Securing data: The Castle versus the Tank

castleMost companies keep their data on storage they own. This storage is located in the datacentre.

To get to this data, users must be authenticated to servers and passed through firewalls. The data looks like it is stored in a castle with thick and high walls and a gate that is open only for those who are authenticated by a gatekeeper.

This model worked quite well until a few years ago. Firewalls kept the outside world out and people worked only at the office.

There are two events that changed this model:

  • People want to work out of the office. Not only from their homes, but also on the road, in hotel rooms and on airports;
  • Modern security attacks don't come from the outside (knocking on firewalls' doors), but from the inside (using malicious websites).

When people are working from PC's, PDA's, laptops and smartphones that are not managed by the company's IT department, it is very hard to have reliable connection. The IT department can not prescribe what browser to use, what other applications are installed, of if the user has an up-to-date virus scanner (if any at all). Furthermore, to enable working from off-site locations, the network must be opened up for connections from the Internet.

Even when people are working from the office, the data is not as protected as it used to be. Malicious websites try to install key loggers, or scan hard disks or caches for information. Because users can usually connect to any server on the Internet from the inside, usually even using whatever TCP port they want, this malicious software can smuggle data out of the company easily.

This is why more and more parties are investigating in protecting the data itself, instead of protecting the access to files.  

tankThis looks like putting all your data in a tank, which can drive freely around the world. What is inside cannot be reached, and is protected from attacks. In IT terms: The data is encrypted and has an electronic signature, so it cannot be tampered with. The data stays encrypted as long as possible, on disk, during transport and in memory. Only when the data is needed, it is decrypted temporarily.

This way we need no firewalls to protect the data. We don't even have to place the data on corporate storage in the datacentre! The data can be hosted by providers on the Internet. A company PC can be connected to the Internet, just like the home PC of the employees.

Analog to Jon Landau in 1974 when he saw Bruce Springsteen: I saw the future of security, and it is a Tank.

This entry was posted on Thursday 25 October 2007

Earlier articles

The cloud is as insecure as its configuration

Infrastructure as code

My Book

DevOps for infrastructure

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

(Hyper) Converged Infrastructure

Object storage

Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV)

Software Defined Storage (SDS)

What's the point of using Docker containers?

Identity and Access Management

Using user profiles to determine infrastructure load

Public wireless networks

Supercomputer architecture

Desktop virtualization

Stakeholder management

x86 platform architecture

Midrange systems architecture

Mainframe Architecture

Software Defined Data Center - SDDC

The Virtualization Model

What are concurrent users?

Performance and availability monitoring in levels

UX/UI has no business rules

Technical debt: a time related issue

Solution shaping workshops

Architecture life cycle

Project managers and architects

Using ArchiMate for describing infrastructures

Kruchten’s 4+1 views for solution architecture

The SEI stack of solution architecture frameworks

TOGAF and infrastructure architecture

The Zachman framework

An introduction to architecture frameworks

How to handle a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack

Architecture Principles

Views and viewpoints explained

Stakeholders and their concerns

Skills of a solution architect architect

Solution architects versus enterprise architects

Definition of IT Architecture

What is Big Data?

How to make your IT "Greener"

What is Cloud computing and IaaS?

Purchasing of IT infrastructure technologies and services

IDS/IPS systems

IP Protocol (IPv4) classes and subnets

Infrastructure Architecture - Course materials

Introduction to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

IT Infrastructure Architecture model

Fire prevention in the datacenter

Where to build your datacenter

Availability - Fall-back, hot site, warm site

Reliabilty of infrastructure components

Human factors in availability of systems

Business Continuity Management (BCM) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

Performance - Design for use

Performance concepts - Load balancing

Performance concepts - Scaling

Performance concept - Caching

Perceived performance

Ethical hacking

The first computers

Open group ITAC /Open CA Certification

Sjaak Laan

Recommended links

Ruth Malan
Gaudi site
Esther Barthel's site on virtualization
Eltjo Poort's site on architecture


XML: RSS Feed 
XML: Atom Feed 


The postings on this site are my opinions and do not necessarily represent CGI’s strategies, views or opinions.


Copyright Sjaak Laan