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What You Need to Know About Data Encryption

Data encryption ensures no unauthorized persons access your sensitive information. Here’s all you need to know about the process and its benefits.
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What You Need to Know About Data Encryption

When it comes to your data, one of the essential things you need to take care of is data encryption. While dealing with exclusive data related to any sensitive business, you should ensure that it is protected and properly encoded. 

When you collect customer information, you’re responsible for protecting their private data. That is why businesses need to use data encryption since it is a professional and unbreachable form of data protection. 

Here’s all you need to know about data encryption and why it’s important to implement it.

What Is Data Encryption?

Data encryption is the process of translating data into another form or code. The primary purpose of this process is to enable people with a security key or password to access their data. 

The world’s biggest organizations use this effective security method to protect their data. Since data is stored on computer systems and transmitted via the internet, data encryptions do their best to keep everything confidential. 

Unencrypted data is usually known as plain text, while encrypted data is called ciphertext.

Recently, modern encryption algorithms have replaced outdated data encryption standards (DES) in playing an important role in IT system security. Let’s discuss the importance of data encryption in better detail.

Importance of Data Encryption

Data encryption is essential to prioritize key security initiations such as integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation. Firstly, integrity ensures honest communication by checking that the message’s contents remain the same.

On the other hand, authentication verifies the origin of the message. Lastly, non-repudiation ensures zero denial on the sender’s part when sending the message. 

Overall, it’s good to encrypt your data, even on a smaller scale. If any of your devices are stolen, it’s easier for the thief to access your data. That is unless you make sure to encrypt your sensitive data.

Any organization that collects personally identifiable information (PII) from its customers must practice data encryption. Common forms of PII that are collected are names, social security numbers, birthdates, and financial information. 

If a customer’s personal information is leaked or stolen, then it'll be your company’s legal status and reputation on the line. 

How Data Encryption Works

Data encryption utilizes mathematical algorithms to scramble your data in the form of messages. As a result, only users with the cipher or key from the sender will be able to access that message.

There are two main types of data encryptions: 

Asymmetric Encryption 

Public-key encryption is another name for asymmetric encryption. Asymmetric messages secure your messages and any data exchanged between two parties. Therefore, users of all messaging platforms and email services have one public key and one private key.

While the public key works as an IP address to protect your data, the private key further encrypts the data. So unless the hacker has access to your private key, they’ll never be able to access your messages.

Symmetric Encryption 

Symmetric encryption secures your data with a private key, while asymmetric encryption combines public and private keys. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is one form of symmetric encryption which scrambles hexadecimal data multiple times. This US government standard of data encryption uses 128, 192, and 256-bit keys to access the data.

However, users can also replace these keys with passwords, making them the only way to access the data. This is why you must ensure your password is strong and unbreachable. 

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Types of Data Encryption

Aside from symmetric and asymmetric encryption, there are more ways to categorize data encryption. Here are the three most common examples of data encryption: 

Individual File Encryption

With individual file encryption, you can choose to encrypt only the specific items you want. This type of encryption works best if you only have a few critical files on your device you want to encrypt. After all, selected encryption is better than having no encryption.

Full-disk Encryption

If you want to encrypt your computer entirely, it’s best to opt for full-disk or whole-disk encryption. In this case, you won’t have to save your sensitive data in a particular place on the disk, making it transparent.

Whole-disk encryption ensures every file on your device is encrypted. As a result, you’ll have to enter an encryption passcode whenever you power on your computer. Then, you’ll be able to access your files usually. 

Volume Encryption

Lastly, you can choose volume encryption, in which your computer creates a container that’s already fully encrypted. Then, you can simply move your important files and folders to that folder to protect them.

Standards of Data Encryption

Specific industry standards govern the usage of data encryption algorithms in organizations. Here are two of the most important standards of data encryption that you should know of.

Common Criteria (CC) for IT Security Evaluation

CC is not technically an encryption standard. Instead, it’s a set of international guidelines to ensure that the security of a product holds up under tests. However, CC security standards are starting to include data encryption as a necessity as of late.

NIST Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2

The FIPS adheres to the US Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) for the US government’s use. As a result, almost all government agencies in the US require this standard of data encryption. 

Cost of Data Encryption

There’s no doubt that data encryption can be pretty pricey, but a data breach will cost you even more. For example, full-disk encryption costs about $235, but this price can rise if you lose your security key. 

Best Practices for Data Encryption

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while performing data encryption:

  • Make sure all your data is backed up and continue to back up your computer regularly from this point onward.
  • Create an emergency boot disk on removable media.
  • Use random letters and numbers while creating an encryption passcode. Remember not to include any personal information in your password. That includes names, birthdays, and loved ones’ names.
  • Keep a written copy of your encryption key.
  • Use WPA3 to protect your data while surfing the internet. Do not use WEP in any case.
  • Install a VPN to access your office network from your personal data without worrying about data breaches. 

Data Encryption for Full-Proof Security

Now that you’re all aware of data encryption, you’re all set to avail its benefits. Data encryption is one of the essential parts of the data security world. 

If you want to learn more about data encryption, contact Accountable HQ today. We are a risk & compliance software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that provides information sources on data security, data privacy legislation, risk management, and other cybersecurity-related issues. 

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