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NSA Label-based System Could Secure Big Data

The National Security Agency has submitted its new, label-based data store software to the Apache Software Foundation, in hopes that others will further develop it for use in secure systems.

Called Accumulo, the software uses "expressive, fine-grained" labels that can tag each cell in a data store. Security policies can then be applied to the individual labels to, for example, allow an external server to access some cells but not others.

Based on Google's Big Table design, Accumulo is a simple key/value data store, where providing the system with the key will return any data associated with that key. Featuring a distributed design, Accumulo can be run across multiple servers, making it a good candidate for managing big data systems, the NSA said.

"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 NSA said in its proposal to Apache .

With improvements from other developers, Accumulo could be capable of serving as the foundation of data stores used by healthcare companies, government agencies and other organizations that must meet stringent security and privacy requirements, the NSA said.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.


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