Breaches will continue, intelligent encryption will stop loss of sensitive data.

Have we learned a lesson from the Anthem data breach? There are ramblings in the cyber security community of the opinion that encryption would not have prevented the breach, and even that Anthem should not bother implementing encryption to protect patient information! We don’t have a lot of information about the breach, but apparently the credentials of one or more system administrators were acquired by the attackers and used to access servers with sensitive patient data. So, if the attackers have the credentials of privileged users, how would encryption even help? This is an exercise in Common-Sense.

In absence of deep details around the Anthem Hack, we’re still not void of common-sense. If privileged accounts are compromised (or not) the best way to output mass amounts of data records is via Queries, Data Dumps, and/or Backups (to name a few); regardless, these activities are basic in nature. In Anthem’s case, deploying Encryption would have had two key results 1) Introduced additional layers of technology control (Cipher Text, HSM, Encryption Keys) and 2) Involved more people with separation in duties.

The goal of Governance, Encryption, and Best-Practices is to promote “Checks and Balances”; having a flat “Non-Encrypted” system makes is very easy for hackers to output critical data in a readily usable state. Would encryption have helped Anthem here? I’ll answer with a question – Would having additional software, hardware controls; while leveraging the collaborative intelligence of a cross-functional team, have helped Anthem – Absolutely Yes.

We have to use ALL of the tools at hand to deploy a defense in depth approach to protect our data. This means we need firewalls, intrusion detection, active monitoring, data leak prevention, anti-virus, two factor authentication there is no “one” answer. Further, it would be irresponsible to not consider encryption as an essential component as part of a defense in depth strategy. Secure Channel deploys a modernized, speedy, light-weight and overall a highly secure system to address both structured and unstructured data. This translates into substantial speed of execution for File Systems and Database Platforms like SQL, Oracle, and many other critical Line-Of-Business (LOB) systems. In benchmark testing, a 64kb file would be encrypted and decrypted in less than 1000th of a second per operation.

I am sure that Anthem already has a large number of these tools and defenses deployed in their environment, they simply didn’t have enough or the best options.

For more information about intelligent encryption and articles about cybersecurity, visit the Secure Channels website.