Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/1/2013
02:37 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

SpiderOak Takes Novel Approach To Data Privacy

Prism episode has increased interest for cloud services like SpiderOak, which does not keep copies of user encryption keys -- and thus can't provide access to user files.

 10 IT Leaders You Should Follow On Twitter
10 IT Leaders You Should Follow On Twitter
(click image for larger view)
Ethan Oberman has a problem with cloud computing. "A person should be able to use cloud technologies without relinquishing his or her privacy," explained Oberman, CEO of cloud storage service SpiderOak, in a phone interview.

Given Internet companies that rely on mining data about users for revenue, government agencies that have the capability to monitor online activities and read personal communications, businesses seeking competitive intelligence, and hackers hammering at the data piggy banks, maintaining a comfortable degree of privacy isn't easy.

The problem is that cryptography isn't easy. Cryptography doesn't ensure security. It's merely an element of a broader security strategy. But it has become a necessary element, given the inadequacy of perimeter-based protection. Because barriers can be penetrated or bypassed, data deserves additional protection.

[ Want to know how the NSA justifies the agency's spying programs? Read NSA Director Faces Security Pros At Black Hat. ]

SpiderOak is one of a handful of companies that have adopted a "zero-knowledge" approach to cloud computing services: It does not keep copies of users' encryption keys, so it cannot provide access to a user's files on demand or otherwise. From a liability and compliance perspective, ignorance is bliss.

In an effort to spread the gospel of ignorance, SpiderOak has been working on a zero-knowledge open-source application framework called Crypton that will allow developers to integrate strong cryptography into cloud-based applications. It can be used to ensure that servers running an application cannot read the data created and stored by the application. Decryption is done in the client, whether that's a browser or a native app.

Crypto libraries, of course, already exist and are widely used, but as a framework, Crypton covers a broader range of functions. It's more of an out-of-the-box privacy option than crypto plumbing that requires additional structure.

In contrast to a conventional application that passes data to a relational database, a Crypton-enabled application passes private data to an object database. Changes to stored objects are encrypted prior to transmission to the server.

On Wednesday, SpiderOak published updates to the Crypton website as part of its effort to ready the project for a 1.0 release, planned for later this year. New additions include a developer guide and improved documentation, quick-start instructions and a variety of code improvements.

"The thing that Crypton provides is it allows developers to be competitive in the privacy space without becoming privacy experts themselves," said Oberman.

While demand for privacy and security has historically been tepid outside the enterprise space — few individuals recognize the value of security and privacy if they haven't been victimized, and developers tend to treat privacy as an afterthought — Oberman sees a silver lining in recent revelations about the permeability of cloud services.

"In some ways, I think this Prism episode was a very important event," said Oberman in reference to the ongoing revelations about the scope of NSA data gathering. "It definitely changed the trajectory of the debate."

Though Oberman could not provide specific figures that demonstrate rising affinity for data protection, he said that he has been in touch with several companies focused on privacy, like Duck Duck Go and Silent Circle, and their experience has been similar.

"All of us have seen a dramatic increase in interest across the board, from consumers up to the enterprise," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Lessons from the NSA: Know Your Assets
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  12/12/2019
4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...