How to encrypt your data for free!

Last month, the Talk Talk cyber-attack resulted in the theft of a substantial amount of sensitive customer data, in the region of:

28,000 credit card/debit card details

15,656 bank account details and sort codes

15,000 dates of birth

1.2 million Email addresses, names and phone numbers

This was Talk Talk’s third attack of this kind in the last 12 months, putting the company firmly on the ever-growing list of multinationals to have suffered a major cyber-attack. The question is, if large corporates such as, Sony, EBay, Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk (with their expert IT departments and security specialists), can’t prevent hackers from infiltrating their networks, what chance do smaller companies and home users have?

Talk Talk’s CEO, Dido Harding couldn’t confirm whether the data of around 4 million customers had been encrypted or not and when asked why, she didn’t know and responded stating that it wasn’t a ‘legal’ requirement to do so. Ok, so it isn’t required by law but surely any company, regardless of size has a duty of care over their customers’ private data?

The fact is, encryption isn’t a hard thing to implement. It won’t guarantee total prevention of a data leak but together with other security tools, like firewalls, email filtering, intrusion prevention systems, patching and anti-virus, it adds another important layer of protection.

Together with our partner Kaspersky, we’ve outlined the top 5 benefits of encryption:

  1. Full protection of data – Securely encrypted data is completely protected, even if it is stolen. Why? If, for example, a file is encrypted with 256-bit AES, it would take a hacker more than a lifetime to crack the code using the brute-force method.
  2. Security across your devices – Many companies are currently struggling with the boom in smartphones and tablets. Whether administrators like it or not, data is pouring out of companies and being distributed among the most diverse of devices. Encryption removes the stress from this situation, as it ensures that data remains secure, regardless of the device on which it is stored.
  3. Safe transmission of data – Users sending files via email or distributing them via a cloud server can use encryption to ensure that no unauthorised user can view them.
  4. Retain data integrity – Targeted data theft is one thing, but another way to misuse data is through manipulation. Even though a hacker may have absolutely no interest in the information in question, he or she can manipulate specific data to disrupt corporate communications. If encrypted data is used, the recipient will definitely notice that it has been tampered with.
  5. Ensure compliance – IT departments often have to comply with legal or contractual regulations on data protection. These may involve archiving banking data or providing special protection for customer information. In many cases, encrypting the data involved is the easiest way to comply with these rules.

If you are a home user or a small company looking to encrypt your data, lifehacker.com recently published their poll to establish the most popular ways of using encryption for free, with these desktop tools:

  • Veracrypt (Windows/ OS X/Linux) – MOST POPULAR – 40% of the vote
  • 7- Zip (Windows/OS x/Linux) – RUNNER UP – 20 % of the vote

Netshield’s IT security specialists have a wealth of experience and can offer expert advice. If you are a company and not sure where to go next with your IT security, we can arrange a full security health check across your network starting at just £295 (+VAT). Your data is your business – let us help you keep it secure.

Call us on 0333 200 1636 or email info@netshield.net for more details.

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