Cloud Data Security: Archive and Delete (Rough Cut)

In our last post in this series, we covered the cloud implications of the Share phase of Data Security Cycle. In this post we will move on to the Archive and Destroy phases. Archive Definition Archiving is the process of transferring data from active use into long-term storage. This can include archived storage at your cloud provider, or migration back to internal archives. From a security perspective we are concerned with two controls: encrypting the data, and tracking the assets when data moves to removable storage (tapes, or external drives for shipping transfers). Since many cloud providers are constantly backing up data, archiving often occurs outside customer control, and it’s important to understand your provider’s policies and procedures. Steps and Controls Control Structured/Application Unstructured Encryption Database Encryption Tape Encryption Storage Encryption Asset Management Asset Management Encryption In the Store phase we covered a variety of encryption options, and if content is kept encrypted as it moves into archived storage, no additional steps are needed. Make sure your archiving system takes the encryption keys into account, since restored data is useless if the corresponding decryption keys are unavailable. In cloud environments data is often kept live due to the elasticity of cloud storage, and might just be marked with some sort of archive tag or metadata. Database Encryption: We reviewed the major database encryption options in the Store phase. The only archive-specific issue is ensuring the database replication/archiving method supports maintenance of the existing encryption. Another option is to use file encryption to secure the database archives. For larger databases, tape or storage encryption is often used. Tape Encryption: Encryption of the backup tapes using either hardware or software. There are a number of tools on the market and this is a common practice. Hardware provides the best performance, and inline appliances can work with most existing tape systems, but we are increasingly seeing encryption integrated into backup software and even tape drives. If your cloud provider manages tape backups (which many do), it’s important to understand how those tapes are protected – is any existing encryption maintained, and if not, how are the tapes encrypted and keys managed? Storage Encryption: Encryption of data archived to disk, using a variety of techniques. Although some hardware tools such as inline appliances and encrypted drivesxist, this is most commonly performed in software. We are using Storage Encryption as a generic term to cover any file or media encryption for data moved to long-term disk storage. Asset Management One common problem in both traditional and cloud environments is the difficulty of tracking the storage media containing archived data. Merely losing the location of unencrypted media may require a breach disclosure, even if the tape or drive is likely still located in a secure area – if you can’t prove it’s there, it is effectively lost. From a security perspective, we aren’t as concerned with asset management for encrypted content – it’s more of an issue for unencrypted sensitive data. Check with your cloud provider to understand their asset tracking for media, or implement an asset management system and procedures if you manage your own archives of cloud data. Cloud SPI Tier Implications Software as a Service (SaaS) Archive security options in a SaaS deployment are completely dependent on your provider. Determine their backup procedures (especially backup rotations), any encryption, and asset management (especially for unencrypted data). Also determine if there are any differences between backups of live data and any long-term archiving for data moved off primary systems. Platform as a Service (PaaS) Archive security in PaaS deployments is similar to SaaS when you transition data to, or manage data with, the PaaS provider. You will need to understand the provider’s archive mechanisms and security controls. If the data resides in your systems, archive security is no different than managing secure archives for your traditional data stores. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) For completely private cloud deployments, IaaS Archive security is no different than managing traditional archived storage. You’ll use some form of media encryption and asset management for sensitive data. For cloud storage and databases, as with PaaS and SaaS you need to understand the archival controls used by your provider, although any data encrypted before moving to the cloud is clearly still secure. Destroy Definition Destroy is the permanent destruction of data that’s no longer needed, and the use of content discovery to validate that it is not lingering in active storage or archives. Organizations commonly destroy unneeded data, especially sensitive data that may be under regulatory compliance requirements. The cloud may complicate this if your provider’s data management infrastructure isn’t compatible with your destruction requirements (e.g., the provider is unable to delete data from archived storage). Crypto-shredding may be the best option for many cloud deployments, since it relies less on complete access to all physical media, which may be difficult or impossible even in completely private/internal cloud deployments. Steps and Controls Control Structured/Application Unstructured Crypto-Shredding Enterprise Key Management Secure Deletion Disk/Free Space Wiping Physical Destruction Physical Destruction Content Discovery Database Discovery DLP/CMP Discovery Storage/Data Classification Tools Electronic Discovery Crypto-Shredding Crypto-shredding is the deliberate destruction of all encryption keys for the data; effectively destroying the data until the encryption protocol used is (theoretically, some day) broken or capable of being brute-forced. This is sufficient for nearly every use case in a private enterprise, but shouldn’t be considered acceptable for highly sensitive government data. Encryption tools must have this as a specific feature to absolutely ensure that the keys are unrecoverable. Crypto-shredding is an effective technique for the cloud since it ensures that any data in archival storage that’s outside your physical control is also destroyed once you make the keys unavailable. If all data is encrypted with a single key, to crypto-shred you’ll need to rotate the key for active storage, then shred the “old” key, which will render archived data inaccessible. We don’t mean to oversimplify this option – if your cloud provider can’t rotate your keys or ensure key deletion, crypto-shredding isn’t realistic. If you manage your own keys, it should be an important part of your strategy. Disk/Free Space Wiping and Physical

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