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Tape encryption strategies

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The time has come for enterprise tape encryption

Point solutions for encryption might work now, but can they scale to meet future needs?


Backup vendors supported encryption in their products for years, but few customers ever bothered with this type of protection in the past. Why? IT managers always assumed that tape-based data was relatively safe: Tapes were used by IT professionals and tape devices sat behind vulnerable IP networks. Encryption was also eschewed because it could lead to slower performance, additional IT operational chores and higher capital costs.

But times have changed. Interest in tape encryption is growing rapidly due to the following:

Increasing privacy regulations. Tape-based private data has long been subjected to well-established global privacy laws like the Japanese Bill to Protect Personal Data (2001) and the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (2002). In 2005, 13 disparate bills were introduced in the U.S. Congress; and at the beginning of 2006, 23 states had privacy regulations in place.

Publicly disclosed data breaches. Regulations like the California Database Breach Act mandate that any data breach involving the private data of a California citizen must be publicly disclosed. Between February 2005 and August 2006 there were a total of 17 publicly disclosed data breaches as a result of lost/stolen backup tapes, which led

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to the exposure of more than 9 million Americans' private data (source: www.privacyrights.org).

New technology options. Cryptoprocessor technology has greatly improved and now offers high performance and lower prices. This has led to a slew of new hardware-based crypto-acceleration and encryption appliances.

This was first published in November 2006

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