Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Data Encryption - Your Biggest Weapon Against Data Theft

The Identity Theft Resource Center recently released a report stating that 35 million data records were exposed last year. That’s a huge increase over the previous year and a very sobering figure for anyone who is concerned about keeping their business or personal data safe.

There was an upside, however: a mere 2.4 percent of data thefts involved encrypted data. Encryption basically disguises or scrambles your data so that it’s unintelligible without a key. The correct encryption key will allow a recipient to decipher the scrambled data and arrive at the original contents.

In order to minimize the chances that your data will fall into the wrong hands, one of the best things you can do is make sure it’s always encrypted.

In the world of backups, that means a few things. First off, you’re much better off backing up to disk, which is more easily encrypted, than to tape, which is only rarely encrypted. Second, you should be backing up to a disk not only at your home office but also to somewhere offsite – and encrypting your files both in transmission and in storage.

An offsite backup solution should feature 128-bit encryption during file transfers. That means it would take somebody without a key 2128 tries, or 3.40282367 × 1038 attempts, to crack the encryption code. The data should then be stored using a 256-bit key or better

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