Encryption – Do I Really Need It?

So what is encryption?

Almost everyone is familiar with the basics of codes and cyphers used to transmit secret messages.  Most would be familiar with the basic substitution cypher, where one letter or number is used to represent another.

Sending a secret message requires that the sender encode or encrypt the message and that the receiver decode or decrypt it.  This only works if both the sender and the recipient have the same encryption key.

 

For example: 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A

 

Using the above cypher key, the sentence:

WHAT IS ENCRYPTION

becomes:

DSZG RH VMXIBKGRLM

 

Encryption, in the IT sense, is a technique that enables your data to be stored and/or transmitted in an encoded fashion. This technique makes it difficult for hackers or other data thieves to make sense of any data they manage to acquire.

 

Okay, so it’s a way of making my data unintelligible to others.  But do I REALLY need it?

The short answer is that anyone that values their privacy should be using encryption methods to secure their data.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a government department responsible for the assessment of secret intelligence or just a regular person that lives on their mobile phone. If you store personal data, especially data that could be damaging in the wrong hands, you should be using encryption.

For businesses, especially small businesses, thinking about implementing encryption can be an “overlookable annoyance”. After all, you’re just a one-man-band with a laptop and a mobile phone, right?

 

Think about the following considerations: 

  • Intellectual Property - Do I have IP that I need to protect?
  • Data belonging to others - Do I have creditors, suppliers, or other third-party associates whose data needs protecting?
  • Clients data  - Do I have clients whose data requires protection?
  • The Law - Do I have to abide by the Australian Privacy Principles (https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/privacy-act/)?
  • Legal Risk - Would the access of data to unauthorised persons have the possibility of leading to a legal, financial, and/or reputational risk to my company?

At the very least, if you deal with the acquisition of third-party information (including client data), you will likely need to abide by the Australian Privacy Principles. The most basic and fundamental principle of protecting your business data is encryption.

 

 

If from reading this you've decided that you need to step up the encryption strategy for your business, contact Skope IT here and we can help you ascertain exactly what's best for you. 

 

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