File encryption solutions are simple yet effective security services that prevent unauthorized users from being able to understand and make sense of your business files. File encryption solutions effectively transform your files and data into code that only the intended recipient is able to “decipher”. The data is, seemingly, meaningless until it is decrypted. As it is only the intended user who knows how to decrypt the message, you can ensure that no-one else can read it.
In order to achieve this, encryption tools usually uses public key cryptography, a method of encryption and decryption where key pairs are generated. Only the recipient with the key, usually a password, is able to de-encrypt the file. This method ensures that files and data are kept encrypted in transit, in use, and at rest.
Organizations will create tens, hundreds, even thousands of files and documents every single day. These may then be shared via SharePoint, Teams, Slack, email, or another method of communication. Each of these documents may contain sensitive information that, if accessed by the wrong person, could lead to regulatory fines, business intelligence being shared, and loss of customer confidence. It could be that a file or document reveals weaknesses or vulnerabilities within your organizational structure; this could lead to an attacker being in a better position to circumvent your network security and breach your infrastructure.
As threat actors are looking for any opportunity to infiltrate your business and steal your data, safeguarding your sensitive files and data has to be a priority. Making sure your company’s files are encrypted at all times through the use of a robust file encryption solution is one of the simplest and most effective ways to achieve this. This article contains a list of some of the best file encryption solutions on the market, with information about their key features and use-cases.
Everything You Need To Know About File Encryption (FAQs)
What Is File Encryption?
Encryption refers to the process of encoding information, file encryption just means encrypting files and any data stored within those files. This enables the files to be sent securely, meaning that they can only be viewed by the intended recipient.
How Does File Encryption Work?
File-based encryption works by encrypting and protecting individual files on a system by using encryption algorithms, which can be very complex. Files are encrypted by having an encoding algorithm applied to it which scrambles the data on the file making it unreadable. The encrypted file can then be sent to its intended recipient. The intended recipient will have completed a ‘digital handshake’ which identifies them as a trusted source, and explains the decryption key. Without this key, a user will be unable to decipher the message, being left with a random jumble of text.
It is important to note that the only person who is able to decrypt the file are authorized individuals, i.e., the intended recipients. Once they enter the key, the document will become readable again. Many file systems and communication solutions offer encryption for files, but this might not meet all requirements that compliance bodies expect of you. A separate, stand-alone file encryption solution can offer the additional layer of security and encryption that is necessary to meet compliance standards.
What Are The Different Types Of Encryption?
As mentioned above, files are encrypted and then decrypted through the use of keys, commonly referred to as cryptography. File encryption often uses either symmetric or asymmetric cryptography. Asymmetric (also called public-key) cryptography is common. It uses both a public key and a private key; the public key is not secret and is used to encrypt the file. Only a user with the private key, however, will be able to decrypt the file. Symmetric encryption refers to the practice of using a single private key for both encryption and decryption. The key must be exchanged in order for the recipient to be able to decrypt the files. This is often used when large amounts of information and files need to be sent in bulk.
Should Files Be Encrypted?
The shortest answer is: yes. Data that is unencrypted, even if only for a short period of time, can still be vulnerable to being accessed by a threat actor.
End-to-end encryption isn’t just a buzzword–it’s critical to ensuring your private data stays private. End-to-end encryption for data and files is a central part of a zero-trust approach. This requires that all access requests are fully authenticated, authorized, and encrypted before a user is granted access. Zero trust architecture is being adopted across industries and sectors, with the US government in 2021 beginning to increase their security standards and moving towards a zero trust security framework.
So, data should be encrypted when it is in transit, in use, and at rest. Data in transit refers to data that is being shared and sent between endpoints and users. While the data is on its journey, it can be easily compromised or viewed if sufficient encryption measures aren’t in place. Data in use is also highly susceptible to being either accessed or manipulated by a threat actor. Data in use is generally the data that is available to the recipient once it has been sent. Data at rest refers to data that has reached its destination but is not being accessed or used. Data that is at rest, if not properly encrypted, is at risk of being accessed at any point, especially if it’s left or saved “in plain sight”.