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HomeComputingSecurity & PrivacyUnderstanding data encryption: pitfalls you should avoid to prevent a data breach

Understanding data encryption: pitfalls you should avoid to prevent a data breach

Understanding data encryption
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It’s 2020 and almost everything is happening online. However, the question that most people are concerned with is how to keep their sensitive data safe. You surely don’t want to trust anyone with your sensitive data. Do you? Well, we guess not.

It is for this reason that you should ensure your data is encrypted. This is an essential part of any security strategy that helps provide a certain level of data protection from thieves and hackers alike one without the password or the encryption key will be able to access your data. 

Most companies, if not all, rely on encryption to ensure the security of their data. There are two types of data encryption methods: asymmetric and symmetric.

Why You Need Data Encryption?

Internet users do not just store data on their computers but send it to other users as well. The function of data encryption is to protect this digital data from hackers and thieves. Among other issues, data encryption allows you to keep your messages and IT systems secure.

Apart from providing confidentiality, these algorithms ensure key security measures, including integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation. This way, the message’s origin is verified, and its content is checked to ensure it is in its original form since it was sent and also helps in ensuring that the sender cannot deny having sent the message.

Understanding the Data Encryption Process

The term plaintext is commonly used to refer to unencrypted data. Ciphertext, on the other hand, refers to encrypted data.

You’ll need an encryption algorithm and an encryption key to encrypt your data. This way, anyone who wants to access it must have the correct encryption key to decrypt it.

Depending on the data encryption in use, you might need the same key to encrypt and decrypt a file or message. Compared to asymmetric key encryption, symmetric key encryption is much faster. However, you’ll have to send the key to the recipient so they can decrypt it when using this method.

To that end, most organizations needing to manage a huge amount of keys have adapted to using an asymmetric algorithm to exchange the secret key even if they’ve encrypted their data using the symmetric algorithm.

The asymmetric algorithm, on the other hand, comes with two different keys – the public and the private. While you can share the public key with everyone, you should protect the private key.

Data Encryption Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Data encryption is unbreakable when done right. However, you’re bound to experience data breaches in your organization if data encryption is done wrong. To ensure that you don’t have a false sense of data security, avoid these key mistakes:

1. Assuming that Your Data is Secure Just Because You’re Regulatory Compliance

Just because your application is PCI compliant does not mean that your data is safe. This is a misconception that can lead to a breach of data. While PCI, HIPAA, CJIS, as well as other regulatory compliance rules, protect all your sensitive data, they don’t provide a detailed explanation as to how that should be done.

These regulatory guidelines don’t show you how to encrypt your data safely, leaving you vulnerable to the many ways of securing your data wrongly. To make matters worse, when adding encryption data, some development teams stop when they attain the minimum security guidelines given by the regulatory checkmark, which is not always enough to protect your data.

2. Relying on Your Own Encryption Algorithms

While the use of an in-house developed algorithm might appear appealing, sometimes it can lead to a data security breach. It is, therefore, advisable that you use industry-standard algorithms that cannot be easily broken. 

3. Assuming that Cloud Providers Can Offer Data Security

Cloud computing has experienced tremendous growth in the past few years. As a result, many server-side applications run by tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have moved to data centers. They are investing heavily in cybersecurity to become the “secure cloud.” As a result, many organizations assume that the data stored by these providers is secure. However, this isn’t always the case.

4. Not Handling Key Management Properly

Getting the key management wrong is a sure way to get your sensitive data into the hands of the wrong people. This is the case even if you had encrypted your data correctly.

You can’t buy a lock to your valuable room and then leave the key under the doormat, can you? If your data and the encryption key get into the hands of hackers, you’ll live to tell a different story.

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