In our personal and professional lives, we continue to share and store more data on our devices and cloud services.
This data can have incredible value for cyber criminals. Unless you are a celebrity, a hacker doesn’t care about your holiday snaps, but what about the invoices, bank statements, personal or client information, intellectual property or trade secrets for your business? Data encryption can help address these risks.
WHAT IS ENCRYPTION
Encryption is the method of converting data into a code or “encrypted” form which prevents unauthorised parties from accessing the information. The encoded data will appear scrambled, making it illegible. Encryption is measured in bits and the more bits the better. For instance, 128-bit encryption has 2,128 possible combinations (imagine a 3 with 38 zeroes after it) and would take even a supercomputer years to break with brute force. In technology terms, brute force is when every possible combination of a password is tried until the correct one is generated, without strategy or algorithms being employed.
WHY IS ENCRYPTION IMPORTANT
Data is lost, stolen or thrown out with alarming regularity and in many different ways. If you dispose of an old device with unencrypted data which has not been properly destroyed, then your data could be recovered from this device. Likewise, if you lose your laptop then your unencrypted data can be accessed by simply plugging your hard drive into another machine. Lost devices are incredibly common and can be a massive risk. For example, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence reported over 700 lost or stolen laptops in an 18-month period between 2014 and 2015.
All Windows operating systems since Windows Vista, for example, come with BitLocker, which is designed to encrypt hard drives and removable computer drives and make them unrecoverable without the correct password or recovery key. (Tip: Don’t forget your key!) If you are using a work computer, your BitLocker password and recovery key can be centrally managed by your IT department, making them recoverable by an administrator if need be. BitLocker and other encryption software can be used in combination with many other security solutions to better protect your data.
Blair S. Lilford is the founder/owner of SALT Technology Group Ltd.