How Does Encryption Work, and Why Should You Care?

How Does Encryption Work, and Why Should You Care?

Encryption might not be the most glamorous of subjects, but there’s no doubting the crucial role it plays in modern business. While you should also have controls in place to prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems in the first place, encryption provides an additional layer of defense. That’s because encrypted data will be unusable by anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key.

How Modern Encryption Algorithms Work

When techies talk about encryption, they’re typically referring to extremely complex and secure measures that are practically unbreakable using modern technology. However, encryption has actually been around for thousands of years. The earliest methods were nothing more than simple ciphers whereby letters would be substituted with other letters, numbers or symbols. Unsurprisingly, modern technology can hack its way through these ciphers in a fraction of a second.

Just like the cryptography methods that have been around since ancient times, modern encryption algorithms rely on using keys for both the encryption and decryption processes. Theoretically, every encryption key can be hacked using a brute-force attack, which tries every possible combination until it finds the correct one. As with passwords, short and simple encryption keys just a few characters long can be hacked within seconds.

Fortunately, modern encryption algorithms are, in practical terms, impossible to crack. That’s because they use 128- or even 256-bit keys, and using a brute-force attack to cycle through every possible combination of characters would take quite a while. In fact, using current technology, it would take up to 1.02 x 1018 years just to break a 128-bit encryption key. That’s vastly older than even the universe itself!

Why Should Your Business Use Encryption?

As you’ve already seen, modern encryption methods effectively render your data inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have the key. Data encryption is also very easy to implement, both for storage devices and email, so there’s really no reason not to use it for protecting critical data.

You might think that data encryption would be overkill in most everyday business applications. However, even if your employees might not be in the habit of carrying around top-secret documents wherever they go, every business handles information that it wouldn’t want to have exposed to just anyone. Personal details, payment information, trade secrets, unreleased product information, and health records are just a few examples of the sort of sensitive data companies deal with.

Encryption doesn’t exist only to prevent hackers from gaining access to confidential information. You can also use it to protect smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices that are at an increased risk of getting mislaid or stolen. It’s one thing to have an expensive laptop stolen, but it’s quite another to have a whole raft of payment details and other sensitive data stolen along with it. That’s why all mobile devices should have full encryption enabled.

In addition to mobile device encryption, you can also encrypt individual files, folders and drives. It’s also possible to encrypt outgoing emails or data in transit between an internet-connected device and the internet itself.

Even if you’re still unconvinced that encryption is crucial for protecting your data, government-mandated compliance regulations demand it in many cases. For example, PCI-DSS legislation requires all organizations that accept credit card payments to use AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) technology in relevant communications and storage of payment details.

Fortunately, data encryption doesn’t have to be complicated. F1 Solutions makes sure that your data is protected and in compliance with industry regulations. Call us today if you’re ready to implement the latest and most effective security measures for your organization’s data.

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