Encryption is not just for spies

When we talk about food or walks around our pets, we spell out the words so that they don’t understand what we are talking about. Some dogs can work out what W-A-L-K means though, so you might have to mix it up a bit, and randomly use the letter sounds as well as the letter names to make it more complex.

This is a method of sharing information in a way that pets can’t decipher—it’s a code, and only those in the know (in this case, those that can spell!) can understand what we are saying.

Encryption might sound highly technical – and it can be – but it is essentially the same thing. It’s a way of scrambling information so that people who shouldn’t have access to the information can’t understand it, but those in the know (or who have ‘the key’) can.

You almost certainly have sensitive data within your business, whether this is personal information, business secrets, pricing information, invoices, accounts and so on, and this data should be protected from being read by outsiders. Passwords on your devices, and physically storing your devices in safe places are both important security measures, but encryption adds another layer of protection.

What should be encrypted?

Think about where your data is stored, and how it moves, both around your organisation and outside it.

  1. Your data may be stored on portable devices (laptops, thumb drives, smartphones and so on) or it might be stored in the cloud. If the devices are encrypted, then if they are lost or stolen, the data stored on them can’t be read by anyone who isn’t authorised. Cloud encryption means that data is encrypted before it is transferred to, and stored in, the cloud.
  2. If you are sending sensitive information by email – to your accountant, for example, or to a client – then if you encrypt it first, it can’t be read except by someone with the right key.
  3. Make sure the wi-fi you use is also encrypted. Whether you are working from home or from your office, use a router that provides WPA2 or WPA3 encryption, and make sure that you’ve turned it on. This will encrypt information being sent over your network, so no-one else can read it.
  4. If you are working out and about, you should consider using a VPN to encrypt traffic from your device and the internet, so that no-one can access the information you are sending or receiving, as public wi-fi will not be secure
  5. You should also buy a certificate for your website, to make sure that information sent to you via your website is also encrypted: if the URL to your website begins with https:// (not http://), then you have this in place.

We recommend that your sensitive data should be encrypted for security, whether it is being stored, or being transmitted. Encryption is for everyone, not just for spies sending secret messages, or indeed intelligent dogs.

If you’d like help with encryption, or any other cyber security issue, for your small business, please contact us on 0113 733 6320, or use the contact-us form.