Does your business need encryption?

You only have to do a quick search to find numerous examples of high profile data theft incidents. But those are just the cases hitting the headlines because of the notoriety of the victims or perpetrators.

Every day, businesses from every walk of life face loss of integrity and the financial implications caused by unauthorised access to their systems and databases.

However, weighing up available options and taking simple steps to make the most of the many benefits of encryption, a sophisticated coded algorithm that stores and transfers will greatly reduce any risks of falling victim of a cyber attack.

What is encryption?

Encryption ensures data sent across a network is kept secure. When data is encrypted, it enables it to go unrecognised in transmission. Once it reaches its destination, an algorithm can unscramble the data, otherwise known as encoding.

Do you have adequate protection?

Encryption technology protects any data stored online. It’s known as “ciphertext” and can only be decrypted with a key or password.

Manage the risk and reduce the likelihood of cyber theft by taking the right steps to protect devices and the data stored on them.

How it all started

Encryption technology started as a simple code in the First World War after the Admiralty’s secret intelligence unit Room 40 saw the need to step up its monitoring and code-breaking operations. Codes and ciphers deployed by the armed forces and diplomatic services on all sides were pretty basic. But the awareness for the need for secrecy led to the development of encoded signals using a common codebook. This, in turn, led to enciphered signals for added security.

Back then, codes were sent through telegraph wires. These have since developed into a sophisticated coded mathematical algorithm that allows data to be stored and transferred with little risk involved.

When should you consider encryption?

The list of scenarios where considering the adoption of encryption is important is long and ever growing as our use of technology expands. The most common or typical examples are:

  • Transferring personal data by CD or DVD
  • Transferring personal data by USB device
  • Sending personal data by email
  • Encrypted email
  • Encrypted attachments
  • Digital signatures
  • Backups
  • Sharing personal data online
  • Mobile devices
  • CCTV
  • Photography and video equipment
  • Body Worn Video Devices (BWV)
  • Audio recordings
  • Drones

An IT for an IT

Encryption is the very tool hackers will use to gain unlawful access to your data. So it makes sense to use it when fighting back, whether as a business or an individual. And although encryption won’t protect against all cyber attacks, the technology makes data theft more complicated and difficult for hackers, therefore reducing the risk of attack.

According to security company Gemalto’s Breach Level Index, 1,792 data breaches led to the compromise of almost 1.4 billion data records worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015. That’s nearly 4 million records stolen per day, 157,364 per hour and 2,623 per minute. 

The benefits: Integrity

Often, hackers will not just be looking to steal information. Altering data is also an aim for many. In such cases, if encryption is in use, early detection and response to a breach are more likely.

Security and privacy

Usually, data is most vulnerable when moved from one place to another. Encryption ensures protection by using a system of passwords to restrict access. As a result, encryption ensures anonymity and, therefore, reduce opportunities for criminals.

Protection Across Multiple Devices

Most of us will be in possession of more than one mobile device, and as part of the Internet of Things phenomenon, encryption technology can help protect data and sensitive information across all devices, whether in storage or transit.

GDPR compliance

In the recent wave of enforced GDPR compliance requirements, businesses are seeking to protect the data not only of their company but their customers too. Encryption can be an effective and proactive way to remain compliant with the new legislation.

7 Steps to take

In order to draw benefits from an encryption strategy, it’s important to consider its as a process requiring an end-to-end approach.

1. Collaboration

Involve the entire management team and relevant departments when looking to identify the risks, regulations and laws that will influence your decisions and implementation strategy.

2. Data classification

Leverage encryption as part of your IT package or agreement. Those that don’t will undoubtedly struggle without it. Data classification policies and tools facilitate the separation of valuable information that may be a target.

3. Key management

Protect your keys and certificates. If you don’t your systems will be open to attack from hackers regardless of what security measures you have in place. The first step is to hold an inventory and centrally manage all keys and certificates. It will allow you to identify behaviour anomalies and react with speed.

4. Find the right solution for your needs or environment

Once you have established your key management, evaluate, implement and encrypt solutions. A “try-before-you-buy” approach is often the most effective as each business’s needs are different.

5. Control access

Ensuring only authorised users can access data is critical. Use a combination of passwords, two-factor identification processes, and file permissions, and change these regularly. Also, audit your processes on a regular basis to ensure their validity.

6. Consequences

Develop a written policy that is endorsed by management and communicated to end-users. Encryption responsibility should be fixed and carry consequences for non-compliance.

7. SSL Decryption

Encryption can be incredibly effective when protecting data but it’s also a way to hide threats. Most network security controls cannot decrypt and inspect HTTPS (SSL) traffic. Therefore as more applications turn to SSL encryption to help keep users secure; social media platforms, for example, they are inadvertently hampering the ability to ensure malicious code isn’t making its way into network traffic. Consider SSL decryption technology to ensure visibility into important data at points of ingress and egress.

Mitigate risks and maximise ROI

There are no quick fixes when looking for encryption solutions.  Attacks can happen on even the most secure of systems. The technology we use is available to hackers too. Therefore the need to stay one step ahead and alert is paramount.

An understanding of the benefits of encryption and an enforced strategy incorporating people, process, and technology will go a long way to minimising potential breaches in security. So you can keep ahead of threats while reducing complexity and compliance costs. 

See our range of IT solutions for more information on whether encryption is right for your business.