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What is data encryption? What encryption techniques are used for data security?

The total amount of data on the internet is flabbergasting. Estimated at 79 zettabytes (one zettabyte is approximately one billion terabytes) in 2020, the total amount of data is expected to rise to 175 zettabytes by 2025 per Seagate UK.

The growth of data communication over the global network raises a plethora of questions surrounding data security and integrity as data travels from one part of the planet to another. Organizations with an online presence want and need to protect terabytes of sensitive information. Given the rise in data leaks, the need for solutions that can keep data away from prying eyes has gained traction.

Without data encryption, sensitive data on the cloud or connected servers would be exposed to digital attacks, such as ransomware and malware, and placed at the mercy of company staff who can misuse their access to the data. In the past, data encryption standard (DES) was used to preserve data integrity, but it had many shortcomings. Today, an abundance of newer solutions claim to provide better protection—without the same vulnerabilities and loopholes.

What is data encryption?

Data cannot be stored or transferred securely via the web in its original form. We use data encryption to convert text or other forms of communication into a code, known as ciphertext, that can be decrypted and understood only by those with the correct key. Data encryption allows organizations to send sensitive information across the web or store it in the cloud easily and securely.

Cyber attackers have figured out ways to decode the prevalent encryption techniques of yesteryear, so we are seeing a profusion of new-age solutions that combine old-age steganography encryption techniques with other algorithms and methods for optimal data protection.

How are data encryption techniques used today?

Around 90% of the data of internet users is unstructured, but organizational data is usually structured and demands proper protection. The primary purpose of data encryption is to protect data integrity.

While the initial focus of data encryption was to prevent external users from gaining unwanted access, a lot of data encryption techniques have started focusing on identity-based encryption. These techniques employ an additional layer of security to use the receiver’s unique identifier to generate a public key and for data encryption. It enables user access by using identity and access management (IAM) to establish to access for the right people to the right data.

While this may seem daunting, your organization doesn’t need to handle this independently. Instead, you can partner with a modern, third-party access control system provider like Oloid to enable stringent access control and protect your data better. Oloid has expertise in privacy compliance and can effortlessly handle your data leakage troubles.

What are encryption algorithms?

There are two primary encryption algorithms:

The symmetric or shared key algorithm

With symmetric encryption, there is a single key for encryption and decryption. The key needs to be shared with all authorized people. As only one key is involved, this algorithm is fast but often considered less secure. Such encryption algorithms and techniques are helpful when processing speed is vital and if the organization wants data to be shared with only specific users.

The asymmetric or public key algorithm

With asymmetric encryption, two keys are involved. While one key is public, the other one remains private. The former helps encrypt the data, and the latter is used for decryption purposes. Due to the separate keys, asymmetric algorithms are considered more secure than symmetric algorithms, but they can also slow down operations.

What types of data encryption techniques are there?

A number of encryption techniques are available in the market. Organizations use the one most relevant for them depending on their desired IAM security levels and other features. 

Here we review the most popular data encryption types available today.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

AES is a modern-day data encryption version that uses steganography and cryptography encryption techniques. AES uses symmetric key encryption to encode data and is well known for protecting everyday professional communication and business. Unlike most other encryption techniques, AES encrypts data in a single block and doesn’t transfer data in individual bits. Depending on the specific requirements, it can create blocks of 128, 192, or 256 bits.

Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA)

RSA uses an asymmetric cloud encryption technique based on factorizing two large prime numbers. The person receiving such data needs the requisite private key to decode the content. While RSA is effective for smaller communications, it doesn’t work well for a large number of files or a large data volume.

Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES)

While DES in its original form has become irrelevant for most use cases, a newer algorithm, 3DES, has quickly gained traction. As the name suggests, the same data passes through the original DES algorithm three times for encryption. The solution is not widely popular, but it is used by some financial bodies and industries that rely on quantitative data.

Twofish

Twofish encryption is one of the most freely available encryption methods. It is not patented and comes bundled with open-source software and other utilities, such as GPT, TrueCrypt, and more. It follows the 64-bit Blowfish encryption and churns out 16 rounds of data, irrespective of size.

Conclusion

Businesses have plenty of sensitive data, whether offline or on the cloud. As a result, they need data encryption to protect their databases, emails, communications, financial data, etc. In response to newer threats, they often have to acquire software and solutions that do not integrate well with their legacy systems.

That is where OLOID comes in. Instead of having to write off the existing systems, we retrofit them. This allows us to complete implementation swiftly while saving you time and money that would otherwise be spent on new components for optimal efficiency, and data protection.

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