Security and the Cloud

David Shaw, contributor to the OpenPGP standard and Nasuni Core Engineer, talks about security and encryption as it relates to cloud storage.

“We encrypt your data using a customer-supplied key. And we at Nasuni don’t have that key, we don’t want access to your data, we don’t need access to your data to do what we do.”

Video Transcript

David Shaw:

Well what we were trying to do was, before cloud storage, you know, there was sort of the sacrosanct notion that your data was in your own building, it was within your own four walls. And that way, you know, you had policies in place for managing that, and you could understand that. With cloud storage, you’re changing this. You’re moving it outside your four walls. So what we wanted to do with our security system is as much as possible, make it as if the data was still within your four walls by putting this virtual wall around it, using our security system. The idea is, is that to make this barrier wall around your data, we encrypt all the data using a customer-supplied key. Now we at Nasuni don’t have that key, we don’t want access to your data. We don’t need access to your data to do what we do. You want to be the person in control of the key. You don’t want your — the vendor of the controller to have a copy of the key, you don’t want to have the cloud vendor who actually does the physical storage to have a copy of the key. The key is yours, the key is your protection of your data. You should be the only person who has a copy of it. And no one else should have a copy to — no one else should need a copy to do their work.

A common mistake made when building any sort of system like this is that you design your whole system and when you’re finished, you sort of — or towards the end, you make it secure, you add security. Sometimes referred to, you know, you sprinkle the magic security pixie dust on it, and then you’re finished. We didn’t want to do that, we wanted to bake it in from the start, so that from day one, it was going to be secure. And for a similar reason than that, we wanted always to be secure, we don’t have the ability to turn off the security. It’s built into the system, it’s always on, and it’s always secure.

The encryption is a piece that, you know, people tend to pay attention to, because it’s the one that you get to have the big numbers and the math, and you know, everyone starts making the comparisons about the number of atoms in the universe, and all the zeroes, and all that. Which is great, but it’s actually, there’s a million and one design decisions. They’re like oh wait, we have to do it this way, we have to do, you know, we have to delete files in such a way. The security actually touches everything down to why we have different Amazon accounts for everybody. So in a way, it goes back to the thing, you know, putting walls around the data. You want walls around the data to protect it from everybody, you know, walls to protect you from another customer of ours. Walls to protect you from, you know, the random person trying to break in. You want protection against us. It comes down to a case of the only way in is with the key, we don’t have the key. So therefore, we can’t get in.