Data encryption is the practice of translating data into another format, essentially wrapping it in a secret code language that only authorized users possessing the decryption key can unlock and read.
It’s a highly effective and useful method of protecting sensitive data that only 50% of organizations actually use with any degree of consistency.
It is not arcane, expensive, or difficult to implement. Moreover, as cybersecurity becomes more and more necessary, we predict that data encryption will be implemented in 99% of businesses or organizations on the internet.
The only way we can explain this is an information gap. IT leaders, whether in-house our outsourced, must inform their clients better. They should make it clear that data encryption is a core data loss prevention mechanism, without which critical company information is vulnerable. They should recommend data encryption in most cases.
Should you consider encryption technologies for your business?
The short answer is yes. Absolutely, one hundred percent, yes.
To explain why you should embrace an encryption solution with a strong security access policy, this article will explore all the various data encryption benefits and how it provides an essential layer of data security for personal information, sensitive information, and all types of data for that matter.
Security Access Policies: Why You Don’t Want to Undermine the Advantages of Encryption
Security access (or access control) is an essential part of maintaining the integrity of your encryption work because any encryption, no matter how strong, can be completely undone if the wrong people have access to the encryption keys or the decryption keys.
Basically, security access refers to the overall policy that determines who is, or is not, given the keys that unlock the data protection afforded by your encryption algorithm. If the wrong people – without proper training or who have not been thoroughly vetted – have access to the keys that can decrypt the code into which your data has been wrapped, then all of it means nothing.
Ensuring you have a strong access control policy is a step that must be taken before you adopt company-wide data encryption.
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The Difference Between Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption
While you may have heard these two terms bandied about at an IT water cooler in the past, here’s a refresher course on what they each mean.
In short, symmetric encryption only requires one key to encrypt and decrypt the coded information.
This key is then shared with all authorized people (security access is again important here). This method of encryption is quicker and easier to perform than the asymmetric version but is slightly less secure.
It’s most commonly used in applications where processing speed is a factor, such as credit card payment transactions (which meets PCI DSS compliance standards) or personal backup drives.
This method of encrypting data is also known as public-key cryptography and uses two separate keys rather than one.
Here, only authorized people receive the decryption key while the encryption key is made public. This offers more security than symmetric encryption but is known to slow down certain processes within certain transactions, networks and tools.
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5 Benefits of Encryption for Protecting Business Data
Here are the five main advantages of encryption for businesses:
1. It’s Inexpensive
Encryption tools are a technology that have become widespread and are easily accessible.
Most operating systems include encryption tools (such as BitLocker for Microsoft Windows, Android and IoS built-in encryption features) and encryption programs that can be downloaded or used without any cost.
Mobile operating systems make the benefits of encrypting your phone easy to come by, and offer worthwhile protection.
Whatever your encryption needs are, either you or your IT managed service provider can easily acquire and implement them.
2. Protection from Regulatory Fines
Many regulatory bodies (like PCI and HIPAA, for instance) require the use of some level of encryption.
If a data storage device containing personal customer information, or any other such regulated information, goes missing, is stolen or is audited by a regulatory body, you could be subject to hefty fines.
Encrypting that information means that even if a data breach or a theft were to occur, the offending party still wouldn’t be able to access the information.
3. Protecting Companies and Employees Who Work Remotely
The simple fact of data security and remote work is that remote employees will use their personal device to access company data. Whether this is done on a mobile device or a personal computer, it’s almost a certainty.
This means that if their device is stolen, hacked, or otherwise compromised, so too is your company data.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one reliable way to encrypt any sensitive data you want to keep safe, and should be enacted company-wide.
Furthermore, providing additional encryption measures for your employees (such as the encrypted password managed LastPass) adds another layer of data protection.
4. It Lends Additional Integrity to Company Data
In today’s high tech world, everyone is at least somewhat concerned over the safety of their data. Mostly this is because many people don’t understand how hackers operate, how data technology actually works, and what’s important when it comes to cyber security.
However, it’s easy to explain the value of encryption because mostly everyone will understand the concept of creating a code that must be unlocked using a specific key.
Customers, employees, and shareholders all rest easier knowing that their data is categorically safe from cyber criminals and network attacks.
5. Increased Consumer Trust
For most businesses – financial and healthcare industries aside – having your data encrypted is not, strictly speaking, a regulatory requirement.
However, being able to say that all data you collect from your customers is encrypted can go a long way to developing a higher level of trust between you and your clients.
Considering how much of our world is online these days, anything you can do to heighten the level of trust between you and your customers is a good thing.
Gaining the Benefits of Encryption With a Qualified IT Managed Service Provider
Here at Power Consulting, we have years of experience implementing cyber security solutions for our clients, encrypting all the data they need protected.
For more information about how our security experts can bring the advantages of encryption to your business, contact us today for a free consultation.