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September 2009

Truth, lies and fiction about encryption

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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