An encrypted application like Cylix secures data on your device and ensures that others don’t compromise sensitive information even if their devices fall into the wrong hands. But encryption doesn’t stop at the database. There are several potential encryption layers that you can target. The higher up the ladder you go, the greater will be the overall protection that you enjoy.
The ladder goes like this: Application>Database>File
Application-level encryption is highly desirable, but also not very easy to achieve. It is easier to encrypt the data on an entire hard drive than one file at the application level. It is because, at the application level, you have to think about access control, locking in application users or database and other issues.
It is not easy to design application level encryption. But it is necessary today. Businesses can employ security experts to design application-level encryption. You can ensure that their solutions align with your company’s security policies. Most application level encryption will follow certain specific data protection mandates like PCI DSS (which is an information security standard that makes card transactions more secure online).
Security solutions can also offer targeted protection, which you or if a business, administrators or security employees can invoke only when it is necessary. There are options like dual controls to supervise and manage protection levels in your organization.
Now, there are some challenges with using application-level encryption.
Remember, if someone compromises the encryption keys then encryption is worthless. As in the case of Cylix, your projects are only secure as long as your encryption keys are safe and stored away from your files.
Attackers can use development or penetration tools used for debugging or application monitoring to turn off encryption or gain access to encryption keys. It is therefore not impossible to unlock information within an application. It is up to the security solutions provider to find ways around this.
Some security professionals will use tamper-resistant hardware and hardware-based cryptography. Hardware that is tamper-resistant will be difficult to break into even if it falls into the wrong hands. Banks, for instance, use this feature in the auto-teller machines that protect their customers’ identification numbers.
Tamper-proof hardware doesn’t always work, but it can be the vital step to deter attacks. For example, you can even use tamper-resistant tags on your laptop so that in the case of theft, you can track your device. iPhone users have access to software like Apple FindMyPhone to track their stolen devices.
But tamper-proof hardware doesn’t protect your data if there are operational blunders or design errors. You also must keep the keys in safe locations, or attackers could reach them.
Using Complex Cryptographic Algorithms
Some security providers will try to develop sophisticated cryptographic algorithms themselves, but it’s best to go with what is already established as safe and secure. It is best, in most cases, to use pre-certified cryptographic implementations at the application level. It will help you avoid any unnecessary flaws and loopholes that can crop up in the process of encryption.
Safe key management
The process of encryption itself may be secondary to key management. If you don’t manage your keys adequately, information could be rendered unusable or easy to steal.
Many security providers will point you towards external key management servers. Such a server is a third-party system in your storage space that securely manages authentication keys. When you use the encrypted application, you link this server to the other systems during use.
Another option is local key management. Protecting the encrypting key with this method will eliminate the need for additional storage space or hardware. Don’t forget that access control must be managed carefully to prevent misuse. If someone who has access compromises user accounts, then encryption will not help.
Keep these caveats in mind when you seek solutions for encrypted application and enhanced security in your organization.