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The tech and security backends that keep your data safe

security

No modern business can afford to overlook the importance of data security, and the inventiveness of technology security experts continues to develop ever more sophisticated methods of keeping your data safe.

But different parts of your IT operation will require different approaches to security.

Backend security is a major priority across all business sectors. You can think of the backend as a repository for all of the software, technology and information that enables your presence on the internet and allows your mobile applications to run smoothly. For larger organisations, the backend will contain a wide range of information, including planning, marketing details, payment data and inventory data. As you can see, the backend data can be highly sensitive and if your security is breached, it can have dire legal and financial consequences.

The backend of a business also typically uses a different sort of software and technology. While the frontend, which is focused on customer interface, employs tools such as HTML or CSS, the backend is associated with server technology. This could entail software such as PHP, NodeJS, Ruby, C or Java. Keeping this part of your operation secure involves protecting your databases, securing access, and effective authentication, and any lapses can put you at risk of cyber-attack.

Backend basics

Of course, strong backend data security is about more than smart technology – it also requires strategic thinking. One key principle is to keep the servers that handle the database and the application on separate physical machines. It can be useful to employ a high-performance server to host a business application, but when it comes to storing customer data, the sensible approach is to opt for an entirely separate database server that provides a high level of data security, including proper access permission and multifactor authentication. These are all aspects found particularly in companies that require payment data and other sensitive details, such as Amazon, eBay or online casinos.

Searching encryption

Enforcing strict access control to backend databases is crucial, which is why organisations that store substantial amounts of sensitive data, such as banks or online casinos, employ encryption to protect this information and ensure that access through de-encryption is only available to legitimate users.

One method of protecting the backend is searching encryption. Like all forms of encryption, it allows business processes to read backend data but without compromising that data or risking exposure. Searching encryption takes the inventive approach of encrypting information and then using specially created queries to challenge the backend database.

Public key encryption

A Public Key Encryption Scheme or PEKS depends on the data owner generating a number of ‘trust tokens’, which can then be used in a verification process, enabling the server to verify if the chosen keyword is available within the database. The full potential of this method has not yet been explored but it does have considerable potential for boosting security.

Homomorphic encryption

With homomorphic encryption, calculations are performed on encrypted information but without decrypting it initially. There are multiple forms of homomorphic encryption, but all such schemes provide a different set of operations on the encrypted data and this form of encryption is a particularly versatile method that offers a number of different use cases.

CryptDB

This is a security system that offers practical confidentiality to protect against attacks on applications that are backed by SQL databases. The result of research carried out by MIT, CryptDB provides a balanced approach, utilising various encryption techniques. This is another promising encryption technology, although it is still being developed and improved.

Trust compartmentation

Another approach to controlling a large backend database is trust compartmentation, which involves offloading critical functions to a smaller service, which runs in a tightly controlled system. The most popular way to do this is to hand the function of managing encryption and the management of keys to a Hardware Security Module, or HSM. Most mainstream business databases can be served by a HSM and many HSMs can be integrated into an open source system. Alternatively, some organisations rely on running their database in a secure environment backed by traditional security measures, including Host IDS and Mandatory Access Control, using such technology as SELinux.

Conclusion

The fast-evolving threat of cybercrime requires an equally inventive and dynamic approach from security experts to come up with effective ways to protect an organisation’s backend. This fight to secure your important and sensitive data will always require vigilance, and every business owner and IT head should ensure that they are fully acquainted with all of the latest developments in backend security, for the benefit of their organisations and their customers.

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The tech and security backends that keep your data safe

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