Encryption has been around since the Pharaohs ruled over the Kingdom of Egypt. The ancient Greeks used ciphers, Renaissance inventors rapidly developed new cryptographic technology for political and religious reasons, and the use of cryptography during both World Wars helped end the fighting.
It’s clear humans have known the importance of protecting their secret information for thousands of years. Today, technology has advanced enough to make secure encryption accessible to everyone, not just the government.
Encrypting data for your home or office is important even if you think you have nothing to hide. Don’t assume a fellow coworker, family member, or other party won’t take a peek through your laptop if given the opportunity to use the device privately. You can never be too careful. There are many reasons to encrypt a lap top, hard drive, or cloud system, let’s discuss a few of the big reasons to use encryption.
Why Should I Encrypt my Data?
There are three main reasons to encrypt your data: security, compliance, and cost. Obviously encryption was designed to be secure so that one’s a no brainer. But did you know the federal and state government have passed laws that require the use of encryption? Compliance is critical or else you could face hefty fines. And that leads to costs which can be large considering the fact the price tag of a data breach is pretty big.
It all boils down to security. Cyphers were designed in the first place to relay important, secretive information from one person to another without the risk of the information being breached. Encryption has the same purpose as the original cypher, it just has evolved with modern technology.
An explanation of how encryption works should help explain why it is incredibly secure. Essentially, the original text is sent through a complex algorithm that converts the words into a single line of random numbers.
There is no pattern to these numbers making it next to impossible for a hacker to decipher the text. The only way to decode the file is by inputting the correct password or key into the program.
As long as you have a strong password, you should never have to worry about your sensitive information getting stolen.
Speaking of passwords, new technology is being developed to make passwords even stronger and more secure. Instead of choosing a minimum of six characters plus a number and at least two symbols, you could scan a body part.
Crazy idea right? Sounds like something out of a science fiction movie but it’s true, you can scan your finger print, your eye, or even use voice recognition to gain access to your files. Encryption is clearly the way to go if you want to ensure the security of your documents.
The government realized years ago the need to create regulations that protect people’s private information once in the hands of a business. We will look at a few major federal laws that encourage and enforce the use of encryption.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates the medical industry and makes very specific references to data encryption. It is expected an organization take steps to ensure the safety of all Personal Healthcare Information (PHI) which includes the use of encryption.
If over 500 PHI records are exposed, you are required to report the incident to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) who will likely do an investigation into the data breach. Not only do you have to report it to the OCR, you must disclose to all the patient’s that their private health information was exposed to the public.
However, if the PHI are encrypted you can avoid the OCR all together as it cannot be proven the files were exposed.
Essentially, this law is just an expansion of HIPAA. It requires the disclosure of exposed Personal Health Records (PHR) but only if they are unprotected. Just like with the previous law, if the files are encrypted there is no way to prove any information was leaked and therefore, no data breach occurred. It is critical you encrypt all PHR or else you risk making a phone call to the OCR.
The medical industry shouldn’t be the only one’s held accountable for a data breach that is why, in 1999, the government passed legislation for financial institutions. The law requires financial institutions update clients on the security measures being taken to protect their sensitive information. It is highly recommended that financial institutions use data encryption as a method to secure their client’s information.
Every business has to decide if the cost of encryption is worth the cost of a data breach. With the average cost of a data breach now at $3.8 million, it’s probably a safe bet that the cost of encrypting your documents is less than the cost of a data breach.
Your business should also consider the costly fines it may receive for breaking federal and state laws. If any unencrypted PHI or PHR are exposed to the public, that is in violation of HIPAA and it is more than likely your business will be fined. Even if you’re not in the medical business, a data breach could still result in a law suit against your company. Legal fees are not cheap but encrypting your data can prevent them from ever incurring.
A full disk encryption can cost a few hundred dollars, a full data breach of your business can cost millions of dollars: which will you choose?
Encryption is secure, compliant, and affordable. A data breach could cost your company money and its reputation. Don’t take a risk, encrypt your files today. Record Nations offers cloud services that encrypt the data before being uploaded to the server. We have a network of contractors that can handle all your record management needs.
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