I am an Information Security Analyst, trying to understand the difference between data in transit and data in motion. I found the listed below definitions:

Data In Transit is defined as data moving outside of the server such as between client and server, server to server, web app server to DB server and vice/versa.

Data In Motion is defined as being in preparation of transmission, moving around or place to place on or within the server itself but not transiting off of the server, or sometimes between servers when the connection between servers is a direct private connection such as data moving from server to SAN/NAS, not over a traditional LAN.

Reference - http://commonsensesecurity.net/difference-data-transit-data-motion

What security controls need to be in place to protect data in motion which are different than data in transit?

2 Answers 2


Memory protection schemes(DEP,ASLR,etc), I/O protections(e.g. guards against write-corruption), buffer/cache clearing, etc are a couple examples of controls to protect data in motion.

Basically: any controls that are concerned with maintaining data integrity and security while it is resident within a computer system but not at rest, rather than while it is transiting between systems, is a control for data in motion.

Think of defending against Spectre versus defending against a network MitM attack.

To address the observations in the linked article; yes, data in motion controls are not usually concerned with cryptographic protections.

As an example data flow:

  1. [data on disk](at rest) >>
  2. [program reads](now in 'motion') >>
  3. [prepares to send over network](still in motion) >>
  4. [sent data now "on the wire"](in transit) >>
  5. [received by other system](now in motion again) >>
  6. [writing to disk](still in motion) >>
  7. [written to disk successfully](now at rest)

I've never heard a distinction made between them in my long career in security. The distinction was always "data at rest, data in motion." Synonyms are ok.

The source you reference states "you will find that in transit and in motion are about the same." You should take that to heart, and not try to draw a distinction between them or the controls to protect data when its moving, in motion or in transit.

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