Encryption is a crucial cybersecurity measure that protects private and personal data. It makes use of unique codes that ‘scramble’ the data, making it impossible for hackers to read. Even if there’s a data breach, encryption ensures that private data remains safe, even if an attacker manages to make it past a firewall. Here we take a close look at the importance of encryption in cybersecurity, how it works, and why you need to be making use of it to protect your sensitive business data.
Data encryption is a process by which any piece of information sent across the internet is encoded and is readable only to those who are authorised encryption or decryption keyholders.
Cyber security encryption is the process by which data or digital information is transformed into an unreadable set of complex codes. Encrypted data appears scrambled to the outside world, protecting confidentiality and reputation.
How does data encryption work?
There are two main types of data encryption.
Symmetric encryption, also known as primary key encryption, is the simplest form of encryption. Involving only one private key to cipher-decipher the data or information, it is the longest standing form of encryption, using numbers or strings of characters mixed in with the data so that the information becomes unreadable.
The disadvantage of symmetric encryption is that the sender and receiver need an exchange of keys so that the data can be encoded.
Asymmetric encryption, also known as public key encryption, uses a set of two keys to encode the information. One secret key, and one public key. The public key is available to anyone who wishes to communicate with you, whilst the secret key is kept private to the source device. Data can only be decrypted using both keys.
This method of cyber security encryption is used in everyday communication channels, such as emails, online chats and other internet services.
What is the importance of encryption in cybersecurity?
The internet is awash with hackers attempting to illegally access networks, devices and data. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly frequent, with around a quarter of organisations having identified breaches or attacks at least once a week.
Encryption in network security and other forms of cybersecurity is vital for many reasons.
Security threats – attacks such as denial of service, malware, database invasion and unauthorised internet access are highly prevalent, but can all be averted using cyber security encryption.
Data interception – as data is passed over communication channels such as email, it can be intercepted and stolen. However, if the data is encrypted, then it will be useless to the cyber thief.
Unauthorised access – network intrusions can lead to data record leaks and loss of confidential information. Encryption in network security can, however, avoid any leaked data being accessed.
Virus attacks – when a network or other online resource comes under attack by malware, viruses or Trojan horses, the security of the system or network will be under threat, with the potential for considerable data loss. Encryption will however prevent data being misused for criminal intent.
How can encryption be used to protect sensitive information?
Here are some of the most common ways in which encryption is used on an everyday basis in order to protect data:
HTTPS encryption – most modern websites use HTTPS or Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to protect internet traffic whilst it travels between a device and the website being browsed. If the URL of the website you are viewing begins https rather than just http, and shows a padlock, then you know it will be protected. This layer of security ensures that intruders cannot listen in or alter any data whilst in transit. If you don’t see the sign that the website is secure, be sure to avoid entering any financial or personal information.
Email encryption – some email platforms encrypt all emails by default. Others will use an external program to do so. Platforms such as Gmail and Outlook encrypt by default, and the protection should be sufficient for the average email users. However, for businesses, especially those in the regulated sector, it is advisable to upgrade to a specialist security solution.
Virtual private networks – VPNs are used widely for data encryption, and are now a common element of the remote working generation. A VPN keeps data secure whilst in transit by routing it though an encrypted virtual tunnel. This disguises your IP address, making its location invisible to everyone. A VPN is also secure against external attacks.
Looking to make use of cyber security encryption as part of your business data protection strategy?
If you’re keen to make cyber security encryption a part of your day to day data protection routine, talk to PC Docs. Our IT security solutions incorporate cyber security encryption at every level, and will be fully tailored to the specific needs of your business.
To learn more about how we can protect your business against the risks of cybercrime and data loss, you are welcome to get in touch.