Chapter 4 - Encryption
There are two main types of data that must be protected: data at rest and data in motion. These different types of data are protected in similar ways using similar technology but the implementations can be completely different. No single protective implementation can prevent all possible methods of compromise as the same information may be at rest and in motion at different points in time.
Data at Rest
Data at rest is data that is stored on a hard drive, tape, CD, DVD, disk, or other media. This information's biggest threat comes from being physically stolen. Laptops in airports, CDs going through the mail, and backup tapes that get left in the wrong places are all examples of events where data can be compromised through theft. If the data was encrypted on the media then you wouldn't have to worry as much about the data being compromised.
Protecting Data at Rest
Full Disk Encryption
Full disk or partition encryption is one of the best ways of protecting your data. Not only is each file protected but also the temporary storage that may contain parts of these files is also protected. Full disk encryption will protect all of your files so you don't have to worry about selecting what you want to protect and possibly missing a file.
Fedora 9 natively supports LUKS Encryption . LUKS will bulk encrypt your hard drive partitions so that while your computer is off your data is protected. This will also protect your computer from attackers attempting to use single-user-mode to login to your computer or otherwise gain access.
LUKS can be manually setup on Fedora 8.
File Based Encryption
GnuPG (GPG) is an open source version of PGP that allows you to sign and/or encrypt a file or an email message. This is useful to maintain integrity of the message or file and also protects the confidentiality of the information contained within the file or email.
In the case of email, GPG provides dual protection. Not only can it provide Data at Rest protection but also Data In Motion protection once the message has been sent across the network.
Data in Motion
Data in motion is data that is being transmitted over a network. The biggest threats to data in motion are interception and alteration. Your user name and password should never be transmitted over a network without protection as it could be intercepted and used by someone else to impersonate you or gain access to sensitive information. Other private information such as bank account information should also be protected when transmitted across a network. If the network session was encrypted then you would not have to worry as much about the data being compromised while it is being transmitted.
Protecting Data in Motion
Data in motion is particularly vulnerable to attackers because the attacker does not have to be near the computer in which the data is being stored rather they only have to be somewhere along the path. Encryption tunnels can protect data along the path of communications.
Virtual Private Networks
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) provide encrypted tunnels between computers or networks of computers across all ports. With a VPN in place, all network traffic from the client is forwarded to the server through the encrypted tunnel. This means that the client is logically on the same network as the server it is connected to via the VPN.
VPNs are very common and are simple to use and setup.
Secure Shell (SSH) also provides encrypted tunnels between computers but only using a single port. Port forwarding can be done over an SSH tunnel and traffic will be encrypted as it passes over that tunnel but using port forwarding isn't as fluid as a VPN.