A two-dimensional approach to storage security

In this column, security expert Vijay Ahuja outlines a two-dimensional layered approach to storage security.

Just like any other network, storage networks should be secured using a layered approach. Storage security can be viewed as the act of protecting stored data through multiple layers of safeguards. In this column, I outline a two-dimensional layered approach for storage security.

Storage network security can be designed as a multiple layer model consisting of two dimensions -- the storage network layers and the security safeguards for each layer. First, storage environments can be secured by addressing each layer of the storage network as outlined next.

Application layer is the highest layer. An application may implement security within the application, thereby providing end-end security.

Management layer is the next layer and provides management of the storage network. This layer should implement its own security so the management data is not exposed to external attacks, both while in transit and in store.

File layer offers the next layer for security. Storage data may be secured by securing the entire files.

Block layer provides the lowest layer for securing data. Block-level security ensures that each block of data can be secured independent of the other blocks.

A separate dimension is to implement different security technologies for each layer. There are several steps or layers for deploying safeguards at each of the above storage network layers.

First step is to secure the environment by implementing intrusion prevention and filtering (read " anti-virus" and " firewall") technologies. This should prevent entry of viruses and other denial of service attacks.

Next, you may deploy access controls to storage components. This would include the role based access control and similar schemes to restrict access to unauthorized resources in the storage network.

As the next step, you may implement strong authentication for various storage components and related entities. In this way, you can prevent some of the spoofing attacks.

Finally, you may implement confidentiality by encrypting the data at the given layer.

Securing storage environment is not the simple process of selecting a technology and deploying it across the storage network. You need to evaluate security risks at each layer, and apply corresponding security safeguards for each layer. There is no one-size fit-all for storage network security.
This was first published in February 2004

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