NSA extends label-based security to big data stores

The US National Security Agency is submitting a database it has developed for Apache open source development

The National Security Agency has submitted new label-based data store software, called Accumulo, to the Apache Software Foundation, in hopes that other parties will further develop the technology for use in secure systems.

"There is a need for a flexible, high performance distributed key/value store that provides expressive, fine-grained access labels," the developers stated on the proposal page submitted to Apache. "We have made much progress in developing this project over the past [three] years and believe both the project and the interested communities would benefit from this work being openly available and having open development."

Based on Google BigTable design, Accumulo is a simple key/value data store, where providing the system with the key will return the data associated with that key. A distributed design, Accumulo can be run across multiple servers, making it a candidate for use in big data systems.

Plenty of NoSQL-based key/value data stores already exist, such as Cassandra and HBase. What sets Accumulo apart is the ability to tag each data cell with a label. Each key has a section called column visibility, which can store labels. The labels could be used to allow fine-grained access to the data, where an external server may access some cells of the data store, but not others, based on policy rules set in place and defined by a set of labels.

Read Big Data - Part 1.

"The access labels in Accumulo do not in themselves provide a complete security solution, but are a mechanism for labeling each piece of data with the authorizations that are necessary to see it," the proposal stated.

Such label-based data storage could be the basis of secure data store-based systems, ones that could be used by health care, government agencies and other parties with stringent security and privacy requirements, the developers state.

NSA's label-based approach to security resembles another open source project NSA developed and released in 2000, called Security Enhanced Linux (SE Linux). With SE Linux, administrators can create policies that dictate, in fine-grained detail, what actions each program on a computer can execute. Red Hat has integrated SE Linux into its Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution.

Already the software was attracted "hundreds of developers," using the database, primarily within the NSA, according to the agency. The software itself has about 200,000 lines of code, most based on Java. In addition to the code, NSA pledges to post examples, documentation and training materials on the Apache site.

The agency wants to build a wider base of both contributors and users.

The Apache Incubator is the entry point for new projects that developers hope to have Apache manage. Accumulo runs on top of a number of other Apache programs, namely the Hadoop distributed data platform, the Zookeeper distributed application configuration manager, and the Thrift services development tool.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourcedatabasessoftwareapplicationsApache Software Foundation

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?