A guide to encryption technologies
Countless companies every year fall victim to data breaches, causing insurmountable concerns for effective data security. As companies battle to protect their sensitive employee and customer records, encryption technologies are neglected as a means for data security. SMBs, therefore, need to make sure that they employ the best encryption methods to lock their data away from the hands of third party hackers in order to prevent losing their business integrity.
What is encryption?
Encryption allows organization to convert their data into unreadable data formats, making it almost impossible for others to access it even if they were to gain access of the computer on which the data is stored. Encrypted data can only be accessed if the user has a highly complicated and advanced original key. The unencrypted data or plaintext, after encryption, is changed into a different format called ciphertext that hides the original content contained within the data.
Different types of encryption?
There are in total three encryption methods that SMBs can adopt to secure their data. These are the following:
In hashing, a fixed-length and unique signature is created for a dataset. The ‘hash’ is for a specific message and any small changes made to the hash can be instantly and easily tracked without any problems. However, once the hash is made, it cannot be edited or reversed, which is why it is not technically considered an encryption technique but a useful way of ensure that data has not been tampered with.
Knows as private-key cryptography, symmetric encryption involves encrypting the data with a key, sending the ciphertext, and then using the key to be able to decrypt the data. It is known as private-key cryptography due to the requirement of keeping the key secure for both encryption and decryption purposes. As without it, any person can gain access to the key and use it to decrypt the data.
In asymmetric data encryption, or public-key cryptography, differs from symmetric encryption owing to the requirement of having two separate keys for encryption and decryption purposes. This make asymmetric encryption more secure as it reduces the chances of someone acquiring the key and being able to decrypt the data using the same key, as in the case of symmetric encryption. The term ‘public-key cryptography’ implies that a public key is available to everyone for encrypting the data, whilst a different key is used by the recipients to decrypt the data.
Despite the various methods of encryption, SMBs should never limit their data security policy only to the use of encryption. This is because encryption technologies only offer a one-dimensional approach to data security and is not fit for organizations that are exposed to more than one type of data breach.
An example of this is encrypting your data contained in your database. Your data is secure as long as it remains in the database. However, it will not be secure if it is exported into a big data environment. Furthermore, encryption technologies cannot account for different sources of data and configuration problems.