With advancements in computer technology, data breaches are more common more than ever.
Today, hackers know they can leverage compromised information through the dark web or use it for other malicious activities such as identity theft and blackmail.
Fortunately, you can protect your data using encryption technology, which is becoming widely available.
Encryption technology uses a scrambled code to protect your information through cryptography and ensures that only people with the decoding key can read the information.
It can help to protect all kinds of data, including running logs, text messages on your smartphone, and even banking information transmitted through online accounts.
How Does Encryption work?
Data encryption involves taking plain texts such as emails and text messages and scrambling them to a format that’s not readable.
That protects the confidentiality of the data, whether stored in a computer or transmitted through online networks.
When the intended user of the data receives it, the information is deciphered back to its original format. The process is called decryption.
However, both the recipient and the sender will need to have a secret encryption key to unlock the message.
The encryption key features a collection of algorithms with the ability to scramble and unscramble data when required.
Types of Encryption
Depending on the user’s security needs, there are several types of encryption techniques available on the market today. The most common examples include:
Data Encryption Standard (DES)
DES is known as a low-level encryption technique established by the U.S government in 1977.
However, the standard is essentially obsolete in today’s market due to advances in technology and the need for high-level security for sensitive data.
Getting its name from the initials of the three computer geniuses who invented it, this encryption standard uses a strong algorithm for encrypting data.
The standard is popular due to the key length, making it widely used in transmitting secure data.
This type of encryption runs DES encryptions three times. It encrypts, decrypts and encrypts your data again, strengthening the original DES standard.
Most legitimate sites on the internet today uses a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) – a form of encrypting the data being transmitted to and from a website.
To ensure you’re conducting online transactions in a secure and encrypted site, check for the padlock icon next to a site’s URL.
It’s always a good idea to ensure you’re using sites with SSL encryption when:
- Storing or sending sensitive data on a website. That includes when carrying out tasks such as filing tax returns, driving license renewal, making purchases, or conducting other personal business.
- When your job requires it. That’s because some companies may have data encryption protocols or maybe under regulations that call for data encryption. In these cases, data encryption is a must.
Why Encryption Matters?
#1 It Supports Data Integrity
Using encryption technology to protect your data helps increase the integrity of that information.
While encryption alone doesn’t guarantee that, it’s something you should do as part of your overall strategy.
Keep in mind that it’s easier to make confident business decisions if you can trust the data.
According to statistics, poor data quality is the main reason why 40% of business initiatives fail to achieve the targeted benefits.
With high-quality information, you can learn more about the market and your customers, track trends, and find things you might have missed.
That’s why most companies deploy techniques such as data cleansing to authenticate and improve the quality of their data.
Encryption can also help to ensure that only authorized personnel can access an organization’s information for analysis.
It can also help to minimize the likelihood of hackers successfully tampering with the data and the action going unnoticed.
#2 Keeps you safer when working remotely
With companies such as online casino and health care sectors now frequently hiring remote workers, encryption devices are becoming a must due to incidents such as data theft.
That’s not surprising, considering how technological advancements are making it easy to ensure that employees remain productive from anywhere.
According to a 2018 North American Report, many business leaders believe that data breach risks are heightened when people work remotely.
That view is especially shared by 60% of SME owners and at least 85% of C-suite executives.
Nonetheless, data encryption is essential in stopping data from falling into the wrong hands, whether you work remotely or you occasionally need the internet.
#3 Helps to avoid regulatory fines
Depending on the industry and specific guidelines set by the regulatory authorities, data encryption may become mandatory to protect the users’ data.
For instance, the online casino and health care sectors must use modern data encryption protocols to conform to the privacy laws.
Noncompliant organizations may receive significant fines from the regulatory authority.
In June 2018, a $4.3 million penalty was imposed on the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas for violating an Act on the health insurance portability, commonly known as HIPAA.
Their trouble started back in 2012 after the records of 30,000 patients got stolen on a laptop from an employee’s house. There two other instances of data theft by 2013 through misplaced thumb drives.
The organization got a huge fine because the hardware containing the data wasn’t encrypted.
As such, the judge brought up glaring oversight issues when issuing the fine, since such sensitive information should have been encrypted.
Such incidents not only affect an organization’s profits but also lead to bad publicity that makes people have second thoughts before transacting with such companies.
#4 It safeguards your privacy
If you consider the nature of the information stored on your laptop, smartphone, and hard-disk,
you’ll probably understand why encryption might be necessary for keeping your identity secure.
For instance, an encryption app on your smartphone can make it exceptionally challenging for hackers and other unauthorized parties to get your information.
In several cases, law enforcement organizations have had challenges investigating data from encrypted devices.
While normal users don’t need to worry about their smartphones becoming evidence, it pays to encrypt your data to stop sensitive data from going live on the internet without your authorization.
To understand how huge data breaches can be, consider a recent case where over 700 million email addresses and their passwords were leaked to a hacking forum.
The cybersecurity expert who discovered the breach pointed out that such information may have come from lots of individual data breaches and not a single attack.
#5 Encryption can offer a competitive advantage
Since data encryption works for information in transit and at storage, it offers consistent protection that might give you peace of mind when handling information.
Studies show that most businesses now understand the need to have an encryption plan and are applying different strategies across their organizations.
According to a 2019 study, only 13% of businesses do not have an encryption strategy.
The research suggests that if an organization fails to prioritize data encryption, it might lag compared to other competitors who consistently use encryption protocols.
Fortunately, the encryption software market is consistently growing with advancements in technology.
Whether you work online or not, having an encryption protocol will help keep your data safe or at least make it hard for unauthorized parties to access it.
You can do a bit of research to know the type of encryption that will best suit your needs, but you should ensure that you use at least one technique to safeguard your data.