The news of data breaches constantly makes headlines and if you are a business owner, it can send chills down your spine. Data breaches are common these days that it is no longer about whether it will happen to your business or not, it is about when it would happen. According to statistics, data breaches exposed 7.9 billion records in 2017 and 5 billion records in 2018. These are alarming numbers and the worst part is that this pattern continued in 2019.
How can you protect your sensitive data in such a situation? The answer lies in encryption. You might find businesses encrypting their data and still getting their data stolen because they have not followed implemented encryption the right way. They did not follow the best practices and paid the price.
In this article, you will learn about five best practices for encryption that you can use to secure your data.
5 Data Encryption Best Practices
Here are five data encryption best practices you must follow to keep your data safe.
- Assess what data to encrypt
- Develop a security strategy
- Ensure secure key management
- Implement the encryption strategy
- Monitor encryption performance
1. Assess What Data To Encrypt
First things first, decide on what data you want to encrypt. Think about the worst-case scenario. Let’s say your data is compromised or stolen, how much damage it would do? If the answer is huge, then it means that this is critical data and you should encrypt it. Sensitive information such as credit card information, social security numbers, trade secret information, etc falls under this category.
Data stored on your affordable dedicated servers and databases is much easier to protect then data in transit. This means that you should use encryption when you are transferring data over a network or accessed remotely. Then there are compliance regulations that you have to meet, which you can only do by encrypting your personal information.
2. Develop a Security Strategy
Once you have decided what data to encrypt, it is time to develop a security strategy. For this, you should develop a deeper understanding of regulations such as PCI and HIPAA and data governance policies that applies to your business. You should also consider the roles and data access privileges that define who can access what. Decide on which encryption algorithm and encryption tools you will be using. Then there are considerations like encryption speed, cost, memory usage and range of coverage. By taking all these factors into account, you can put together a strong security strategy.
3. Ensure Secure Key Management
Protect all the decryption keys and have a backup of these keys. These keys need to be properly secured before implementing encryption; otherwise, they can pose a security risk. Store your decryption keys in a separate location away from your data, so even if your data gets stolen, your decryption keys stay safe. Even for backup keys, choose a different location. Don’t store them alongside decryption keys.
Use centralized key management to mitigate risk and vulnerabilities caused due to isolation. Vault your keys into the hardware security module, which offers hardware-based protection for your keys. It can minimize data latency while ensuring the proximity of encryption keys.
4. Implement the Encryption Strategy
Before you implement your encryption strategy, there are certain things you should keep in mind. Some of them are:
- Cloud Integration
- Combination of encryption practices
When implementing encryption, you should make sure that it scales across your network and is not limited to individual departments but also want to be less disruptive as possible while doing so. Look for a solution that could secure your data in a dynamic and scalable environment, especially if you are planning to move to the cloud.
If you are moving to the cloud, then you should also worry about integration with cloud systems. It is crucial to identify what encryption will be applied to data stored in the cloud. More importantly, what impact will that encryption have on functionality, accessibility, and performance?
There are instances when you might be working with different vendors and business partners. In such a scenario, you might have to use a combination of encryption practices. For this, you will have to add more layers of security to ensure data stay safe.
5. Monitor Encryption Performance
Once you have successfully implemented encryption, now it is time to monitor its performance. How effective is your data encryption strategy? Logging tools can help you analyze the performance and tells you everything, including who is accessing sensitive data, which data is being retrieved and when.
By carefully scrutinizing that data from a logging tool, you can improve your encryption and plug in the loopholes if there are any before it can be exploited by cybercriminals. Are there any problems performance issues cropping up? If there are, you should consider using a different encryption algorithm or encryption tool.
How do you encrypt your organization data? Which best practices do you follow? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.