Encryption uses cryptographic keys to scramble data temporarily so that it can only be read by people or computers that have the decryption key. Decryption keys unscramble the data once it has reached its end destination. Encryption software protects data in transit, data at rest, or data in use.
Encryption software is important because:
- Encryption is required for compliance with PCI DSS, a US credit card compliance law, and is recommended by both the GDPR and CCPA, two major data protection regulations.
- To limit financial and legal liabilities, businesses must protect internal and external data. As a result, companies may mandate that all sensitive information be encrypted.
While GDPR and CCPA don’t explicitly require businesses to encrypt customer data, it’s one of the primary ways that businesses protect the enormous amounts of customer information that they store.
How does encryption software work?
Encryption software scrambles data using a cipher; the cipher makes the data unreadable. The software creates ciphertext from data in rest, in transit, or both, depending on the platform. The number of bits (digital data) in a key determines how complex it is; encryption software typically uses at least 128 bits for its cryptographic keys, if not 256 bits. The longer the key, the more difficult it is for hackers to uncover it. Security providers offer multiple types of encryption software, including enterprise-focused software and disk encryption software.
Some security providers offer software platforms that aren’t solely dedicated to encryption but offer it as a key feature, especially because encryption is a crucial aspect of network, device, and infrastructure security.
How encryption software is used
Businesses use encryption software for:
- Protecting files as they are being transmitted
- Securing stored data
- Encrypting the encryption keys themselves (this provides additional security)
- Complying with data protection regulations
Encryption software may also offer additional security features, such as strong password generation. If a business is planning to purchase encryption software, they should also consider how well that platform integrates with other applications.
For example, a company might have a policy that before any external emails are sent between sales representatives and customers about deals, every file must be run through encryption software before it is uploaded to the email. Or a company might require that an approved employee must be given a decryption key to enter a protected vault that holds sensitive data or other encryption keys.
Also Read: Best Encryption Software & Tools for 2021