Why is data encryption necessary?
The purpose of data encryption is to maintain the confidentiality of your data regardless of whether it is in storage devices, on computer systems, or while being transmitted through public or private networks.
So long as your data is well encrypted, any cybercriminal who manages to get past your IT security and steal your data won’t be able to decipher it, rendering their loot useless.
With ever-increasing transmission of and access to data over the open internet, it’s more important than ever to ensure critical business data is encrypted in transit and while at rest.
Additionally, some key reasons your organization needs to ensure your data is appropriately encrypted include:
With encryption, no unauthorized personnel will be able to read data or communications in a given system unless they are the intended recipient or owner of the data.
It makes it difficult to deny the validity of a message’s integrity and authenticity.
Regardless of whether your data is in transit, at rest, or in storage, encryption will help prevent data breaches.
Data authentication allows the original location of a message to be verified and can be achieved with public-key encryption, ensuring that the owner of a site is the valid owner and has the private key listed in the website’s TLS certificate.
Data encryption also helps maintain data integrity by preventing on-path attacks, among other things. This type of protection assures that the person receiving the transmitted data hasn’t been tampered with while in transit.
Many industry and government regulations require organizations to encrypt data to protect their customers’ private data adequately.
In this way, following data encryption best practices can help your company maintain compliance with something like payment card industry (PCI) compliance and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
Challenges facing modern data encryption
The challenges to data encryption are ever-changing as cybercriminals continue to adapt to modern data security practices.
The most basic and common form of attack against encryptions is brute force, where the attacker tries to enter random keys/passwords until the correct one is found. Brute force attacks almost always rely on automation; otherwise, they’d be too time-consuming.
Alternative methods for breaching encryption securities include cryptanalysis. The attacker hunts for a weak spot in the cipher and then exploits it, and side-channel attacks, where the attacker aims to sabotage the implementation of the encryption itself.
Best encryption software programs
There are three main types of data encryption software programs, all of which are explored below with examples your business can consider using.
Full Disk Encryption
Also known as whole disk encryption, this secures data that’s considered “at rest” in devices like your computer or phone. This type of encryption can prevent unauthorized users—even the device makers—from accessing data stored on their disks.
- Microsoft BitLocker — Microsoft Windows device encryption software. BitLocker protects your device’s data by encrypting entire volumes rather than just individual files or folders. By default, it uses AES encryption with a 128-bit or 256-bit key.
- IBM Guardium — Provides a data security platform for structured data within databases and data warehouses. By default, IBM Guardium automates critical data and risk discovery, visibility into all transactions and protocols, and enables sensitive data protection with real-time monitoring, alerting, blocking, and quarantining.
- Trend Micro Endpoint Encryption — Encrypts data on a large selection of devices, including PCs, Macs, Desktops, external drives, and other forms of data. Combines file-disk, file, and removable data encryption to protect against cyber criminals trying to gain private data.
- Sophos SafeGuard Encryption — With SafeGuard, all data created in your systems is automatically encrypted. This synchronized, always-on encryption proactively secures data through continuous user and application validation. Also, it checks the security integrity of a given device before granting access to encrypted information.
- Apple FileVault — Uses XTS-AES encryption with a 256-bit key to delivering strong full-disk encryption. Comes on all Mac devices.
Encrypted File Sharing
Also known as encrypted file transfer, this protects files in transit from one system or device and another. Even if a cybercriminal can intercept the file, the encryption will prevent them from accessing its contents.
- Citrix ShareFile — A solution that allows your business to send and share secure files. It also allows for real-time collaboration with your internal team and clients.
- AxCrypt — This file-sharing encryption solution uses 128-bit or 256-bit keys, allows for collaboration, and automatically secures files on the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.). You can also view your encrypted files on mobile devices with their app.
- Kruptos 2 — uses 256-bit AES encryption to secure sensitive files and folders of your Windows, Mac, and Android devices. Comes with an inbuilt file shredder, random password generator, and more.
This involves encrypting email messages and attachments so that only intended recipients can read and understand their content. A good email encryption solution should simplify the encryption process and not interrupt the email service user experience.
- Proofpoint — Automatically encrypts email messages and attachments so that you don’t have to encrypt each email you send and receive manually—the entire process occurs in the background.
- Avanan Cloud Email Security — An email encryption solution built specifically for the cloud. It’s easy to configure, connects to various cloud applications (Slack, Google Drive, etc.), and allows for collaboration.
Egress Intelligent Email Security — Corporate email security platform utilizes contextual machine learning, encryption, and analytics tech to secure your data. It’s designed to prevent human-generated data breaches from both within and outside your organization, secure sensitive data, and helps identify areas of risk across your business’s email network.
Encryption is only one part of your IT security
While utilizing encryption programs is excellent for improving your organization’s IT security, it’s important to remember that it’s only one piece of a complete IT security plan.
Your business should have rules, policies, and protocols in place for handling critical data in a variety of situations, whether your employees are on-premise, working from home, or are fully remote.
- What is data encryption? — It’s the process of encrypting text so that it’s unreadable to unauthorized users. You can encrypt data at different levels, including files, folders, volumes, drives, and disks. It’s also possible to encrypt files on the cloud.
- What’s the point of data encryption? — The point is to keep private data private, regardless of whether the data is being stored, is at rest in a device, or is in transit. It’s like a second line of defense against cybercriminals who manage to intercept your private data—they may be able to have their cake, but they won’t be allowed to eat it, too.
- Two main types of encryption — Symmetric and asymmetric encryption are the two primary types. Symmetric encryption secures data with a single private key, while asymmetric encryption uses two keys, one that’s private and one that’s private.
- Bits and encryption — The potential or inherent strength of an encryption key is dependent on its length, which is measured in bits. The more bits a key has, the stronger it can be.
- Other types of encryption — The other types of encryption include data encryption standard (DES), Triple DES, RSA, secure socket layer (SSL), and transport layer security (TLS).
- The necessity of data encryption — Data encryption is necessary because data security breaches are becoming more common. Encryption helps maintain data privacy, security, integrity, and authenticity. It’s also essential to adhere to government and industry regulations regarding how businesses handle customer/user data.
- Data encryption challenges — Brute force attacks are the most common threat to encryptions, but other methods of attack have been developed, including cryptanalysis and side-channel attacks.
- Types of encryption software programs — There are three types of encryption solutions: full disk, file sharing, and email. Full disk solutions protect data that’s at rest in devices like your computer or phone. File sharing encryption solutions safeguard files that are in transit from one system or device to another. Email encryption solutions protect the messages and attachments in your email platforms.
Using data encryption to protect your business’s private data
Many individual users need little more than standalone encryption solutions to sufficiently secure their system and device data. Still, SMBs and larger organizations have to think about encryption with their entire IT security strategy in mind.
A good encryption solution should integrate with your systems seamlessly so that it doesn’t take up much mental space, if any; you shouldn’t have to “enter a password” every single time you want to access encrypted data. Such solutions might secure data, but they’re a pain to use.
If tackling data encryption seems too daunting to get a handle on, don’t worry. It doesn’t need to be something your organization handles on its own—the same goes for all your IT security needs.
If you’re unsure which encryption solution is the right fit for your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and inquire about our Managed IT Security Services.
We’ll take a comprehensive look at your current IT security and partner with you to pinpoint which solutions are best suited for your unique business situation.