How to manage encryption keys, page 2

Encryption is an effective way to secure data, but the encryption keys used must be carefully managed to ensure data remains protected and accessible when needed.

Decru Lifetime Key Management

Decru's LKM is available as a software-only package or as an appliance (Network Appliance Inc. purchased Decru earlier this year). The LKM client software runs on Windows, while the LKM appliance uses DecruOS. The LKM system supports Decru's DataFort appliances for the encryption of NAS, DAS, SAN, tape and iSCSI storage. One key management appliance can support up to 100 encryption appliances and more than 10 million keys. As many as 16 LKM appliances can be clustered across multiple sites for high availability, with automated key replication among appliances. All LKM appliances can be managed through a single interface.

The system provides automatic, globally distributed backup, replication and recovery of encryption keys; automated key sharing ensures keys are provided securely without open transmission of keys in the clear and without the need for local, insecure key storage. Additional features include role-based access control, an OpenKey Partner Program that offers APIs and reference implementations, and a true hardware-based random-number generator that allows third-party encryption products to request a random number from the key management appliance.

The LKM appliance incorporates APIs to allow third-party encryption products to leverage Decru's key management system to generate, store and manage keys. Symantec and Quantum Corp. are charter members of Decru's OpenKey Partner Program, and have agreed to partner with Decru to use the LKM appliance for key management.

Each appliance is built on the DataFort FIPS-certified Storage Encryption Processor. Encryption keys never leave this processor in cleartext. The processor itself is coated in a hardened epoxy to prevent physical access from probes or other attempts to gain access to the chip. The chassis is hardened, has tamper-evident seals, and an intrusion-prevention system that can be configured to delete local copies of keys if the box is tampered with and/or compromised.

Administrators use smart cards for two-factor authentication. A comprehensive, cryptographically signed and tamper-evident audit log maintains detailed information about all key movement and administrative actions. The LKM software is priced at $10,000 per license; pricing for the LKM appliance hasn't been announced yet.

nCipher keyAuthority

nCipher's keyAuthority is a key management app designed to work with other standard cryptographic APIs such as Microsoft's MS-CAPI and RSA Laboratories' PKCS#11, Java JCA/JCE CSP and OpenSSL, as well as the storage-centric FIPS 140-2 standard.

The server application is secured using FIPS-certified hardware security modules that meet the FIPS standard for two-part authentication. The software runs on leading server operating systems, and can use a variety of SQL databases for its back end. It delivers keys to "end points" (point of key use) running on a variety of common server operating systems.

keyAuthority contains policy-based rules for key delivery, and powerful archive and audit capabilities. The system is scalable to thousands of end points and has a resilient architecture that allows, for example, keys to be served from multiple keyAuthority systems at different locations, all of which can be managed from a central console. The system also provides secure audit logs of management and operational activities to ease audit compliance.

keyAuthority can automatically provision different key types to different applications; if you buy the system to manage storage encryption keys, you can also use it to manage SSL keys for your Web applications or Java keys for custom apps. Pricing starts at approximately $50,000 for a small system with a limited number of supported end points.

NeoScale CryptoStor KeyVault

The NeoScale Systems CryptoStor KeyVault is a secure, automated and open enterprise-class appliance for storage encryption-key management. It offers the features required by FIPS 140-2 Level 3 such as tamper-proof seals and two-part authentication, and provides open APIs to allow for third-party vendor integration. Multiple redundant KeyVaults allow for scalability, fault tolerance, key protection and support for up to 200 million keys per appliance.

CryptoStor KeyVault provides hardware and software random-number generators to ensure keys are truly random, and provides for secure long-term archiving of keys. Encrypted data and keys can be recovered at any site, using either a distributed local appliance or a software-only product.

Check out these products

Application Security Inc.
AppSecInc Console

CA Inc.
BrightStor Tape Encryption

Disuk Ltd.

EMC Corp./RSA Security Inc.
Key Manager

Authority Security Manager

Ingrian Networks Inc.
DataSecure Platforms

Nexsan Technologies

PGP Corp.
PGP Encryption Platform, PGP NetShare

Protegrity Corp.
Defiance Suite

Spectra Logic Corp.
BlueScale Encryption

Symantec Corp.
Symantec Backup Exec

WinMagic Inc.
SecureDoc Enterprise Server

The system provides for role-based security and authentication, and up to AES-256 levels of encryption. All communications between the appliance and the key consumer (the system using the key) are encrypted and never move as cleartext. Audit logs are cryptographically signed to ensure they haven't been tampered with, and can be exported as encrypted and signed files for forensic purposes.

Appliances can be deployed in a distributed, clustered environment, which allows for automatic key replication among multiple appliances. To maintain the highest security level, keys aren't accessed until they're actually needed. In addition to key management, KeyVault can manage the enforcement of data destruction to meet compliance requirements. The complete KeyVault appliance, including hardware and software, is priced from $25,000.

Vormetric CoreGuard

The Vormetric system consists of the CoreGuard Security Server appliance and a Policy Enforcement Module (PEM) that runs on Windows, Solaris, AIX, Linux (32- and 64-bit) and HP-UX. The CoreGuard Security Server appliance does storage encryption and key management. It offers the usual FIPS 140-2 Level 3 features.

Symmetric encryption keys are generated, managed and stored on the hardware appliance. They're also securely transmitted to hosts that have CoreGuard PEM. Keys are never disclosed to users. Encryption and access control are enforced automatically, with no user action required. Multiple appliances can be clustered for redundancy and scalability. In addition, encryption keys can be archived and protected with public or private keys, or hardware-based smart cards. Pricing for a security server and one PEM starts at $15,000.

Get started now

As encryption becomes more commonplace, the potential for improperly secured or lost encryption keys will grow. The obvious solution is an enterprise-wide system that can issue, track and secure encryption keys in a logical, uniform manner. For the most part, key management systems with those capabilities aren't widely available yet, but a number of vendors are developing them. Keeping track of proliferating encryption keys will only get tougher, so don't put off establishing key management policies and making use of available tools.

Click here to return to How to manage encryption keys, page 1.

This article first appeared in Storage magazine's October 2006 issue.

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