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Hot Spots: The inevitability of tape encryption

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You can't duck it any longer; it's time to encrypt your backup tapes.


When I joined the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) approximately four years ago, we had a burning suspicion that the storage layer of the technology stack wasn't very secure. Our day-to-day conversations with IT professionals reinforced this hypothesis, but that wasn't enough. Early in 2004, we embarked on a quantitative research project to compare our thoughts to real user data. Chalk one up for data and statistical analysis; this time we weren't just reading our own headlines, we were spot on.

ESG concluded that while the entire storage infrastructure was extremely vulnerable, one of the most ominous weaknesses was tape encryption. When enterprises (i.e., organizations with 1,000 or more employees) were asked if they encrypted backup data, only 7% respond-ed "Yes, always." A startling 60% of storage professionals said "No." This meant that the preponderance of data on tape was being carted to some offsite storage facility in cleartext, a proverbial accident waiting to happen.

Acceptance is growing
What's taken place since our initial study? There's good news and bad news.

When ESG Research revisited this topic in 2006, we found that 25% of enterprises had deployed tape-encryption solutions, 14% planned to deploy tape encryption in the next 12 months, and another 21% had no plans to deploy tape encryption but were interested

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in the technology.

This was first published in July 2007

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