Like most companies, you probably have considerable sensitive information you need to protect. This could include customer data, financial information, proprietary secrets, etc. One of the best ways to protect this information is through encryption. This article will explain encryption and public key infrastructure (PKI) and why your company needs both.
What is encryption?
Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. Only someone with the proper key can decrypt this unreadable format. So, even if someone were to intercept your encrypted data, they would not be able to read it without the key.
That process is called decryption if you want to transform the data into its readable format.
There are two main types of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt data, while asymmetric encryption uses different keys for each process. Asymmetric encryption is also sometimes called public-key cryptography.
Public key infrastructure (PKI) is a system of digital certificates and corresponding private keys used to encrypt and decrypt data. PKI is a vital part of asymmetric encryption and is what enables secure communications over the internet.
PKI is necessary for two main reasons. First, it creates a secure infrastructure for transmitting data by using digital certificates and public keys to verify the identity of the sender and receiver.
Second, PKI is essential for encrypting data. Asymmetric encryption cannot work without PKI, and it is the most secure way to transmit information over the internet.
For these reasons, PKI is considered a cornerstone of online security. It is used by banks, businesses, and governments around the world to protect sensitive information.
Encrypting sensitive information
Many types of data, physical and digital, need to be encrypted to protect them. Material data is often encrypted using external devices such as hard drives, USB drives, and CD-ROMs. Businesses usually do this to protect sensitive information from being physically stolen.
Digital data encryption uses software that transforms the data into an unreadable format and is usually done to protect information transmitted over the internet.
Tools for encryption
Many different tools are used for encryption. Some of these tools are built into operating systems, while others must be purchased separately.
SSH, or Secure Shell, is a protocol to securely connect to a remote server. SSH uses symmetric encryption for authentication and asymmetric encryption for communication.
When you connect to a remote server using SSH, the server will send you its public key. Your computer will use this public key to encrypt a message that only the server can decrypt.
The server will then use its private key to decrypt or solve the information, verifying that you are communicating with the server you think you are and not an imposter.
SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a protocol used to encrypt communication between two computers. TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is the successor to SSL and is the most common form of encryption used on the internet today. SSL and TLS use asymmetric encryption for authentication and symmetric encryption for communication.
When you connect to a website using SSL/TLS, the server will send you its digital certificate. This certificate contains the server’s public key.
A digital signature is a way to verify a digital document’s authenticity by creating a unique signature. This signature can then verify that the document has not been tampered with.
When you sign a document digitally, your computer will use your private key to create a unique signature. Anyone can then use your public key to verify that the signature is valid.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to figuring out what needs to be encrypted. The level of security required will depend on the sensitivity of the information being protected. In general, any information that would be damaging if it fell into the wrong hands should be encrypted. This includes financial information, customer data, proprietary secrets, and more.
If you’re unsure whether something needs to be encrypted, err on the side of caution and encrypt it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.