The whole topic of data encryption and whether it’s actually important has become much more prevalent over the last few years, especially with the rise of scams and un-traceability through cryptocurrency.
This is a little bit of an “aside” compared to the stuff that I normally talk about but I just wanted to throw this quick article in here to make a point about the security of your information. Depending on what type of business you are starting online, you may be more or less at risk in terms of hackers stealing your data.
It may be just your data at risk but if you’re running a business where you have to hold client data then it’s much more than just you at stake and at that point it’s important that you take steps to avoid headaches down the road.
So as I mentioned, some businesses are more concerned about security than others based on the work that they do and the types of information that they store but all businesses are at risk of security breaches.
It is a reality that there are hackers at any given moment all over the world are continuously trying to steal your business’ sensitive data.
You might be thinking that there’s no way your organization has a security threat. However, the data is against you. No business organization whether small or large is safe from the hackers if they do not take proper security measures.
All Businesses are at Risk Regardless of Size
Think of the giant, Yahoo who got hacked in 2016 and at least 500 million of their client accounts were breached. Okay, you might be thinking that huge companies like this have a target on their back.
But small businesses are actually an attractive target for hackers and according to a survey, 60 percent of cyber-attacks in 2014 were targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses. Furthermore, viruses such as ransomware were so widespread that it was predicted they hit over half of all U.S. businesses in 2016.
The first thing you need to figure out is whether it actually matters that much if your security is breached or not. The second thing you need to figure out is whether you are sufficiently well protected.
Does Your Business Store Sensitive Information?
Physician clinics, law firms and investment firms are among the most obvious of these businesses. But there are also some less obvious niches that should prioritize security and it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to contemplate whether you might be one of them.
So take a second to think about the data that you keep on your computer. Then the computers at your office and of your employees. Can you think of any information there that might be sensitive?
- Do you have client information?
- Perhaps payment information, addresses or social security numbers?
- What about personal thoughts or opinions of clients such as if you run an online therapy or coaching service?
- Do you have corporate or trade secrets?
- Do you have a developing patent?
More often than not, as a business you store at least some kind of sensitive information in your computer systems. And even if you’re already well protected, hackers can still sometimes get in. So if you answered “YES” to any of the above questions, keep reading to find out how you can better protect your clients and/or your business.
Encryption as the Last Line of Defense
Encryption is generally the last resort for security. Hopefully hackers will never even get that far but if they do then you know that you’re protected (see image). You want to make sure that your systems have good anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewalls installed first and foremost. But sometimes these just aren’t good enough.
What is encryption?
Encryption is when you take data of some type, whether financial, personal, corporate, visual, etc. and convert it into code that doesn’t make any sense if you were to just see it. It becomes “indecipherable” and the only way to unscramble the data back into it’s comprehensible form is using some sort of key. This key is usually a series of alphanumeric characters.
The scrambling and unscrambling of data is accomplished using a complex mathematical algorithm.
An example of one such algorithm is the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) used by the U.S. government in order to protect their “SECRET” and “TOP SECRET” information. The design and strength of the AES algorithm varies from 128, 192, and 256 with higher numbers indicating increasing strength of the encryption thus making it “harder to crack” by hackers.
Besides keeping data secure, it helps meet government regulations
If you’re just starting your business and you’re still learning about it, you may not yet know that if your business clearly deals with the personal and financial data of customers – such as an investment firm – then you will be needing encryption to keep the personal data of customers secure. In this way, you will be following the compliance guidelines and strict rules and regulations related to data handling.
Encryption allows reasonably safe storage of data in the Cloud
Another reason to use encryption is that you can easily move your sensitive data to the Cloud for convenience and sharing purposes. You will not have to worry about the increased vulnerability of the data if it has this last line of defense to protect it.
Data Encryption is 100% Important for your Business
Your business information is at risk of being hacked. The question is whether it matters or not if hackers get their hands on it. If you answered yes to any of the above questions and it does matter for your business, then adding encryption as the final line of defense is definitely worthwhile.
In some sectors, it is actually a regulation of government to encrypt the data to protect it so you won’t even have a choice. And finally, it can also make your life much easier by allowing you to confidently move data to the Cloud for ease of access and sharing by authorized parties with access keys.