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NDSA-INFRASTRUCTURE  February 2012, Week 3

NDSA-INFRASTRUCTURE February 2012, Week 3

Subject:

Re: storage topic 1: encryption

From:

"Goethals, Andrea" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The NDSA infrastructure working group list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 16:50:13 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (80 lines)

What started us having to consider encryption in our preservation repository, the DRS (http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/drs/) was our email archiving project (http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/eas/). We'll be preserving email with permanent scholarly value. Email is the first type of content we are preserving that could potentially have HRCI (high risk confidential information) or even just sensitive/private information. Because of its unique nature (people have an expectancy that it's private; people mix their private email in with their work/professional email; the sheer quantity of it prohibits curatorial review of all of it); we are treating all email that comes into the DRS as potentially sensitive. It could have information about students in it, medical records (some Harvard faculty also work at hospitals), embarrassing information (internal memos of the univ. president), etc. This means that we are subject to the university security policy regarding HRCI/personal/private information as well as all relevant state and federal laws (HIPAA, FERPA, MA state encryption law, etc.) for this content.

We went through a series of reviews with IT security experts at Harvard and have come up with a revised architectural design for the DRS to implement this fall. Although this was kind of a painful process (sometimes policies were interpreted differently or wrongly) the good thing is that we will be able to accept sensitive content of any type (beyond email) when we are done.

At one point in the review process we were given some misinformation that we would be required to encrypt the sensitive data on disk but this turned out to be a misreading of the university security policy. While we were discussing encryption we were given the impression by the IT security folks that some of the software encryption solutions were immature (performance problems and worse) and that hardware encryption was the way to go. Some of our system administrators looked at the encryption offerings and found some big drawbacks not even considering effect on preservation (expense mainly but also having to manage a couple of encryption key management devices).

We have since come to the conclusion that we are not required to encrypt this content on storage disks, because we are taking other measures (private network address space, local firewalls, periodic penetration tests, encryption on transport, etc.). But, if we use tape as part of the storage solution we will have to encrypt the tapes. We are replacing the DRS storage system this year so, in part because of this encryption requirement, we are considering an all-disk solution (up-to-now we have always included 2 tape copies along with disk storage).

Besides the expense and having to deal with the key management devices we thought that encryption would add a layer of complexity and additional preservation risk. Although I don't know of any studies or papers that address this specifically there is a lot of advice out there to avoid encryption if you can (in the same vein as the arguments against compression in preservation copies). Besides the risk of losing the keys I suspect that it would make the content harder to access for those who have a legitimate reason to access it whether it's researchers, curators or repository staff. For example would it make format migrations more difficult? Would it make it more difficult for us to make the content available for data mining, etc.? My preference is to not overcomplicate legitimate access to the content and I think encryption would do that but I also know that I don't have any concrete knowledge or experience for my opinion on this.

Andrea


> -----Original Message-----
> From: The NDSA infrastructure working group list [mailto:NDSA-
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Goethals,
> Andrea
> Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 12:17 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [NDSA-INFRASTRUCTURE] storage topic 1: encryption
>
> I hope you all don't mind my starting this series off. I think this
> would work best if we pass the virtual baton around to a different
> person after each topic. We can queue up a list of topics on the wiki
> so people know what's coming next.
>
> The first topic is encryption in preservation storage. I am thinking
> about hardware or software or file encryption primarily imposed by the
> repository (but whether or not you accept content encrypted by others
> is also interesting). I am thinking less about encrypting for transport
> (e.g. https). Say what you want about it but I'll pose some questions
> to get you thinking about it.
>
>
>
> * Do you have any opinions on it? What are your reasons for
> your opinions (gut feelings are OK)?
>
> * What kinds of problems do you think it might create in the
> future?
>
> * Do you have any current requirements to do this (laws,
> policies)? What are the conditions under which you need to encrypt? Do
> you know of any upcoming requirements for you to do this?
>
> * If you do it what technique(s)/strategies do you use? Do you
> isolate encrypted content from non-encrypted content?
>
> * Do you know of any relevant studies/papers, etc. about this
> topic?
>
> Someone proposed that we keep each topic discussion to around 2 weeks
> so let's see if we've said what we want to by March 2. We can always
> extend this one since there was no advance notice of the topic.
>
> Thanks,
> Andrea
>
> Andrea Goethals
> Digital Preservation and Repository Services Manager
> Harvard Library Office for Information Systems
> [log in to unmask]
> (617) 495-3724
>
>
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