A Busy Time For IT Architects

While it's appropriate to chastise sloppy security policies, the truth is that figuring out just when and what to encrypt requires careful study.

August 1, 2005

3 Min Read
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It looks like it's going to be a busy summer and fall for data security architects. Just a glance at the recent headlines confirms that protecting sensitive data is tricky business--one that's gone unattended too long in too many companies. Sure, some of the gaffes have been the result of garden-variety negligence, but others have been more nuanced--usually the result of a "we're as safe as our competitors" attitude.

It's tempting to ascend one's soapbox and chastise the BJ's Warehouses of the world for not doing something as simple as encrypting sensitive data like credit card numbers. But while it's appropriate to chastise sloppy or cavalier business processes and security policies, the truth is that figuring out just when and what to encrypt requires careful study. On the client-facing side, for example, encrypting data can render devices such as Application Front Ends (AFEs) impotent. On the back end, encrypted Fibre Channel packets could easily break storage virtualization systems.

Encrypting entire databases might seem like a good idea, but that may render the stored data useful only for one application. Security architects who try and sell that policy to business managers will be on the street before lunch.


One thing is certain, however. This isn't a problem that can be solved by simply buying an appliance that attempts to inspect WAN or Internet-bound packets for sensitive data. Data protection is a discipline that requires business policies, security procedures, applications, and infrastructure to all be architected with data safety in mind. Beware the quick-fix appliances that are now appearing--they're snake oil of the worst kind.Because data security is so important and complex, we're presenting a three-part series on the subject. This month's cover story by Andrew Conry-Murray examines the issues surrounding data protection within the corporate walls. As you'll read in that story, the secret to protecting essential corporate data isn't so secret after all--it begins and ends with a vigilant staff working from a set of sound security policies.

Next month, Andy Dornan will look at protecting data that employees take outside the corporate confines. In October, Penny Lunt Crosman will look into the safe electronic exchange of data with business partners. Read them all because if you mess up on any one of these points, you could find yourself being the next BJ's or ChoicePoint.


Now on to a more cheerful subject. Network Magazine is increasingly tackling the toughest issues facing enterprise IT. Along with our historically strong coverage of local and wide area networking, we've covered topics ranging from service-oriented application architectures to storage and server architectures to compliance, data management, and security.

We've also dedicated ourselves to helping you better run your IT infrastructure to meet the needs of your business. You've told us that along with technology stories, you want to know about the business impact a technology will have. We're striving to bring you exactly that. Whether it be analyzing the risks and benefits of emerging technologies or determining the total cost of ownership of one architecture versus another, we're delivering information you need in ways you haven't previously seen from Network Magazine.To reflect this coverage, we're changing our name. Starting next month, your copy of Network Magazine will be replaced with a shiny new issue of IT Architect. It's a name that better reflects the content our editorial team has been bringing you for almost two years now.

Editor-in-Chief Art Wittmann can be reached at [email protected].

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