As a business leader, you know the importance of protecting sensitive information from hackers, identity thieves, and other threat actors. These criminals target unsuspecting businesses every day, compromising or stealing sensitive data such as customer details, financial records, intellectual property, and more.
Data is the world’s most valuable (and vulnerable) resource. It can either make or break your business, depending on how well you manage and use it. To combat the associated threats, organizations must encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit. But what exactly is encryption, and why is it important to your business?
What is Encryption?
Encryption is the process of converting data into an unreadable format using mathematical algorithms. In simple terms, this means that when someone tries to read encrypted data, they won’t be able to interpret what it says. The only way to decrypt the data is through a key – a secret number used to convert the encrypted data back into its original form.
Encryption occurs between two parties: the sender and the recipient. When sending sensitive data over public networks, such as the internet, both parties must ensure the data remains secure. For example, the sender and receiver can share a unique code called an asymmetric key. Once the sender generates the key, they send it to the receiver, who uses it to decrypt the data.
Why is Encryption Important?
Without encryption, your sensitive data could be vulnerable to attack. For instance, if you store credit card numbers on a server, anyone with physical access to the server could potentially steal those numbers. If your website gets hacked, malicious software could capture the credit card numbers stored in your database.
To further understand the need to implement strong encryption practices across your organization, we’ve listed the various types of encryption, and why they matter, below.
Why File Encryption is Important
File encryption ensures that your files remain safe while in storage or transit. Here is why file encryption software is important:
- Data stored on servers and computers is often exposed to hacking attacks, so file encryption protects your data from unauthorized users.
- When you create a new document or spreadsheet, you might include personal information, including your name, address, phone number, social security number, etc. You never want to leave this information unprotected, especially if you plan to give it to third parties.
- When you transfer files between devices, you may not always know where the files will end up. For example, you might copy a file from one computer to another, but you’re unsure whether the destination device will be connected to the network. If that happens, you’ll need to encrypt the files before transferring them. This prevents others from accessing the files even if they get intercepted during transmission.
Why Encryption is Important in Data Security
As mentioned above, encryption helps prevent unauthorized access to data. But it also protects against other threats. For example:
- Encryption makes it harder for cybercriminals to intercept your data. They would need to break into your system first, then crack your encryption algorithm, which makes you a less appealing target.
- If someone accesses your system unlawfully, they won’t be able to see anything substantial unless they employ brute force methods. Brute force methods involve guessing passwords until the correct one is found. However, these methods take a lot longer than breaking the encryption algorithm.
- Encryption helps protect your business reputation. When you store sensitive data in an encrypted format, no one can read it unless they have the proper decryption key, making disruption to your customers much less likely.
Why Email Encryption is Important
Email encryption helps ensure that your sensitive email messages stay private. Here are some reasons why you should consider using email encryption:
- Your email messages contain valuable information. For example, you may send an employee a file containing sensitive financial details. Or, you may share a document with a client that has proprietary information. Email encryption helps keep this information safe.
- Spam emails are more than an inconvenience in your inbox, hackers can use sophisticated spamming techniques to install malware on your system. With email encryption, you can authenticate email senders, eliminating the likelihood that an employee will click on a malicious link.
- You may want to forward an email to multiple recipients. To do this securely, you must ensure that each recipient receives a unique copy of the original message. Otherwise, all copies will become encrypted and unusable.
Why End-to-End Encryption is Important
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a feature that ensures that no one besides the sender and receiver have access to your messages. E2EE uses public-key cryptography, which involves two keys. One key belongs to you, and the other to the person you want to communicate with. Once you’re done sending the message, you destroy the key used to encrypt the message. This prevents anyone else from reading the message except for the intended recipient.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider end-to-end encryption:
- It keeps your personal information secure. With end-to-end encrypted messaging, you know that no one but the intended recipient can read your messages. And because the messages are in the cloud, they’re not left unsecured on your computer.
- It makes it harder for hackers to steal your data. Hackers often target small businesses because they don’t have strong cybersecurity protections in place. But if your company sends sensitive data via end-to-end protected messaging, then hackers have less opportunity to steal it.
- Identity thieves can intercept your unencrypted messages to impersonate you and make purchases in your name. However, when you use end-to-end secured messaging, only the intended recipient can view your messages.
Ensure Your Business is Using Encryption Effectively
Protecting sensitive company data is key to your business’s success. Using encryption ensures you remain compliant with consumer protection laws, prevents costly cyber attacks, and protects your brand reputation. At Electric, we’re proud to offer unparalleled cybersecurity support. Contact us today to learn more about protecting your business.