Untitled Document Your organization needs to comply with privacy regulations. Your board of directors knows the business needs to protect sensitive information as it moves between business partners, mobile users and your enterprise. Yet security technologies like encryption are far too complex and far too difficult to deploy on a broad scale.

Actually, that's no longer the case. Leveraging identity-based encryption (IBE) is far easier and more scalable than traditional encryption technologies.

So how exactly did encryption earn its reputation for being too difficult and too costly for widespread use? Let's take a quick look at encryption's evolution, review the difficult early years and examine how today's IBE approach solves the problems from yesteryear.

In a 1995 Carnegie-Mellon University study (popularized in the paper "Why Johnny Can't Encrypt"), sending and receiving encrypted e-mail proved to be too hard for 75 percent of the study's participants. Fast forward 10 years and there seems to have been little progress in this area, as the title of the 2006 follow-on paper, "Why Johnny Still Can't Encrypt," indicates. If encryption isn't practical, there's no point to doing it.

The high cost of using encryption is often connected to the cost of PKI. According to the GAO, US federal agencies typically spend more than $220 per digital certificate during PKI projects. In a few cases, the cost exceeded $1,000 per certificate, even topping $46,000 in one case. It's hard enough to do a convincing ROI calculation for many security technologies - imagine how hard it would be to justify costs like those.

Security expert Dan Geer, currently the chief scientist of Verdasys, once conjectured that the cost of using encryption is roughly the same, no matter what encryption technology you embrace. If you leverage symmetric encryption (technology that uses the same key to both encrypt and decrypt), Geer noted that the cost of granting the keys is high. He also noted that the cost of using asymmetric encryption (technology where one key is used to encrypt and another key to decrypt) is also high. In this case, checking keys for validity before they are used triggers most of the cost. Geer's conjecture tells us that we shouldn't expect to escape the high cost of encryption, regardless of our approach.


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