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Is tape the best option for archive security?

What offers the best archive security: tape, disk or the cloud?

I don't think there is any one archival technology that could be considered vastly superior to the others from a security standpoint. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. If I had to pick a single technology as offering the most archive security, I would probably go with tape -- but with some caveats.

The reason tape may be the more secure medium is because unlike disk- and cloud-based archives, tape-based archives generally remain offline unless they are needed. It's impossible for a hacker to access the data from a tape that is not mounted in a tape drive, but rather is locked away in a vault somewhere.

Of course, some would point out the potential for tape theft. In fact, I remember getting interviewed for a data security magazine way back when Windows 2000 was first released. One of the questions I was asked was how a hacker might penetrate a Windows 2000 server. My answer at the time was that if I were attempting to hack such a server, I wouldn't directly attack the server, but rather would restore a backup tape to my own hardware and then use a combination of tools to gain access from outside the operating system.

Obviously, that was a long time ago, but I believe the lesson still holds true today. If not properly secured, backup tapes represent an easily exploitable weakness. Thankfully, there are methods to adequately protect backup tapes. For example, the tape contents can be encrypted in such a way that prevents the tape from being read by any tape drive other than the one containing the certificate that was used to perform encryption.

I say all that as a way of illustrating the point that I think tape can be very secure, but the administrator must take care to ensure the necessary archive security precautions are taken. Otherwise, anyone can access archive data simply by stealing a tape.

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