Feeds

Boffins boast self-destructing cloud data

Prototype auto-vanishes sensitive email

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Just in time for the evolution to cloud computing, boffins at the University of Washington have developed a tool that makes electronic data self-destruct automatically after a set period of time.

The technique is designed to protect people against sensitive information that may linger on computer networks and later come back to bite them in job interviews, lawsuits, or in other unintended ways. It encrypts messages with a secret key, which is then divided into dozens of pieces and distributed over random computers that belong to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Over time, parts of the key are automatically lost, and when enough key segments are inaccessible, the message becomes unreadable forever. Users can designate the length of time they want before the data expires.

A prototype of the service, dubbed Vanish, is available here as an extension for the Firefox browser. To work, both the sender and recipient must install the software.

Of course, Vanish won't protect data if the recipient cuts the protected data and pastes it elsewhere, or otherwise allows third parties to see it while it's in the clear.

But the tool could provide a valuable level of protection in the cloud, when emails, pictures and other potentially sensitive data can literally live on dozens of hard drives that are dispersed all over the globe. As security and regulatory wonks continue to wrestle with the implications of such a system on data-retention policies, tools like Vanish may provide a useful approach.

More about the tool is available here. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.