There’s a common misconception that firms only pay attention to security and privacy enough to follow the latest legislation. Compliance requirements can be useful for pushing companies in the right direction. But the data shows that’s not the driving force for most businesses right now.
According to a study from the data security firm, nCipher, and the Ponemon Institute, the use of encryption has transitioned from a compliance need to a proactive tool for businesses to safeguard valuable data.
The study took a look at businesses across many sectors and countries. It found the compliance ranked only as the fourth-most essential reason for encrypting data.
Why do more companies use encryption? And what can your company do not to stay behind? Let’s find out.
What’s Increasing the Drive Toward Encryption?
Above all, two primary fears sparked an increase in encryption. The first, employee mistakes, accounted for 54% of respondents practicing encryption. A bit behind are the external and internal threats from malicious actors, accounting for 49%.
Other factors also play a role. Those include a lack of clear data ownership, compliance, and other issues.
The study reaches several conclusions that companies must pay attention to. Personnel training is a crucial issue that firms need to work towards to improve the security of both corporate and consumer data.
At the same time, the threat landscape continues to evolve and present new challenges to the security of data. The number of cyber-attack incidents continues to spike each year. It creates a vicious cycle of unprepared employees, valuable data, and a dangerous environment. They all play into the need for more significant security measures.
What Businesses Do To Improve Security?
The study details the different ways businesses use encryption. For one, they shift the focus from compliance to proactively applying encryption. It comes with a large variety of security enhancements.
Encryption comes in many forms too. Firms should create a diversified portfolio of software tools to safeguard data. It begins at the device-level and protects localized assets.
SMEs must use encryption software for business to lock files, including:
- personally identifiable information like date of birth, social security, or credit card numbers
- other valuable data points like work communications and office documents
Encryption software can help to protect all file types, along with other system resources. Securing this data prevents exposure in case of unauthorized access. It often also shutdowns the most severe threat to firms — ransomware attacks. If the company already makes regular backups, that is.
During ransomware attacks, threat actors restrict access to essential files or systems. Companies must pay a hefty ransom fee to get it back. Although, even if the firm does pay, there’s no guarantee an attacker will restore access.
Other Steps Firms Should Take To Improve Security
As companies continue this trend of proactivity, they can take extra steps to ensure their digital security.
Many software tools need low investment and have a high payoff. Enterprise-grade VPNs, for example, allow companies to control remote access. In the aftermath of COVID-19, more jobs will stay off-site (at least partially). It will further increase the necessity for remote access security tools.
Many firms already use blockchain-based technologies to build trust and conduct verifiable transactions. Blockchain and key management strategies will matter even more over the next few years.
Lately, password managers have also seen an increase in adoption. 42% of companies now use some sort of password vault. At the same time, many cybersecurity professionals have noted the inherent security flaws in browser-based password managers. They have pushed developers to create more robust solutions. Since these vaults hold crucial information, it’s an excellent time to review the security-policies of any password manager service.
Investment in Education Remain Imperative
All these measures are beneficial. But don’t underestimate the importance of educating your employees. Human mistakes still represent a potent vulnerability. Thus, firms must take the time to ensure their staff is well-versed in security practices.
All employees, not only the IT team, should:
- Learn how to recognize suspicious websites and messages
- Never respond to phishing attempts
- Scan all links and files before interacting with them
- Use network firewalls
- Update OS and all software
- Backup and encrypt data on a regular basis
- Use antivirus scans
- Enable ad-blockers and block trackers
- Use multi-factor authentication
All tech-savvy people have known the importance of encryption for a long time. But many data breaches show that it was not so evident outside the IT departments. Thus, the current widespread use of encryption is the step in the right direction.
While more companies adopt encryption, the ones that don’t are more than ever at risk. So, encryption practices and policies in the companies are no longer nice-to-haves; they’re a must.