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Protecting data-at-rest in hosted web applications Disclosure Number: IPCOM000247180D
Publication Date: 2016-Aug-12
Document File: 4 page(s) / 57K

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Protecting data -

There is a trend to move applications that have been on-premises into the internet and host these applications in a cloud. One of the challenges in architecting such a solution is that the control over the data now needs to be split between the owning party and the hosting party. Any cryptographic solution that protects the data with a key immediately leads to the question where this key is stored and how it is managed. A hosted software solution that is used to store confidential data needs to make sure that the personnel that operates the solution is not able to gain access to any confidential data in the clear.

In a simple case where data is just stored and retrieved by a client, a simple solution is possible that encrypts confidential data before storing it and decrypts the data after retrieving it. This solution, however, does not work if the hosted application needs to be able to access the data and process it on the service provider side, for example, to generate a mark-up that presents several pieces of data in a user-friendly way. An example for such an application is a web portal that may provide several views at data in different formats and provides user-friendly presentations that need to embed the data in a markup during rendering. The web portal would typically require the data to be presented to be available in readable format if the generated markup needs to be processed by a normal browser.

The drawback of known solutions is that if encryption is used solely at the solution provider side, it requires keys to be available at the provider side as well. Keys must not be stored with the data at the service provider side and be freely accessible. This requires at least a key management solution that provide the keys from a trusted 3rd party outside of the service provider environment. Hardware and software solutions for key management are known. The advantage is that the cryptographic key(s) used to protect information that is stored at the service provider

will only be known at the client side (the owner of the information) and will never be known on the service provider side.

The presented solution attempts to solve the problem by not storing a cryptographic key within the hosting environment of the service provider, nor accessing it at a 3rd party location from inside the service provider environment. Cryptographic keys are still being used, but remain completely under the control and ownership of the client. Data that needs to be protected when at rest, is encrypted with a key on the client side before it is transferred (possibly encrypted again on the transport level) to the service provider. In addition to that a special application at the client side will add a container around that piece of data that identifies it as encrypted data. Metadata for this data, like title, author, creation date, etc., may still be in the clear. The web application may then stores the metadata pieces as well as th...