

Best Practices for Deploying a Key Manager in AWS

Cloud Security With Encryption Key Management in AWSThe cloud has transformed the way most industries manage their data. With services that offer cost-effective, scalable, “pay-as-you-go” options, it is increasingly rare to find a company that doesn’t want to migrate business-critical applications from an in-house data center to the cloud. Companies will make different decisions based on industry risk assessment, their own tolerance for risk, and compliance regulations, however, some Enterprises have been holding back on their migration to the cloud until comfortable that they can properly protect their most vital information. Data security was a concern when we had a fully controlled hardware environment, and now that we are moving to shared, multi-tenant virtual environments it has become even more critical.

Data encryption has had a reputation of being the hardest security measure to achieve and yet it is the best way to secure digital information that needs protection. One of the most important elements of encryption is using encryption key management best practices to keep the encryption keys safely stored away from the data they protect. An Enterprise key management solution will also provide dual control, separation of duties, and proper rotation of encryption keys to ensure that you (and only you) control, manage, and have access to your encryption keys and the data they protect.

Encrypting Data in AWS

Any cloud platform brings with it an additional set of security concerns, including the ability to implement and demonstrate regulatory compliance, as applications and services move into the cloud. Whether Enterprises bring their own applications and operating systems into the AWS cloud, or use the variety of options and rich set of services supplied by Amazon, lets take a look at ways data can be encrypted and the use of appropriate technologies to protect those vital encryption keys.

Virtual machine migration:  Probably the most typical cloud deployment involves IaaS (infrastructure as a service) where the operating system, database, and everything is contained with an application. By using industry standard encryption and key management,  vulnerabilities are significantly reduced and organizations are able to enforce compliance requirements.

Data storage options: Whether you are encrypting an entire database, or using column-level encryption for a more granular approach, you have options for database (data-at-rest) encryption.

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) While RDS does not support encryption key retrieval and on device encryption services internally, it does to make it easy for applications to encrypt data going into and out of the RDS. You can retrieve encryption keys for application-level encryption or use on-device encryption before writing to, or reading data from, the RDS.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is very popular for video, audio, and large files now with server-side customer supplied encryption and key management support. Each file can have it’s own encryption key, or you can use the same key to encrypt multiple files. With recent enhancements by Amazon, you can easily “bring your own key” and integrate a key manager to encrypt data being stored in S3 and decrypt data that is retrieved from S3 storage.

Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) is available for any virtual machine running in an Amazon context to retrieve encryption keys and encrypt data in very straightforward application environment.

Choosing an Encryption Key Management Solution

Make sure your key management solution provides a rich set of SDKs and client-side libraries all of which run in cloud platforms and can be used through all of the storage services that Amazon provides. You should be able to choose to host the key manager in the AWS cloud as an Amazon Machine Instance (AMI), or in a hosted cloud HSM (which is gives you a dedicated HSM in a SOC 3 audited data center with a PCI DSS letter of attestation for compliance) or within a physical HSM under your full control within your own data center. Look for a key manager solution that runs exactly the same way in all of these environments, and ensures that you maintain ownership of your encryption keys at all times. So if you deploy in one location and then need to migrate, you can easily store your data in the appropriate locations. Also, using industry standard encryption and certified solutions for key management are critically important for meeting compliance regulations and following security best practices. Using a third party Cloud HSM gives you the assurance that your encryption keys are kept safely apart from your sensitive data. It is very important to make sure no one else has administrative access, because above all, encryption keys are the secret that must be protected within your encryption strategy.

With options for fee-based encryption key management services, as well as bring-your-own-license solutions, Townsend Security's Alliance Key Manager (AKM) for AWS allows Enterprises to properly manage their encryption keys while meeting security requirements in less time and at a lower cost. While it is not possible to perform FIPS 140-2 validation in a cloud service provider context, Alliance Key Manager uses the same FIPS 140-2 compliant key management technology available in Townsend Security's HSM and in use by over 3,000 customers worldwide. Alliance Key Manager for AWS provides full life-cycle management of encryption keys for a wide variety of applications to help organizations meet PCI DSS, HIPAA, and PII compliance at an affordable price.

To learn more about protecting your data in AWS, download this recent podcast by industry expert Patrick Townsend:

Encrypting Data in AWS

Topics: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Encryption Key Management, Alliance Key Manager Cloud HSM, Cloud Security

SlimTrader Says: "Alliance Key Manager is a Godsend!"

Posted by Liz Townsend on Sep 8, 2014 1:59:00 PM

Protecting sensitive data stored in Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a major priority for SlimTrader, a company helping businesses and individuals in Africa complete secure transactions via mobile ecommerce solutions. SlimTrader chose AWS to host their extensive database of users based on their ability in AWS to reduce costs and scale up as their business grows. The challenge, however, was to find an encryption and encryption key management solution that also featured low initial costs and could scale as well.

Encryption Key Management AWSImplementing strong encryption and key management in the cloud has been a major challenge in the past. Recently, AWS released the AWS CloudHSM; however, the high startup costs for implementing this encryption key management solution as well as its limitations made this solution an impractical fit. That’s why SlimTrader chose Alliance Key Manager for AWS.  According to Martin Pagel, CTO of Slim Trader:

“Our main challenge is that we’re cloud based, so we can’t use an HSM because we don’t have a physical IT infrastructure. We want to do it the right way, and do it in the cloud. With Alliance Key Manager for AWS I can deploy encryption key management the way I want, and I don’t have to ask anyone in Amazon for help.”

Alliance Key Manager not only scales to meet your business needs, but also gives you complete administrative control over your own virtual key server. Having this level of control is critical in a cloud environment where you may not be sure who you are sharing resources with. Alliance Key Manager also uses the same FIPS 140-2-compliant encryption key management and NIST-validated AES encryption service found in Townsend Security’s HSMs so that you can provably meet compliance requirements for several industry security regulations. Meeting compliance requirements is important to SlimTrader and many of their larger customers.

Overall, Townsend Security helped SlimTrader achieve their security goals and overcome security challenges in four major ways:

  • Making encryption and key management in AWS easy. For many businesses, moving their data to the cloud is simply more practical than assembling an internal IT department. It is also significantly easier.  “The ease of firing up an AKM cloud instance and having control over it appeals to me,” said Pagel, “And I don’t have the limitations of needing to install a physical box.”
  • Making encryption and key management in AWS affordable. SlimTrader also chose AKM for AWS for affordability. With Alliance Key Manager for AWS, SlimTrader is taking advantage of Townsend Security’s no end-point license fee model that will allow them to grow without burdening their budget. For strong data security to become ubiquitous, and for data breaches to become fewer, encryption and key management must become affordable. With AKM for AWS, small businesses such as SlimTrader can lead the way in data breach prevention.
  • Providing encryption and key management that works with their applications. SlimTrader needed a key management solution that would work seamlessly with MySQL and Drupal in AWS. Alliance Key Manager is designed from the ground up to integrate with many platforms, applications, and databases and can protect encryption keys for data encrypted at the application level.
  • Certified Solutions. SlimTrader works with several banks and government agencies in Africa who consider PCI compliance important. “When we manage data on their behalf, we need to manage it securely,” says SlimTrader CTO Martin Pagel. FIPS 140-2 compliance is critical for many organizations who must meet government standards, and important for businesses that want provably defensible encryption key management.  Alliance Key Manager also provides onboard NIST-validated AES encryption service. This service allows you to provably meet compliance regulations for encryption.

To see for yourself how easy encryption and key management can be in Amazon Web Services, download a free 30-day evaluation.

Encryption Key Management AWS

Topics: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Case Study

Encrypting Data In Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Aug 28, 2014 9:31:00 AM

Amazon Web Services is a deep and rich cloud platform supporting a wide variety of operating systems, AWS services, and third party applications and services. It is a bewildering array of capabilities with lots of places to store sensitive data. Let’s explore some of the ways that our Alliance Key Manager solution helps AWS customers and partners protect this data. This is a bird’s eye view, and we’ll dive into this in more depth in future blogs:

Amazon AWS Services

Encrypting data in AWS - What You Need to KnowAmazon Relational Database Service (RDS)
Alliance Key Manager provides encryption key retrieval and an on-device encryption service to make it easy for your applications to encrypt data in RDS. Townsend Security SDKs can easily be used to provide encryption at the application layer.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
Alliance Key Manager lets you retrieve 256-bit AES keys in Base64 encoded format ready for use with RDS customer supplied encryption key services. You can easily deploy an AKM dedicated key management service to support encrypting and decrypting files in S3 storage.

Amazon Elastic Block Storage
Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) provide access to EBS for simple unstructured storage requirements. Townsend Security SDKs can easily be used to provide encryption at the application layer.

Amazon DynamoDB (NoSQL)
The AWS NoSQL implementation does not provide encryption services, but you can easily implement encryption at the application layer using the Townsend Security SDKs. With support for many programming languages you can implement the encryption and key management services you need to meet compliance regulations.

Application Databases:

Microsoft SQL Server
Alliance Key Manager includes a license for Townsend Security’s Key Connection for SQL Server application that supports Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and Cell Level Encryption for Enterprise edition. This EKM provider installs in your Windows SQL Server environment and enables encryption without any programming. For SQL Server Standard and Web Editions Alliance Key Manager includes a license for the Townsend Security Windows Client for snap-in encryption support.

Oracle Database
Oracle Database encryption support is provided through SDKs that are free of charge with Alliance Key Manager. Java, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and C# SDKs and sample code enable rapid deployment of encryption in Oracle environments. Sample PL/SQL code is also available for Oracle Linux platforms.

MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, etc.
Open source database encryption support is provided through SDKs that are free of charge with Alliance Key Manager. Java, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and C# SDKs and sample code enable rapid deployment of encryption in these environments.

Software SDKs for Amazon Web Services:

A rich set of application SDKs are available for many programming languages. These SDKs provide support for Java, Microsoft .NET languages (C#, VB.NET, etc.), Perl, Ruby, Python, PHP, and others. These SDKs are provided at no charge to Alliance Key Manager customers.

Application Plugins for Amazon Web Services:

Drupal Encryption and Key Management
Alliance Key Manager integrates naturally with the Drupal web CMS using the Drupal Encrypt module and Townsend Security’s Key Connection for Drupal module available on Drupal.org. Drupal users can retrieve encryption keys for use with local encryption, or use the Alliance Key Manager Encryption Service to encrypt and decrypt data in the key manager with NIST-validated AES encryption.

SQL Server Transparent Data Encryption
Alliance Key Manager integrates directly into the Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise edition database to provide Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) support using the Townsend Security Key Connection for SQL Server application.

SQL Server Cell Level Encryption
Alliance Key Manager integrates directly into the Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise edition database to provide Cell Level Encryption support using the Townsend Security Key Connection for SQL Server application.

Encryption & Key Management in AWS

Topics: Alliance Key Manager, Encryption, Key Management, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Encryption & Key Management for Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Aug 18, 2014 11:37:00 AM

Security is the biggest barrier to cloud adoption, and encryption of sensitive data is the hardest part of security. Once you decide to encrypt your sensitive data, getting encryption key management right is the biggest challenge. Storing an encryption key in the same cloud instance with the protected data is faux security, and won’t pass the sniff test in any audit or review of security best practices. So, where do you store the encryption keys?

Encrypting data in AWS - What You Need to KnowIn Amazon Web Services (AWS), you now have a new key management option that perfectly fits the AWS architecture and usage model, enables security best practices such as Separation of Duties and Dual Control, and provably meets industry standards such as FIPS 140-2.

Alliance Key Manager for AWS extends our Cloud Service Provider support to the popular Amazon platform alongside our existing cloud support for Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and VMware vSphere cloud platforms. For cloud users who need dedicated key management HSMs, our existing Alliance Key Manager Cloud HSM solution will serve AWS customers.

Alliance Key Manager for AWS uses the same FIPS 140-2 compliant technology as our network-attached hardware security module (HSM) solution. You can deploy the Alliance Key Manager AMI directly from the AWS Marketplace, and have a functional encryption key management solution dedicated to you and ready to use in SECONDS with an automatic 30-day evaluation license. You do not share any part of your key management with anyone else, and you have exclusive management of encryption keys. There is no aspect of key management administration that is under the control of Townsend Security, the cloud provider, or anyone else. There is no part of your encryption key that is shared with Townsend Security, and no dependence on any encryption service outside of your key management AMI.

Customers who register with Townsend Security get access to our encryption applications, SDKs, customer support, extended documentation, developer program, and optional Premium support. It’s the perfect AWS key management solution for both small organizations and large enterprises who want to deploy an affordable key management solution based on industry standards and certifications.

In addition to traditional key management, Alliance Key Manager for AWS implements Encryption-as-a-Service. You don’t have to retrieve an encryption key, perform encryption in your application, and then zero the encryption key. To minimize the chance of exposing the encryption key to loss, you can directly send data to the key manager and have it encrypted and returned to your applications. You leverage Alliance Key Manager’s NIST-validated AES encryption and the key never leaves the key manager.

Until now Amazon Web Service customers had no access to simple, affordable, and compliant encryption key management solutions. All of that has changed with Alliance Key Manager for AWS.

Enjoy.

Patrick

Topics: Alliance Key Manager, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Encryption Key Management

The Definitive Guide to AWS Encryption Key Management
 
Definitive Guide to VMware Encryption & Key Management
 

 

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