What Level of Data Encryption Does Your Business Need?
The reason why your business must encrypt its data isn’t a terribly hard concept to understand – the need to protect sensitive information speaks for itself. Cyberattacks and data breaches, like the ones we’ve all seen in the news, cancost a company millions of dollars, deteriorate goodwill between the company and its clients and usually ends up being a public relations nightmare. Naturally, with more and more data being stored off-site (and therefore being transmitted through third-
party servers), protecting your valuable data is paramount.
In the most basic terms, encryption is a procedure that renders your data unreadable to everyone except authorized users – those that hold the necessary keyto read it.
Of course, it’s a lot more complex than that. Not all of the high-level concepts need to be mastered, but the basic principles should be grasped. When it comes to understanding the many types of data encryption, there are a few terms you must be familiar with.
Types of Encryption
To understand the level of encryption your business needs, it is important to understand the options available to you. Here, we break down a few of the most common types of encryption.
Symmetrical Encryption uses the same single (secret) key to encrypt and to decryptthe data, while Asymmetric Encryption uses a public key to encrypt the data, but requires a different, secret key for decryption.
Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a symmetric-key algorithm. It was published in 1977, and with a key length of 56 bits (more on bits below), today it is deemed not secure enough for modern applications. A one-time U.S. Government standard, it has since been superseded by AES in 2001.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a fairly new type of encryption. It is used extensively by the U.S. Government as the standard. AES is a symmetric-key algorithm. It has a block size of 128 bits, along with a key size of either 128, 192 or 256 bits, making it far more secure than its predecessor.
Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) is a pioneering cryptosystem used for secure data transmission. In RSA, the encryption key is public, so only the decryption key is private. It is considered an extremely secure encryption method.
256-bit Encryption vs 128-bit Encryption
In addition, it’s vital to understand the differences between the 128-bit and 256-bit encryption models. As is the case in most technical areas, the higher the number the better and the data encryption world is no exception.
Using that logic, 256-bit encryption is naturally more secure than 128-bit encryption. But, why?
Because 256-bit is far harder to crack due to its requirement for a more robust key to decrypt the data. On the downside, 256-bit encryption requires more processing power than its 128-bit counterpart — both to encrypt as well as decrypt the data.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics, it’s time to ask yourself, what type of data encryption does your business need to keep your files safe? Exactly what types of files should be encrypted? Of course, the benefits of encryption keep sensitive data private and allow only authorized users to decrypt it, so even if it is compromised, it’s protected with a strong layer of security.
What Types Of Files Should You Encrypt?
One of the most talked about types of data that should be encrypted is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). PII is data that can be used to identify (or is linked to) aspecific person. This can be the most basic data – social security numbers, physical location, phone numbers and login credentials. Most customer data will contain this type of information — all of which is highly sensitive and should be safeguarded with encryption.
Another sort of data that falls into the same category is your company’s business data and intellectual property data. There is a wide range of data in this category, and includes the financial information, personnel records, trade secrets and research and development information.
Think about what type of data you have – and how much of a problem if any of that data fell in the hands of your competition or was made public. A minimum of 128- bit encryption is required, but as hackers get more and more sophisticated, 256-bit encryption is the way to go — especially if you plan to share that sensitive information with third parties.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Now that you’ve determined that files you plan to share both internally and externally require encryption, implementation becomes the next hurdles. Completing this type of security in-house can be time-consuming and tedious, which is why many companies choose to use a dedicated service that offers enterprise encryption. When choosing a solution, you need a trusted partner that offers virtual data rooms with the user-friendly tools that allow you to securely share files with the assurance of enterprise-grade security behind it.
While there are scores of these types of companies out there, finding one who specializes in enterprise data encryption and offers a high level of support, like we do here at Caplinked, is mandatory to keep your data secure. Another feature to look for is a provider who offers an easy-to-use array of tools that allow document control and management along with tracking activity.
Encryption is a complex, yet necessary service in today’s data-centric world. Knowing the basics of data encryption, the different types and security levels and what type of data should be encrypted is paramount when it comes to sharing any of your company’s data outside of your organization. All of these factors are critical when it’s time to make an educated decision about which Virtual Data Room service you should partner with.
Interested in learning more about how Caplinked can help keep your organization’s files safe and secure? Reach out for a free trial today!
Chris Capelle is a technology expert, writer and instructor. For over 25 years, he has worked in the publishing, advertising and consumer products industries.