Rosie.Schmedding at csiro.au Rosie.Schmedding at csiro.au
Thu Mar 6 09:49:43 EST 2003

March 6, 2003 Ref 03/45




If your company's data is really precious you should put it on the Internet according to CSIRO researchers, Paul Greenfield and Paul Watters. 

They are developing technologies to allow collaborators in virtual enterprises to safely and securely store data on the Internet.

"Developments in Web Services, Grid computing and advanced networking are turning the Internet into a worldwide platform for distributed applications, services and information," says Paul Greenfield. 

"A consequence of this is that businesses can use the Internet to form short-lived virtual enterprises to meet the needs of a single project or contract.

"Imagine virtual enterprises that crystallise into existence on the Internet to take advantage of a short-term opportunity then disperse without compromising the security of their confidential data holdings.

"These enterprises will use distributed computing and data storage resources to do business and each organisation will retain absolute control of their data."

Partners in a virtual enterprise may be both collaborators and competitors at the same time, so they need a neutral way of securely sharing data that does not transfer effective ownership or control to any one partner.

"This is not a response to lack of storage space," says Paul Watters. "Data storage is so cheap now that most organisations can easily afford all the disk space they need."

"It's about providing intelligent storage systems that take into account the security and flexibility needs of enterprises - especially when they need to share data and business processes."

Internet data storage is only useful if information is absolutely safe, completely private and always retrievable. Some of the issues in making this scenario a reality include securing data keys, ensuring quality of service and legal
matters of trust.

Secure file storage on the Internet works by breaking data files and objects into encrypted, erasure-resistant fragments that are replicated and stored randomly across a global network of data storage servers. No single server keeps
information about what original data it is holding or how to reconstruct it, safeguarding the data from prying administrators and system owners.

Details about how fragments are stored are derived from a secure key given out only to authorised users. Only users who have been provided with the key are able to retrieve and decrypt the blocks making up the files.

There are additional benefits to organisations in storing data on the Internet. As well as being easier to share, the data is readily available even if one or more storage servers are shut down or fail.

"The data is also effectively more tamper-proof than data that resides on a disk," says Mr Greenfield.

"Making files tamper proof and 'non-repudiable' is an important feature for e-commerce. The integrity of documents such as invoices, receipts and health records must be guaranteed. Our system will detect discrepancies between the original
and the reconstructed files and trace any suspected tampering."

Prototypes of CSIRO's Internet data storage system have been completed and research is now underway in areas such as optimally distributing and retrieving fragments, securing data keys and ensuring data consistency.

More information:

Paul Greenfield 02 9325 3253

paul.greenfield at csiro.au 0410 620 154

Paul Watters 02 9325 3267

paul.watters at csiro.au 0416 030 779

Media assistance:

Tom McGinness 02 9325 3227

tom.mcginness at csiro.au 0419 419 210

www.cmis.csiro.au/nat <http://www.cmis.csiro.au/nat> 

Images are available for this media release at www.cmis.csiro.au/mediapics.htm <http://www.cmis.csiro.au/mediapics.htm>

Paul Greenfield will be speaking on 'The Future of Web Services'

at the CSIRO Macquarie Technology Trends Seminar Series 

Monday 10 March 5:30 PM

CSIRO Mathematical & Information Sciences

Room 136, Building E6B, Ground Floor, 

Macquarie University, Herring Rd, North Ryde.

Entry: free

Refreshments and networking afterwards

Details: <http://internet.csiro.au/trends> 

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