Protecting data with encryption

Protecting data with encryption should be a priority for small business so what is encryption?

Definition of encryption: the process of converting information or data into code, especially to prevent unauthorised access.

Why do you need to protect your data from others

Obviously, security is the main reason for encrypting your backups. Whilst losing your phone may be disastrous, it does not compare with losing your identity. This can happen. Unfortunately there are hackers and scammers out in the world. These are people trying to find out personal and financial information. Surprisingly, some of my customers have been victims of scammers. Because of that, I wrote a blog last year about some of the scams. Click on the image to find out how scammers target people.

Scammer threat

 

Data leaks Australia 2020

Evidently hacking into computers is big business. Below is a small sample of some of the security breaches in Australia this year. As you can see, they have affected small and large businesses this year.

  • February 2020 – Australian wool sales stopped by ransomware attack – software maker Talman hit by attackers.
  • MGM – February 2020 MGM hotels data breach leaked personal details of 10.6 million hotel guests.
  • Smartwatch – February 2020 – Smartwatch app let parents keep track of kids but data breaches mean strangers can watch them.
  • Yarra Trams – February 2020 – Yarra Trams data breach – commuters emails addresses exposed.
  • Perth MintJanuary 2020 Visitor data stolen after feedback survey company hacked.
  • Microsoft – January 2020 Microsoft customer support database exposed online.
  • Labcorp January 2020 – Security breach exposed thousands of medical documents.
  • Amazon – January 2020 – Amazon employees leak customer data to third party agent (again)

Importantly, scammers or hackers can, not only access your data, they can also find out about your clients. So, it is important to not only protect your own data but also that of anybody you do business with. Recently I visited one of my customers who wanted his back up files encrypted. The reason for this was that it was requirement of his industry body and it showed that he took client confidentiality seriously. In addition many of the businesses I help in the technology field do work for government bodies and statutory authorities. Because of this lots of my customers must be very careful to keep records confidential. Therefore they must be seen to be taking security of records seriously and should be able to prove they have systems in place to do this.

Protecting data with encryption is a big issue

Encryption has become a political issue in several countries including Australia. Towards the end of 2018, the Australian government gave its intelligence service and law enforcement agencies the right to force communication providers to help in “unencrypting” messages. This was part of the fight against terror and child abuse. Some people think this is an invasion of privacy. They think the law enforcement agencies are using this new law not just for serious crimes but also for more trivial “offences”. There has been pressure on the makers of mobile phones to release passwords of phone users.

Anti-Terror Alliance

This anti-encryption law brings Australia into line with the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand. They all have similar legislation. it was thought necessary in the fight against terrorism.

Encrypting your business records

However, for most of us there will be no problem with encryption. In fact the government is aware of the problem of hackers and the threat that identity theft poses. By hacking in and finding all your personal details, people can steal your identity. Below is the Federal Government Trade Commission site, set up for people whose identity has been stolen.

 

How to protect your data with encryption

Today many people back up their files on the Cloud. Cloud storage is easy to use and it saves room on your hard drive. On the other hand, once your files are on the Cloud, you lose control of them. You have to trust the storage provider to look after your files. But, can you take that risk? However, encrypting your data and back ups make it very difficult for anyone to hack into your information.

Encrypted back up facts

Encrypting a file translates the file into a secret language. You hold the key – a password, preferably a strong one, When you need to recover the file you use your password. You must remember the password or the data will be lost.

There are several encryption programs you can buy and you can google them. But there are two free ones. For Windows 10 there is:

Bitlocker

This comes with Windows 10 Pro. Click on the image below to find out what Microsoft say about BitLocker.

 

BitLocker is a closed source program. This means we cannot see the code behind it. We do not know if Microsoft was asked to have a “back door” to the program by the US Government. As Ian Paul said in an article in PC World in 2016,

“So with Bitlocker’s closed source nature in mind, I wouldn’t expect the encryption program to defend your data against a government actors such as a Border Agency or Intelligence services. But if you you’re looking to protect your data in the event your PC is stolen or otherwise messed up with, then BitLocker should be just fine.”

 

Mac’s FireVault

The Mac’s equivalent to BitLocker is FireVault.

 

 

There is apparently not much difference in the two programs except in the way you recover your data.

Should you encrypt?

Yes, it is relatively straightforward and you need to protect sensitive data. If you need help give me a call.

 

 

 

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