encryption at rest

What Is Encryption at Rest, and Why Is It Important for Your Business?

Encryption at rest is a key protection against a data breach.

Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you their number one digital security risk is a data breach. The recent ransomware attacks show that cyber terrorism becoming more and more common around the world. It’s more important now than ever to ensure that sensitive company data, and in some cases personal data, is secure and that your organization maintains compliance.

You might be one of those people who only thinks about the data you access on a daily basis. But what about the files on the server that you haven’t touched or even thought about in a while? How do you protect your archived data?

At Rest vs. In Motion

Generally speaking, there are two types of data: data in motion and data at rest. Data in motion (or “active data”) is data that you most likely use on a daily basis. It is usually stored on a database that’s accessed through apps or programs. Data at rest is stored and is usually protected by a firewall or anti-virus software. Though these methods of protection for data at rest is good, complete safety requires adding an additional layer of defense. This is where encryption at rest comes to play.

Take Inventory of Sensitive Data

Before you implement any type of security strategy you need to take stock of where your most sensitive company or customer data is stored. Whether it’s in a physical server room or in the cloud, knowing what types of data, where they are stored, and who has access or will need access is a great starting point. Once you’ve identified all of the sensitive data you want to protect, then organizing it in a file structure that is easy to encrypt will help make the process so much easier.

How Encryption at Rest Works

Simply put, data encryption is the process of translating one form of data into another form of data that unauthorized users can’t decrypt. For example, you saved a copy of a paid invoice on your server with a customer’s credit card information. You definitely don’t want that to fall into the wrong hands. By encrypting data at rest, you’re essentially converting your customer’s sensitive data into another form of data. This usually happens through an algorithm that can’t be understood by a user who does not have an encryption key to decode it. Only authorized personnel will have access to these files, thus ensuring that your data stays secure.

Assign Role-Based Accounts

First step is to work with your IT Department to develop a data security strategy. But you’ll also need to control who has access to it. Often times, a breach occurs completely by accident, say, by one of your employees. One way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is create several levels of security and only give a small number of key employees administrative access to your encrypted data. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) allows you to create different levels of security and permissions.

Protect your data with multi factor authentication

Simply relying on username and password as the only form of authentication leaves you vulnerable to hackers who can easily steel, copy or share your data. The most reliable way to combat this is multi factor authentication. This requires users to login with something they know (like a username) and combine it with something they have (like a mobile device). Only users who successfully possess both factors will have access to company data. Not only does multi factor authentication protect your company, it also keeps your customers sensitive data safe.

Need help upgrading your data security? We can help you understand your current system weaknesses with a free security audit. Contact us today to begin.