As technology becomes increasingly important to business success, companies need to make sure that they have tools that can protect their data from cybercriminals. Data encryption provides a crucial line of defense that can prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing networks and files. Data encryption can also hide the information in a file to prevent unauthorized access.

By the time you finish reading this article, you should understand the basics of data encryption and how you can use it to protect your business and clients.

What Is Data Encryption?

At its simplest form, data encryption is a code that makes it difficult for other people to read information. For instance, you could replace letters with corresponding numbers. In this case, “19-5-3-21-18-9-20-25” is code for “security.”

Today’s data encryption goes far beyond such a basic form. To read any encrypted information, you need a key that decrypts the content.

By using this concept, you can hide login information and render a file’s content indecipherable for people without the correct key.

When and Where Businesses Should Use Data Encryption

Cybercriminals often want to gather information so they can commit identity fraud, sell corporate secrets, and hold data hostage. Data loss is a huge problem that affects businesses of all sizes. Between 2013 and 2014, Yahoo lost the personal information of about 3 billion user accounts.

Small businesses have become popular targets in recent years because hackers assume that smaller enterprises don’t have robust security technology. Data encryption at multiple levels makes it much more difficult for hackers to target your network and files.

Since you could become a target at any time, your company should encrypt all files that contain sensitive information, including files that contain:

  • Client payment information
  • Personal information about employees
  • Research and development for new products

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For the best results, you need to use encryption at multiple levels. Many businesses don’t feel secure until they encrypt their:

  • Network routers
  • Individual devices
  • Cloud servers
  • Individual files
  • Emails

How to Start Using Data Encryption Today

Some types of data encryption require help from a computer security specialist. A specialist can use complex algorithms that make it nearly impossible for someone to break into your secured network and files.

But you don’t have to hire anyone to start using basic data encryption today. If you use the latest version of Windows, you can encrypt files and folders by:

  • Right-clicking the file or folder that you want to encrypt.
  • Choosing “Properties.”
  • Selecting “Advanced.”
  • Clicking the checkbox for “Encrypt contents to secure data.”

You should also enable WPA2 encryption on your wireless routers. This requires a little more knowledge, but someone with basic computer knowledge can turn on router encryption by:

  • Navigating to the wireless router’s address (follow the link if you don’t know your router’s IP address).
  • Opening “Wireless Security” on the settings page.
  • Selecting WPA2-Enterprise.

This process will encrypt all information that passes from your devices to your network. For even more security, make sure you choose a strong wireless network name and network password.

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Final Thoughts on Data Encryption

For the highest level of security, you should enable encryption on every device, file, and folder that your business uses. Having robust security reduces the chances that your organization will experience downtime from a cyberattack.

In other words, proper security can help you stay up and running while saving precious time.

However, keep in mind that consumer hardware can only offer so much protection. If you’re worried that someone might target your business, you should contact a computer security expert to create an impenetrable system that will keep hackers away from your network.