Make your business’s protection a priority.
The advancement of technology has paved the way in turn for advancements in protections against cyberattacks and information theft. In many cases, it becomes necessary to have extra security features built into those protections—a safety net in case initial securities are violated and valuable data is exploited. As a business owner, you need to consider every risk when handling confidential material, particularly as advanced methods of hacking become more and more prevalent and that material becomes a target.
Business encryption is especially essential when sending sensitive personal information such as names, social security numbers, birth dates, financial and medical information, and legal documents, which must be protected at all times. It also provides additional protection when sending and receiving emails and uploading files to the Cloud and sending files from mobile devices.
It’s important to be aware of situations within your workplace that may indicate the necessity for encryption services:
- You send personally identifiable information (PII) to business partners and other recipients on a regular basis.
- You suspect your data security is weak when sending and receiving files.
- You utilize a private IP and virtual private network (VPN) but would like an extra measure of security for your business.
What is encryption?
Data encryption is a powerful weapon in your arsenal against data theft. It involves encoding data so that it is unreadable to unauthorized viewers who do not have the proper encryption key, which consists of the computations needed to decipher the data. Typically, an algorithm scrambles the text in a package of information and converts it into ciphertext. Singular files, folders, and removable media such as a USB flash drive may be encrypted. It is even possible to implement full-disk encryption, which encodes all volumes, files, and folders on a computer’s hard drive and does not generally require the data to be saved in a specific place to retrieve it.
There are two types of data encryption: symmetric (private key) encryption and asymmetric (public key) encryption. With symmetric key encryption, data is secured with only one private key shared between users. With asymmetric encryption, multiple keys both public and private are used to encrypt messages sent between two sources. The public key serves as the initial way for the sender to encrypt a message, and a private key adds another layer of encryption.
So how do midsize businesses benefit from encrypted data? With hundreds of employees and (depending on the type of business) large amounts of sensitive data being handled and sent different places, the constant shift of that information makes it vulnerable to prying eyes. Data breach and exposure can result in lawsuits and compromise a business’s reputation with clients and employees—and can end up costing a company an exorbitant amount of money. Encryption solutions provide an extra layer of protection against malicious cyberattacks and allow your business to operate more securely and efficiently.
Encryption and VPNs
Virtual private networks ensure the protection of private information that businesses have on file. But what if it becomes necessary to send that information to a source or business partner outside of your company? If a VPN acts as a tunnel you travel through while connected to a server, shielding your identity and online activity from your service provider and other outside sources, think of encryption as an armored truck traveling from one end of the tunnel to the other. When sent through a VPN tunnel, data that is encrypted is rendered illegible to anyone not in possession of the key used to decrypt it—in other words, the truck is locked up by the sender at one end of the tunnel and unlocked by the recipient at the other end. That way, if anyone were to ever delve into that VPN tunnel, the data you’ve sent is still protected.
A VPN requires more than just one pair of keys for files to be encrypted. Several standards and protocols exist to ensure optimum end-to-end encryption security, including:
- Internet protocol security (IPSec): Encrypts data between multiple devices, securing traffic on all IP networks (the internet included). Its two sub-protocols consist of:
- Encapsulated security payload (ESP): Encrypts the data being transported with a symmetric key.
- Authentication header (AH): Uses hashing operations in the package header to conceal certain information until it reaches its destination.
- Generic routing encapsulation (GRE): Consists of the framework for how the protocol for the information being sent should be packaged and transported.
Devices that enlist an IPSec protocol use one of two encryption modes. Transport mode is most commonly used for end-to-end purposes and communication—for example, between a server and a client, or an employee workstation and a hosted gateway. The devices in use encrypt the data that’s being transported between them. Tunnel mode (generally the default IPSec mode) is when the devices in use build a tunnel between two networks, and it’s typically used between two gateways. The data is encrypted by the IPSec protocol and an entirely new IP header is attached. This ensures internal routing information is completely secure.
When is encryption necessary for businesses?
Midsize and small businesses are constantly the target of cyber attacks. The more information you send through the cybersphere, the easier it is for hackers to locate and gain access to that information. Encrypted files are the best line of defense to avoid a data breach and the ensuing consequences, creating a digital barrier between your files and would-be attackers. Encryption isn’t just for complicated information transactions; it proves necessary for day-to-day business practices such as:
- Sending emails: Email encryption software protects the information in the message.
- Using public Wi-Fi or hotspots: Wi-Fi encryption software helps protect wireless connections.
- Working remotely: Encrypted files that are accessed, sent, or received when traveling or working from home are secure.
- Using mobile devices: Messages and data sent and received on mobile devices are as safe as sending them over a connected device.
- Accessing and using cloud storage regularly: Encryption protects files uploaded to cloud storage, restricting access.
- Storing data on USB or external drives: Endpoint encryption protects the data stored on your computer’s hard drive.
Taking private IP services one step further
If you are operating on a private IP network, added security can only enhance the stability of that network. Including data encryption with your Verizon Private IP service guarantees protection on all levels of an already exceptional network. This is especially crucial for enterprise services, as your business is operating at a much more streamlined, efficient capacity with the resources available to you. VPN encryption is the essential next step in your data security, and it’s safe to say you will not regret having a safeguard in place against threats and attacks before they even happen.