Domain 11: Encryption and Key Management

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CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance

Domain 11: Encryption and Key Management

It would be intuitively obvious to a security professional that if an organization needs to store
data and doesn’t trust who can access or
use the data then the data must be encrypted.
Inside an on
premise data center where the organization controls all assets data is encrypted
because some regulations say the data must be encrypted (PCI DSS for e

In the cloud, where there are multipl
e tenants and administrators working for someone else
it would seem obvious that much more data would need to be encrypted. If that is the case
how do those processes work and how does the organization manage their keys.
everything increases com
On the other hand is it even necessary to
encrypt these
volumes of data if

they cause business process complexity amongst other issues? Is there
another way to reduce the need to encrypt data and subsequently manage the keys? This
chapter looks at

these issues.


Is encryption and key management required in the cloud?

Business processes and encryption

Data protection types

management in the cloud



There are reasons to look at alternate solutions to encryption. Data that is encrypted and
sent into the cloud still looses the custodial relationship for some organizations. For those
organizations that refuse to send data outside their organization there

is an alternative. A
public cloud
service can be integrated with a private cloud that stores sensitive data. The
data sent to the public cloud is altered and would contain a reference to the data residing in
the private cloud. There are vendors working on

this concept.

The remainder of this section
concentrates on cryptography being used in cloud deployments.

There are 2 complementary concepts used in the encryption section, they are

Encrypt or not encrypt. That is the
question. If so, how do I manage
the keys? If not, are costs too

CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance

Content Aware Encryption

Used in Data Leak Prevention, Content aware software
understands a data type or format and encrypts based upon policy settings
. For
example a

credit card number is encrypted in an email being sent to law

Format Preserving Encryption

tion that preserves format is a result that
encrypts a message and produces a result
like the input message. A 16 di
git credit
card number is a 16 digit number after encryption. A telephone
would look
like a telephone number and a

English word woul
d look like an English word and so

The ability to encrypt from the enterprise to the cloud without user intervention is how to
make data safe. Content aware software can be leveraged for public cloud encryption if
the software can be configured to be
protocol aware as well and encrypt fields in a REST
http transaction to a public cloud application. The
Data Leak Prevention

use case today
has products that can enforce data protection leaving the enterprise, usually by email,
and encrypts data before th
e transaction leaves the enterprise. The principle can be used
in cloud data protection however the DLP product would generate alerts. A content aware
service would need to detect, encrypt and log but not alert.

Format preserving encryption takes content
aware a step further by being sensitive to the
data needing encryption and maintains the data format and type. In conventional
encryption a credit card being encrypted for example would render a binary
cipher text

that would need to be encoded in some way. The credit card would also not be a 16 digit
number any longer as well. Format preserving encryption would generate a cipher text
value that is 16 digits in addition to being encrypted.

By also preserving the da
ta type and format the service providing encryption can then
easily change values in line over a wide variety of protocols.
The key challenge to format
preserving encryption is in encrypting large clear text values such as an email stored in the
cloud. Bul
k scale encryption is normally how text values are encrypted using block
. In the format preserving case each word would be encrypted into another word,


Data Leak Prevention (DLP) products have an enforcement mode that detects data leaving the enterprise
and encrypts it.


Cipher text. The result of an encryption operation. The input is known as clear text.


Ciphers. Algorithm based software/hardware tha
t perform encryption/decryption and signing/verifying

CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance

which would take time. The result however would be words in the language the original
email was

written in, although it wouldn’t make sense. If each encrypted word were
spelled correctly then the format preserving encryption engine wouldn’t break a spell
check program that would be used after encryption.

An enterprise can also develop an encryption
/decryption process

or use another

type of encryption technology available on the market today.
The idea being however that
users wouldn’t have to undertake any process on their own. There needs to be a process
within the enterprise that perform
s encryption on the way out to the cloud and decrypt
data on the way back in.

Encryption in cloud applications poses some issues for business applications that an
application architecture needs to address. These are:

If data in the application is needed
to search for records or objects then an encrypted
primary key

would make that difficult

If the cloud application set contains batch jobs or other types of processes that work
on data, and those processes are moved to the cloud, that situation will compli
key management

An application that needs to find records or objects in a database needs to develop
another way to store a unique value such as tokens. Tokens are used in credit card
environments to ensure the credit card number is minimally accessed i
n applications. A
unique token generated from the value can be used to develop a new primary key that
the application can use and not expose sensitive data in a public cloud.

As will be discussed in section 2, below, keys should not be stored in the cloud
and must
be maintained by the enterprise or a trusted key management service provider.
Processes, such as analytical processes, that need to operate on clear text data and run in
the cloud with the other business applications and data must have access to k
eys or a
service in order to perform their functions. See section 2 for more details on key
management in the cloud.


Primary key. A database column/field/attribute that is used to uniquely identify records in a database

CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance




Use best practice key management practices when using any form of
encryption/decryption product

Use off
shelf technology where possible to get the best practices from a credible

It is highly recommended that an enterprise use best practice key management practices
and obtain technology and products for encryption, decryption, signing, and

from credible sources.




Deploy technology integrated into corporate systems based on user identity

Manage keys used by the cryptographic processes using requirements in the next

Use existing systems such

or DLP if possible.

Binding cryptographic operations and key management to corporate identity systems will
provide the organization with the most flexible integration and uses technology that the
organization already knows works and has been
audited and or reviewed.


Digital Rights Management. A process that protects content such as internal corporate communica
tions or
copyrighted material

CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance


Key Management

One of the more difficult processes in public cloud computing is key management. The
multi tenant facility known as the public cloud causes key management issues for
processes running there.

The easiest use
cases are those that have applications running in the public cloud and keys
that encrypt data going to the public cloud from the enterprise are used within the
enterprise only. As described in section one there are encryption engines that can encrypt
on the way out and decrypt data on the way back in. An application using
cryptographic keys gets complicated when other processes, such as batch jobs and the
like, need access to keys to decrypt data and those processes reside in the public cloud.

se users need to have keys of their own so that one shared key is not used across
the enterprise. The easiest way to accomplish user specific keys is to purchase a
cryptographic engine for each user or assign keys based on the user’s identity. In this way
anything, which is encrypted specifically for a user is maintained for that user. If users
needs access to data in a group setting then group level keys can be associated with the
application that maintains group access and users within that group can shar
e the keys.
The keys should be maintained within the enterprise as discussed earlier in this section.



It is highly recommended that organizations maintain their own keys or use a trusted
cryptographic service from a source that current
ly maintains such as service.

If an organization needs to run analytics or other processes using data stored in the cloud
then the organization should develop a platform such as Hadoop and have that data
derived from the cloud source. Hadoop has its own s
et of security issues but those won’t
be addressed in this chapter.

User specific keys can be maintained at the individual or group level. Group access can be
managed with off
shelf technology such as DRM systems and other software running
on the deskt
op/laptop that encrypts disks, folders, and email messages.

CSA Guidance Version 3

Copyright © 2011 Cloud Security Alliance


In order to maintain best practices and pass audits the organization should manage their
keys in the custody of their own enterprise or that of a credible service from a
cryptographic service provider.

Keys used in existing encryption technology such as DRM and disk encryption products
can be managed my central, internal to the enterprise, key storage technology. Hardware
Security Modules (HSM) can be used to store keys as

well as process cryptographic
operations such as encryption/decryption, signing and verifying.

Enterprise users will go through a registration process to enable cryptographic operations
and other processes in the enterprise, such as Content Aware or Forma
t Preserving
systems can access users keys as needed.