Computer encryption, at its most basic, works on similar lines. When you encrypt something on the computer – files, folders, CDs, USB flash drives, software, cloud data, etc. – you mask the data using a special code, so that it becomes unreadable to those you haven’t authorised. If you want someone to read this data, then they need to possess the code or the authorisation to decrypt your data and access it.
Imagine you’re in the classroom and you want to send a secret message to your friend, but your classmates and your teacher are nearby, and you don’t want them to be privy to this information. So, you decide to use a special code which can only be deciphered by your friend and no one else. When you write your message, you write it in code. What you’ve done here is an encrypted message.
Famous movies like The Imitation Game have made computer encryption very famous. But why exactly is encryption so important and how does it help your business?
Keeping your data away from the wrong hands
Every organization has thousands of files that are constantly shared between people. During the course of their journey, these files may fall into the wrong hands, and the data may be used for fraudulent activities.
This is what encryption prevents. Encryption is essentially a scrambling of the data into structures which are unrecognizable without a decryption code. When you encrypt the file, you’re about to share with a colleague, and you ensure that nobody unauthorized gets access to your sensitive data along the way.
Computer encryption is especially useful when organizations share sensitive data like customer information, financial data, corporate legal agreements, payment related data and so on. If your laptop, CD or USB drive getis lost, or your password is accessed, and your data becomes accessible to hackers, encryption ensures that your confidential corporate data is kept safe.
Encryption makes it very hard for people to access your data. While saying this, it’s important to remember that no computer encryption software is 100% functional. It’s best to speak to your IT support London, to get your hands on the best encryption tools.
How can you encrypt your company data?
To encrypt and decrypt data, you need to use “keys.” These keys are similar to codes, which you need to use to unscramble your data. The two methods of encryption vary in the way these keys are used:
• Symmetric encryption
Here, a single key is used to encrypt data. If you wish for someone to access this data, this single key needs to be shared with that individual. The key acts like a password, decrypting the data once you input the correct key.
• Asymmetric encryption
Here, two keys are used to encrypt and decrypt data – a public key and a private key. The user who has the data needs both the keys to access the data. The public key is made available to everyone, while the private key is only provided to the individual who first encrypted the data. This key needs to be shared if the data is to be made accessible.
Typically, asymmetric encryption is preferred over symmetric encryption as it affords users a greater degree of small business IT security.
Types of computer encryption
So, what can you encrypt on the computer?
• Files and folders
In this type of encryption, you can encrypt only specific files and folders which you want protected. These are great if you have a small company and all your employees access data from a common pool. You can use this to encrypt only select files which you need to share confidentially.
This type of encryption is used to encrypt all the data on your computer. Here everything – CDs, USB drives, files, data on the cloud, etc. – are all encrypted. This offers the most comprehensive type of protection to your computer.
These days, operating systems like iOS and Windows have built-in encryption software, which you can use to encrypt the data on your system. All you need to do is configure your system’s settings, and the data will be encrypted automatically.