Friday, 20 September 2019 11:26

ownCloud, Securosys enable encryption through hardware security modules

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ownCloud, Securosys enable encryption through hardware security modules Supplied

Open-source file syncing and sharing software company ownCloud has tied up with Swiss IT security vendor Securosys SA to offer integration of hardware security modules when encrypting and decrypting files.

A statement from ownCloud said this would ensure that the master key for decrypting files would always remain on the module and during the exchange only the sender and recipient could access the file in question.

Additionally, the integration of hardware security modules meant that even sysadmins could be excluded from being able to decrypt files at rest. This could be achieved by storing the master on a hardware device, with special algorithms ensuring that the key could not be accessed.

The company said that organisations looking for secure storage should take into account the possibility that a malicious sysadmin could gain access to their data.

Integrating hardware security modules into the encryption and decryption process opened up another secure option for using private cloud technology in data-critical scenarios by allowing access to files by transmitting individual file keys to the module. These keys would be decrypted only inside the device using the master key.

Decrypted file keys were transmitted back to the ownCloud application server and a process inside the ownCloud application decrypted the actual files by using the corresponding decrypted file keys and then provided the decrypted files to users.

There would be no way for a sysadmin to read any content as long as the ownCloud application server's integrity was intact.

"Usually, encryption at rest solutions have a distinct disadvantage in regards of performance: any encryption operation normally needs cycles and makes ownCloud slower," the company said.

"For example, if you share 20,000 files with another user, a lot of keys must be added to the system and decryption and encryption of file keys must happen. For each file, a call to the hardware security module is needed."

It said this problem had been overcome through development of an enterprise-grade hardware security module solution by Securosys. "With their transaction throughput, load-balancing, and high-availability capabilities, the hardware security modules keep up with the demand of big organisations."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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