Many businesses focus on business development without paying attention to sensitive data and files. Meanwhile, the loss of essential data may lead to some disturbances. Such disturbances happen when employees do not treat the data with due diligence, leading to data leakage or when they decide to steal it, e.g. for the benefit of a new employer. Data encryption comes to the rescue. Learn what it is. Find out why and how to encrypt your data through this article.
Data is the basic information on which every company operates every day. They are transferred through official and unofficial channels, such as private e-mail, cloud, and instant messengers, particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Interestingly, the company's particularly sensitive data include:
- personal data of customers,
- plans and designs, e.g. architecture designs,
- valuable AutoCAD projects,
- business strategies,
- financial reports,
Many employees work on files that are edited, uploaded, and shared. In turn, remote work often obliges you to copy files to portable drives and use services or instant messengers, which increases the chance of data leakage.
This means that companies are highly exposed not only to cyber attacks but also to the harmful actions of employees. When does data leakage happen most often?
Learn examples of data loss scenarios
One common scenario that leads to file leakage and file risk is that they are in the wrong place - on an employee's private computer. For example, when your employee must send an important email to the customer database, they decide to finish the work at home on his laptop. To do this, he sends the list of contacts to his Google Drive or copies it on a flash drive.
And the result?
The lack of proper security has caused data leakage. You cannot be sure what your employee will do with the data. Will they be loyal or share them with the competition in exchange for a position in a new company? Another source of risk may be losing the USB drive. In this case, your company may face unpleasant consequences in the form of a penalty imposed by the Office of Personal Data Protection, which may amount to up to 4% of its total annual global turnover.
The employee's lack of attention is a common reason leading to data leakage. Imagine that your employee is working on an important financial document. Instead of sending it to the CFO, they accidentally click on a customer's email address with a similar name to your CFO.
Your company's confidential information has been disclosed. The customer may use the obtained data to the detriment of your company, and the situation itself may affect its reputation.
Those sample scenarios show that the lack of company data security may lead to violating the law, financial losses, as well as losing customer trust.
How can we fix it? One way is to encrypt the data, which means that even if the secured files are stolen, they will not be able to be read by an unauthorised person.
Data encryption – how do I protect my company's files?
Data encryption is a process that converts a document's content into encrypted text, i.e. a sequence of random symbols that do not make any logical sense. The process of content transformation, i.e. data encryption, is possible through IT solutions that change the file's content thanks to algorithms. The author and the correct recipient of the file can read it using a key, the valid password, which allows the conversion of the encrypted file into the target text. Interestingly, guessing the password by an unauthorised person is a big challenge because each key is also created through algorithms. In addition, many data encryption solutions generate a new key for each session, which affects its uniqueness.
In this case, the person who has the file but does not have the password to it must decipher the type of algorithm used and the key to access the document. The task is not easy because the keys have different lengths, from 128 to 2048 bits.
What does the length of the key in bits mean? The longer the key (the higher the value expressed in bits), the harder it is to break. It is also vital that you encrypt not only files but also portable and hard drives.
Hard drive encryption is a good practice that will protect all files in case of lost hardware, theft, or attempted hacking. This ensures that the unauthorised person will not have access to the files, photos, and emails on the computer because they are password protected. An additional form of disk security is the TPM module, which can be part of computers equipped with Windows for over 20 years. The TPM module is designed to store sensitive information such as passwords, encryption keys, fingerprints, files and documents. Each TPM chip is built into the motherboard and linked to a computer. So, if the disk is plugged into another TPM computer, it will not have the right keys to decrypt it, so the files will not be readable.
The TPM module works closely with IT solutions dealing with data encryption. It is used to create and store keys safely, as well as to verify the compatibility of the operating system that has been assigned to a given TPM module.
An example of a solution that works with TPM is BitLocker. It is a feature installed by default and free of charge to encrypt data on Microsoft Windows systems, through which you can easily encrypt files and generate access keys.
However, it is worth noting that encrypting files alone will not protect the company against the unfair actions of employees. To increase data security in the company, DLP (Data Leak Prevention) solutions, which protect against data leakage, prove to be an effective antidote.
An example of such a DLP solution is Safetica, which allows you to manage BitLocker through a console and supports the TPM module. This will enable you to fully encrypt your hard drives and USB and manage your access keys. As an effective DLP software, Safetica gives entrepreneurs control over the flow of data by scanning and reporting employee activity on workstations. In addition, it assesses the risk of security incidents and blocks harmful actions of employees by notifying them.
To secure your company's data, you must remember that the first step is the encryption process. However, it will not protect you from employee negligence. According to data from the Ponemon Institute, as many as 80% of companies lose data due to employee errors or malicious actions. In this case, DLP software is a necessary IT solution for companies.
5 steps to keep your business secure:
- educate your employees on how to handle sensitive data and files,
- pay attention to which files in your company are the most sensitive, and losing them may affect the company's development,
- develop a path for protecting sensitive files in your company with an IT specialist, e.g. by encrypting them,
- decide to implement a DLP solution that will comprehensively protect your company's data,
- analyse the channels through which data is sent and improve the data protection process of your company.