A Beginner’s Guide to Encryption

by | Apr 19, 2017 | IT Services

Have you had concerns about becoming a victim of hacking? Implementing additional data security layers – such as encryption – can seem daunting and unobtainable for those who don’t fully understand it. To help you better understand, here is our beginner’s guide to encryption.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is a way to prevent unauthorized access to your data by converting data to scrambled letters and unrecognizable strings of code. Encrypting your data requires you to use an algorithm to scramble the data and then only those with encryption keys can access the data.

An encryption key is a string of code consisting of a certain number of bits. For example, a 128-bit key consists of 128 bits. The more bits that you have in an encryption key, the more secure it is. Many organizations provide recommendations based on mathematical equations to determine the minimum bit size requirement for security – it will really depend on the level of security you need or if you have certain industry requirements.

Does Your Company Need Encryption?

Encryption prevents hackers and other unauthorized people from accessing your data – whether you have something to hide or not. Having protection against identity theft can protect your business’ reputation by not compromising your customers, vendors, or employees’ sensitive information.

Encryption helps protect:

  • The transfer of sensitive documents and folders
  • Email
  • Cloud storage
  • Entire drives or operating systems

What Do You Need to Encrypt?

In short, encryption can guard data on our computers, in data centers and even files in transit. Many companies wonder if they should encrypt all of their data or just the sensitive materials. That answer is a little more complicated.

If you just encrypt a select group of files and someone gains access to your computer, they could view any non-encrypted files, install malware, and much more. Also, by only encrypting certain files and folders it draws attention to the fact that these may be sensitive documents. The second option is encrypting your entire drive. Be mindful, if your encrypted drive becomes corrupted, there’s a lower chance you will be able to recover any of that data. However, if you encrypt your entire file drive, it will make it very hard for someone to access or even start up your computer.

If you do decide to encrypt your entire drive, we highly recommend being diligent in backing up your data and encrypting that information in case your encrypted data becomes corrupt.

What Can Encryption Not Do?

Encryption will not…

  1. …prevent your company from ever suffering an attack. Unfortunately, encryption is just a layer of security, not a fool-proof safeguard. However, it will help thwart many hacking efforts.
  2. …protect your computer if there is already Malware installed. If you have existing Malware on your computer then chances are you are unable to access the files to encrypt them in the first place.
  3. …guard your data from people accessing it if you leave your computer open and vulnerable out in public. A safety precaution that should always been taken is locking and shutting down your computer when you are finished using it whether you’re in a public or private location.
  4. …shield you from an attack if you’re using a weak password. Weak passwords are easy to hack and even the best security layers can’t protect you if you don’t provide a solid barrier to entry like a strong password.

Looking for additional layers of data protection? Check out our blog, “Two-Factor Authentication as Additional Security.

Our team of Managed IT Service Providers have helped countless clients implement encryption and other forms of data protection within their organizations. To learn more if encrypting your data is right for you, call us today at 614-212-1111.

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