Air-Gapped Networks and FileCloud Secure Sensitive Data

For companies, organizations, and governments that require absolute security for data, air-gapped networks seem like an obvious choice. This is especially true with the rising rates of cyberattacks, which are becoming ever more costly (think billions of dollars globally) between lost profits over frozen assets and ransoms paid.

This is where an air-gapped network comes into play. Simply put, you can store your data on an internal network that is physically separated from other networks (air is between the servers and other network hardware). There are also no wireless connections to other networks (especially the internet).

An air-gapped network is a compelling solution for organizations handling confidential or sensitive information, like health data, bank records, or defense supply chain schematics.

With this physical separation, your data should stay safe in your isolated network “island.”

Right?

Well, no actually. Let’s dig into what an air-gapped network actually is – then we can understand the challenges that come with using them to secure data in our modern, ultra-connected network landscape.

What is an Air-Gapped Network?

An air-gapped network is a security measure that isolates and limits computer systems from accessing other networks, including unsecured networks such public internet or local area networks. These air-gapped networks are used for systems that require high security to limit breaches and data leakage.

As mentioned above, the traditional air-gapped network is one that physically separates servers from other day-to-day network infrastructure. These servers are usually themselves housed off-site, in a data center or server farm, behind locked doors and gates. This effectively isolates data storage, so that it is safe and secure on this designated “island.”

Often, these air-gapped networks are used for backups, but they can also be used as primary working spaces for groups that handle confidential, classified, or extremely sensitive information.

This data doesn’t exist just for the sake of itself though – people need to leverage data to achieve projects, deliver insights, and provide services. So how do you balance the need to access data with the need to secure it? The more access points you provide, the easier it is to leverage data, which is what you want. At the same time, the more access points, the more vulnerabilities.

The problem is that to use data stored in a traditional, air-gapped network, people must physically connect or even quite literally travel to your “island.” They also can’t leave your island to work on other resources or bring in other data, unless they physically import it. In this case, the import mechanism is likely a dongle or USB drive.

You’re already seeing the problem, aren’t you?

Not only do traditional air-gapped networks create significant access barriers, they also leave the door open for human error or exploitation.

An Air-Gapped Network that Protects and Connects: a Paradox?

The advent of technology has created more modern deployments of an air-gapped network. For example, air-gapping can be achieved within the same network if devices or hardware are physically disconnected. That still invites the issue of people needing to physically access the isolated hardware to view existing data or import new data.

There are also logical air-gapped networks, in which software tools such as role-based access controls and encryption are used to create protected zones within a network. This solution is based on the concept that when bad actors break through (not if), they will not be able to make sense of the data or use it against the original owners.

Maintaining control over data is the name of the game. Physical air-gapped networks are no longer the winning solution though. As with most other avenues in the IT world, we have learned that a combination of hardware and software can help create layers of security. In fact, the industry standard has heavily tilted toward software solutions, thanks to the impact of cloud technology.

The problem now is figuring out the right software solution that can either fit into an air-gapped network strategy or that can support one.

Solution #1 – Create Your Own Software Solution

If a company or organization has a whole team of IT specialists, they can create a unique solution from the ground up that meets their exact needs and specifications. That could work for a while.

The downside? It will be incredibly expensive though and likely difficult to handle as software ages. The IT team either has to proactively improve and expand core functionalities or outsource. However, legacy software tends not to play nice with external tools or feature integrations. Over time, this makes the software less useful. The “ease of access” erodes.

So, all that effort down the drain, and at the rate of technological development, that timeline could be as little as three years.

Solution #2 – Opt for an Integrated Cloud Solution

You could go with a cloud technology solution, which would handle all the maintenance and upgrading for you. A commercial solution would also have the resources to actively create new functionalities and expand integration potential. Ease of access and maintenance: check.

The convenience and storage fees though will eat up an increasing percentage of your budget. A business could go bankrupt trying to scale operations within a cloud solution, especially if they handle a lot of data.

Not to mention, many of these cloud providers can’t provide air-gapped networks, even logical air-gapped networks, because they own the data you store. If it’s in the public cloud, that data is beyond your control. For optimal security and data control, the cloud just isn’t an option.

FileCloud: An Air-Gapped Network Solution that is “Just Right”

FileCloud is the solution you’re looking for. It combines the best of both worlds as an on-premises, self-hosted solution that can be deployed within an air-gapped network while ensuring ease of access for authorized users.

Read our white paper to learn more about air-gapped networks and how to supercharge your hyper-secure access with FileCloud!

We’ve got pro-con lists, we’ve got diagrams, we’ve got technical breakdowns for different scenarios – it’s all here in the white paper.


Download our White Paper to learn how FileCloud works with Air-Gapped Networks.

Air-Gapped Networks with FileCloud - Diagram


If you need more convincing though, here are some of the amazing things you can do in FileCloud. These features can help optimize how you use your data, all while maintaining (and even strengthening) security.

Identity Authentication

The hyper-secure platform provides identity authentication settings such as two-factor authentication, active directory and LDAP integration, Single Sign-on (SSO), and SIEM support.

Encryption

Even if someone tries to steal data, it doesn’t mean they can view or even use what they’ve taken. 256-bit AES encryption secures data at rest and TLS/SLL protocols encrypt data in transit. You can also run FileCloud in FIPS mode, which uses FIPS-level encryption on a FIPS-enabled operating system, for extra security and compliance with regulations.

Granular Permissions

Granular file and folder permissions ensure only authorized users can access certain data. Sharing can also be tightly controlled, through public or private sharing, password-protection, and expiry dates.

Controlled Sharing

Sharing can be carefully monitored by Admins through Data Leak Prevention (DLP) rules that can override any attempted shares with unauthorized users or alert the admin. Maintain control over data even after sharing with FileCloud’s Digital Rights Management feature.

Admin Powers

Admins can also create Admin-users or modify user permissions with role-based access controls (RBAC). This ensures department heads or directors can manage their teams and data access, even as the Admin maintains global controls and protections.

Remote Device Management

This global control extends to connected devices and user accounts. Upon suspicious activity, Admins can block users from access and even remotely wipe devices. No more worrying about that USB you left in the airport or a phone that went missing after being left out on a desk.

Reports & Logs

Admins have maximum visibility over user and file activity through the admin dashboard, where they can run reports, even create custom logs. All activity is captured in comprehensive audit logs that can be exported for internal review or external audit. This feature makes compliance assessments a breeze.

Key Integrations

FileCloud can even be integrated with common tools you already use, like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Outlook, OnlyOffice, Google Docs, Salesforce, Symantec, and ArcSight.

Check out the full FileCloud tour or sign up for a demo!

 

Article written by Katie Gerhardt, Jr. Product Marketing Manager