Lack of visibility into encrypted traffic still causing trouble

Encrypting corporate data and Internet traffic is recommended as a leading way to help check attackers who manage to gain access to sensitive systems. However, the solution is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand an attacker won’t be able to do much with properly encrypted data. On the other hand, infosec pros will have a more difficult time scanning traffic for suspicious activity.

David Holmes of F5 Networks points out this dilemma  in  a column relating to a new encryption cipher released by Google between the Chrome v50 browser and Google services. Some Infosec pros will likely find that their web gateway software doesn’t support the new cipher so can’t see data scanned between clients and Gmail. The choice, Holmes said, is either whitelist gmail –and risk not catching malware — or disable access to Google services like Google search.

Who’s at fault? Perhaps Google, which doesn’t always tell security vendors of upcoming Chrome changes. Perhaps the gateway vendor for not keeping up on technology, because the cipher Google added isn’t new.

This is getting important, Holmes notes, because an increasing amount of outbound network traffic is encrypted. Is a packet legitimately encrypted by an employee, or by malware? Who knows? It’s only now that security vendors are starting to look at the problem and release solutions. It would help if the info security industry worked closer together. Meanwhile CISOs have to pay more attention to this problem.

Read the full column here

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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