Encryption: Data’s best friend

Published: July 12, 2011 by ofonseca

Once upon a time, in the dark ages before the Internet, encryption was a tool confined mostly to the military.  The algorithmic schemes that convert plain text into an unreadable form, for purposes of privacy protection, naturally wasn’t considered relevant to the public.

Times have changed.  Now encryption is seen as an essential method to secure data and protect infrastructures from breaches, which is why web browsers automatically encrypt text when connecting to secure servers, and why security regulators are making encryption a mandatory part of many compliance practices.

Indeed, compliance is the number one factor driving more companies to implement encryption technologies than ever before.  According to the most recent Ponemon Institute’s U.S. Enterprise Encryption Trends report, 69 percent of the IT and business leaders surveyed said that compliance is the reason they are adopting encryption within their company’s technologies, topping even the mitigation of data breaches (63 percent) as their paramount motivation.

Given that encryption is a must under a variety of newer regulations, it’s no surprise that companies feel the pressure to get on the encryption bandwagon, and that solutions involving encryption have seen the biggest increase in IT budget line items over the past year.  The HITECH Act and various state privacy laws such as Massachusetts 201 CMR 17 are two examples of regulations which mete out stiff penalties to companies that don’t use encryption to protect sensitive data.  The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), remains a key driver for encryption, while the Payment Card Industry Security Standard, whose requirements for credit card transaction security include encryption, has become the fastest growing reason for IT organizations to use encryption.

Because more people are working remotely, with data flowing outside of traditional security walls, and because data breaches are on the rise, the Ponemon report concludes that encryption adoption will continue to increase in the coming years.

When considering your company’s full breach prevention strategy, consider encryption a strong bodyguard that can play a big role in protecting data while also shielding your company from embarrassing and costly breaches.