The Why, What and How of Encryption

Owing to the rise in the instances of cybercrimes in the recent times, it has become inevitable to protect your website and online business network. It is intriguing to know that annually more than 300 billion GB of business data gets created. Hackers have an affinity towards compromising company networks and getting unsolicited access to data.

Now the question is how you would maintain the integrity of such confidential business data. The answer is Encryption!

Encryption, for a novice, is basically jumbling the text and making it unreadable for the forbidden users. This is known as ciphertext. It is possible to encrypt every individual file, folder, volume, the whole disk inside the computer, USB flash drive and data in the cloud.

Importance of Encryption

The main reason why businesses should get their data encrypted is to ensure the safety of their sensitive information that resides in the network storage systems. Every organization or company gathering Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and financial information should get the information secure. In case your computer that consists of PII gets hacked and there is a breach in the security of the data, you may be asserted with a legal charge. Hackers can easily boot the computer through USB thumb drive without any sign-on password.

As a result, encryption becomes important and is considered to be a best practice to keep the data safe so that no authorized sources can access your computer disks.

The entire computer does not get protected by disk encryption. Your computer is still accessible to hackers through an insecure network connection. It is even possible that clicking a malicious link in the email can infect your computer with malware that can steal the usernames and passwords.

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Secondary security controls like individual awareness, anti-malware software, and firewalls could work to control these attacks. Nonetheless, encryption also helps in mitigating the security threat.

 

How to Execute Encryption?

If you are a beginner, you may need a bit of technical help to understand the working of encryption. Encryption is used as a digital form of cryptography and takes help of mathematical algorithms to jumble up the messages. This makes the message readable exclusively for those who have the key to decrypt the message.

Encryption is done in six different ways.

 

#1. Symmetric Encryption

It secures data with only one private key. Advanced Encryption Standard or AES is most commonly used for encryption. It is the U.S. government standard for encrypting data. The data is jumbled in hexadecimal form several times with the help of 128-bit, 192-bit or 256-bit keys for unlocking. You can replace these keys with passwords, which means that the password will directly decrypt the data.

You can use this method to encrypt files and drives. The limitation of this method is that hackers can easily access the data if the password is weak.

Pro Tip: Generally, government regulations abide by the 256-bit AES in spite of the fact that 128-bit AES is also a strong encryption key.

 

#. Asymmetric Encryption

Multiple public and private keys are used in a combination to ensure data security. Two individuals can share secured messages and other data through asymmetric encryption. Every user has a public key and a private key across the messaging channels like email services. Public key helps the sender to encrypt the message. The sender’s private key again encrypts the message. The recipient uses the public key of the sender for verification and decrypts the message using their private key.

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Even if a hacker interrupts the message, they would not be able to access the data without entering the recipient’s private key.

 

#3. Block Ciphers

Block ciphers are similar to the Triple Data Encryption Standard (DES), or 3DES. They employ data encryption per block at one go. 3 keys are used in Triple DES. It is an ideal encryption method for financial organizations possessing a huge depository of confidential information.

 

#4. Stream Ciphers

Rabbit, W7, and RC4 are the commonly used stream ciphers. These are symmetric algorithms using a keystream or a series of random numbers for plaintext encryption one character at a go.

 

#5. Elliptic Curve Cryptography

It is a type of public-key encryption you can use to create better cryptographic keys. It makes use of elliptic curve equation rather than a conventional method of key generation.

 

#6. Blockchain Cryptography

Blockchain cryptography is the foundation of bitcoin and it is a type of distributed database that can store financial data safely. Blockchain Cryptography is very effective against DOS attacks and so it is getting more popular day by day.

How to Achieve Data Encryption?

#1. Full Disk Encryption (FDE)

This is the principal method through which you can protect the computer hard drives and their data. These files on the disk are encrypted automatically. Folder encryption, volume encryption and the like are considered intermediate disk encryption methods.

 

#2. File Encryption

The data on a file-by-file basis uses file encryption. This prevents any security breach in case the data is intercepted. It is not an automatic process, but the data stays encrypted long after it has left the original source.

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#3. End-to-end (E2E) Encryption

End-to-end encryption makes sure that every part of the communication chain, including the ends, as well as, the middle remains secure. Facebook Messenger, as well as Apple’s iMessage, have started providing E2E encryption now.

 

#4. Encrypted Web Connections

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL Certificate) or Transport Layer Security protocols are used to encrypt the web connections through HTTPS. Whenever a browser and the server exchange any information over the Internet, HTTPS provides encryption keys through SSL Certificates. Through these keys, both the browser and server get an authority to read the encrypted data. All the websites beginning with https:// in the address bar are secure and you can safely enter your information on these sites.

 

#5. Email Servers Encryption



S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) public key encryption enables encryption of the messages to support the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) email servers.

 

#6. Data Pre-encryption Synced with The Cloud

Several software programs pre-encrypt the data before it gets synced in the cloud. Consequently, this data becomes inaccessible by the cloud or the hackers. It is important to keep in mind that files in the local drive are susceptible to cyber-attack as they are not encrypted.




Wrapping Up

Encryption is a vast topic and if you are a website owner, you ought to know these fundamentals of security technology.

Are you making use of these security strategies? If not, consult a security consultant right away and get your data protected.

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