Here’s another great article by our Sales Director, Mike Masone that was originally shared on LinkedIn. Make sure to look out for Part 2!
Air Gap – I had never heard the term until 4 years ago when a cryptocurrency proponent researching kiosks was nice enough to sit with me and explain why bitcoin or one of its ilk had such value to the world.
What I gleaned and, have shamelessly repeated, is that remaining disconnected is the only strategy that ensures that data in a system is secure. In the case of my new friend, his enviable horde of BTC was all stored on a stand alone network. The gleam in his eye made me wonder whether or not he does the Scrooge McDuck money dive into his server room every morning. I finally got it Bitcoin made it possible to store and manage liquid value on a stand alone network. If I had gotten it a year sooner, I would be writing this post from my own island.
When the barriers to entry into most networks are not commensurate with the value of the data on the system, hacking these systems becomes very attractive. In the case of cryptocurrencies, the value is nearly liquid cash – Mt.GOX. In other cases the simple loss or exposure of loss of the data is enough to wipe out value from the system – TJX lost money, as did the banks and the consumers. In others still the data become the ore from which cash is mined through a more complex process like blackmail – Ashley Madison lost all credibility and its users are each suffering their own fate.
Ok then, air gap every important piece of data and everything is safe. Well yes, but that isn’t the world we operate in. In the case of cryptocurrencies a very small amount of data can be easily sneakernetted back and forth between connected and disconnected systems. The advantages of btc as a store of value are maintained and the environment supports that.
The air gap ensures privacy and security but at the expense of data exchange. A hospital that sees 300 patients per day and is faced with a mountain of poorly written or spoken data is a much different animal than my Scroogey new friend.
Understanding how to balance security and interoperability is critical to the success of any project, deployment, or initiative. In the next post I’ll discuss how some of our customers intelligently manage these issues in the self service world.