In today’s security climate, data that isn’t protected and encrypted isn’t safe. In 2022 alone, over 22 billion records were exposed in data breaches across the globe. For this reason, file encryption is incredibly vital to the safety and security of your organization. The best way to keep important data and information safe from hackers is to ensure all important files are encrypted.
File encryption is a way of concealing data with code that only specific recipients can decipher. This prevents unauthorized users from being able to view, understand, and access sensitive information. Agencies, enterprises, organizations, businesses, and even individuals all have data that are in need of safeguarding.That’s why it’s so essential that specific information remain invisible to the public eye, such as national bank information or patient medical records. Personal information like this should only be accessible to the rightful administrators with restricted access.
There are many kinds of sensitive information that an organization will want or need to protect. Files that need to be restricted and encrypted include, but aren’t limited to the following:
- Legal documents
- Financial records and information
- Archived data
- Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
- Patient health information (PHI)
- Trade secrets, copyrights, and intellectual property
The aforementioned files that you may need to encrypt encompass a range of file types, including but not limited to:
- Excel spreadsheets
- Word documents
3 kinds of files that you definitely want to encrypt
Ransomware, data breaches, and other adverse cybersecurity events wreak havoc on an organization’s financial health. This is why protecting sensitive data against cyber threats and data breaches is paramount. No matter how big or small a company is, they will always have some amount of valuable data that needs to be kept secure.
Some of the most common information that organizations work to encrypt and protect includes:
Unless you are a sole proprietor or business owner, organizations often have employees. With large or small groups of employees come vast amounts of personal and sensitive data and information. This can include financial details, contracts, sick notes, time sheets, and other personal data.
This type of personal information can be incredibly appealing to hackers, which is why it’s vital that every organization takes steps to encrypt important HR data. Additionally, this information should be protected from other prying eyes within the company. HR information and data is only important to a select few people and should be treated with care.
Data and information on customers, contracts with suppliers or buyers, and documents related to tenders and offers are just some of the commercial information that businesses will need to encrypt and protect.
If this type of information is compromised, the company as a whole could suffer. For this reason, all commercial information that is either being stored or shared must be encrypted to ensure its safety.
It’s a safe bet to say that all legal company information should be safely encrypted. Legal information is highly sensitive, which means it should always get end-to-end encryption. This ensures that the legal information can only be deciphered by the sender and the recipient without a decryption taking place at the gateway.
Types of regulations organizations may need to comply with
Many types of data, such as the ones listed above, are held to specific industry standards and regulations. These regulations ensure that crucial information is never lost, misused, stolen, or corrupted.
If organizations do not comply with these regulations, they can expect to be charged high fees. On average, organizations lose $5.87 million in revenue due to a single non-compliance event. However, the financial impact goes far further than that. When you consider other factors that result from a non-compliance event, such as reputation damage and business disruption, that number can easily triple.
Additionally, when organizations don’t successfully protect sensitive information, the public often loses trust in them. This can result in lawsuits, profit loss, customer distrust and dissatisfaction, reduced employee retention, and other negative outcomes.
Some common compliance regulations include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
System and Organization Controls (SOC): Organizations that store customer data in the cloud are subject to SOC standards. Encryption falls under the confidentiality service principle of SOC and is a best practice for protecting sensitive financial information.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): If your business handles cardholder data, following PCI DSS best practices can help minimize the risk of a data breach. One such practice is encryption of data file transmissions.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Companies in the healthcare industry use security protocols—including encryption—to meet HIPAA requirements for the protection of sensitive health data.
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Any company that collects the personal data of California residents is subject to CCPA. To mitigate risk, data must be encrypted when it is at rest or in transit.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): The GDPR safeguards the privacy of EU citizens. Encryption is explicitly mentioned throughout the GDPR as a preferred method of protecting consumer data and managing the risks associated with transferring data.
Enterprise-level file encryption
It’s particularly important for organizations that handle the aforementioned types of data to implement file-based encryption, which makes sensitive data inaccessible without a unique key. The unique key, such as a password, prevents tampering and unauthorized access by malicious actors. It keeps a file from being read by anyone except the person it was intended for.
An enterprise file encryption strategy protects data across its lifecycle. This includes the following data states:
Data at rest: At-rest data is stored in a device or database and is not actively moving to other devices or networks.
Data in transit: Also known as data in motion, in-transit data is being transported to another location, whether it moves between devices, across networks, or within a company’s on-premises or cloud-based storage.
Data in use: Data that is in use is regularly accessed for operations such as processing, updating, and viewing the data.
Without the proper encryption, data is highly susceptible to hacking and data breaches in each and every state of its lifestyle.