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SAN security under the spotlight

If you've networked your storage, you'd better start thinking about security

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Having got standards programmes underway for SAN interoperability and management, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is turning its attention to the next key part of the puzzle: storage security.

"Three things kicked it off," says Mike Alverado of Neoscale, who chairs SNIA's Storage Security Industry Forum , which held a technology demonstration at Storage Networking World in Orlando last week.

"First, storage over IP, as IP networks are assumed to be insecure. Second, the development of near-line applications means that storage can now be in an insecure remote location - tapes can be stolen, too.

"The third thing is that storage consolidation on the SAN gives you a place to where all data is shared, and the business managers don't like that because they like their data to be private. So IT is throwing a party and no-one wants to go."

The challenge is that application-level security, network security and storage-level security must all work together. For example, encryption of SAN block traffic relies on the application to do authentication.

Alverado says that security has to be integrated within management frameworks too, so the SNIA storage management initiative (SMI) includes fleshing out and refining the security model.

"The concerns are the effect of security on throughput, and the business value of adding security - it too easily becomes a technical issue or just insurance," he says. "You cannot view it as insurance, it has to be built in."

The industry has already voted to adopt the existing CHAP authentication protocol for Fibre Channel, he adds. The SSIF is also working on a security protocol analogous to the IETF's IPsec, provisionally titled FCsec.

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