Cloud encryption solutions encrypt data stored in (or moving between) cloud environments so that it can only be read by someone with the key to decode the information. A complex algorithm encrypts the data, turning it into ciphertext—which looks like a scramble of random letters and numbers. The data is then either stored securely in its ciphertext format until the owner enters a password called a decryption key to decrypt it. Alternatively, in the case of a message, the ciphertext is sent to the message recipient, who has the decryption key and can make sense of the message. Decryption changes the scrambled ciphertext back into plaintext, so it once again becomes readable.
Encrypting your organization’s cloud data means that if an attacker gains access to it, they won’t be able to actually read it. This can not only help mitigate your business’ risk of a data breach, but it can also help you achieve (and prove) compliance with data protection standards. Some regulatory bodies expect specific types of data – such as PII, PHI, or payment card information—to be stored in specific ways.
Ensuring that your encryption solution conforms to regulatory expectations can help you avoid hefty fines and litigation fees if you do suffer a cyberattack. But saving on compliance fines isn’t the only way encryption can help you save money. By allowing you to securely send, sign, and store documents virtually, encryption reduces the need for hard copies, meaning that you can save on printing and postage costs.
The best encryption solutions use FIPS-certified encryption standards to encrypt your data—at the time of creation. AES 128-, 192- and 256-bit are considered the most secure. Encryption solutions will use either use a symmetric encryption algorithm, in which the encryption and decryption keys are the same, or asymmetric encryption algorithm, in which the keys are linked, but different. An asymmetric algorithm is more secure, although it does take longer to encode that a symmetric algorithm.
Some cloud encryption solutions also offer additional security and management features, such as centralized key storage, integrations with your existing user management tools, and a self-service portal for end users to encrypt their data.
In this article, we’ll explore the top cloud encryption solutions for business. We’ll look at features such as encryption methods, key management, user management and authentication, and reporting. We’ll give you some background information on each provider and the key features of their solution, as well as the type of customer that they are most suitable for.
What Is Cloud Encryption And How Does It Work?
Encryption is a process that encodes data into an illegible, secure format called ciphertext. Ciphertext can’t be read by humans or computers; it appears as a seemingly random scramble of characters.
To turn data from its original plaintext format into ciphertext, you use an encryption key. This is a very long string of numbers that explains to the encryption solution how to the data should be encoded. To convert it back into plaintext, you use a decryption key. This key should only be known to the person that encrypted the data. As long as the key remains secure, nobody but the data’s owner (or, in the case of sharing data, its intended recipient) can read the encrypted data.
This ensures that data remains secure, even if your environment is breached by a cybercriminal.
Cloud encryption specifically refers to protecting data in the cloud. Usually, cloud encryption solutions secure data at rest, (i.e., being stored in cloud storage or a cloud data center), and data in transit, (i.e., travelling between two destinations, usually outside a secure network).
What Are The Two Types Of Cloud Encryption?
Most cloud encryption solutions fall into two main categories: symmetric or asymmetric encryption.
Symmetric encryption, such as the AES protocol, uses the same key to both encrypt and decrypt the data. For example, if you encoded the word “data” by moving all of the letters three characters ahead in the alphabet, your ciphertext would be “gdwd”, and you could to the opposite to decode it back into plaintext. Symmetric encryption protocols are often very long and complex, which makes them very secure. They’re also simple to implement, which enables data to be encrypted quickly.
However, because symmetric encryption uses one key, it’s important that you take care not to share that key or, if you do share it, to do so securely. Otherwise, if an attacker intercepts it, they’ll be able to decode all of your encrypted data.
Asymmetric encryption, such as the ECC and DSA protocols, works by using a pair of keys: a “public” (shareable) key and a “private” (personal) key. The Public key encrypts the data, whole the Personal key decrypts it.
Asymmetric encryption is less vulnerable to interception because private keys never need to be shared. Unless you have access to this key, there is no way to access your data. However, this type of solution is generally slower than symmetric encryption.
Does Your Business Need Encryption Software?
In today’s digital world, the question is no longer whether your organization will be targeted by a cyberattack, but when it will be targeted.
With cyberthreats becoming increasingly sophisticated, it’s becoming increasingly likely that an attacker will not only be able to target your network, but they’ll be able to breach it successfully. If that happens, you need to make sure that your data stays secure. Encryption can help you do that by ensuring that an attacker can’t read your organization’s data, even if they gain access to your network. This also means they can’t hold your data ransom or sell it on the dark web.
Alongside improved data security, there are a several other benefits to implementing an encryption solution:
- They can help you meet (and prove) compliance requirements for data protection, such as FIPS, HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI-DSS.
- They can help increase trust in your organization by proving to your customers and partners that you take their data privacy seriously.
- They ensure the integrity of your data by protecting it from being altered or manipulated by internal and external actors.
- In some cases, they can mitigate the effects of a breach by absolving you of the need to disclose that a breach occurred, reducing legal action and reputational damage.
We recommend that all organizations consider implementing an encryption solution to protect their data. However, encryption is most critical for organizations working with highly sensitive data—such as personal information, health information, or payment information—or within highly regulated industries.
Is Encryption Software Secure?
Encryption is a highly secure method of protecting your cloud data at rest and while in transit. However, while encryption can offer lots of benefits, it’s important to remember that—like all aspects of cybersecurity—it has its vulnerabilities. Your data is only as secure as your decryption key. If an attacker were to compromise a user’s device, they could access that key and decrypt all that user’s data. It’s important that you also implement strong endpoint protection measures alongside any encryption solution to ensure your data security. These additional measures might include: