Why It's Time to Encrypt Your Data

Why It's Time to Encrypt Your Data

Read any technology blog and you might become slightly paranoid.  Not a day goes by that a security breach, system failure or catastrophic data loss isn't mentioned somewhere in the technology blogosphere. The biggest cases, usually involving big-name brands and stolen customer data, frequently make national news headlines. As we have discussed before, technology never stands still - and there is an ongoing battle between security systems and malicious programs designed to hack and steal valuable data.

But don't despair. Cutting-edge solutions in the form of Fort Knox-style security updates, software upgrades and anti-virus wizardry are keeping your systems safer than ever before.

One of our best forms of defence is data encryption,  and it's high time you took your security to the next level. Here, we explain what it is, how it works, and how YOU can play a part in data encryption to keep your systems safe and watertight.

What is Data Encryption?

At its simplest level, it is the transformation of data using a secret code. The practice has been used for centuries, even millennia. In IT, it's based on scrambling data in such a way that only someone with the correct password or key can access it. Without the key, the data is unreadable. The practice can be used in all sorts of different ways, from protecting files when sending them via email to backing up data on a server.

Example of Data Encryption

A common example of data encryption in practice is online shopping. You'll be aware that encryption is taking place when you visit a website with a 'secure server' - there should be a small padlock in the bottom right of the browser window, and a URL prefix that contains an 'S' - HTTPS://

This indicates that an encryption method called 'SSL' (Secure Socket Layer) is switched on, which allows your credit card details to be sent securely to the online shop and for your transaction to complete safely.

Why is Data Encryption Important?

As you can imagine, a lack of data encryption leaves important information wide open for anyone to access. Imagine shopping online without a secure connection - it's like publicly advertising your credit card details and pin number! The same goes for other sensitive or valuable data, like customer details, addresses, company accounts, and so on. There are reasons why certain details are kept safe or locked away - and data encryption can help to keep them that way.

How Does It Work?

Complex mathematical algorithms are used to encrypt and protect data, which makes the file inaccessible. So even if a device, file or hard drive is lost or stolen, the data remains protected so long as the encryption key isn't revealed.

Isn't It The Same as a Password?

Logging in to a system or device with a password is not the same as encrypting data. Passwords and PIN numbers are a form of protection, but your files are still at risk. A password can be easily bypassed so you must also encrypt your data to keep it safe.

Why Does My Business Need Data Encryption?

If your personal data is stolen, it's a problem - but at least you've only got yourself to worry about. However in a business it can be catastrophic. Imagine if your files were hacked and your customers' details stolen. Not only will your customers be put at risk, it could ruin your company financially and destroy your reputation. Plus, you'll probably be hauled to court to face huge fines for breaching the Data Protection Act, and possibly worse.

Read this story about a company that was fined thousands of pounds for failing to encrypt sensitive customer data, and you'll soon see why it's so important to protect your interests.

How Do I Encrypt My Data?

Most software used in offices and on personal computers today already has encryption functionality built in. However, given the risks involved when storing customer data, businesses of any size should consider taking their security to a higher level. There are various off-the-shelf encryption products available - brands such as SafeNet, Data Encryption Systems Limited and Symantec have their own versions. Windows, OSX and most Linux operating systems also have built-in encryption that can be used.  However, there are various points to consider and the software should reflect your requirements - including the type and volume of data you need to protect. 

We recommend businesses seek expert help when improving their system security. Landmark Technologies can offer advice and tailored IT security solutions to help keep your business data safe and sound. Chat to us to find out more.

However you go about protecting your data, it's a step in the right direction. Be sure to see it through and you'll place your business on a firm footing for future growth and stability.

 

About the author

Catrin Jenkins's picture

Catrin joined the team as Senior Marketing Executive at the beginning of November. With a degree in Business & Marketing Management and prior experience in the office industry, she hopes to bring a range of fresh ideas to uphold the Landmark brand. 

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