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Truth, lies and fiction about encryption
This article is part of the Information Security magazine issue of September 2009
It's a security practitioners dream to deploy a technology that ensures perfect data protection 100 percent of the time. Short of unplugging a computer and locking it in a vault, few technologies come as close as encryption to nearly unbreakable data security; take the data, run it through an encryption algorithm, and it's unreadable to anyone who doesn't possess the right key to reverse the process. It can be mathematically demonstrated that retrieval of encrypted data without the encryption keys is computationally impossible within the expected lifetime of the universe. And while many strive for this level of certainty, practical issues in the use and deployment of encryption often limit benefits and negatively impact business operations. Reality has a very rude habit of shattering our security dreams. Encryption is everywhere in IT, from network communications and stored data, all the way down to smartphones and thumb drives. When applied correctly, it's incredibly effective at preserving data privacy and integrity. When ...
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Features in this issue
For the fourth consecutive year, Information Security readers voted to determine the best security products. A record 1721 voters participated this year, rating products in 17 different categories.
The demonstration of a hacking tool at Black Hat that allows attackers to escape from virtual machines to attack their guest OS elevates the seriousness of security threats to virtualization.
Encryption solves some very straight-forward problems but implementation isn't always easy. We'll explain some of the common misperceptions so you'll understand your options.
Columns in this issue
Accountability for Internet security should be placed on users, not service providers such as hotels.
Security experts Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum debate whether perfect access control is possible.
Passing an audit can lull an organization into a false sense of security.