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What is Secure Distributed Data Storage?

Data is the foundation of every organization. Business organizations collect and generate large amounts of data which may include trade secrets, client information, financial data, employee information, R&D data, etc. Cybercriminals target this data to cause business disruption for multiple reasons including financial benefits (ransom), causing harm to the business organization, etc.

A data breach can cause significant financial and reputational harm to a business. This makes it imperative for all organizations to protect their data. Secure Distributed Data Storage has evolved as an effective solution for storing data.

What is Secure Distributed Data Storage?

Secure Distributed Data Storage is a system that stores and processes data at multiple physical locations instead of one centralized location. This approach is the exact opposite of the traditional cloud storage system as it eliminates the use of a central server. The data is distributed across a number of physical network nodes or even multiple cloud servers.

A popular example of Secure Distributed Data Storage is Google Cloud Platform’s Spanner.

What is the Importance of Secure Distributed Data Storage?

The importance of Secure Distributed Data Storage lies in the advantages this approach offers as compared to a single machine or single server data store.

  1. Performance: Even the minutest delay in data retrieval or an app loading can immensely impact a business. When a large amount of data is stored on a centralized server, multiple data requests can lower its performance by causing data traffic resulting in user frustration, loss of sales, and revenue loss. When data is distributed across multiple locations, data requests are also distributed, which helps in improving the performance by lowering the response time.
  2. Scalability: Rapid growth in user number and cyclical usage pattern are two major reasons why businesses or applications need to scale up the data storage regularly. Scaling up helps in meeting the load requirements without causing a delay in response time. In case of a single machine storage system, only vertical scaling is possible. Vertical scaling refers to the process of upgrading the machine’s CPU, RAM, or storage capacity. However, Secure Distributed Data Storage offers horizontal scaling in addition to vertical scaling. Horizontal scaling means adding new network nodes or cloud servers.
  3. Reliability: Secure Distributed Data Storage is highly reliable. By distributing data across multiple locations, it also distributes the risk factor. Most Secure Distributed Data Storage systems replicate data before storing it at multiple locations. So, in case one server is compromised resulting in data loss, data can easily be retrieved from other servers. Additionally, use of multiple servers helps in improving the percentage availability time and fault-tolerance of the system.

Key Features of Secure Distributed Data Storage:

  1. Secure Environment
  2. Fully Authenticated System
  3. Zero-Trust Practice
  4. Data Replication
  5. Data Encryption at Rest & in Transit

Contact Centex Technologies for more information on Secure Distributed Data Storage and enterprise network planning. You can contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Understanding Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

Cryptography is fundamentally dependent on mathematical operations and computations. The complexity of data computations directly relates to how secure the technique is. AES is one of the most complex encryption software. It encrypts data using highly complex mathematical operations.

Data transmissions via the internet are secured by ciphers like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). AES employs a symmetric encryption methodology. Symmetric encryption algorithms use the same key for performing both encryption as well as decryption operations. It involves multiple iterations of implementing the SPN (Substitution Permutation Network) algorithm to encrypt data. The impenetrability of AES results from these encryption rounds, which are impossible to get through due to their sheer number.

The AES algorithm is compact, safe, and suitable for various hardware, software, and firmware. It is available for public or private businesses, for-profit or nonprofit endeavors, without any cost to any third party.

How does AES provide secure encryption using multiple lengths of encryption keys?

AES keys come in three different lengths. Several key combinations may be used for each key length, including: -

  • AES 128-bit key length: 3.4 x 1038 (or 3.4 x 1038 possible combinations),
  • AES 192-bit key length: 6.2 x 1057 (or 6.2 x 1057 possible combinations),
  • AES 256-bit key length: 1.1 x 1077 (or 1.1 x 1077 possible combinations).

The static size of the encryption block is 128 bits equating to 16 bytes. The use of varied key lengths has exacerbated a few problems. Since it is the least crackable, some experts prefer to utilize the key length of 256 bits. Several military forces and LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) also use 256-bit keys. The AES method with 256-bit keys is frequently referred to as military-grade encryption. However, the longer the key length, the more processing power is needed to encrypt and decode the data or message.

For instance, software that uses AES-256 rather than AES-128 may cause the laptop battery to discharge a little bit more quickly. Thankfully, contemporary technology reduces the resource difference to such a negligible level that there is no justification for not using 256-bit AES encryption.

How has AES facilitated and benefitted the secure communications arena?

  • The length of the encryption key is customizable as per application use

Keys of lengths of 128 bits, 192 bits, and 256 bits can all be used for AES encryption. Cybersecurity experts recommend using a 128-bit key for commercial business purposes. AES-256 offers higher security and can be used by governments to secure their private servers.

  • Publicly vetted and approved algorithm used by Law Enforcement and Military forces

The AES algorithm has been standardized by NIST and made available as an open-source resource, making it simpler for the general public to trust. Furthermore, since the same method is used by hardware, software, and firmware, there are no interoperability problems.

  • AES can function in limited computing resources

NIST said that it wants to replace DES and included a requirement that the new algorithm should work on hardware with a range of different computational power. That condition is exactly met by AES. On 8-bit smart cards and quick computers, it functions equally effectively.

  • Quicker rate of encryption and decryption operations

Compared to DES and Triple-DES, AES encryption processes data more quickly. AES outperforms Triple-DES by a factor of around six on the same hardware.

  • Resistant and impenetrable encryption to quantum computing attacks

AES-256 is a widely accepted encryption algorithm across the globe. The software has been tested to resist decryption or cracking attacks by quantum computers within a given amount of time.

Is AES the most secure encryption algorithm known?

A 128-bit AES encryption key may be cracked in as little as 36 quadrillion years. A 256-bit AES key has an incredible 984,665,640,564,039,457,584,007,913,129,639,936 possible combinations. Hence, experts assume that a brute-force cyber-attack on AES encryption might not occur without heavy computing resources. As a result, AES is one of the most secure symmetric encryption ciphers available today.

The development of social networking applications, remote work, and eCommerce were all made possible by the powerful encryption offered by AES. The AES algorithm is crucial for the majority of online businesses since it can function on devices with low computational power.

To know more about various encryption standards and how to keep your mobile and web applications secure, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Hardware Firewall Vs Software Firewall

A firewall is a network security mechanism or layer of protection that sits between the internet and computer networks. An internet firewall can be described as a piece of hardware or software that safeguards the computer from unwanted data and viruses.

What is a Hardware Firewall at any NOC (Network Operations Center)?

A hardware firewall is a physical device that filters traffic to a computer, similar to a server. A network cable is generally hooked straight into a computer or server, however, with a hardware firewall, the cable is first plugged into the firewall. The firewall acts as an antivirus solution and a hard barrier against intrusions by sitting between the external network and the server. When put between a modem and wireless router, it helps stop attacks from reaching the devices and appliances.

What is a Software Firewall at any SOC (Security Operations Center)?

A software firewall is a sort of computer program that operates on a computer or server. Its main goal, depending on the software firewall being used, is to safeguard the computer/server from outside efforts to control or acquire access to the system. Any questionable outbound requests can also be checked with a software firewall.

Differentiating Hardware firewalls and Software firewalls based on their advantages

Hardware firewalls let a user use a single physical device to secure the whole network from the outside world. This gadget is connected to the internet through a computer network. A hardware firewall tracks data packets as they go over the network. According to established criteria, the firewall subsequently either blocks or sends the data. Installing dedicated hardware firewalls necessitates significant IT skills, and businesses require dedicated IT staff or department to monitor and manage hardware firewalls. As a result, hardware firewalls are typically used by large businesses or businesses that place a premium on security. Most routers nowadays feature rudimentary firewall functionality, however, these solutions are aimed at home or small business users.

Software firewalls, on the other hand, provide network internal protection. A software firewall is a piece of software that is placed on a single computer and serves to safeguard it. If a business needs to secure many computers, it will need to install the program on each one. A software firewall regulates how certain programs should behave. The administrator can, for instance, restrict access to specific websites or a network printer.

Why do organizations need to deploy both hardware and software firewalls?

A physical firewall protects a network from the outside world, whereas a software firewall protects a specific device from other devices connected to the network systems. If someone tries to access the systems from the outside, the physical firewall will stop them. However, if a user mistakenly opens a virus-infected email that has already entered the system, the software firewall on the workplace network may prevent the virus from infecting other workstations.

In some cases, due to the sensitive data being generated (for example in the healthcare and financial services industries), both firewalls will be used. The PCI DSS also requires both hardware and software firewalls (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards).

In terms of software, one way to think about it is on a spectrum from ease to security. Hardware firewalls prioritize security over convenience in terms of buying, setup, and application. When used correctly, the two can work together to counteract others’ flaws while promoting their positive qualities.

What about tiny businesses that aren't as concerned about security? It's tempting to go with the simplest firewall to set up but it is important to know that firewalls, both hardware, and software, defend against a variety of dangers. Software firewalls evaluate network traffic that gets past the hardware firewall, whereas hardware firewalls prevent malware from accessing your network. Most IT experts believe that all businesses should use a combination of hardware and software firewalls to improve network security.

Centex Technologies provides cybersecurity solutions to businesses. The team also assists businesses in planning a complete computer network and setting up adequate firewalls. To know more, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

How And Why Do You Need To Secure Your IoT Devices?

Why should you secure your IoT devices?

Widespread digitization has increased the convenience of using the internet, but it has also increased the risk of being targeted by cyber-attackers. Hackers can steal and exploit your personal and financial information, as well as take control of smart cameras and microphones to spy on you. As a result, your privacy and security may be jeopardized.

How to easily secure IoT devices?

Here are the seven ways to secure your IoT devices: -

Router configuration

Router ties all your IoT gadgets together and makes them useful. Don't use the default name for your router which is generally set by its manufacturer. People might find the default login and password and get access to your smart home network (if they discover the brand and model). So, set some strange name that has nothing to do with you or your place. Your router name must be very unique; also avoid revealing any personal information.

Strong access credentials

Set the router's password to something genuinely unique. Use passwords that are made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. The login credentials used to log into your IoT devices must also be set complicated. It's now critical to set unique set of credentials for each IoT device's user account and smartphone or web application. This ensures that even if one device's password is hacked, the other IoT devices remain secure.

Wi-Fi Network isolation for IoT wearables and gadgets

Many routers support guest network creation. It is advised to protect the primary home network from IoT cyber risks. You can build and deploy a secondary WiFi network. This will be devoted just to the IoT wearables and gadgets. Now, the IoT gadgets are operating via an isolated WiFi network. Hence, even if the hackers intrude, they would not be able to hack into your other vital personal devices.

Disable any features that you aren't using

Many IoT gadgets allow you to control them from any location on the earth. Disable remote access if you only use them on your home's Wi-Fi connection. Smart speakers, too, include Bluetooth alongwith a Wi-Fi connection. What if you don't utilize it? It should be turned off. It may sound weird, but an active microphone might be utilized to listen in on your chats if it is hacked. As a result, deactivating features entails blocking as many of those various entry points as feasible.

Updating and patching devices

Updating the firmware on your IoT devices may not happen automatically. Essential security patches are frequently included in these updates. So, do a manual check every few months and, if any outstanding firmware upgrades are discovered, install them without any delay.

Enable 2FA and MFA

Having a password plus an MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) adds an extra degree of protection. When someone tries it hard to log in the IoT devices using 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication), they must offer extra evidence of identification every time. This proof could be an OTP or a verification code delivered to your phone or email address. MFA is activated by-default on most of the IoT devices in the market. You can use third-party apps like Google Authenticator to activate 2FA.

Installing an NGFW

A typical firewall lacks the essential security functions such as intrusion prevention and virus protection. Sometimes intercepting the SSL/SSH content and QoS management services aren’t available on traditional firewalls. The NGFW (Next-Generation FireWall) is an integrated network platform that combines a standard firewall with additional security features. An NGFW also contains almost all the features of a typical firewall. This makes it effective at detecting and defending against cyberattacks. NGFWs are an expensive investment, but the amount of security increment they provide for your IoT device network makes it quite worthwhile.

Even if you get the costliest IoT equipment from the most prestigious firms, the safety and security of your IoT devices’ network is ultimately in your own hands.

Centex Technologies provide complete network security solutions. For more information, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213-4740, Dallas (972) 375-9654, Atlanta (404) 994-5074, and Austin (512) 956-5454