Encrypted information on the cloud

The Importance of Encrypting Information on the Cloud

If your company uses cloud storage without encryption protecting the data you store, consider what could be lost if a data thief accessed your cloud server. Customer and client information, login credentials for company accounts, and proprietary business documents are just a few types of data that hackers commonly target. Protecting the information with cloud encryption can make hackers think twice, and abandon your cloud to look for easier targets.

Data Theft: Affecting Companies Large and Small

Most data thefts that receive news coverage involve large companies. Considering that these incidents tend to involve the largest amounts of stolen data and affect the most people, the thorough coverage makes sense. But it can also create the perception that data thieves are disproportionately interested in large companies. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, this is not the case.

The report finds that small businesses comprise the largest target population for data theft — 58%, to be exact. Even so, the most important takeaway from a comprehensive report on data theft is that, regardless of size and industry, no population of companies can point to a statistic that indicates they do not have a significant, statistical risk of being targeted.

Skewed Portrayals from the Entertainment Industry

Cloud storage, with encryption automatically applied to data as it is stored, can prevent a cloud from enabling a hacker’s plans. However, the power of encryption to thwart hackers is often misperceived, partly due to a skewed portrayal of encryption and hackers in movies and television. With this in mind, let’s take a realistic look at how data thieves tend to operate, as well as why cloud encryption offers strong protection against their actions.

Hackers and Encryption: Debunking Misperceptions

Encryption and hacking are routinely dramatized for entertainment. Portrayals of encryption portray it as having two unrelenting qualities, which parlay into fictional scenes that misrepresent the efficacy of cryptographic protocols.

First, encryption is presented as a resource that a mathematical genius creates. Second, it is portrayed as something that only the same type of individual can decrypt. Both notions are somewhat true to reality. Both the creation and decryption of strong cloud encryption, as well as encryption used in other contexts, requires considerable technical expertise.

However, decryption doesn’t result from someone taking a quick glance at an encryption protocol, and then ingeniously understanding how to decode it. If you fear that such a thing would happen to your company’s cloud storage with encryption in place, be assured that it wouldn’t. As the history of encryption shows, decryption requires considerable time and effort, even when someone who possesses elite mathematical abilities are put to the task.

Data Theft: How Hackers Typically Operate

There are two ways in which hackers are consistently misportrayed in TV and film: as tech sleuths who can circumnavigate any IT defense with ease, and as criminals who love a tough challenge. Regarding hacking ability, some hackers are more capable than others. But when a hacker moves past IT defenses with ease, it is usually the result of a well-planned effort, or because the person is highly familiar with the company’s IT system, such as from having been a member of the IT staff.

The perception that hackers love a challenge is just not the case. This is a situation where criminal charges and lucrative data are on the line — it’s not a test that any sane hacker would welcome. Mercenary hackers look for easy targets, not difficult ones.

When a hacker discovers that a cloud is strongly encrypted, he typically concludes that making the data readable would require considerable time and effort with no guarantee of success. In this way, encryption acts as a strong deterrent. When a company’s investment in cloud encryption thwarts an attack, is a pittance compared to the financial fallout that typically results from successful data theft.

According to research IBM published in 2018, $3.86 million is the average cost of a data breach. This includes both direct financial loss resulting from the incident, as well as various costs associated with recovery.

Why Cloud Storage With Encryption Works

In 1970, IBM created a block cipher to harden its databases of customer information against data theft. The encryption of this cipher became the government’s inaugural Data Encryption Standard (DES) in 1973. The standard took 24 years for someone to decrypt, and it wasn’t because the standard was kept under wraps. The government tests its cryptography by inviting the whole world to crack it — meaning the feds publicly request people to attempt to find a weakness.

Essentially, this means that, due to advancements in cryptography, your company’s cloud storage, with encryption of the latest standards in place, should easily prevent a hacker from accessing sensitive data.

If this is the case, why are some encryption protocols successfully hacked?

Unless a code that has been decrypted is left in use, or an encryption key is leaked, penetrating encryption results from a hacker spending a long time trying to do it, while tenaciously engaged at the task. With no humor intended, it is a consuming endeavor that could get in the way of normal family life, holding a nine-to-five job, and receiving enough rest, exercise, and socialization to support a healthy life.

Hackers who take the challenge go at it hard for two related reasons: because they obviously believe the cloud contains lucrative data, and because the longer it takes to access the data, the more the “time is money” factor kicks in. There is a point at which enough time passes for the endeavor to go from being a crime of opportunity to an insane pursuit. When this happens, most hackers abandon the effort, and search for more vulnerable cloud storage with no encryption protecting the data.

What Happens When Hackers Succeed

As previously mentioned, research from IBM indicates that $3.86 Million is the average cost companies incur from a data breach.

In addition to placing a company in financial jeopardy that could result in tenuous business continuity, breaches leading to data theft can have additional effects, including pressure from customers or clients affected by the incident and loss of company reputation due to media coverage of the incident.

Cloud storage with encryption applied doesn’t prevent hackers from entering a cloud server. However, strong cloud encryption can foil their plans once they gain entrance. If your company doesn’t encrypt cloud data, now is the time to start.

Contact NIC Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

NIC can help your company implement cloud storage with encryption to deter data theft that results in financial loss, as well as other negative consequences resulting from the theft of cloud data. We specialize in cloud services for businesses, including cloud encryption that significantly strengthens cyber security. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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