Reasons Why Encryption is Needed When Transmitting Data
Since we started writing secrets down, we have always looked for ways to hide those secrets from prying eyes. One way of doing that was using cryptography to scramble the writing so only the person holding the key would be able to decipher what was written. As our world progressed into the digital age and computers introduced into our everyday life cryptography became widespread and we saw the development of modern-day Encryption used to keep sensitive data private online. Today Encryption is used everywhere, bank and credit card transactions, VPN connectivity, and when you surf the web. Most websites have adopted encryption by default and not just when transmitting sensitive data, that little lock you see next to the web address that says your security means the communication is encrypted. Unfortunately, there are still many aspects of our digital life that are not encrypted by default like SMS messages, some websites, your computer’s hard drive, and E-mail. This means that SMS messages can be picked out of the air and read, what your doing on an unsecured website can be observed, if your computers hard drive is stolen the information is easily accessible and your emails, they can be viewed by others at the source, destination, if intercepted or even in transit.
So, what can we do to keep our sensitive information private?
- SMS - For instant Messaging use an app that supports End-to-end encryption like WhatsApp, Microsoft teams, or iMessage (note that iMessage can be a bit confusing as to when it is sending an SMS which would not be encrypted).
- Unsecure websites – these days the main Search engines will not present results of unsecured websites and web browsers will give you warnings.
- Hard drives - modern computers support encrypting your hard drives in both Mac and windows.
- Email – many systems now support encryption in transit, but not End-to-end and this means that you should use a solution that allows you to choose which emails you encrypt before sending. This should be done for sensitive data, if there are compliance requirements or if you just want to make sure that only the verified recipient can see what you sent. Keep in mind that the person you are sending to will have to decrypt the message once received. Read more on email encryption solutions HERE.