Did you know that in 2015 alone, cyber criminals stole about 300 million records and over $1 billion across 100 banks in 30 countries? Even Fortune 500 companies, with the best perimeter defenses and purpose-built network surveillance systems, have not been immune to hacks.

So while technology has helped us to easily manage our tasks, it has also made it easier for digital crimes, such as stealing sensitive company records, to happen on a global scale. The valuing of privacy more than ever is why one in two major corporations around the world now use encryption as part of their security protocols.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is translating electronic plain text to cipher text using mathematical algorithms to make such text only accessible to those who possess the key to the encryption. In simpler terms, this is a security method that involves scrambling the contents of a message or file so that only the person who has the right to unscramble it can access the data.

Theoretically, enterprising hackers can try to decrypt the file by running the encryption through various combinations until they finally strike gold with the correct cipher. This is also known as a ‘brute-force attack’ and is where the strength of the encryption plays a part in protection against such attacks. The current AES-256 standard has been recognized as “government grade security”, having been adopted by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to protect sensitive records and top-secrets. To decrypt a single message with 256-bit encryption, an attacker would need countless key combinations and trillions of years to decrypt so many combinations, and this is if they have a supercomputer on hand.

The Benefits of Encryption

The security feature of encryption in using keys to access files and messages also offers a double benefit in helping organisations protect their sensitive files and records against both external hackers and rogue insiders, the latter comprising those who may have legitimate access to the network but are unauthorized to access the records.

Encryption may also be the only viable way to ensure protection of data when transmitting across networks, email, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or any other methods, all of which are weak spots that hackers are waiting on to exploit. In such situations, utilizing encryption is perhaps the best way to ensure regulatory compliance regarding data safety while removing the stress of enforcing security on these avenues.

Another benefit of encryption is its ability in upholding data integrity. An encrypted file can thwart a hacker’s ploy to manipulate specific data that spreads misinformation or disrupt corporate communications and so minimizes the chances of files being corrupted.

What makes the case for encryption even more compelling is its ease of implementation while keeping costs low. A research by Ponemon Institute on 1,335 IT and IT Security individuals across the U.S, U.K, Germany and Japan estimates the average total cost for full-disk encryption stands at USD$232 per user per year. For this price, the resultant cost savings from reduced data breach exposure is a whopping $4,650 per user per year. Calculating the costs of encryption depends on three main factors: the type of encryption, organisation size and the industry in which the organisation is in. Larger organisations incur lower costs while those that are in heavily regulated industries will incur higher costs.

And in a situation where your data does get stolen, encryption offers effective protection in minimizing against data loss since it distributes the data among diverse devices and across geographies. This minimizes worry for administrators about the device or system in which the file or data is stored or transferred.

While encryption is effective to keep “cyber adversaries” at bay, success ultimately depends on how well your enterprise manages and safeguards its encryption keys. This is accompanied with effective policy management that includes clear-cut access rights. Companies can also consider customizing their file security options to maximize file protection. If you’re unsure on data protection policies and want to learn how your sensitive records can be customized to safeguard against cyber thefts, get in touch with us.