Encryption is a form of scrambling data to ensure a piece of information can only be deciphered by the owner of that data.
Encryption is often a subject that we see thrown around within the media, but for a lot of us it still may not be a term that we fully understand. Whilst it can be a complicated issue, with the right information and tools we can all implement a basic level of encryption within our lives in order to protect ourselves online. We’re here to provide and simplify the information you need to make these essential changes.
What is encryption?
In technical terms, encryption is the process of translating and un-translating text from original readable text into incomprehensible text also known as cipher text. This cipher text makes any data unreadable to the human eye, therefore rendering the data as useless to unauthorised readers.
Why is encryption important?
Digital data is becoming increasingly pivotal to our personal lives, our economic prosperity and our general security. Just as we would lock up the doors into our homes each night to protect ourselves from unauthorised access, we must continue this way of living through to our online lives. Implementing digital security can support the way we communicate, to the way we bank, socialise and shop. At the heart of this digital security lies encryption, which equals privacy, GDPR compliance for businesses and most of all, peace of mind.
How does encryption work?
Encryption is essentially a piece of encoding data that encodes a file or message by scrambling text. This text can then be translated back into its original form when the correct recipient accesses the data, a term known as decryption. In order to translate this data, the recipient will have a unique encryption key. This key can be a password, sequence of numbers or another alternative sequence of numbers or letters.
Are encryption and cryptography the same thing?
It may be difficult to understand exactly what the difference is between encryption and cryptography, as essentially their roles are similar. Both roles can however be distinguished based from their purpose. Cryptography is the art of disguising your writing, a strategy which has been famously used for centuries originating from the Ancient Greeks and Spartans. Encryption however is a form of cryptography which specifically converts plain text data into cyphertext. Whilst encryption is a form of cryptography, they are not inherently the same.
Can encryption be hacked?
Whilst it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, encryption can in fact be hacked. However, to hack this would take an excessive amount of time, resources, and technical knowledge. A hacker would fundamentally hack encryption either by intercepting data before encryption or after decryption, or they would use the method of stealing your unique encryption key. Often, data storage companies will have a sole purpose of ensuring their product is as hard to hack as possible. For example, data on an encyrpted drive (iStorage, for example) cannot be accessed unless a hacker were to have a physical drive, and the PIN acting as the key. The hacker will have a total of 10 attempts to guess the 7-15 length unique PIN before the drive gets wiped and all data is lost forever. The hacker will also be unable to access the core of the drive due to the super tough epoxy resin which covers all components within the device, which would essentially cause permanent damage to the drive if tampered with.
Are all levels of encryption the same?
When investing in encryption, it may be worth understanding what the standard level across the globe is. Not all encryptions are the same, with each standard offering various levels of protection.
The current standard within most government or IT departments within all industries is known as the ‘Advanced Encryption System’, known as AES. This system originated as being the encryption standard for the US government in 2001 before slowly being integrated internationally as the overall standard level of encryption. Within AES, there are three levels of encryption: 128, 192 and 256 bits. AES 256-bit is commercially the most robust and strongest form that is available today. For example, all iStorage devices are encrypted using AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, ensuring your data receives the ultimate line of defense.
Overall, using this newfound knowledge on encryption, we highly recommend that you make a plan to move your digital life onto encrypted storage, create a back up and then you can be sure that your private life and confidential data stay just that way – private and confidential.