A vulnerability demonstration this week involving a technology that’s generating buzz reminded me of an important concept: Security is as much about implementation as the underlying technologies you use. You can put together several “secure” components and still build an insecure system.

The example that reminded me of this relates to Bitcoin, a somewhat controversial form of digital currency that’s recently been discussed by several high-profile media outlets. I’m not going to talk about any specific merits or problems associated with Bitcoin, but note that it relies on mathematically solid encryption schemes to allow transactions while preventing theft.

However, regardless of how strong your encryption, an insecure application using that encryption can introduce easily exploitable vulnerabilities. And Adam Baldwin of evilpacket has shown how this can happen with Bitcoin by creating a video demo of XSS/CSRF problems in a Bitcoin exchange site. These application-level issues could enable an attacker to steal Bitcoins without cracking the basic cryptography employed.

Using proven security technologies is important, but it’s only one part of securing your organization. I still remember my surprise when I first discovered that an “unbreakable” cipher did exist: the one-time pad. But using one-time pads is often impractical, and they are still susceptible to compromise from human factors. Building secure business operations requires understanding the risks at each level of a system and having a defense-in-depth response.

At Gemini, we can help you assess those risks, architect strategies to handle them, then apply those solutions in your organization to produce measurable security improvements. Don’t simply trust in “encryption” or WAFs to protect your data – let us help you understand the big picture of your company’s security today.

2 thoughts on “Security is More Than Cryptography

  1. I have been a fan of this blog for a long time. Keep up the fantastic writing you’re doing here.

  2. William Lyng says:

    [..] Security Musings » Blog Archive » Security is More Than Cryptography [..]

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