Home » The Art of Data Protection

Enterprises rely on a breadth of critical applications, such as VPNs, SaaS, and web-hosting services, to keep their organizations humming. But how can IT professionals verify the identities of personnel accessing the various types of applications and data? And specifically, how can they verify who is accessing their information when this very information is hosted outside their IT perimeter?

By following the three rules outlined in our ebook, organizations can keep their identities, data, applications, and infrastructure safe.  Download The Three Rules for Protecting Enterprise Identities ebook to learn how.

Next Generation Authentication eBook

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The term data breach has caught the world’s attention, becoming a weekly topic within the news!  With over 2.3 billion records reported lost since 2013, trying to predict where the next big data breach will happen seems impossible.  Or does it? Surely, enough breaches have now occurred in order to make some hypothesis on what the future holds.

Breaches Since 2013

What if Vegas and other bookmakers started taking bets on the next company to succumb to a breach? They would have it down to a science in no time, right? And while making sport out of such devastating circumstances seems trivial, I can’t help but wonder if I’m onto something.

Think about it, the amount of teams (aka. companies) are limitless because a data breach can and will happen to all of them, given enough time.  The wager rests on which companies will have the right strategy in place in order to make it a secure breach and which will not, making tomorrow’s headlines. Pairing companies together and simulating a Vegas-type point spread based upon strengths and weaknesses provides a great model for highlighting the winners vs. losers when it comes to securing data.

Utilizing, a site that collects and analyzes the number of global breaches and lost records, I was able to devise a spread around a couple key factors, increasing or decreasing the odds based on current trends.  Then, allowing for the parlay, I created the over and under based on the predicted amount of records compromised.

Key Factors

Industry: Most companies become a target of a breach because of what they do, so type of industry has a strong influence.  Those in an industry ranked higher for breaches have to be particularly careful, working extra hard to compensate for this deficit.

Location: Just like the location of where a game is played is crucial, so too is the location of where companies operate.  The regions of each company were also factored into my predictions, as well as the compliance standards that are mandated in each country.

Injuries: A team with a stacked roster at the beginning of a season can have their championship hopes ruined by injury and a weak or predictable playbook. Similarly, companies who do not continue to refine their security strategy to accommodate today’s threat vector are not keeping their data healthy and can expect to sustain a loss.  Any players (layers in protection) in the line-up not being utilized are treated as an injury, and will receive the necessary handicap.

 Let’s look at the matchups!

Security Team Line-Up Chart



Programmers vs. Regulators

Programmers Security Team Icon Regulators Security Team Icon

With zero breaches to report, both teams will enter this game with an undefeated record.  Utilizing both encryption at rest and encryption in motion has given them the advantage over others in the league that are using a tired out perimeter security defense. The Programmers however, stand a better chance of sustaining a breach.  Even though Regulators operate in a highly susceptible financial industry, which would normally put them at a disadvantage, due to more disciplined compliance regulations, they are storing their encryption keys within an HSM.  It’s much harder for hackers to obtain the keys within hardware and decrypt data.  Programmers have been running on pure luck.  Unless they ditch their defensive strategy of natively storing keys within the software for at least a hardened device approach they are going down in flames.


Snowdens vs. Flying Blinds

Snowdens Security Team Icon Flying Blinds Security Team Icon

The Snowdens’ record this season leaves much to be desired.  Due to their antiquated approach toward protecting the goods, they’ve already suffered two major internal breaches so far.  Administration got too comfortable, lost sight of who had access to the data, mismanaged keys and by the time anyone realized what was happening it was too late. With an entirely new coaching staff and key management process in toe, they just might turn this thing around.  But, not in time to face Flying Blinds.  As long as the Flying Blinds show up with their strong defense, using a combination of HSMs and reliable key lifecycle management they are set.  They’ll need to take control early though.  One major weakness of this UK- based team is they get flustered under pressure.  They lack the vision that a crypto resource management platform could provide and it’s extremely difficult for them to make changes on the fly if forced to change tactics midway through the game.


Sitting Ducks vs. Isolaters

Sitting Ducks Security Team Icon Isolaters Security Team Icon

The Sitting Ducks definitely have the home advantage being located in India versus the Isolaters who are sitting in a hot-bed of breach activity in the US.  Both utilize encryption, but Sitting Ducks have left an Achilles heel with unprotecting the data that moves from their headquarters to off-sites locations.  They are not the only team running like this in the league, but it’s an overlooked area that has proven devastating for others this season.  The Isolaters are encrypting everything from databases to cloud servers, but their approach is quite disparate and because of this, the team is not very aligned.  With every member of the team so inaccessible and focused on their own island of encryption, it’s impossible to ensure that keys don’t become lost, which is almost as big of an upset as a breach itself.  Conversely, the Sitting Ducks are a well-oiled machine with centralized key management and favored to win this match.  Offensively, the crypto processing and acceleration they possess when it comes to secure transactions is what ensures their victory.  Not enough through-put is a strong disadvantage for the Isolaters, as we just watched them choke in the final minutes of last week’s game.  Sure, defense wins games, but without a strong enough crypto engine to complete daily transactions this team won’t be able to execute on anything.



Albeit, there are plenty of other factors that can be considered such as types of data being protected, and the particular use cases of how each strategy is being employed. (I’ll leave that to the actuaries!) But one thing is for certain, if organizations started looking at their chances of being breached through a point spread, they could better identify themselves as ‘favored vs. underdogs’ of their industry when it comes to securing data.

Even though these are fictitious companies, the issues they face are real.  Thinking of your company as a statistic really draws a correlation between levels of risk versus level of security measures you have in place, as well as highlights the organizations within an industry that are easy prey.  It only takes one small crack in your foundation to take down the entire infrastructure.  Ask yourself, would you bet the house on your organization’s current data protection strategy.  Even further, when your customers and prospects are placing their bets, are the odds in their favor?

Hedge your bets

Security is a lot more than finding the right algorithm and cryptography done right is the most secure part of any encryption system.  Security deployment should utilize best practices for both encryption, as well key management—creating a Crypto Foundation.

Crypto Foundation IconA Crypto Foundation centralizes the approach taken to secure different types of data in multiple environments, combined with the management and maintenance of keys and crypto resources. There are four key areas of consideration:

  1. Crypto Processing & Acceleration – Throughput of transactions and number of identities. 
    Appropriate offloading and accelerating crypto operations will help to avoid processing bottlenecks and increase system capacity.
  2.  Key Storage – Securing the key(s) in hardware within an HSM or software within a hardened appliance.
    The requirements of your use case(s) and environment will determine the keys’ roles and ultimately how they are stored. For keys that are trusted to protect highly sensitive data and applications, a centralized, hardware-based approach to key storage is recommended. Organizations trying to encrypt mass amounts of smaller segments of data, requiring high availability and usage may gravitate toward a more distributed model.
  3.  Key Lifecycle Management – Managing the keys and performing proper procedures and maintenance throughout each step of the lifecycle. 
    There must be an integrated, centralized approach around generating, storing, distributing, rotating, revoking, suspending and terminating keys for devices and applications. This centralized management platform will perform all key-related tasks and tie back to other systems or HSMs that are performing cryptographic operations using those keys.
  4. Crypto Resource Management – Ability to define access levels, manage and deploy cryptographic resources as well as report on all activity.  
    In order to ensure consistent policy enforcement, provide transparency, and maintain the health of your system, every organization should have one, easy-to-use interface to configure policies, monitor and report and provision all cryptographic resources.

By factoring these four areas into your strategy, you can provide the consolidation, protection and flexibility that today’s business environment demands.

For more information, visit our Crypto Foundation page.

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A fragmented IT ecosystem hampers security and compliance. SafeNet provides a single point of management and over 100 seamless out-of-the-box integrations for cloud-based applications, VPNs, VDIs, web portals, and LANs, allowing IT administrators to apply consistent access controls to their entire ecosystem.

Providing frictionless management for IT administrators and frictionless authentication for users, SafeNet’s solutions elevate security with Next Generation Authentication. Check out our infographic to learn how.

Secure Employee Access Control to Mission Critical Resources

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All I want for Christmas is data protection. 

Retail Security Green IconOkay, that may be a stretch, but I do wish my friends and family health, prosperity, and happiness in the New Year and data protection is part of that mix. Like most of us, our holiday shopping is almost done. And for me, most, if not all, was done online and with my credit card for many reasons 1) convenience, and 2) it is great racking up the credit card points since I know my balance will be paid off by the statement due date.

Now, one would think with the rise of data breaches in 2014 (224% increase in 2014 according to the Breach Level Index) that consumer behavior would change and people would go back to the stores and use cash only, but the reality is, it has not. In fact, the National Retail Federation anticipates online shopping to increase by 8-11% this holiday season. Why is that? It goes back to my point #1 above—convenience. No lines, same bargains, instant one-click purchasing, and free shipping to your doorstep. It is a win-win for all of us.

Even so, the breach details have been downright scary this last year, many of our favorite stores have been on the list including Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, etc. But the truth is no retailer is immune; it is just a matter of which retailers are finding out about the problem fast enough and reporting it first.

This is where data protection comes into play. The entire industry has gathered around the breach epidemic; they have improved standards surrounding payment data security with a new PCI DSS standard; they have enacted better point-of-sale protocols such as point-to-point encryption, which encrypts the payment transaction details at the moment of swipe, and numerous retailers have completely segregated all of their payment data from the rest of their customer data making it more difficult for even the savviest of hackers to gather personal identifiable information (PII) and link it to payment credentials. While this last bit is a hassle for consumers who accidentally leave their Target Redcard at home, for example, and find themselves unable to retrieve their account number at check out, Target in this instance is doing this to protect their customer base with a heightened data protection strategy.

So what can we as consumers do to protect ourselves without impacting the convenience of online and credit card shopping?

  1. Disable one-click shopping from your mobile devices. This feature is convenient, but if someone stole your phone, tablet, or laptop they could go on a shopping spree with you paying the bill.
  2. Delete saved payment methods from your favorite online shopping sites. Yes, this means you have to take that extra step of entering your billing information, but it saves you the headache in the event of a breach or if someone accessed your log-in credentials online,
  3. Check your statement thoroughly. This seems like old school common sense, but I can’t tell you how many times a transaction on my bill doesn’t match up, as the payment entity name may be different, or it could have been a result of credit card fraud. Notifying your credit card company of these questionable charges not only helps you stay financially aware but also alerts your credit card company of potential security issues with the retailer,
  4. Enable two-factor authentication options if offered by the online retailer. User name and password is not enough for proper access controls. Several online retailers offer additional levels of access security to verify account information. Take advantage of this service.
  5. Check the news. If a store you frequent has been breached, make sure your account information was not compromised, and for good measure, you may want to ask your credit card provider to issue you a new card regardless.

None of us are immune in the digital age to breaches. Retailers are doing all they can —  mandated and otherwise — but we as consumers need to be aware of what we can do to fight the battle. So while encryption and access control may not come up as a topic of conversation at most holiday dinner tables (unless you work in the industry), the topic of a retailer breach may, and you can give the gift of awareness to those around you to do a few simple things to protect themselves.

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Nippon RA created a solution enabling cloud providers to secure access to cloud-based applications and assets using integrated PKI authentication. By installing digital certificates on users’ devices, Nippon RA is able to verify a user’s identity and allow or deny access to protected cloud applications.

The rapid increase in multiple computers, mobile devices, and smartphones caused Nippon RA to seek a solution that enabled the same secure PKI infrastructure without tying users to only one device. SafeNet’s authentication solutions store certificates on portable USB devices or software tokens, so the certificate is validated from the SafeNet token, not the user’s computer. Nippon RA continues to offer cloud providers safe, secure authentication to cloud applications, while customers can securely access cloud-based assets from any computer or device.

“SafeNet provides us with a low-cost, safe and secure authentication infrastructure to support a variety of cloud services. It gives our PKI service more flexibility so that users can authenticate to cloud applications on any computer or device, at the office, or at home,” said Seiji Tadokoro, Executive of Sales.

Read the full case study in English or Japanese to see how SafeNet authentication increased security while enabling mobility and user flexibility.

Want to see how SafeNet’s authentication solutions compare to others? Download a free copy of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for User Authentication. 

Nippon RA Authentication Case Study

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