What Are Open Standards?
When an organization sets up its information systems and exposes them, internally and externally, it needs to decide if those systems will embrace open standards or will use a proprietary code base.
Making the right choice here can significantly impact how a business operates, as a solution that uses open standards is much more likely to provide the scale and capabilities you require to future-proof your business. Yet, businesses too often fail to give sufficient thought to open-source decisions.
This blog post argues that businesses need to give greater thought around open standards during initial design phases to do so. Once a business begins to go down the path of a non-open-standards approach, you lock yourself into a proprietary framework that lacks the flexibility your business needs to scale.
What Are Open Standards?
Open standards are rules or specifications that anyone can use to create products and services without restrictions. They empower organizations to choose their solutions rather than being forced to work with a proprietary product or service.
Open standards allow others to make compatible products, so they’re not locked into just one company’s software or hardware. They promote compatibility, interoperability, and innovation. This is an important concept for an increasingly digitized world.
Open Standards vs. Open Source
Oftentimes, open source and open standards are used interchangeably. However, they are two different concepts that serve different purposes. The difference is that open standards do not require using any particular software.
Instead, it’s about a common set of rules for how information should be exchanged between systems. For instance, HTML is an open standard that was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C creates new versions of HTML to improve how information is displayed on devices like smartphones and tablets.
There are also multiple browsers with their own HTML rendering engines, which removes the need for organizations to worry about whether individuals or organizations can see your systems and information properly.
The Benefits of Open Standards
Open standards provide a common way for people to use technology and make it easier for them to do so. One of the most important benefits of open standards is that they are more affordable than proprietary ones. This is because there are no royalties associated with open standards, and companies can work with each other without paying any licensing fees.
Another benefit of using open standards is that they support innovation by allowing new ideas to be easily explored. This means that developers have more opportunities to create unique content without worrying about whether their idea will be compatible with everyone else’s content.
Finally, if you’re an entrepreneur, using open standards can help you reduce your costs because you don’t have to spend money on licensing fees or pay a royalty on each product sold. As you can see, open standards offer numerous benefits.
If you haven’t already started implementing these in your own projects, now is a perfect time! There are countless benefits from doing so, and it’s never been easier, thanks to free licenses like Creative Commons licenses.
Even if you’ve been working with open standards for years, take some time today to educate yourself on how this type of approach can benefit your company even more in the long run.
How Are Open Standards Developed?
There are many ways that open standards are developed, but the most common is called The Standards Development Lifecycle.
The first step in this process is to identify a need or opportunity and then develop a conceptual framework of what the standard could be. This stage is where the standards committee will work together to define which features should be included in the standard, how they should interact with each other, and what kind of data formats will be used.
Once these decisions have been made, it’s time for consultations with experts worldwide before submitting them for public comment. Once all comments have been addressed, they can finally be adopted as an official standard!
Why Encryption Benefits From Open Standards?
Encryption is the process of encoding data in a way that prevents unauthorized users from viewing it. One of the most important elements of encryption is ensuring that only authorized people can view the information. This means that any device or person accessing your information needs to have the appropriate key or keypair to decode it.
In an open-standards system, anyone with access to the algorithm and keypair can access and read the encrypted information. In closed standards systems, the keys are not shared and therefore not available for distribution on a wider scale. If you lose the key or forget it, you may be out of luck and unable to get access to your own data.
Additionally, if someone or another organization obtains your private key, they will be able to decrypt all future messages sent through that same channel. For these reasons, open standards should always be preferred over closed ones when encrypting personally identifiable information (PII).
Whether you’re communicating sensitive financial details or confidential business information, the security of this information largely depends on the protection of your private key. The importance of protecting your sensitive data outweighs the convenience and ease-of-use advantages that come with closed standards.
To counter these risks, strong encryption measures need to be taken. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which was originally adopted by the U.S. federal government, is the accepted standard for securing data and needs to be part of every organization’s integrated risk management strategy.
What Is OpenPGP?
OpenPGP is an open and free version of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) standard that defines encryption formats to enable private messaging abilities for email and other message encryption.
The standard uses the public key infrastructure (PKI) to create keys that are bound to individual email addresses and uses symmetric encryption based on elliptical curve cryptography. Compliant applications generate a random key that is encrypted with the public receive key.
That process creates an encrypted message that contains both the data and the encrypted key. The receiver decrypts the key and uses its private key to retrieve the original random key and decrypt data.
What Is S/MIME?
Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (S/MIME) is an email encryption and signing industry standard widely used by corporations to enhance email security. S/MIME is compatible with most enterprise email clients.
In simple terms, S/MIME encrypts and digitally signs emails to ensure that the email is authenticated and its contents have not been altered in any way.
How Does S/MIME Work?
S/MIME works based on asymmetric encryption. This means that there is a set of keys involved to encrypt and decrypt an email.
An S/MIME certificate is installed on the email clients of both the recipient and the sender. When an email is sent, the sender encrypts the email using the recipient’s public key, and the recipient decrypts the email using the private key. S/MIME also attaches a digital signature to an email. This ensures that the sender is authorized to send emails from a certain domain.
Using Open Standards for Sensitive Content Communications
Open standards are an important part of the internet infrastructure and can help keep the internet accessible for everyone. These standards create interoperability between different types of technologies so that people, companies, and organizations from all over the world can share information with one another. There is no need to worry about who has what type of device as long as you are using open standards. The next time you build a new website or application, be sure to use open web standards!
The Kiteworks Private Content Network is built on open standards, enabling Kiteworks developers to integrate their sensitive content communications—secure email, file sharing, managed file transfer (MFT), web forms, and application programming interfaces (APIs)—with their legacy technology investments. Kiteworks unifies, tracks, controls, and secures all your sensitive content communications to establish granular content risk policies that govern security and compliance risks.
Schedule a custom demo to see the Kiteworks Private Content Network in action.