Data Encryption

What is Data Encryption

Data encryption is a security method where information appears scrambled or encoded and can only be decrypted by a user with the correct encryption keys.

How is Encryption Used

Encryption is used first and foremost as a deterrent but it certainly is a very important line of defense against malicious and negligent parties and makes the use of encrypted data very difficult.    Encryption can be applied to all kinds of data from documents (unstructured data) to databases (structured data) and to data such as classified government intel to personal credit card transactions.

Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption

Encryption can be applied in two different forms: a symmetric key or an asymmetric key.  A symmetric key, also known as a secret key, uses one key to both encrypt and decrypt the data. This is best for one-on-one information sharing or for small data sets.  Asymmetric, or public key encryption, uses two linked keys, one private and the other public.   The public key is used to encrypt and can be used by anyone.  The private key, as the name suggest, is kept private and used to decrypt.

Compliance Requirements for Data Encryption

Data encryption and pseudonymization is a hard requirement for the European data privacy regulation GDPR.  One way to deal with content that contains personal (PII/NPI) data and lessen some of the burdens of the GDPR is to encrypt it.  Under GDPR, unlike the older Data Protection Directive, encrypting data does give you some benefits.  It’s explicitly mentioned as a legitimate way to address the security of processing personal data—one of the law’s key requirements. Organizations that encrypt their data also gain the advantage of not having to notify data subjects in the case of a breach. (They still, though, would have to notify the local DPA.)

A Word of Caution on Data Encryption

Data encryption is a great deterrent against malicious and negligent parties as mentioned above but if your privileged users’ credentials are compromised then chances are the private keys used to decrypt may also compromised.  Which is why implementing encryption may not be enough to protect your sensitive data.   Implementing data access controls and monitoring privileged users (system admins and DBAs) as well as the service accounts that have access to your data is strongly encouraged.   Check out our Solutions page on Data Security and Cloud Database Security to understand the holistic approach to data security.

Talk to our Data Security Expert

Call 888-234-4735

Find out how Adaptive Systems can help protect your critical data from increasing cyberthreats