The use of encryption has been around for years in one form or another and even dates back to the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. However, perhaps the most famous historical use of encryption happened during the Second World War when Germany used the mighty Enigma machine to code their highly sensitive military plans and strategies transmitted across Europe and the world.
Data encryption in the modern world still follows the same basic principle, that being the systematic scrambling of data in order to make it unrecognizable to anyone who does not know how to unscramble it. In computer speak; it is the conversion of plaintext into cyphertext by use of an algorithmic cipher. In addition, a simple definition of an algorithm would be a detailed set of instructions that lead from a known start to a successful finish.
Whilst this all might sound a little high-tech, the fundamental message is clear; without the cipher, encrypted data will mean nothing to anyone trying to read it.
Encryption in today’s world is of major importance. With sensitive information of a personal, commercial and public nature increasingly stored and transmitted electronically, securing it from the prying eyes of opportunists or hackers should be a priority.
From a business aspect, there are many areas where the encryption of information should be considered. For a start, the records, and personal details of staff need to be secure and likewise the details of a company’s customers could be a valuable asset to a competitor.
Financial information, details of important deals, and plans for the future strategy of a company are all examples of sensitive information. A simple rule would be to encrypt any information that could be detrimental to the business if it were to get into unauthorised hands.
The value of encryption becomes even higher when it comes to portable devices. Losing a laptop or a USB stick that isn’t encrypted opens the door for anybody finding one.
In recent times, some manufacturers of USB sticks have produced units with encryption hardware built in however, there are also a number of third party software products available for those without, many of them as free downloads such as TrueCrypt, FreeOTFE, and Cryptainer. A Google search will reveal many more.
Electronic data is valuable and like all valuables should be kept safe. Modern technology has made it possible for information to be transmitted quickly and stored in vast volumes, but it has also made it possible to safeguard it. Businesses will only have themselves to blame if their information gets into the hands of unauthorised people.