As data breaches continue to make the headlines, more businesses are looking towards encryption technologies to help them secure their critical assets, both at rest and in transit.
What is Data Encryption?
Data encryption is the method of translating data into another form or code so that access to the data is limited to only those with the correct decryption key (or password). Encrypted data, sometimes referred to as ciphertext, is one of the most popular and widespread forms of data security. If you experience a data breach involving ciphertext, then the attackers will still not be able to see the data.
Common Types of Data Encryption
Asymmetric encryption means that keys come in pairs. This means that you have two keys, one key encrypts and the other decrypts. Often, the keys are interchangeable, but this is not always the case.
Symmetric encryption is a form of encryption that involves only one key for to both encrypt and decrypt the data. The entities communicating via a symmetric data encryption must be able to exchange the key between them so that it can be used in both the encryption and decryption process.
Benefits of Using Encryption Technology for Data Security
Below are 5 simple reasons why adopting a suite of encryption technologies can be beneficial to your organization:
1. Encryption is Cheap to Implement
Pretty much every device and operating system we use today comes with some sort of encryption technology. For example, Microsoft Windows provides a program called BitLocker, which is designed to encrypt entire volumes of your hard disk.
iPhones and Android phones also come with various encryption features built-in, and there are also lots of encryption programs that can be downloaded for free. Some of which include; LastPass – a freemium password manager that stores encrypted passwords online, HTTPS Everywhere – a browser extension which makes web browsing more secure, and TunnelBear – a virtual private network (VPN) which is free until usage reaches a 500mb per month limit.
2. Encryption Can Save You from Regulatory Fines
For regulations, such as the GDPR, there are no explicit requirements for encrypting data, however, “security measures and safeguards” must be put in place to protect the privacy of the data subjects – assuming they are EU citizens. Some data protection regulations, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), require that confidential data is encrypted. As such, if a portable device or drive containing unencrypted ePHI gets lost or stolen, the organization responsible for the data may be subject to fines.
3. Encryption Can Help to Protect Remote Workers
According to a report by Shredit, 86 percent of C-level executives believe that the risk of a data breach is higher when employees work remotely. This is not surprising as many remote workers store confidential data on their devices, and companies have little control over how this data is accessed and shared.
According to survey by information security firm Imation, “two in five respondents said either they, or someone they know, have lost or had stolen a device in a public place”, and many do not use encryption. Again, all confidential data should be encrypted, and remote workers should use a virtual private networks (VPN) to prevent cybercriminals intercepting unsecured public Wi-Fi connections and distributing malware.
4. Encryption Increases the Integrity of Our Data
While using encryption does not typically guarantee the integrity of our data at rest, as data is constantly changing, it can be used to verify the integrity of our backups. Additionally, using digital signatures we can maintain the integrity of our data in transit. This will prevent hackers intercepting communications and tampering with the data, as doing so could be easily checked by the recipient.
5. Encryption Can Increase Consumer Trust
As mentioned previously, for most companies, encryption is not a mandatory regulatory requirement. However, businesses may wish to use encryption to gain trust from their customers. According to a recent survey, “53% of respondents said they were more concerned about online privacy now than a year ago”. Given the erosion of trust that we’ve seen in recent years, advertising the fact that your business is conforming to certain encryption standards could give you a competitive advantage.
The Drawbacks of Encryption
Whilst encryption does have some major advantages, there are numerous drawbacks that you should take into consideration before adopting the strategy. Encrypting all of your files that contain personal data, for example, may make them more secure, but it will also make it near impossible for your employees to get any work done.
File systems are places where employees are constantly creating, moving, modifying, copying and sharing data (in spreadsheets, documents, ppts and more) that they are working on in that present moment. Adding encryption to this could potentially create an untidy work environment that is more difficult to manage.
A Data Protection Must
At Lepide, we fully believe that the only effective method of data protection is full visibility and transparency. If you know where your most sensitive data is, who has access to it and what users are doing with it, you’ll be able to spot and react to potential data breaches immediately. Not only that, but you’ll be able to satisfy compliance audits, streamline operations and much more.
For complete visibility into the security of your data, you’ll need to implement a Data Security Platform that utilizes a data-centric strategy to improve data protection, detect/react to threats and meet compliance. Schedule a demo of Lepide Data Security Platform to see how we can help you protect your data today.