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Data at Rest Encryption: Software & Requirements

Instructor: David Gloag
Information moves during the course of a day. This is a fact. But at times, it simply sits. In this lesson, we'll take a look at a stationary protection mechanism, Data at Rest Encryption, plus some software and requirements used by this important area.

The Static Nature of Information

Information moves at the speed of light, or so they say. In the computer world, this isn't hard to imagine, as electrons travel the printed circuits to their destination. Information moves from storage to processor, where it is prepared for whatever manipulation has been requested. The information then travels around the CPU, being crunched in the appropriate fashion. It is then returned to storage, or transmitted to various parts of the world. All of this, in the blink of an eye! But would it surprise you to know that the information spends most of its life static, and in storage? Indeed, it does! Because of this, there is a need to protect the static information. One type of protection is Data at Rest Encryption.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of hiding important information from prying eyes. It uses a mathematically based algorithm, to hide or convert the information. It also uses a key, an external piece of information of varying size, to add randomness and uniqueness to the process. Encryption has a number of uses, ranging from password protection on your cell phone, to securing sensitive political or military communications. In most instances, it is reversible, meaning that you can reapply the process to unencrypt (or decrypt) the information. It's likely that you don't even know it is there, as its efforts occur behind the scenes as part of the infrastructure.

What is Data at Rest?

Data at Rest is the term used to describe information that is stored on a hard drive. In other words, information that is static. This is opposed to the Data in Motion, information moving from memory to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and back, during required processing. As an example, think about the items you have stored in your pantry or cupboard. These are equivalent to Data at Rest. They are simply sitting there waiting to be used. When you decide to use them, they become Data in Motion as you pick them up and carry them to the counter. Data at Rest is important in any system, as the amount of information a computer can process at any particular moment is significantly less than the amount of information it uses in the course of a day.

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