Encryption – The Best Defense For Your data

Do you know why encryption should be your first line of defense?

Encryption is one of those words we use a lot in the software industry, and for good reason. When it comes to protecting your data, it is our first, and best, security solution. But if you don’t operate in a tech environment like we do, you might be wondering what encryption is, and why it’s so important for your company.

Encryption is converting your sensitive data into an indecipherable code to ensure its security in transit or in storage. For someone to read an encrypted file, they need access to the secret key (or password) that allows the data to be decrypted. Without the key, the data just appears to be scrambled text – utterly useless to prying eyes.

Even knowing that encryption is a valuable tool for protecting data, some companies question whether it’s the solution for them. So we want to address a few of the common misconceptions surrounding encryption.

Encryption is too costly and complicated:
Cost is one of the first concerns companies have when it comes to IT security, and understandably so. But encryption doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. There are a number of solutions that streamline the process and even have transparent integration with your existing software.  And when weighed against the cost of dealing with a data breach, which can result in potential fines, loss of client trust and even lawsuits, the cost is actually quite inexpensive.

Encryption is only for health care providers or other companies with government mandated compliance regulations:
By now we’ve all heard of compliance regulations like HIPAA which require data to be encrypted and kept private by government mandate. But while the data you collect and store may not be as sensitive as patient health information, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be encrypted. If you’re collecting any data – customer names and addresses, employee data, or competitive market information, you should be utilizing encryption, even if it’s not legally mandated.

Encryption will slow down your processes:
As long as the encryption of your data is implemented correctly, you can minimize its affect on system performance. Most servers do not run at full capacity to ensure that added activity doesn’t cripple your applications. And most applications have been fine tuned to optimize their performance even in an encrypted environment. So encryption shouldn’t significantly alter the speed at which your data is delivered and processed.

Encrypting alone is enough to secure data:
While encrypting your data is the first step to protecting your data, it’s important to realize that your security is only as good as your key. If someone gets the key to a locked office building, those high-tech locks will quickly give way and allow entry. The same goes for encryption. If you’re not protecting the keys used to decipher your data, there’s a strong chance you’ll experience a breach. Encryption keys should never be stored on the same server as the data they’re protecting. It’s important to have policies in place for who has access to your encryption keys and where they are stored, to ensure your data’s security.

Encrypted data can’t be stolen:
Recent security breaches prove that even encrypted data can be stolen. You should actually expect that at some point someone will attempt to access and steal your data. The point of encryption isn’t to protect your data from being stolen, it’s to protect stolen data from being read. Since encrypted data can’t be read without the key, as long as your encryption keys are secure, a data breach doesn’t need to be catastrophic to your company.

Encryption doesn’t work in the cloud:
Contrary to popular belief, storing your encrypted files in the cloud can actually be safer than keeping a physical copy on your premises. Most cloud-based storage solutions include encryption options, and keeping your data off-site reduces the risk of insider access to sensitive files. But when storing your data in the cloud, it’s important to be in control of your own encryption keys, rather than allowing the cloud provider to manage them.

As data is the lifeblood of most businesses, it’s vital that you secure your company’s and customer’s sensitive information. If you have not yet explored the option of encrypting your data, or if you’re looking to improve the overall security of your data, we can provide you with a solution that is tailor fit to your company’s needs.