When it comes to your business, the security of your data and information systems must be taken seriously. The risks involved in not protecting them from cyber-attacks can be costly.
Your company does not want the kind of threat which can potentially expose your customer’s personal information or cause you to lose vital records for your operations. Your company’s name is at stake, and you may lose out on sales and profit from days of having to stop business as usual while you recoup from the damage caused.
Encryption helps protect your data and prevent catastrophe. It can be beneficial to hire IT support companies that can help manage your technology, especially when it comes to data encryption.
Data hackers are always devising new ways of attack, but IT companies specifically focus on keeping up with advances in technology to stay ahead of hackers. As it is crucial to utilize data encryption, it’s important to understand how it can help keep your data safe.
Exploring Cloud Encryption with the Cloud
It can be disconcerting for your business to store its information outside of your local hard drives and control. However, if your company uses cloud data storage, there’s special software that can encrypt it.
Most cloud service providers have encryption services. For example, Office 365 has built-in message encryption. Those without the special encryption key cannot access your data or files.
It is wise to find out whether the cloud services you use automatically encrypt data or not. If they don’t, you should use an outside tool that allows you to encrypt the files before you upload them onto the cloud platform.
Cloud cryptography is a technique used by some providers that allows information to be protected by a cryptographic key. According to cryptography expert Ralph Spencer Poore, it’s the only way to ensure data protection when using the cloud. However, you must research how your provider of choice is encrypting the data, as sometimes there are issues of jurisdiction at hand.
It’s a great idea to work with your provider to determine which data of yours is most sensitive so they can prioritize it. Some presentations, for example, may not need the kind of end-to-end encryption that every file would need for sensitive information.
To be extra safe, your company could also consider using a CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker), which is an access point that exists between the cloud service provider and your company. The CASB enforces further privacy policies that you control, such as malware prevention or device profiling.
Protecting the Physical Stuff
When it comes to the physical aspects of using encryption to keep your information safe, let’s start with the obvious. You should keep encrypted archives on a separate space from the source operating system on external hard drives. The devices on which the encryption keys are stored should be kept very safe and only accessible to a few upper-level employees.
You should also use Full-disk Encryption which will encrypt all data on a disk drive automatically, converting it into an unreadable code. This not only includes files, but the whole operating system and software.
When all the information on the disk is encrypted, if that disk is used in another computer, only authorized users can gain access to it. When full-disk encryption is employed, the computer will be prompted with a pre-boot environment, requiring credentials from the user. You can encrypt USB drives and other external storage devices in this way, as there will be an automatic authentication process occurring.
Apple devices have built-in encryption, and Windows users can use BitLocker for encryption. Initially, there was concern about this kind of encryption and decryption slowing down the computer’s processing capacity. Since 2008, Intel solved the issue with an encryption process 10 times faster than before.
On top of keeping the encrypted files physically secure and using full-disk encryption, file encryption is an additional tool used to further protect your information, especially the most sensitive.
It comes in handy if a computer was left unattended or a device was somehow stolen. The user must enter a code each time to ensure they are the appropriate user who should have access to that file. That user should set up the individual file encryption for each file they think should have an extra layer of security.
To Be Extra Safe
Additionally, it’s prudent to directly safeguard your company’s information by encrypting your email servers and engaging your staff with multi-factor authentication.
End-to-end email encryption encrypts data on the sender’s side and then ensures only the receiver can decrypt the message and read it. To any other recipient, the message would be disguised and unrecognizable.
This is important when it comes to securing truly sensitive information like bank details or social security numbers, but hackers can gain access to other login credentials or hijack the email account altogether.
You should encrypt the connection to your email provider so that hackers can’t gain access to your login details or messages. You should also encrypt the email messages themselves – if an unauthorized user found them, they would be illegible. Lastly, you must encrypt any back-up emails, like archives and cached messages.
Multi-factor authentication is particularly important because hackers can conduct malicious activities without further detection if they break through the first layer of security with your credentials. It’s significantly more difficult for such adversaries to gain access to these credentials when multi-factor authentication is implemented.
The factors involved must come from more than one type, including something the person attempting to sign in either knows (password, pin, etc), has (ie: software certificate), or is (ie: fingerprint). There are ways to make multi-factor authentication more convenient for your users, for example having the system recognize that user’s location, device, or IP address once a month.
It’s worth it for your team to put in a little extra effort to know your company’s information is completely shielded.
Encryption is a Necessary Tool
Encryption is a powerful tool in the modern age of technology. While it requires us to potentially put the security of our information at risk, we can mitigate that risk by employing encryption systems that codify our information and make it only decodable by those meant to see it.
Think of this as putting locks on your doors, or your money safe inside your house. Encryption is just like your front door key-lock system which protects against outsiders from harming you or stealing your possessions.
Author: Roy Castleman is founder and managing director of Prosyn Ltd. (PROfessional SYNergy), a London-based IT support organization focusing on small and medium-sized businesses. An experienced consultant in disaster recovery, he has accreditation with such companies as Microsoft, HP, and Cisco.