Data encryption software and self encrypting hard drives are now available to businesses and individuals alike concerned about the safety of their confidential data. Whether you are responsible for a business's data or for your own data, keeping it secure is essential. However, is data encryption software the right choice for you? Would a self encrypting hard drive be a better choice?
The Need for Data Encryption Software
You've likely heard plenty of stories of stolen laptops and major security breaches affecting businesses and government agencies. Not only could it be financially disastrous for your company's sensitive data (or your personal information) to fall into the wrong hands, it could also harm your company's reputation.
In addition, failing to secure confidential data could get you in trouble with data protection authorities. For example, the EU's proposed General Data Protection Regulation, which is aimed to be adopted in 2014 and implemented in 2016, would impose fines of up to €1,000K or up to 2 percent of annual global sales for intentionally or negligently not complying with specific General Data Protection Regulation regulations.
What Is Data Encryption?
Encryption involves encoding information so that only authorized users can read it. Using data encryption software, you can encode your data so that those with the "key" to unlock the data see the information as normal while those who don't see only gibberish. Should your encrypted hard drive fall into a criminal's hands, the criminal would be unable to extract any useful information.
Data can be encrypted both at rest (such as when sitting on a hard drive) and when in transit (such as when being transmitted via email). Data encryption software generally comes in two flavors: symmetric-key and public-key encryption.
With symmetric-key encryption, the same keys are used for both encryption and decryption. This means you and other authorized parties will need to agree on a mutually acceptable secret key when sharing encrypted data. For example, when emailing an encrypted file, you would need to share the file's password with the other party - preferably over the phone or in person. After all, emailing the password along with the file would give criminals that intercept the email the key to decrypt the file.
With public-key encryption, the encryption key is publicly available. Anyone can use public keys to encrypt a message. Only the recipient will receive the decryption key. Thus, only the recipient will be able to decrypt and read the message.
According to the Computer Security Institute, in 2007, about 71 percent of companies surveyed reported that they used encryption for some data in transit and another 53 percent said they encrypted some of their stored data.
Data Encryption Options
If you want to protect your data by using data encryption, you can either use data encryption software to encrypt files or a self encrypting hard drive which automatically encrypts the contents of the drive. Both options are a terrific choice for protecting your confidential data from falling into the wrong hands.
Daniel Gail is an author and expert in the world of business security. He wrote this article to inform his readers on the benefits of data encryption software for your business using a self encrypting hard drive.