Data Encryption: What You Need to Know

Learn How Data Encryption Can Help Keep You Safe From Hackers


With the threat of breaches always looming, it's crucial for companies to keep their data as secure as possible.

This is especially important for the healthcare industry - according to the most recent Protenus “Breach Barometer” report, March 2017 saw more than 1.5 million patient health records breached, with the largest single instance compromising roughly 700,000 records.

Combating these types of attacks is becoming more imperative than ever, given that the amount of data being stored electronically is constantly increasing. A firm understanding of what data encryption is, how it works, and why it matters, is something everyone in the IT industry must possess.

A Simple Definition

Data encryption

Data encryption is the act of translating data into a type of code or “cipher”, which can only be accessed and deciphered by specific users who have the decryption key. Think of it like a safe – you put your important information inside, and only those with the combination can access it.

Asymmetric and Symmetric Encryption

This sounds simple enough, but it does get a bit more complex. There are actually two types of data encryption, asymmetric and symmetric.

Also known as public-key cryptography, asymmetric encryption uses both a public key and a private key which are essentially made up of large numbers that go together, but aren't identical.


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Both keys are able to encrypt a message, but only the private key can be used for decryption. This makes it so the public key can be transferred via the internet without users having to worry about their files being breached. Without the private key, someone with malicious intentions cannot access the encrypted information.

Symmetric encryption, on the other hand, uses just a single private key that both encrypts and decrypts messages. This process is faster and requires less processing power than asymmetric encryption, but in order for the recipient to decrypt the message, they must have access to the key.

Most encryption software is easy to use and if you have large amounts of data files that you need to send or store you can compress (Zip) them as you encrypt them.

If you are interested in how file compression can help you out check out our complete guide to file compression after you are done reading this.

Why to encrypt data

Why Bother With Data Encryption?

You lock your door when you leave home, right? You probably don't leave the keys in the ignition when you run into the store, either.

So it goes without saying that if you have important files that need protected on your computer or servers, you should make it as hard as possible for just anyone to gain access.

Unfortunately, there are some bad people in this world who will steal valuable information from companies without batting an eye – it happens all the time, and encryption is one of the most effective ways of combating this problem.

Not only can compromised data cause your company to lose money, and customer trust, but depending on what data was breached, you could be facing legal troubles as well.

Whether you're storing health records, bank account information, or something as simple as delivery schedules, ensuring the files are protected with encryption software is crucial. It doesn't take long to implement and when it's in place, you can rest easy knowing your data is that much safer.


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