What Is Data Encryption?
The encryption method is a means of data masking that is used to shield it from cybercriminals, other people who have malicious motives, and accidental exposure. The information could include the data in the database, an email note, an immediate message, or even a document stored on the computer.
Data encryption is used by organizations to protect it from unauthorized access. Data encryption is part of a larger variety of cybersecurity counter-processes known as data security. Data security is the process of protecting of data from lockup by ransomware or malicious corruption (altering the data in a way that renders it inaccessible) security breaches or unauthorized access.
It is also used to secure passwords. Password encryption processes can jumble your password in such a way that hackers can’t get it.
Top 7 Data Encryption Algorithms
Nowadays, the Data Encryption Standard is an outdated data algorithm for symmetric encryption. With DES it uses an identical key to encrypt and decrypt the message. DES uses a key that is 56 bits in size and encodes data in the form of 64-bit units. The size of these keys is generally too small for today’s requirements. Therefore, various data encryption algorithms have surpassed DES.
As with DES, Blowfish is now out-of-date–nevertheless, this legacy algorithm is still effective. The symmetric cipher divides messages into 64 bits. It then encrypts these one at a time. Twofish has replaced Blowfish.
Also read: Top 8 Encryption Software for 2023
Used in both software and hardware apps, Twofish makes use of keys that can be up to 256 bits long. But, it is still one of the fastest encryption algorithms. The symmetric cipher is patent-free and is free.
Triple DES (3DES or TDES) operates its DES algorithm 3 times. It decrypts, encrypts, and again encrypts to generate a larger key. It could be used using just 1 key, 2 keys, or 3keys. The more keys, the greater the security. 3DES employs the block cipher method which makes it susceptible to attacks, including block collision.
The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
The algorithm is symmetrical. It encodes the data in blocks (of 128 bits) each time. There are three possible keys to decrypt the text:
- 128-bit key–encrypts the data in 10 rounds
- 192-bit key–encrypts over 12 times
- 256-bit key–encrypts over 14 times
Every round involves the following steps: mixing plaintext, transposition, and much more. AES security standards for encryption are among the most widely used encryption techniques to protect data while in transit and in rest.
RSA is an algorithm for encryption that is symmetric. It’s based on the factorization of two prime numbers. Only someone who is familiar with these numbers will be able to interpret the message. RSA is commonly used for transmitting data between two distinct ends (such as web connections). It is, however, slow in the case of encryption of huge amounts of data.
Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)
ECC is a favorite of agencies like NSA it is a quick and effective method of data encryption that is used as part of the SSL/TLS protocols. It uses a different mathematical method which allows it to use smaller key lengths in order to boost speed while providing superior security. For example, the 3,072-bit RSA key and a key with 256-bit ECC key provide the same level of security.
Common Criteria (CC)
It is not an encryption norm, it’s instead an international set of guiding standards to ensure that products’ security claims are robust under testing. It was not initially included in CC although it is now being found in the security standards that are outlined in the project.
CC guidelines were created to provide a third-party, non-biased, vendor-neutral examination for security-related products. Vendors are able to offer products for assessment, and their functions are evaluated either separately or as a group. After a product has been examined, its capacities and capabilities are assessed according to the seven different levels of rigorousness. The product is then compared with an established set of standards based on the type of product.
5 Data Encryption Best Practices
The following guidelines will help you ensure that your data is protected effectively.
Create a Data Security Strategy
Your security plan should consider your business’s size. For instance, businesses that have a large number of users should use cloud servers to store their encrypted information. Smaller companies can keep their media on workstations.
These are some of the points to think about when preparing the security strategy:
- Know the regulations– PII requires strong encryption in order in order to be compliant with the government’s regulations. Find out what other rules are applicable to your company and how they impact your security plan.
- Select the right software–decide which encryption tool is best suited to your company (consider the needs of your company and the volume of data).
- Make sure you use a secure encryption algorithm–see whether the algorithm or the technology used by your encryption vendor conforms with international norms.
- Manage encryption keys–find ways to store, replace, and create keys. Also, create strategies for erasing encryption keys in the event of an incident of security.
- Audit your data– decide what you’ll do to find any irregularities or identify unauthorized access to encryption keys.
Another thing to think about is the speed at which your encryption is performed. You don’t want to wait for hours before your files get secured, especially when you have to quickly transfer them across the network. Make sure to check with your provider to find out how fast the software can decrypt the data, but be sure you don’t compromise security.
Also read: 10 Ways to Enhance Data Security
Select the Best Method of Encryption for Your Data
When you are deciding what data should be encrypted, consider the most damaging outcome. What amount of loss and damage will occur if a particular portion of your data is exposed? When the threat is not acceptable you must protect the data with encryption.
The data must be encrypted regardless of the effectiveness of your security systems such as sensitive data like permanent names, information, and credit card numbers as well as Social Security numbers.
Also, ensure that the files you’re connecting remotely or transferring through a network are secured.
Control All Access to Your Data
Access encryption keys to your customers in accordance with the type of information they require. For example, your financial information should be available only to individuals working within your finance department.
Also, identify what information the user can access via the files. For example, your marketing team could be able to access your customer’s emails through your PII files, yet they must not have access to their credit card details or passwords.
This can be achieved by encryption each column in the file on its own or by altering the vault’s access policy.
Encrypt Data in Transit
Storage and data collection are the most important components of any organization. The information stored on your system or on dedicated servers is more simple to protect than data that are moving. As data is transferred between and among places, it is recommended to use a VPN to disguise the IP address of your computer.
Here are some other reasons to use a VPN every time you transfer information:
- VPNs provide a secure connection between your device, hiding your online transactions
- VPNs utilize security protocols to shield your devices and data from attack via public Wi-Fi
- A VPN alters your IP address, ensuring that attackers can’t see when files are moving
- VPNs allow safe accessibility to devices for storage (i.e. servers, cloud networks) from workstations
Develop a Data Backup Strategy
If the data has been deleted or lost, then you should be able to retrieve the files or get the keys used to secure the data.
Place your keys to decrypt in a safe location and keep a backup of all your files. Keep your decryption keys separate from your backup keys.
You can also use the concept of centralizing key management to limit the chance of isolation. A system like this ensures that all key management components (such as hardware, software, and processing) are all in one physical location, thereby enhancing security.
Other points to be considered when setting up an encryption method:
- Verify that your encryption provider allows you to increase the size of your network with the least disruption
- Your encryption solution should allow for the migration of data, especially when your company is planning to shift to the cloud
- You should be able to incorporate third-party technology without affecting security
- Create multiple layers of security to safeguard your data in the case of a breach
- Make sure your encryption method will not negatively impact the accessibility, performance, or usability of your data