Data encryption at rest and in transit – Protect your Data!

The worldwide web has seen an exponential increase in cyber attacks, malware, ransomware, and other malicious software or parties in recent years, constantly seeking to find a way to steal our personal information. The urgent need to avoid unauthorized access to confidential, sensitive, and/or otherwise vital information is something that everyone should recognize: end-users, service owners, server managers, etc. The discrepancies are primarily related to what we need to secure and how we should do that.

Encryption is the process of modifying data in such a way that it is unreadable for someone other than those with special knowledge (usually referred to as a “key”) that enables them to modify the information back to its original, readable form. However, It forms one of the foundations of IT security: Confidentiality and integrity, Confidential business data without encryption would be vulnerable for the organization.

Need for Encryption

Data encryption helps prevent Information from being read by unauthorized users. Here we are giving some examples of why is encryption important to protect the data from unauthorized access or user –

  1. Maintain Integrity – Data Encryption will help ensure that only authorized parties access the information of a business for analysis. It also reduces the chance of a hacker exploiting information effectively.
  2. Ensure Confidentiality – By incorporating principles such as separation of duties, enforcing password policies, and so on to avoid unauthorized or unlawful processing.
  3. Recoverability – Ensure that all relevant data is subject to regular backups and also that they are reviewed periodically to make sure that information can be retrieved successfully.
  4. Minimization – Ensure that only the data directly relevant to their particular duties and/or authorization can be viewed by all authorized parties without being able to see anything else.

Stages of Digital Data

Lets discuss how many “states” digital data can actually have –

Data at Rest

Data at rest is when it does not travel actively from device to device or network to networks, such as information saved on a hard disc, laptop, flash drive, or otherwise archived/stored. Therefore, Its aim is to secure inactive information stored on any computer or network.

Data in Transit

Data in motion or in transit is when it travels actively from one place to another, such as through the internet or a private network. Its protection in transit is its security as it passes from network to network or when it is moved from a local storage system to a cloud storage device.

Data in Use

It is intended to be “in use” whenever information is not only passively stored on a hard drive or external storage media, but is processed by one or more applications and thus in the process of being created, viewed, modified, added, removed, and so on.

Role of Encryption at Different Stages of Data

How to Encrypt your Data when at Rest

  • We can either use certain tools or buy a hardware-encrypted Flash Drive implementing fingerprint-based or password-based unlock mechanisms to secure our USB pen drives.
  • Most of the DBMS available today include native encryption techniques (InnoDB tablespace encryption for MySQL and MariaDB, Clear Data Encryption for MSSQL, etc.) to encrypt information stored inside a database management system.
  • We can easily follow a reliable e-mail encryption standard such as S/MIME or PGP if we are looking for a way to safely store our e-mail messages, as a matter of fact, they are widely used to perform client-side encryption, which means they protect the e-mail messages while they are still at rest.

How to Encrypt your Data when in Transit

  • To help secure data in transit, enforce strict network security controls. Network security solutions such as firewalls and regulation of network access can help protect the networks used to transmit data against attacks or intrusions by malware.
  • In order to safeguard your outbound and inbound messages, most email providers use Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption automatically. For TLS to function, however both your email provider and the email provider with which you communicate need to have TLS enabled.
  • As it moves from a web server to your browser, SSL security helps encrypt data. Websites that do not use SSL take the danger of man-in-the-middle attacks on their users. If their URL starts with HTTPS instead of just HTTP, you can say a website uses an SSL certificate.

Let’s take a look at the table that offers some examples of the vulnerable network protocols you can avoid and instead use their stable counterparts:

Transfer TypeWhat to Avoid(insecure)What to use(secure)
Web accessHTTPHTTPS
Email serversPOP3,SMTP,IMAPPOP3S,SMTPS,IMAPS
File TransferFTP,RCPFTPS,SFTP,SCP,WebDAV over HTTPS
Remote shelltelnetSSH2
Remote desktopVNCradmin,RDP

Conclusion

In conclusion, Unprotected data leaves businesses vulnerable to attacks, but effective security measures are in place to provide robust protection across endpoints and networks in order to protect data in both states. In data protection, encryption plays a major role and is a popular tool for securing data both in transit and at rest.

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