Encryption is a technology that conceals data using mathematical algorithms and is vital tool and should be utilized by organizations and individuals to ensure their data is safely protected. Being online in today’s world involves sending and transmitting data over a network, encryption allows us to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the data. For organizations and companies especially, it is a necessity.
The process of encryption involves using an encryption key to make data unreadable and
a corresponding decryption key that will make the data readable again. There are two types of encryptions available, symmetric, and asymmetric. Symmetric is the most straightforward, while asymmetric is the most used by organizations. Asymmetric cryptography allows for the creation of keys for encryption (public) and decryption (private). Public keys can be shared freely and are used to encrypt the desired data, while the public key is shared among all business users and lets them scramble any data they choose. The private key is used exclusively to decrypt data and is not shared amongst users.
Regardless of how secure an infrastructure is, data transmission between devices, and networks can still lead to compromised data or possible vulnerabilities. The importance of encryption cannot be understated as even the largest organizations can fall victim to data breaches. Data breaches due to lack of encryption happen often and have huge impacts on organizations. These data breaches are often highly publicized leading to distrust amongst customers and stakeholders, damage to the organization reputation and financial losses due to lawsuits, fines, and compensation costs. It can be difficult for organizations to repair their reputation after public backlash and scrutiny. Therefore, I recommended organizations prioritize securing their data through encryption.
Encryption allows organizations to protect sensitive information such as financial details, personal identification numbers, and other confidential information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. This layered approach to security makes it more challenging for hackers and cybercriminals to access and steal data. Furthermore, most organizations are required to comply to laws and regulations that detail how data should be protected. These laws and regulations differ depending on country and the industry an organization belongs to. For example, healthcare organizations must comply with HIPPA regulations to avoid fines and penalties. These laws set by governing bodies are good baselines for organizations to follow to establish best practises, however I recommend organizations take it a step further and explore the best way to use encryption based on their needs, industry, and infrastructure. I have included some useful actions that can contribute to an organization ensuring their encryption strategy is as strong as possible.
- Use strong encryption algorithms, such as AES or RSA.
- Keep software up to date to address vulnerabilities.
- Use multi-factor authentication.
- Regularly update passwords and make them long and complex.
- Encrypt data both in transit and at rest.
- Limit access to sensitive data to only those who need it.
- Regularly test and monitor for security breaches.
- Use encryption keys that are difficult to guess and store them securely.
- Implement data backup and disaster recovery plans.
- Train employees on secure data handling practices.
In conclusion, encryption is essential to organizations in today’s digital world. By protecting sensitive information, enhancing data security, maintaining compliance, protecting against cyber-attacks, and maintaining business reputation, encryption is an invaluable tool that should be embraced at every opportunity