Encryption is the process through which data is protected from unwanted eyes. Encryption is the most effective form of data security, but unfortunately it is also an area that very few people know how to approach.
This article will discuss why encryption is important in regards to corporate data security and also discusses a few simple resources that your business can use to get started with encryption.
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Definition of Encryption
Encryption is defined as, “the translation of data into a secret code." Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. Unencrypted data is called plain text; encrypted data is referred to as cipher text (Source).
The data in an encrypted file is scrambled into a complex code that cannot be broken within a reasonable amount of time by any computer on earth. The key (or cipher) to unlock this code is a password that is created by whomever encrypted the file.
Putting Encryption in Context
Encryption is an effective method of protecting your corporate data, in the same way locking the doors to your business is an effective method of preventing trespassers. The hacking and selling of corporate data can be a very lucrative prospect for a potential hacker and, as such, protection against hacking is extremely important.
Leaving company data unencrypted on the company network is the equivalent of leaving your business’ doors unlocked and all of the cash from the week in the register. Once hackers learn that your data is unencrypted, it becomes an easy target.
Comparing hacking (virtual theft) with burglary (physical theft), there is a much higher chance that your business will be hacked than there is that your business will be broken into. According to a recent survey, 90% of businesses say they have been hacked. Burglary statistics vary by region, but are typically extremely low (well under 1%).
The initial damage related to a burglary is obvious, but the damage related to the theft of sensitive company data, such as client lists or payroll information, could be far more deadly than a few thousand dollars in damages from a burglary.
Methods of Encryption
There are numerous ways to incorporate data encryption into your devices and networks. Business managers should speak to their IT departments about the best encryption for their networks and devices.
The simplest form of encryption for Windows based PCs is BitLocker. BitLocker is built into the “Professional” and “Ultimate” editions of Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. Once enabled, it will fully encrypt your hard drive without inconveniencing the user. A free alternative to BitLocker is TrueCrypt. Such methods can be activated for a small fleet of machines with only a few hours of work .
Users on Macintosh-based PCs can use the Mac OS's built-in File Vault software.