Are we encrypting to much at rest



  • So it's kind of a funny question, especially when you think about it.

    To use your data, you have to decrypt the information first. Which if your device gets stolen at the point then, well then the thief has your data. Jumping to a item I just came across in *NIX world, you have fstab (file system table) which you can effectively add a network share, but the credentials are stored in plain text.

    Seems silly doesn't it. That in order for the system to use a remote resource that's encrypted, you have to supply credentials, but how else is it supposed to access those resources, unless it has credentials that are either plain text, or decrypted on the remote end?

    Even if you encrypted the credentials for use within fstab, they have to be decrypted so the information can be used to decrypt the information on the remote side.

    Seems like an awful lot of encryption, which adds processing time to both encrypt and decrypt the information for when it's needed.

    I won't go so far as saying that we shouldn't bother encrypting our at Rest Data, but encrypting the communications process seems to be a lot less work.

    What do you think?



  • I agree encryption is a waste of system resources. Unfortunately it's a necessary waste.



  • Also, something we're getting very good at


  • Service Provider

    You have a couple points of delineation to consider. There are ways to make encryption partially effective and places where it is a waste. If you are looking at protecting against someone stealing an individual disk you partially protect from that simply by using RAID, but obviously that only protects partially. You can use drive-based encryption to effectively protect against individual drive theft and the plain text creds need only be stored on the machine attaching to the drives (the server, NAS, SAN, etc.)

    So there are places where it works and risks that it can mitigate. But is drive theft a realistic threat? Even in the financial world this is rarely considered a viable threat. In the SMB, it seems bordering on the pathological.


  • Service Provider

    If you are looking to encrypt the entire system from the system side (LUKS, TC, VC, etc.) you are stuck with the need to have the password be external. If you want the system to decrypt storage automatically that makes this completely useless. Anyone stealing your server will get the whole thing, data, password and all. It only works if you are only concerned with stealing small portions of your systems.

    What you can do, when you really are concerned with theft, is to keep the passwords externally and have either a human or a custom security system that will put in the password for you. If you are not willing to do that, it is really a pointless exercise.


  • Service Provider

    How often are SMBs really experiencing server theft? Is this a real problem in the real world? If so, maybe addressing that would be more effective.



  • I would heavily consider using encryption such as Bitlocker for a business -- especially for business with Windows and Windows 8 or higher (I have zero experience with full disk encryption before then)...

    I have not had any problems at all using the features. It is more aggravating if I have to reboot my computer for any reason... but since that is not a regular occurrence for me, it works nicely.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    So there are places where it works and risks that it can mitigate. But is drive theft a realistic threat? Even in the financial world this is rarely considered a viable threat. In the SMB, it seems bordering on the pathological.

    I'm not sure I'd agree with that.. SMB are notorious for not physically securing their servers, so the potential is much greater.


  • Service Provider

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    So there are places where it works and risks that it can mitigate. But is drive theft a realistic threat? Even in the financial world this is rarely considered a viable threat. In the SMB, it seems bordering on the pathological.

    I'm not sure I'd agree with that.. SMB are notorious for not physically securing their servers, so the potential is much greater.

    Sure, but what SMB is going to be okay with "the server can't reboot anymore" but isn't willing to, you know, lock the door?


  • Service Provider

    While there is certainly threat of physical theft in the SMB, has anyone experienced it? Does anyone know anyone who has? Do people really walk off with full servers regularly?



  • Always the thought that gets you.

    It's probably similar to other disasters, no? How many times does an entire building burn down?


  • Service Provider

    Probably more often than servers are stolen :)



  • I bet it is close.


  • Service Provider

    I bet the primary case is buildings burning down and people making off with the server from the ashes ;)

    I've heard of people having fires, not heard of anyone having a stolen server in the real world. Even with SMBs rarely doing anything to protect against it.



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