Why You Must Leverage Encryption for Data Protection in the Digital Transformation Era

It is vital to use encryption to safeguard data as more resources are digitized. Your data will be completely unreadable to hackers unless they have your decryption keys.
data encryption and security
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The race to embrace digital transformation is on and a lot of organizations are doing everything possible to ensure they digitize every piece of information; this is, however, putting at greater risks of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Taking into account that the global spend on digital transformation is projected to hit an astonishing $2.39 Trillion by 2024, it’s obvious that data security challenges will hit new heights.

Organizations must, therefore, buckle up to put in place measures that will help in strengthening their data protection strategy. There is no need to emphasize the fact that a successful digital transformation initiative relies heavily on data and technologies like cloud, virtualization, big data, IoT, and blockchain.

The more you deploy new technologies, the more vulnerable you become to data breaches, since protecting your sensitive data after these deployments pose a bigger task. While the task may seem onerous, with a digital transformation strategy that complies with the world’s best practices, creating business values, ensuring customer satisfaction, and integrating tools such as HSMs (hardware security modules), blockchain, and end-to-end encryption, you can embark on digital transformation with the mindset that your sensitive data is safe.

For optimal data protection, you can’t do without encryption; any data you encrypt has become useless to cyber attackers that manage to hack your system unless they have the corresponding decryption keys Your emphasis must be on first identifying where your data flows and resides.

This ensures that you know if it’s data-at-rest or data-in-motion, you then go ahead to encrypt it for safety purposes. Encryption remains the best method of securing your data; you must not be put off by the assumed complexity.

It has become pertinent that you must digitally transform your operations; the culture and beliefs of your organization must change; you must make funding available for the diverse data encryption solutions that you need to ensure data security. If you are still thinking or contemplating the silo approach of multiple islands of encryption, that will end up in a problem of “plenty,” you will only end up making your encryption process and the ultimate security of your sensitive data burdensome, ineffective, and expensive.

Resolving your data encryption problem

Since you have realized that the silo approach will not work out for your brand effectively, you need to first identify the possible areas of vulnerability you intend to mitigate by implementing data encryption. Digital transformation places your brand among the firms to contend with; trying to cut costs may not work out for you in this situation.

If your mindset is to go for the lower the items in the stack, you must understand that you are putting your brand in a weak position to mitigate cyberattacks. Full disk encryption (FDE), covering basic protection if there is a case of physical loss, theft, or improper disposal of storage devices, should be your primary concern.

Without FDE, you can’t mitigate threats against data access, since there is ordinarily no defense mechanism against data access threats from within the device’s systems or applications. But then, you need to consider your total organization’s system and network infrastructure, which FDE will not work for or offers little protection against data breaches.

This means that you must think of stronger protection as you move up the stack. The point of FDE is that it covers the layer, and any other layer you move up to will not necessarily be bogged down with the risks from a lower layer.

File Folder Encryption (FFE), works for the coverage of the second layer of the stack, where you have system-level protection controls. FFE, protection mechanisms take care of access at the system level.

With this, you can secure the activities of system users such as system administrators, storage administrators, and network administrators, who should freely access all the data of a respective system that they oversee.

If your organization needs to quickly deploy a protection mechanism, then the FFE approach is your best bet. With RESTful APIs which match up to the impediments of REST architectural style and gives room for interaction with RESTful web services, you can easily protect your data, since you have the opportunity to automate and customize data for each of your systems.

As you’ve now got to the third layer of the stack, what you need to consider is application-layer encryption, this enables you to encrypt data at its source of generation itself. Deploying this will enable developers to protect the data from within the applications and databases, including the system and physical layers.

This calls for transparent data encryption (TDE) Key Management solution that is necessary for the protection and management of the master encryption key so that the database administrator does not use it wrongly. Application layer encryption is known to offer the highest level of protection, however, you need to realize it is not easy to implement because of its complexity.

The last one in the stack is cloud data encryption. What cloud service providers (CSPs) do is provide data-at-rest encryption, the Cloud Security Alliance, however, says that it’s only when the encryption keys are stored and managed remotely from the CSP’s systems and encryption operations that the industry’s best standards are met.

The HTTPS protocol is the most prevalent form of cloud data-in-transit encryption that is widely used. Based on the internet standard IP protocol HTTP, HTTPS confers the SSL (secure sockets layer), which can be viewed as a security “wrapper” around the internet communication channel.

For data-at-rest, the software handles every encryption and decryption in the background. What you are required to do is to access the data, and this is only possible if you have proper authorization and authentication.

Ryan Kade
Ryan Kade is the editor overseeing contributed content at Smartdata Collective and contributes weekly column.