At the heart of the encryption debate lies the question of privacy and security, as both individuals and companies are secured by encryption technologies. The debate, as it currently stands, is about who gets access to encryption technology and whether governments should be able to access encrypted data through a backdoor. Government agencies claim that encryption allows criminals and terrorists to exist under the radar, whereas those against backdoor access believe that it has the potential to greatly damage businesses and individual rights to privacy.
The Encryption Debate: An Overview
Although the concept of sending coded messages is an ancient one, the use of encryption technologies, as they are known today, dates back nearly half a century. It was initially created to ensure military security and evolved into the public sphere. One of the first private industries to adopt the technology was the banking sector, using it to secure wire and digital transactions, though it became widely adopted by other industries from the 80s onwards.
The debates over encryption were brought to public awareness with the ‘Crypto Wars’ of the 1990s. This began when the Clinton administration proposed fitting chips into mobile phones that would allow government agencies to bypass the encryption of mobile phone calls. The debate has regenerated over the years, specifically after threats of terror.
With the notable expectation of the Netherlands in 2016, the majority of governments have yet to come to an official position. Most experts predict there will not be a move toward the outright banning of encryption. One of the major reasons for this is the economic cost. For example, if America were to ban these technologies, it would result in many companies moving their headquarters elsewhere, and those remaining would be at much higher risk than their competitors.
Why is Encryption Such a Powerful Business Tool?
Encryption is the most effective method of ensuring data security; not having such systems in place can have drastic consequences. Cybercriminals are growing more and more sophisticated by the day. According to an IBM 2018 study, the average data breach will cost a company $3.86 million to cover, increasing by 6.4% in 2019, while the chances of a similar attack recurring in the next two years are at 27.9%.
Encryption protects a company’s data by transforming plaintext into cyphertext, which can only be unscrambled and made readable by a sender or receiver with a specific key. There are many different forms of encryption on the market, from those that focus only on specific data to whole-device to specifically cloud-based information. This is why speaking to a company that offers an array of these solutions, such as Proofpoint, is recommended.
The encryption debate raises awareness about the value of sensitive data. It extends beyond the fundamental question of personal privacy and sheds a light on the precautions needed when doing business in the digital age. To ensure the security of both a company and its clients, encryption is vital.