HP's Atalla security business has been building solutions for financial services clients since 1973. A lot has changed in the security landscape over the last 40 years, and some of the biggest changes have occurred just in the last year, with the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the recent spate of retail security breaches.

Snowden has repeatedly noted that encryption is the key to better security in a world with increased surveillance. Though Snowden is having an impact on user awareness about encryption, there are other factors at play as well.

"The increased end-user awareness around encryption in 2014 has been driven more by high-profile breaches in the retail sector and the focus placed on the importance of protecting payment data/transactions as a result," Albert Biketi, general manager of HP Atalla, told eSecurity Planet. "Media and industry attention on all elements of security has resulted in a more aware consumer, who is becoming increasingly familiar with security technology and applications."

Biketi added that enterprises also have an increased awareness of the various threat vectors they need to deal with and plan for, creating a need for security and data protection strategies that also encompass the privileged insider or IT administrator.

High-profile cyberattacks against Target and eBay, among others, is also raising the bar on what compliance can achieve. Biketi noted that there is now an increasing awareness that minimum compliance with the PCI-DSS data security standard does not guarantee that a breach will not occur. PCI-DSS, which was updated in January of this year to version 3, provides a baseline level of security controls and practices which an organization much have in place in order to be compliant.

"As a result, there is more interest in best practices and best solutions that can provide stronger controls and monitoring within an enterprise," Biketi said.

Encryption technology

HP this week announced a number of new solutions to help organizations better secure themselves in the new threat landscape. Among the new solutions is the HP Secure Encryption with HP Enterprise Secure Key Manager (ESKM) 4.0 system.

"HP Secure Encryption separates high performance encryption, which runs inside a smart array controller inside ProLiant servers, and highly automated, available and scalable enterprise key management which runs inside an enterprise secure key manager," Biketi explained. "This separation ensures that server admins with root access never have access to encryption keys."

Biketi said HP Secure Encryption and ESKM technology now supports data-at-rest encryption without application impact or loss of performance. The system also has a high degree of automation and simplicity for initial deployment and routine tasks. Additionally, ESKM 4.0 has support for both HP and non-HP encryption solutions via the OASIS Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) standard, which HP helped create from inception.

HP also announced the HP Atalla Cloud Encryption technology platform, which will support Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware. Support for the HP Helion cloud platform is currently in the works.

"Today, we are inviting customers interested in using this solution for their HP Cloud workloads to reach out to us for a pre-invitation," Biketi said.

Encryption challenges

There are a number of challenges enterprises face when adopting encryption technology.

Education and awareness are two of the top challenges, according to Biketi. He said that companies have to assume their environments have already been breached and they need to prepare accordingly. Organizations also need to understand that proper management of encryption keys is critical to protect data, and there is a requirement to implement an encryption approach in practice.

"Encryption algorithms and technology are known and broadly available today. However, to implement properly, at scale, and without impacting performance and infrastructure, is key," Biketi said. "This is why HP announcements around HP Secure Encryption with ESKM are so important to encryption adoption."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist