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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Data Standards

Data standards provide consistent meaning to data shared among different information systems, programs, and departments throughout the product’s life cycle. Data standards are part of any good enterprise architecture. The use of data standards makes data much easier to use. As an example, say you get a new 850-lumen flashlight that uses two AA batteries. You don’t need to worry about what brand of battery you buy as all AA batteries are manufactured to the same size and voltage.

Data Lifecycle Control

Data lifecycle control is a policy-based approach to managing the flow of an information system’s data throughout its life cycle from the point of creation to the point at which it is out of date and is destroyed or archived.

Data Audit

After all the previous tasks discussed in this chapter have been performed, the organization’s security-management practices will need to be evaluated periodically. This is accomplished by means of an audit process. The audit process can be used to verify that each individual’s responsibility is clearly defined. Employees should know their accountability and their assigned duties. Most audits follow a code or set of documentation. As an example, financial audits can be performed using Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). IT audits typically follow the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) framework. COBIT is designed around four domains:

  • Plan and organize

  • Acquire and implement

  • Deliver and support

  • Monitor and evaluate

Although the CISSP exam will not expect you to understand the inner workings of COBIT, you should understand that it is a framework to help provide governance and assurance. COBIT was designed for performance management and IT management. It is considered a system of best practices. COBIT was created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) in 1992.

Although auditors can use COBIT, it is also useful for IT users and managers designing controls and optimizing processes. It is designed around 34 key controls that address:

  • Performance concerns

  • IT control profiling

  • Awareness

  • Benchmarking

Audits are the only way to verify that the controls put in place are working, that the policies that were written are being followed, and that the training provided to the employees actually works. To learn more about COBIT, check out www.isaca.org/cobit/. Another set of documents that can be used to benchmark the infrastructure is the family of ISO 27000 standards.

Data Storage and Archiving

Organizations have a never-ending need for increased storage. My first 10-megabyte thumb drive is rather puny by today’s standards. Data storage can include:

  • Network attached storage (NAS)

  • Storage area network (SAN)

  • Cloud

Organizations should fully define their security requirements for data storage before a technology is deployed. For example, NAS devices are small, easy to use, and can be implemented quickly, but physical security is a real concern, as is implementing strong controls over the data. A SAN can be implemented with much greater security than a NAS. Cloud-based storage offers yet another option but also presents concerns such as:

  • Is it a private or public cloud?

  • Does it use physical or virtual servers?

  • How are the servers provisioned and decommissioned?

  • Is the data encrypted and if so what kind of encryption is used?

  • Where is the data actually stored?

  • How is the data transferred (data flow)?

  • Where are the encryption keys kept?

  • Are there co-tenants?

Keep in mind that storage integration also includes securing virtual environments, services, applications, appliances, and equipment that provide storage.

SAN

The Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) defines a SAN as “a data storage system consisting of various storage elements, storage devices, computer systems, and/or appliances, plus all the control software, all communicating in efficient harmony over a network.” A SAN appears to the client OS as a local disk or volume that is available to be formatted and used locally as needed.

  • Virtual SAN—A virtual SAN (VSAN) is a SAN that offers isolation among devices that are physically connected to the same SAN fabric. A VSAN is sometimes called fabric virtualization. VSANs were developed to support independent virtual fabrics on a single switch. VSANs improve consolidation and simplify management by allowing for more efficient SAN utilization. A VSAN will allow a resource on any individual VSAN to be shared by other users on a different VSAN without merging the SAN fabrics.

  • Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)—iSCSI is a SAN standard used for connecting data storage facilities and allowing remote SCSI devices to communicate. Many see it as a replacement for fiber channel, because it does not require any special infrastructure and can run over existing IP LAN, MAN, or WAN networks.

  • Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)—FCoE is another transport protocol that is similar to iSCSI. FCoE can operate at speeds of 10 GB per second and rides on top of the Ethernet protocol. While it is fast, it has a disadvantage in that it is non-routable. iSCSI is, by contrast, routable because it operates higher up the stack, on top of the TCP and UDP protocols.

  • Host Bus Adapter (HBA) Allocation—The host bus adapter is used to connect a host system to an enterprise storage device. HBAs can be allocated by either soft zoning or by persistent binding. Soft zoning is more permissive, whereas persistent binding decreases address space and increases network complexity.

  • LUN Masking—LUN masking is implemented primarily at the HBA level. It is a number system that makes LUN numbers available to some but not to others. LUN masking implemented at this level is vulnerable to any attack that compromises the local adapter.

  • Redundancy (Location)—Location redundancy is the idea that content should be accessible from more than one location. An extra measure of redundancy can be provided by means of a replication service so that data is available even if the main storage backup system fails.

  • Secure Storage Management and Replication—Secure storage management and replication systems are designed to allow an organization to manage and handle all its data in a secure manner with a focus on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data. The replication service allows the data to be duplicated in real time so that additional fault tolerance is achieved.

  • Multipath Solutions—Enterprise storage multipath solutions reduce the risk of data loss or lack of availability by setting up multiple routes between a server and its drives. The multipath software maintains a listing of all requests, passes them through the best possible path, and reroutes communication if a path fails.

  • SAN Snapshots—SAN snapshot software is typically sold with SAN solutions and offers a way to bypass typical backup operations. The snapshot software has the ability to temporarily stop writing to physical disk and then make a point-in-time backup copy. Snapshot software is typically fast and makes a copy quickly, regardless of the drive size.

  • Data De-Duplication (DDP)—Data de-duplication is the process of removing redundant data to improve enterprise storage utilization. Redundant data is not copied. It is replaced with a pointer to the one unique copy of the data. Only one instance of redundant data is retained on the enterprise storage media, such as disk or tape.

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