Almost every day, we come across some news about data breaches and cyber-attacks, which has forced us to discuss and debate more about the importance of data and how we can protect it. Some of the most significant data breaches of 2021 and 2022 were the Microsoft Software data breach (2021), Facebook data breach (2021), Bureau Veritas cyberattack (2021), Gloucester Council Cyberattack (2022), and many more. Cyber-attacks were rated as the fifth-top risk in 2020 by the World Economic Forum. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased cybercrime by 600% compared to the pre-pandemic period. According to Accenture, 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. As per Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime will cost businesses worldwide $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 up from $3 trillion in 2015.
Unfortunately, we still don’t have a concrete solution, which can be called a one-size-fits-all approach for preventing security breaches or even handling them when they happen. However, there are numerous methods for minimizing data exposure. Data encryption and regular data back-ups have become two of the most effective and widely used methods for protecting against data exposure.
Importance of Encryption
The facts and figures mentioned above highlight the growing importance of encryption for data security
. No business, regardless of size, is immune to the risk of a data breach
. Encryption has become the need of the hour because it is considered the last line of defense.
Many applications and websites depend upon user passwords and password verification software to access sensitive information. Apart from knowing how to generate a safe password, users have minimal options to encrypt their password. This is why they use a password manager to keep their passwords secure. A good password manager must use strong encryption to protect what is a gold mine of data.
Businesses can choose an encryption type as per their preference and requirements. There are two types of encryption for scrambling or masking data. They are as follows:
Symmetric encryption is the simplest way to protect data from hackers. It has just one key, and everyone uses it to encrypt and decrypt data. For example, you encrypt a file and send it to your manager, who uses the same key to unlock or decrypt it.
Asymmetric encryption encrypts using two keys. The public key is used for encryption, whereas the private key is used for decryption. For example, the private key can be used to encrypt a file, but only the manager can use the private key to decrypt it.
Reasons why encrypting your data is crucial
Encryption has evolved as a critical component in securing data from malicious attacks of any kind. However, some organizations are still hesitant about encryption because they are unaware of the benefits. So let’s look at the top reasons why businesses should encrypt their data.
Encryption is the Last Line of Defense
When we talk about cyberattacks
, companies are often helpless when it comes to preventing them. In this case, encryption acts as a protector making it difficult to encrypt data without the decryption key. This is one of the significant implications of encryption, and hence we call it the last line of defense.
Encryption is Cheap to Implement
From smartphones to Microsoft Windows, almost every device, software, and operating system today has encryption technology. Also, there are many encryption programs available for free download, programs like LastPass, TunnelBear, HTTPS and others.
Encryption protects data on the go
One of the biggest data security threats companies face is when data is on the move. It means portable devices, whether mobile phones, USBs, laptops, or tablets containing sensitive data, move outside a company’s security network. A misplaced USB, a laptop left unsupervised, or a mobile phone forgotten in a coffee shop can sometimes be disastrous. Encryption makes sure that if a device is lost or stolen, its data can't be read or misused by anyone who doesn't have a key to decrypt it.
Encryption Algorithms to Secure Your Business Network & How Encryption Works
Various encryption algorithms help secure your business networks. But before we dive into the details of encryption algorithms, it is important to know the workings of encryption.
How Encryption Works
Unencrypted information or data, such as blogs like the one you are reading, is written in plaintext. At its core, data encryption employs an encryption algorithm to distort or mask plaintext, resulting in “ciphertext”, which humans interpret as alphanumeric nonsense. An encryption algorithm is incomplete and cannot convert plaintext to ciphertext and vice-versa.
Encryption Algorithms to Secure Your Business Data
As data security threats have become more sophisticated and aggressive, maintaining online security has become critical. Therefore, modern encryption has grown more complex to protect private data. Different types of encryption algorithms can help you enhance your data encryption strategy. If required, you can create your own algorithm. However, there are a few standard encryption algorithms that you can consider.
Data Encryption Standard (DES)
The data encryption standard is an older symmetric-key method of encrypting data that was utilized as a standard method by the United States government. But it was withdrawn later as it was not considered secure enough for many modern applications.
A DES key has 64 binary digits (also known as bits), 56 of which are randomly generated by the algorithm. The other eight are utilized for the detection of errors. People who use DES know the encryption algorithm, but unauthorized entities do not have the decryption key. Data encryption standard is insecure because the 56-bit key is too small.
Triple Data Encryption Standard (Triple DES)
The triple data encryption standard (also called Triple DES, or TDES or 3DES) is the newer and safer version of the data encryption standard. There are two kinds of triple DES: two-key and three-key, based on the number of generated keys. Triple DES runs DES three times; the data is encrypted, decrypted, and then again encrypted before it is sent to the receiving party.
Popularly known as RSA, it is named after its creators, Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Len Adelman. RSA is an asymmetric encryption algorithm primarily utilized to share data over insecure networks. RSA is a popular option for secure data transmission. It leverages a robust algorithm for data scrambling.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
Today the advanced encryption standard (AES) is extensively used and supported in both hardware and software in today's encryption. There have been no realistic cryptanalytic attacks against AES identified so far. Additionally, AES includes built-in key length flexibility, which provides some 'future-proofing' against advancements in the capacity to execute exhaustive key searches.
In terms of encryption techniques, Twofish is regarded as a highly safe solution. Any encryption standard that employs a key length of 128 bits or more is theoretically immune to brute force attacks. This is where Twofish comes into play. Twofish is vulnerable to side channel attacks because it employs "pre-computed key-dependent S-boxes." This is because the tables have already been calculated. Creating these tables key-dependent, on the other hand, helps to limit that danger.
constantly evolve, compelling security experts to come up with new strategies and methods. Irrespective of the size or industry, every business can benefit from taking extra steps to protect its data. Whether it is about protecting your email communication or storing data, you should be sure that you include encryption in your lineup of security tools.
What are public and private keys?
Both public and private keys are employed in asymmetric encryption. A public key is a key that is known by everyone and is not a secret. Anyone can use it to encrypt data. But, the data can only be decrypted by the user who has access to the private decryption key.
Is it possible to break encryption?
Yes, in a word. While decrypting encrypted data would require a significant amount of processing power and expertise, it is still possible. It is, however, extremely unusual due to the resources needed.
Is it safe to use encryption?
Encryption is extremely secure. The majority of encryption standards provide a degree of protection that is unrivaled by other cybersecurity precautions. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has authorized the AES 256 encryption standard due to its fantastic dependability.