What is Data Encryption?
Encryption is a data security technique that converts electronic data in to ciphertext so that it can only be understood after being decoded (decrypted) by authorized parties. The goal of encryption is to provide protection to sensitive digital data that is stored on a computer or transmitted across networks. Today, encryption algorithms are widely used as a key component of data security for IT systems and communications.
Data encryption can be used to secure data that is located on media, in storage, or in transit. Data encryption is a popular approach to protecting data that resides on any type of digital media storage device such as USB devices and hard drives. Data encryption temporarily decrypts the data when it is being used and then encrypts it again when the user is finished.
Data encryption is used to inhibit outsiders from reading, modifying, or duplicating encrypted data. Encrypted data can still be viewed in a file listing, but prohibits unauthorized persons from reading file contents. Even if stolen, encrypted data remains unreadable unless it can be decrypted. An important aspect of data encryption to keep in mind is that data encryption doesn’t protect files from being deleted. Therefore, it is recommended that all encrypted data is backed up, and that data encryption be employed as one facet of a defense-in-depth security strategy.
Without email encryption, employees can accidently or purposely leak sensitive information by sharing it via email. When dealing with regulatory compliance, a remote workforce, and project outsourcing, email encryption allows for a secure way to share information. Email encryption usually uses public-key cryptography. This is where the user has a public key that other anyone canuse to encrypt email messages, but only a unique private key can be used to decrypt the messages they receive. Symmetric key encryption, also known as private key encryption, is a less popularmethod that uses the same, unique key for both encryption and decryption.
Encryption software encodes computer data so that it only can be retrieved using a specific key. There are various types of encryption software for both business and personal use. There are many encryption tools for personal use that are open source and free to use, while enterprise-grade encryption software is typically sold by software security vendors. Additionally, most encryption software programs provide different versions and features in an effort to better fit the encryption needs of the user.
With all the different choices available, choosing the right encryption software can be difficult. When deciding on what encryption software is right for you or your company there are some things to consider. For personal use, free open source encryption software is usually enough to take care of the user’s encryption needs. However, for businesses, especially those with employees or third parties that communicate frequently from multiple locations, enterpsie-grade encryption software choices might be necessary. It is important to do your research when comparing data encryption software tools. There are many online sources for encryption software reviews that break down the software product, compare price points, and provide customer testimonials.
Encryption Security Threats
The main issue with encryption is the threat of an attack by a hacker. The most basic method hackers use to gain access to encrypted information is brute force, or simply trying every possible key until the right one is entered. Since the length of the key reflects the number of possible keys, the longer the key, the more difficult it is for the hacker to discover the right decryption key. A second method of breaching encrypted information is called a side-channel attack, where the attacker finds an error in the encryption system’s design or execution. There are also many decryption or cracking technologies available that can help hackers decrypt sensitive information much more efficiently.