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Encrypting Data – Do I Need to?

Data Protection

Encrypting data – Keeping your data safe in your business or at home is an important conversation. Encryption has become usual practice as a direct result of cyber crimes and the monetary worth of computers and devices.

It is only when you leave your laptop on the train or your home/office gets broken into and your machines are stolen, that you think about those valuable documents you have stored over the years and what would happen to them in the hands of a criminal.

Encrypting data on your machine simply means turning your data into code to prevent unauthorised access to it; only the person with the encryption key can view and edit that data. Most operating systems, like Windows 10 Pro have built in encryption, meaning you do not need to use third party software. Third party free full disk encryption software like VeraCrypt, CipherShed or Encrypto (to name a few) provide AES, Twofish or Serpent encryption methods all of which use a 256-bit key. Windows has their own built in Bitlocker with the encryption key being the users set password and MAC OS has their own FileVault system.

Nowadays modern desktop PCs and laptops come with built in TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chips which automatically unlock your drive for you so there will be no need to enter a password on start up. If your OS fails and you have to reinstall it, then you will need the recovery key provided to you when you first set this up to recover the data.

USB pen drives can also be encrypted to secure data, and the above applies through creating an encryption password to unlock the drive. Depending on your line of work this could be a mandatory process through GDPR regulations.

SSL Encryption is another form of data security that is used in the IT world. This type of encryption establishes a secure link between web servers and an internet browser. When you are purchasing goods online or logging on to your favourite websites, SSL securely transmits this data back to the web server so you do not have to worry about your credentials being hijacked. Assuming your data has been hijacked this would be because the data being transmitted was sent in plain text thus being very easy to intercept.
In business, communication over the web is happening almost all the time and while that is happening encryption is working along side it. Payment processing along with sensitive information would be the most common use of encryption; without it there would be anarchy roaming all over the internet. Think of encryption as our online police.