|By Gilad Parann-Nissany||
|June 26, 2014 11:00 AM EDT||
Strong data encryption is a critical line of defense against cyber criminals and spies. Amazon has always taken care of the front lines with their strong infrastructure with security mechanisms like multi-factor access control systems in AWS datacenters, availability zones, built-in firewalls, private subnets, etc.
Now, with the addition of Server Side Encryption with Customer-Provided Keys, Amazon protects the data you store with Amazon S3 server side encryption. Even better, Amazon encrypts your data using a key you provide; a key that is never stored by Amazon. Thus, they have successfully protected your data from prying eyes – even their own.
The result is that you no longer need to lose sleep over storing encryption keys with Amazon. You can easily encrypt your data with your own key. Thanks to Amazon, encrypting is easy and secure!
How do you manage your Amazon S3 encryption keys?
Herein lies the real issue now facing each of AWS’s customers. Amazon has provided you with an excellent arsenal: strong infrastructure, easy encryption. But your part of the shared responsibility model is to properly manage your encryption keys. You need:
- A way to randomly and securely generate Amazon S3 encryption keys
- A controlled system to store, manage, and retrieve the many keys required for each S3 object
- A system that ensures that keys are kept within your control; thus complying with regulations like HIPAA and PCI.
- A software-defined automated solution that eliminates the need for cumbersome, non-scalable, and expensive hardware security modules (HSMs)
AWS Encryption Key Management: What are the options?
You have three options when it comes to managing encryption keys for AWS.
1. Hardware security modules (HSMs)
HSMs are reasonably secure. To manage keys outside the cloud, an HSM is a great option. Unfortunately, in cloud scenarios, they have major drawbacks. First, being hardware based, they limit the benefits of the cloud, especially auto provisioning, orchestration and geographic dispersion. Also, they are far more expensive than software-defined solutions.
2. Cloud-based HSMs
Still based on hardware, cloud-based HSMs offer limited scaling and do not support auto-provisioning. Because they are complex systems, operational overhead is high, and involves up-front costs. Also, with cloud-based HSMs, you still deal with the problems of securing a key cache in the cloud and access credentials.
3. Software-defined key management
To work with your software-based cloud-computing scenario, the best option is a software-defined cloud key management system. Such a system enables you to consume key management as a service, while ensuring data security that is stronger than hardware. It can be automated with a RESTful API. Its benefits are much like those which prompted you to migrate to cloud storage: scalability, flexibility, and agility. Software-defined key management costs a fraction of hardware-based modules and is more effective at securing your cloud data. Furthermore, it is compliant with laws and industry regulations. Two examples for such systems are Porticor Cloud Security, and HP Atalla Cloud Encryption
Key Management for Amazon S3 Server Side Encryption
Amazon, one of the most customer-centric companies in the world, has developed a cloud computing system that is great for customers. They provide you with a safe place to put your data. Now, they even provide you with a way to protect the data you put there. The only thing they can’t do (and rightfully so) is protect that protection.
Managing the encryption keys remains your responsibility because it must be your responsibility to ensure the integrity and ownership of your data. If Amazon could manage the encryption keys for you, they would . . . but by doing so, they would puncture a hole in your security (and defy regulations like HIPAA and PCI).
Encryption key management remains solely your discretion and the only way to do it in a manner that is secure, compliant, and cost-effective is with software-defined key management.
For a detailed technical example and an implementation sample, see this post.
The post Amazon S3 Server Side Encryption & Software Defined Key Management appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.
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