Feeds

PGP disk encrypt approved by MoD for military use

Good enough for personal data, not for missile codes

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The UK MoD has certified PGP Corporation's whole disk encryption technology as suitable for use on British military computers. However, like most software-only solutions, it has been approved only for machines holding fairly low-level information.

PGP Whole Disk Encryption had previously passed the UK government's baseline approval process run by the CESG, but has now been certified by the Defence INFOSEC Product Co-operation Group (DIPCOG) forum as approved for use in MoD and military systems. However a disk protected solely by PGP encryption is only allowed to have RESTRICTED (Impact Level 3) information on it.

The British protective markings run from UNCLAS (Impact Level 1-2) to RESTRICTED (Impact Level 3) through CONFIDENTIAL (4), SECRET (5) and TOP SECRET (6).

There are some security products already on the UK market certified to higher levels, for instance Flagstone Enhanced rated for TOP SECRET information - but this requires replacement of a laptop's hard disk with special hardware, which would be overkill for most users. Microsoft's BitLocker, included in some versions of its later operating systems, is (like PGP) only OK'd for RESTRICTED.

According to an MoD statement:

The DIPCOG is pleased to be working again with PGP Corporation, in order to exploit its famous capabilities for information security, and is looking forward to reviewing further [baseline CESG] approved products for adoption by the MoD.

This doesn't mean that PGP isn't any good. The MoD and its advisers from the intelligence community, rightly or wrongly, consider that government information from CONFIDENTIAL upwards might be a target for sophisticated nation-state spy organisations employing highly exotic attacks to get around disk encryption. Thus most security products using normal hardware tend to be limited to RESTRICTED.

But things which in many organisations would be seen as crown jewels - people's personal details, for instance - are classified RESTRICTED in the MoD (albeit usually with an added caveat, eg RESTRICTED STAFF or RESTRICTED MEDICAL, it's still only Level 3). Level 6 is stuff like the planned patrol area of Blighty's nuclear missile submarines.

Unless you think that the Russian FSB are going to lift your crypto keys right out of your RAM using a miracle Tempest probe from the next hotel room or something, PGP and similar solutions should be quite good enough. Arguably the MoD security apparat is being overly paranoid anyway - experience suggests that in fact nothing terribly interesting is normally to be found in MoD files even at the SECRET level, let alone CONFIDENTIAL, and maybe they could relax a bit. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.