Preventing breaches in data center security stores is incredibly important, both from a legal and ethical viewpoint. Ensuring that data is properly protected not only adheres to these considerations, it also is good business, showing your consumers you care about their data integrity and are ready to do everything that’s necessary to secure their intimate content.
So why then are so many data centers finding their data exposed, cracked, and broken? A big part of this is improper data handling, specifically when it comes to data destruction, and the implications therein.
In this piece we’re going to talk about data center security, and the unique caveats faced by big data centers in the modern climate. We’ll talk about the biggest threat to data security, improper data destruction, and we’ll offer some solutions to mitigate any potential issues that may arise.
What is Data Security
It’s an odd question, but it’s definitely one that needs to be asked - what exactly is “data security”? While we tend to think about it in terms of generalities, there’s a very common acronym that represents the sum total of data security - CIA.
CIA stands simply for the following - Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Data Security is a delicate balance between the three concepts, and assuring that each solution when implemented promotes each equally.
Let’s break down what CIA specifically means in terms of data center security:
- Confidentiality - confidentiality is the privacy of data stored in a system. In data centers, this takes two main forms. First, there is the physical - ensuring that servers hosting data is only accessible to those who are authorized to be on-site ensures confidentiality. In terms of non-physical access, encryption and access control is of principal importance, and should be implemented at the highest level possible.
- Integrity - integrity is the idea of keeping data the same as it was when it was last secured. Data should be maintained, especially when data mutation and change can be done with little to no signature. Ensuring that data matches the hash first generated and is reliably the same is vitally important, especially when this data is of financial, personal, or governmental nature.
- Availability - availability means that data should be available when requested. While this seems like a question of convenience rather than of security, maintaining an active availability also entails ensuring that servers who handle encryption, security, and other such systems are available when needed.
Because of how important these topics are, they bear some specific considerations.
Confidentiality is hugely important in data handling. While there are the obvious ethical concerns, there are a huge range of legal concerns as well, ranging from health care (HIPAA) to educational, each with heavy fines, penalties, and restrictions.
Because of this, ensuring data confidentiality is maintained must be of prime importance, perhaps above even the other two elements of data security. This can be done in a number of ways.
The most common way to ensure confidentiality is to implement a proper encryption methodology. By encrypting data and establishing a secure key sharing system, data can be stored in even physically insecure systems with relatively high data security.
There is of course server solutions as well. Ensuring that data servers, whether encrypted or not, reject poorly formed requests, overflow content, or even high numbers of concurrent users and sessions can ensure confidentiality by filtering out legitimate content from illegitimate content.
Integrity is perhaps just as important as confidentiality, though it is significantly less difficult to ensure. While ensuring that data is unchanged is vitally important, it should naturally be a consequence of ensuring confidentiality.
For instance, when encrypting content, it’s possible to generate a hash, or a mathematical value derived from the sum total of bits of data in the file. Comparing this hash on the server with local versions of the file can show whether or not the content has been changed, and if so, when and where.
As part of this, a proper content management system should also help to track changes to the file by assigning a unique identifier to allowed editors, and tracking changes to the hashed content and collating it to those identifiers.
Availability, while important, is the easiest element of data security, as it naturally follows through proper implementation of the previous concepts. By establishing proper confidentiality, you’re establishing a system with a high threshold for vulnerabilities. By establishing proper integrity, you’re assuring the content on offer will be the content the user wants.
There is a lot of hardware solutions in this space as well, specifically in the concepts of load balancing and content filtering, but that’s a bit too large of a topic for this relatively limited piece. Briefly, filtering out malicious traffic from legitimate traffic, balancing load across multiple servers, and ensuring that no one server or group of servers is overloaded beyond the established availability.
Data Destruction as a Breach Prevention Methodology
While we often consider data destruction as an “after the fact” solution, something applied only when more space is needed or data is no longer actively used, it’s actually a great process and methodology for securing data from breaches.
There’s a concept known as “attack vector”, or “exposed surface area”. The basic concept is that, the larger your amount of forward facing, vulnerable data, the larger surface area an attacker has to go after, and thus the more vulnerable a system is.
Imagine fighting on a battlefield. You and your servers are crouched down, fending off small arms fire. What would you rather have - would you rather be crouched down, your frame partially behind a hill, or would you rather be standing up perfectly straight, completely exposed? This is how an exposed surface area works - the more data is exposed externally, the greater the chance of serious harm being done.
By deleting excess data from servers in a legally and ethically compliant way, this surface area can be drastically reduced, and sometimes even further reduced through proper processes considered during the Availability stage (for instance, load balancing, which will reduce the amount of accessible resources to groups of commands, filtering traffic where you want it to go).
This all has the sum total effect of improving security by reducing the amount of exposure a data host faces to external forces, and thereby reduces the threat and damage of breaches.
Enter ClaraWipe. ClaraWipe is a great solution for secure data destruction, and should be the crowning jewel of any breach defense system rooted in destruction - a first line of defense against data breaches.
Because ClaraWipe integrates seamlessly and with low overhead into most hardware solutions, it offers great scalability with powerful cleaning technologies, allowing for secure and permanent reduction in surface area.
More to the point, especially for legal and ethical concerns, ClaraWipe adheres to industry standards such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOx), HIPAA and HITEC, FACTA, and the EU Data Protection Directive.
The importance of complete data cannot be overstated, which is why ClaraWipe is so important. While other solutions can cleanse a hard disk of data, the fact is that, with advanced forensic recovery tools, data can very often be restored and rebuilt with minimum loss.
This is obviously far from ideal - ClaraWipe solves this problem through customizable, multipass data wiping techniques, allowing for your servers to have reduced attack surfaces, more secure data, and assured data security.