Marketing & Advertising

Understanding How Encryption Works and Why It Matters

If you own a business, your website is likely the number one thing you rely on to bring in new customers and bolster profits. After all, when people search Google or Bing for products or services you provide, they will see your site at the top of the results page. However, to get there, you have to understand how encryption works and why it matters.

Encryption is simply a way of protecting information from being viewed by anyone other than the intended recipient(s). It’s a little bit like a code. You can create encryption so long as only someone who knows the code can decode it. Someone who is looking at encrypted data without knowing how to decrypt it wouldn’t know what they were looking at because it would be gibberish to them.

This is why encryption is so important for businesses. When you have a website, you are likely collecting all sorts of personal information from your customers – their name, email address, phone number, credit card information, etc. If that data were to fall into the wrong hands, attackers could use it for identity theft or other malicious activities. With encryption in place, however, that information is safe and can’t be accessed by anyone who doesn’t have permission to see it.

What is Encryption?

To understand how encryption works, it’s important to first understand encryption. Simply put, encryption is the process of coding information into a format that only certain people can read or decode. This means that if you encrypt your website with an SSL certificate, then when someone visits that website, the information they send to you – usual things like their name, email address, and credit card number – will be encrypted. Meaning that if an attacker intercepts the information, they won’t be able to read it. The current standard for data security is called public key infrastructure (PKI).  Public Key Infrastructure is a form of asymmetric encryption where public and private key pairs, which are mathematically related, are used to encrypt and decrypt data.

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How Does Encryption Work?

So how exactly does encryption work? It is often represented in a one-way function because recipients cannot use the same key to decrypt the data. This way, if someone intercepts your information, they can’t use it – or even see what’s inside – without knowing the appropriate method to decrypt it. There are many different ways of encrypting data, but some common methods are symmetric, asymmetric, and hashing. Regardless of the program, you use though. Good encryption involves an encryption key that is “random enough” so that it could take millions or billions of years to guess.

Why Do You Need Encryption?

Now that you understand what encryption is and how it works, you may be wondering why all this matters to business owners like you. After all, you may be thinking that you have your website password-protected and have never been hacked before, so why do you need encryption?

This is a good question, but as it happens, many websites are breached every single day. In fact, according to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) website security statistics for 2016, on average more than 10,500 websites have fallen victim to a known vulnerability every day. This means that on any given day, hackers could potentially access your site and steal information or install malware on your server, which can lead to serious problems down the line.

Types of Encryption

There are several different types of encryption for you to consider depending on your business type and how it’s set up. The first is file-level encryption which means that any files stored by your website or server will be encrypted before they’re saved so that even if someone accesses them, they won’t be able to read the data inside. File-level encryption is often paired with client-side encryption, which can encrypt client information before it’s sent to your site, but here’s the important thing about client-side encryption. If an attacker gains access to your server, then they’ll have complete access to all of your private information as well as the decryption key.

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Another type of encryption is a full disk, and this involves encrypting everything when it’s written to disk and decrypting everything when it’s read back. This ensures that your private information is safe even if someone steals your server or physical disks.

Another type of encryption is database-level, and this means you can control which parts of your database are secure and which aren’t. However, the downside to this is that hackers could potentially gain access to unencrypted data, so for small businesses, this may not be a viable option just yet.

For smaller companies, another option might be shared hosting with full-disk encryption provided by the hosting company.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, encryption is an important tool for business owners to protect their websites and data from would-be hackers. While it may seem complicated at first, it’s not that difficult to understand and can be a life-saver in the event of a cyberattack. So make sure your business is fully protected by encrypting everything from your website to your files and databases. It’s one of the best ways to keep your data safe and secure.

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