What is Encryption?

081313-encryptionYou send a staggering amount of information over the Internet during the course of a day: Your credit card number when you make a purchase. Personal information like your birth date and social security number might be required when you create an account at your bank’s website. Running a small business? Maybe you’ve sent budget data to your accountant over email.

What prevents that information from being intercepted by eavesdroppers and hackers? Encryption, which is the process of encoding messages so that only those authorized can read them. Encryption is as old as the Roman empire, which would use codes to send secret messages. You already encounter it every day in email or on the web (look for the https:// at the beginning of a web address).

There are two types of commonly used encryption: symmetric-key encryption and public-key encryption. In symmetric-key encryption, both ends of the communication use the same key to decode the message. This is kind of the like the secret code messages you shared with your best friend when you were kids. You replaced each letter of the alphabet with a number, wrote your message and sent it on. Your friend had a copy of the key and decoded the message.

More often these days, public-key encryption is used. In this scenario, the sender and recipient are using two different keys for encoding and decoding the message. A complex mathematical algorithm allows the message to be decoded by the recipient even though it’s not using the same key as the sender. This is more secure than symmetric-key encryption.

As a small business owner, you want to protect your data and your customers’ data. What do you need to encrypt?

  • Email. Encrypting email will protect proprietary business data as well as customer information. If you use an email client like Outlook or Gmail, you can encrypt messages individually, or you can encrypt everything you send.
  • Your data. Data sitting on your servers is vulnerable to outside attacks. Encrypt it to protect your business and your customers from hackers and eavesdroppers.
  • Mobile devices. If you or your employees do a lot of work on mobile devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, you’ll want to encrypt any data those devices send out.

Do you need help making sure your data is secure? Let us help you protect your information. Contact us today!

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