Data encryption software solutions translate data into an unreadable format that can only be read if the user has access to a decryption key or password. When data is encrypted, it is known as ciphertext, while data that is unencrypted is known as plaintext. Today, encryption is widely renowned as the most effective data security method and is commonly used by organizations to protect business data. The two main types of data encryption are asymmetric encryption (also called public-key encryption) and symmetric encryption.
Why Do Organizations Use Data Encryption?
Data encryption is used by enterprises across industries to protect the confidentiality of their digital data stored on computers and shared using computer networks or the internet. Many solutions, such as Symantec Corporation Endpoint Encryption, leverage modern encryption algorithms to secure the IT and communications systems of their users.
With the use of encryption algorithms, users can boost confidentiality and undertake key security initiatives, such as authentication, non-repudiation, and integrity. With authentication, a receiver can verify the origin of a message. Integrity ensures that the contents of a message have not been tampered with since it was dispatched from the sender. Finally, non-repudiation restricts senders from renouncing a sent message.
How Does Data Encryption Work?
In simple terms, data (plaintext) goes through an encryption algorithm and is processed using an encryption key, resulting in the creation of ciphertext that can only be deciphered if decrypted using the correct key. A symmetric-key cipher, like that seen with Dell EMC Unity, uses the same key for both encryption and decryption. Symmetric-key encryption operates at greater speeds when compared to asymmetric encryption but requires the sender to provide the receiver with the encryption key for decryption. This means that companies with the need for large-scale encryption will have to distribute and manage numerous keys securely.
Asymmetric cryptography, also known as public-key cryptography, uses a public and a private key—the public key is often shared with all clients, while the private key remains protected. Algorithms like Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) are used in a cryptosystem for public-key encryption in order to secure sensitive information, especially when such information is transmitted over an insecure network. The RSA algorithm allows the use of both the private and public keys to encrypt a message in order to assure the integrity, authenticity, confidentiality, and non-repudiability of electronic data and communications through digital signatures.
What Are the Challenges Facing Encryption Today?
Today, ‘brute force’ attacks—where a computer tries random keys until one matchs—are the most basic and widespread methods used to try and bypass encryption. These attacks can easily be thwarted by using keys with a lengthy character count, as the strength of encryption directly correlates with the size of the key. As the size of the key increases, so does the amount of resources needed to compute the correct key.
Ciphers can also be broken by other methods, such as cryptanalysis and side-channel attacks. Cryptanalysis attacks rely on finding and exploiting weaknesses in the cipher, while side-channel attacks exploit the implementation process rather than the cipher itself. Both attack types have a higher chance of success if an error exists in the design or execution of the encryption system. Solutions like Sophos Safeguard have measures in place to prevent these attacks.
Applications of Data Encryption Solutions
Data encryption solutions often feature data protection for email, devices, and other data. These encryption functionalities also include control capabilities for the data that they protect, especially to address the issues of external devices, web applications, and removable media used by companies as part of their business procedures. Cutting-edge data loss prevention solutions, such as IBM Guardium for File and Database Encryption, prevent data theft and counter malware from external devices and web & cloud applications.
With encryption, companies can easily fulfill the security requirements of a remote workforce, regulatory compliance, BYOD, and project outsourcing. Data loss prevention solutions enable employees to work and collaborate without any worries while the tools and software proactively classify, tag, and encrypt sensitive data.