Backup tapes are being neglected by administrators, according to a study conducted jointly by security vendor Thales Group and Trust Catalyst.

The results of the survey of 330 large enterprises worldwide showed that 35 per cent don’t know if they will encrypt their backup tapes.

Failure to have a backup tape encryption plan could place an organization’s data at risk, leading it into a breach of compliance – and possible heavy financial losses.

Kevin Bocek, director of product marketing at Thales, said storage departments were often more concerned with the cost and speed of data recovery than with encryption.

Enterprises also felt they lacked access to technology adequate for enterprise-grade tape encryption.

"Traditionally, storage has been a domain in and of itself, and IT security has been focusing on front-facing business applications, so they don’t pay that much attention to security," he said.

"Previously, tape encryption technology used to be bolted on or would be an application used for general backup, and some didn’t trust those to encrypt their tapes for backup."

The situation is changing, as more and more applications come with built-in encryption. However, a new problem then emerges – managing the encryption keys.

If these are lost, then so is the data.

The Thales study found that most people do not know where to store their encryption keys. More than 40 per cent of the survey’s respondents answered that they didn’t know where to store keys for seven out of 13 encryption apps.

Most of the remainder stored their encryption keys in software or on a disk, while very few stored the keys in a dedicated appliance.

Key management issues would continue to be an issue for backup media, according to Bocek.

Subscribe to our Newsletter