How Does SSL Encryption Negatively Impact Enterprise Level Companies?
SSL (Secured Socket Layer) encryption has swiftly moved into first place when it comes to encrypting and decrypting data passed over the Internet from users across a website to a company network. Why is it the defacto standard these days, you might ask? This is because it provides one of the easiest approaches when migrating online services within a web-based model.
It also provides the most secure method of encryption for managing sensitive information via Internet transfer. SSL is commonly used to provide secure information transfer from and to end users for these among other purposes:
- Medical Record Viewing
- Tax Return Filing
- E-commerce Transactions
- Consumer Applications
- Social Media
On average, over 50% of enterprise applications rely on SSL for secure data transfer including Google Apps and Salesforce. The encryption method protects end users and companies from a data breach while the information is in transit.
The Problem is Lack of Visibility
SSL provides an open door for hackers to latch on without detection as it lacks the visibility necessary to identify potential threats at the application layer. Just as it is rising in popularity for secure data transfer, it is also drastically climbing as the standard way to breach company and end user data. The recent data breach with UCLA Health System that affected 4.5 million people (as reported by USA Today) is a good example of what lack of encryption can cause.
So if lack of encryption is a problem, then SSL is definitely better than having no encryption at all. Lack of visibility results in administrators having a blind spot when it comes to what information is actually being transferred within the encrypted file. Hackers unfortunately take this as an open opportunity to insert malicious code like trojans or viruses that are able to bypass traditional security architectures through the SSL encryption.
What Challenges Exist?
A number of challenges exist for companies including those created by mandates and compliance regulations. As an example, any company operating a publicly accessible network is required by law to provide network activity reports to the government. This is impossible to do with SSL and many companies either use no encryption method or rely on a less safe solution to meet compliance mandates.
Several companies have suffered from data leaks or theft that has remained undetected over an extended period of time because SSL contents cannot be reviewed. Past malicious activity detection choices like DLP and compliance reporting are losing their effectiveness as the use of SSL encryption implodes. Companies experience many challenges due to lack of visibility when implementing SSL including how to:
- Prevent Unknown Data Breaches & Information Leaks
- Comply with Government Mandates
- Enforce Corporate Acceptable Use Policies
- Gain Security of SSL While Maintaining Visibility
- Protect Outbound Enterprise Traffic & Inbound User Data
SSL definitely provides the safest data encryption method; however, lack of visibility makes it difficult to enforce important security policies and monitor data transfers over the Internet. Solutions such as SSL visibility appliances developed by Blue Coat offer enhanced security during data transfer, but have experienced their own pitfalls. The real challenge for many companies is how to gain dependable encryption with SSL while maintaining visibility at the application layer to prevent threats.
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