7 Industry Sectors That Need Data Encryption

7 Industry Sectors That Need Data Encryption

Every industry requires appropriate safeguards to ensure sensitive content is properly protected. From patient data to financial information, data encryption has become a must for many businesses of all sizes. Without the right technology protocol, there is a risk of private data becoming public, exposing businesses, contractors, partners, customers, and prospects to fraudulent activity.

What Is Data Encryption?

Data encryption is the process of encoding data so that only authorized parties can decode and view it. There are many reasons why you might need to encrypt your data, but one of the most important reasons is to protect sensitive information from being exposed to those who lack authorization, such as cybercriminals and rogue nation-states, to view, edit, and share it.

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How to Encrypt Content

Data—or, more specifically, content—encryption is the process of encoding file content in a way that only authorized individuals or entities can access it. Here are the general steps required for encrypting content:

  1. Choose an encryption method: There are various encryption methods available, such as symmetric encryption, asymmetric encryption, or hashing. Select the method that best suits your needs.
  2. Choose a strong encryption key: A strong encryption key is essential for secure encryption. It should be long and unique, and not something that can be easily guessed.
  3. Encrypt the content: Using the encryption method and key, encrypt the content you want to protect. This will turn the content into an unreadable format that can only be decrypted with the appropriate key.
  4. Store the encrypted content securely: Once encrypted, store the content in a secure location, such as an encrypted hard drive or cloud storage with strong access controls.
  5. Decrypt the content when needed: To access the encrypted content, use the appropriate decryption key to decode it back to its original format.

What Are the Risks of Encryption and Is It Enough?

Encryption is a method of protecting content by converting it into a code that can only be decrypted with a secret key. While encryption is a powerful tool for securing information, there are still risks. These are just a few of the risks inherent in content encryption:

  1. Vulnerabilities: Encryption algorithms can have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, making the encrypted information vulnerable to attack.
  2. Weak Passwords: If the password for encryption is weak or easily guessable, it can be easily cracked by hackers.
  3. Malware: Malware can infect a system where the encrypted content is stored, bypassing encryption and exposing sensitive data.
  4. Insider Threats: Employees or other insiders who have access to the encrypted content may misuse or leak the information, compromising its security.
  5. Government Access: Some governments have legal authority to require access to encrypted content, which may compromise its confidentiality.

Additionally, encryption alone may not be enough to protect content against all risks. Additional measures such as firewalls, access controls, and regular security audits may also be necessary to ensure the security of sensitive content. As a result, it is important to take a holistic approach to security and not rely solely on encryption to protect against all possible risks.

To give you an idea of how severe the consequences can be, let’s explore some different industry sectors where data encryption is absolutely necessary:

1. Financial Services and Credit Cards

All industry sectors are required to be diligent about cybersecurity and IT best practices. One particularly vulnerable industry sector is the financial services and credit card industry. The data that is created and collected in this sector is some of the most sensitive data of any type, because it has the power to affect one’s future livelihoods.

It is of utmost importance that this data is encrypted so as to protect against cyberattacks, as well as unauthorized access, both by outsiders and insiders.

In order to reduce the risk of breach and its ensuing ramifications, most financial firms have implemented encryption for their customer data. While the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) are specific to these industries, compliance regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and state data privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) also apply.

All these regulations have one thing in common: encryption, along with proper key management, can mean the difference between a public breach notification and having a safe harbor. Digital exchange of sensitive content is spread across multiple communications channels for financial services firms. Financial firms surveyed in Kiteworks annual Sensitive Content Communications Privacy and Compliance report cited file sharing (34%) at the top of the list of risk concerns followed by email (30%), file transfer and automation (20%), and web forms (15%).

2. Healthcare

Protected health information(PHI) is among the most sensitive private data for individuals and could be very valuable for cybercriminals. Healthcare providers and business associates in the healthcare industry must protect patient privacy as they deliver quality healthcare. They must meet the strict requirements of HIPAA and other regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Through encryption, healthcare providers protect data in transit and at rest, making it difficult for attackers to access and decipher patient information. When it comes to top concerns in managing sensitive content communications, healthcare organizations list risk of external cyberattacks, risk of insider threats, and difficulty tracking and controlling governance of that private data as their top concerns.

3. Government

Data encryption is a requirement for government agencies to protect sensitive data from malicious individuals and organizations. Issues like hacking, break-ins, and lost disks or laptops should not be easily achievable with encrypted data.

In fact, the Office of Management and Budget has mandated that federal agencies ensure their systems are encrypted so they can manage those risks. Agencies that do not comply may face criminal penalties or lose security clearance status. For federal government agencies, FedRAMP Authorized solutions often are mandated or preferred.

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC 2.0) is a set of regulatory practice controls put into place by the U.S. Department of Defense to govern how agencies and contractors handle Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

CUI is a unique form of information in that, while it is not classified, it serves an essential function in the operation of the government and defense organizations. Compliance with this set of regulations encompasses measures such as encryption to protect CUI and Federal Contract Information (FCI). 

4. Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology

Data encryption should be at the top of every pharmaceutical or biotechnology company’s list. This sector is extremely vulnerable to data breaches, and in a matter of a couple years, they could go from a big business to nonexistence.

Following are a few reasons why security needs to be at the forefront of their operations:

  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies digital exchanged—within their organizations and with third parties—critical intellectual property such as drug formulas, scheduling, manufacturing plans, trial designs, and DNA sequences. This business-essential data must be tracked and controlled with the right governance policies.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotech products often hold an enormous amount of confidential information about a person’s health and genetic profile, not just what drugs were prescribed for them. The information can include personally identifiable data such as the individual’s name, address, telephone number, and account numbers for healthcare services that were paid for by third-party payment plans. While other industries may have some type of financial interest, this industry has the ability to make someone physically sick or well again.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations must ensure immutable transfers of manufacturing quality data to comply with Federal Drug Administration (FDA) 21 CFR Part 11 and Governors and good practice guidelines.
  • DNA genome sequences and other large data sets must be transferred securely—internally as well as externally with different third parties involved in the supply chain.
  • Data transfers with manufacturing plants, CROs, and regulators often need to be automated.

For sensitive content communications, per the aforementioned Kiteworks Sensitive Content Communications Privacy and Compliance report risk of insider threats tops the list as a top risk concern for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This is followed by risk of external cyberattacks (19%), difficulty tracking and controlling governance of private data (14%), and time spent compiling content communications reports to demonstrate compliance (13%).

5. Manufacturing

Manufacturing and industrial organizations are adopting new platforms and environments at a fast pace, transforming the capabilities of both their information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) platforms.

Sensitive manufacturing data includes customer data, marketing strategy, and intellectual property rights, among others. Private data can also include price commitments from suppliers or even special margins promised to certain customers. This information falling into the wrong hands can damage a company’s reputation, lead to significant losses, and face penalties under different data regulations. On the latter, manufacturers must comply with certain regulations like CMMC 2.0 to conduct business with the DoD.

Manufacturers and industrial corporations need to be proactive to protect their operations and supply chains from cyberattacks. Managing multiple communication channels and aggregated audit trails from all of them are time-consuming tasks for manufacturers.

69% of manufacturers in Kiteworks Sensitive Content Communications Privacy and Compliance report indicated they use four of more technology tools for sensitive content communications, with fewer than half admitting to have the right technologies and processes in place to measure risk associated with third-party content communications.

Protecting data in transit with solutions that provide a single platform to encrypt everywhere, from network traffic between data centers to backup and disaster recovery sites, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is a must. The importance is accentuated by a recent Mandiant report showing cyber incidents connected to the supply chain jumped from 1% in 2020 to 17% in 2021.

6. Legal

Legal firms that work with clients regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA )or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) should take additional precautions to ensure that sensitive data is encrypted when stored, transferred, and accessed on any device. In accordance with these laws, encryption is only necessary if an employer provides healthcare services. If not, encryption is optional.

In all instances, legal firms should be informed about data privacy requirements before deciding whether or not to implement security measures like encryption.

7. Education

Educational institutions of all sizes handle multiple types of PII, which includes social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers, student academic records, and health information. All these are at risk of interception and unauthorized access. In addition, research institutions may also have access to confidential government or business intelligence data regarding trade, scientific, or other secrets that could be at potential risk of getting hacked.

How Much Does Encrypting Content Cost?

The cost of encrypting content depends on several factors, such as the type of encryption used, the amount of content, or size of the files containing sensitive content, to be encrypted, the level of security required, and the resources needed to manage and maintain the encryption.

There are both free and paid encryption software available, but paid encryption software typically offers higher levels of security and features. Additionally, organizations may incur additional costs for hardware encryption devices, IT staff training, and ongoing maintenance and support.

Overall, the cost of encrypting content can vary widely and depend on each organization’s unique needs and circumstances. It is important to weigh the cost of encryption against the potential costs of a data breach, which can include loss of sensitive data, damage to reputation, legal fees, and penalties. Investing in encryption can ultimately save an organization money in the long run by preventing these costly consequences.

Best Encryption Solutions

Encryption has proven to be an essential tool for safeguarding sensitive information. The best encryption solutions available on the market use advanced algorithms and protocols to ensure that data remains secure both while in transit and at rest. Some of the top encryption solutions to consider include AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). These solutions offer varying degrees of security, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits the needs of your particular industry sector.

Report Assess Your Sensitive Content Communications Privacy and Compliance Kiteworks 2022 Sensitive Content Communications Report

Get the Benefits of End-to-End Encryption With a Kiteworks-enabled Private Content Network

A Kiteworks-enabled Private Content Network provide businesses with the security and power of an end-to-end encryption scheme built into enterprise-grade secure email, file sharing, managed file transfer (MFT), web forms, and application programming interfaces (APIs). Furthermore, end-to-end encryption capabilities in the Kiteworks platform include an Email Encryption Gateway way powered by totemo, an acquisition that allows us to deliver end-to-end email encryption from any email server.

The Kiteworks platform is designed with security from the ground up, which includes enterprise-class encryption. It applies single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), anti-virus, advanced threat protection (ATP), and data loss prevention (DLP) across all your digital communication channels. TLS 1.2 encryption is employed for in-transit communications, while AES-256 encryption is used for data at rest. Kiteworks encrypts each piece of sensitive content with a unique, strong key at the file level and with a different strong key at the disk-level volume. This double-encrypted approach provides an extra level of security. Additionally, file keys, volume keys, and other intermediate keys are encrypted when stored.

To get more information on Kiteworks’ Private Content Network and discover more about Kiteworks’ approach to encryption, schedule a custom-tailored demo today.

Additional Resources

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