What are Your Secrets?

Enigma Machine

We've been on something of a security kick recently. The steady stream of news on information links and compromised systems keeps it a fresh and lively topic! A comprehensive security framework incorporates many components, from simple physical security to protecting the bits themselves. At the center of this latter topic is cryptography.

Protecting information with codes is probably as old as spoken language itself. Codes are ultimately crackable, but we have made it more and more difficult to do so: this is something computers are are very good at. Oracle Solaris has had a cryptographic framework for a long time. We have offered cryptographic accelerators as add-on products, but more recently we have been building encryption into the chips themselves. The idea is to make it so fast and cost so little, why wouldn't you encrypt?

Of course, applications have to know how to use it (that's where the cryptographic framework comes in) and systems have to be configured to integrate it into the solution. Ramesh Nagappan has written a great paper, High Performance Security for Oracle WebLogic Applications Using Oracle SPARC Enterprise T-Series Servers, that provides a very thorough examination of all the pieces, from an overview of the Cryptographic Framework, through a discussion of the on-chip acceleration, to configuration, and ending with actual performance metrics.

If encryption is as fast and inexpensive as this, why wouldn't you – always?

- Kemer

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Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
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