Digital security issues are an ongoing and understandable concern amongst business owners. Companies that primarily operate online can be especially susceptible to electronic security breaches that can compromise important documents and customers’ personal information and sensitive data.
Luckily, several options exist to protect files at every stage of storage and sharing. Self-encrypting storage media and encrypting software can provide an extra and welcome layer of protection against intrusion.
Manually encrypting files and images on both Windows and Macintosh machines can be quick and easy ways to boost security. Encryption practices and guidelines should also include devices that are used to communicate with customers and business headquarters, such as smart phones.
One of the easiest ways to encrypt your data is to choose to store it on a media or storage device that has its own integrated encryption software. Many USB drives, like flash drives, come with this option. While the individual files on the device will usually not be encrypted, the device will be, which can make unauthorized access to the files difficult.
If you have a piece of storage media that is not self-encrypting, you can use third-party software to encrypt the device. This practice can make even older models of storage media secure. To protect individual files, you may want to try encryption software.
As a business owner, you may have a batch of company-related files that you want encrypted. To accomplish this, you can download file encryption software that can encrypt many files at once, and with a high level of security. This can be especially useful if you are sending company-sensitive documents over email or other file-sharing services.
Be aware that different types of data can require separate software solutions. For example, data that is considered to be “in motion,” such as secure shell or email, can differ in the types of encryption processes that individual files will need.
Manually Encrypt Single Files or Folders on Windows
If you want to encrypt a single file or folder on your Windows system, you can do so manually. For example, if you’d like to encrypt a folder, simply right-click on it, and select “Properties.” Find the “General” tab, and click on “Advanced” before checking “Encrypt Contents to Secure Data.” Click “OK”, “Apply Changes to This Folder, Subfolders and Files”, and click “OK” again.
This is a very easy and basic way to encrypt files, and can be your first mode of defense when you need to encrypt important business documents fast. Encryption may take a few minutes to complete, based on the size of the protected folder.
Like Windows computers, Macintosh machines offer basic ways to encrypt files right on the system. For example, you can encrypt a disk image fairly easily. To do this, you can launch the Disk Utility application, click on the “File” menu, select “New Blank Image”, and type in a name.
You can then specify a size, and select “AES-128 Encryption” as an encryption option. Press “OK”, and provide your password. To further secure your encrypted image, deselect “Remember Password in Keychain.”
The rise of technology in business has made it common for employees to be supplied with mobile phones. If your business is one that provides smart phones to its employees, know that you can also encrypt cell phones to protect the sensitive company data that is on them.
While many of the smart phones available today don’t have integrated encryption options, software solutions exist that can provide you with the ability to encrypt cell phone data with the same level of security that is used on computers. You may also be able to manage their security from your computer. Encryption software for cell phones can be expensive, but it can also be a sound investment in the protection of your customers’ privacy.
You can also adopt certain habits that will further protect your sensitive business files and data. Consider only giving your encrypted files’ passwords and recovery keys to employees on an as-needed basis. Remember that your data’s potential to be compromised increases with the number of people that have your passwords.
When sharing passwords, give this sensitive data verbally. There should be no electronic or written record of passwords. Always store your data and the media on which it is held in secure, locked locations.