The word “encryption” is heard often when discussing or reading about cybersecurity topics. You might see it mentioned when you’re considering a new cloud application. It might also be used in suggestions for IT security best practices.
But many small businesses aren’t sure how they can work with encryption in a meaningful way to protect their data and communications.
This lack of understanding about how to implement encryption could leave them more vulnerable due to the rise in cyberattacks. During the middle of the pandemic, cybersecurity experts were already reporting a 400% increase in attacks.
Many of those targeted are small and mid-sized businesses, precisely because they tend to lack the same security standards as larger companies, including encryption.
What is Encryption?
Encryption simply means using a security algorithm, or “key,” that will scramble data in a way that it cannot be read. The only way to read it is the use the same key or matching decryption key.
The use of encryption is vital for data protection and it keeps data that’s been accessed by hackers from being able to be used.
For example, if a hacker breaks into a database of customer credit card numbers, without encryption they can read those numbers and use them for credit card fraud. However, if the database is encrypted, they would not be able to read the data – it would look garbled – and so they could not use the stolen data.
Working With Encryption for Better Cybersecurity
Some of you may already be using encryption in different ways and may not realize it. For example, if your website address begins “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” that indicates your website encrypts any web form data being sent to it.
When thinking of how you can implement encryption, it helps to know how others do it. Here are several examples of how enterprises use encryption:
- Internet communication/website
- Backup and archives
- Internal Networks (VPN, LPN)
- Laptop hard drives
- Cloud gateway
- Datacenter storage
- File systems
- Public/private cloud
- Internet of Things devices
Let’s look at some of the most practical uses of encryption when it comes to a small or medium-sized business.
If you run across a website without encryption, your browser will show a big “non-secure” indicator. Google also now favors secure sites over non-secure sites when it comes to search rankings.
One of the simplest ways to begin with encryption is to add an SSL certificate to your website, which will add that lock icon to the left of the web address. But more importantly, it will encrypt information being sent through your website from anyone filling out your contact form or sending you their credit card details.
To use website encryption, you simply purchase an SSL certificate from your web hosting provider and install it on your web server.
Laptop Hard Drive Encryption
Laptops are popular because they’re portable. If you work between office and home, you can easily bring your entire desktop with you if you’re using a laptop.
But laptops can easily be stolen. You have a 1 in 10 chance of having a company laptop stolen, and 98% of them are never recovered.
If you have laptops with sensitive information on the hard drive or that have access to sensitive data through a stored login, encryption can offer an important layer of protection.
Encryption can be done through software like BitLocker. It’s designed to encrypt the device’s entire hard drive. This means that even if a thief steals the laptop, they will not be able to access any of the data, including stored passwords, emails, contacts, etc.
Business Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPN’s have gained more widespread business use during the pandemic due to the need for companies to deploy remote teams. Studies have found that 41% of employees working from home access confidential business data from unsecured personal applications.
If you have employees that work from home either full or part-time or any that travel for business, a VPN is vital. A VPN is also a form of encryption that you can enact easily.
Once you sign up for a business VPN service, your employees can download the VPN app on any device and use that when connecting online. The VPN will encrypt all data passing to and from their device, so it’s secure even if their network isn’t.
Most businesses have some form of database that they work with. It could be one for all their employees that HR uses for payroll or it could be a database with their customer and sales information.
Hackers often go after databases because by definition they hold several data records and they’re also often used for storing user logins.
If you use any databases to store sensitive information it’s important to get the help of an IT professional to enact database encryption. This keeps your data secure, even if a hacker were to breach your perimeter security.
Keep Your Data Protected With Help from Rocky Knoll Technologies
Rocky Knoll Technologies can help your Charlotte area business implement encryption where it makes the most sense and keeps your sensitive data more secure.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 704.594.7292 or reach us online.