Data Encryption

What is Data Encryption?

Data encryption is the digital transcreation of plaintext data into ciphertext. The former is readable by users, while the latter requires a specific encryption key to decipher the information. Data encryption is a common consumer- and enterprise-security feature, especially for organizations with large amounts of private or sensitive data.

What are the types of data encryption?

There are two general types of data encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric encryption uses the same key for encryption and decryption. Asymmetric encryption uses a key set or pair, meaning there’s one key each for encryption and decryption processes. Typically, there is a public key that’s shared by an organization or team, whereas the other is only known by the user.

However, it’s important to note that there are several forms of symmetric and asymmetric encryption in each category.

Originally standardized in the 1970s, data encryption standard (DES) is a symmetric method that encrypts 56-bit blocks of data at a time and quickly became obsolete due to its hackability. Later, DES was replaced with triple data encryption standard (3DES), which uses multiple 56-bit blocks for enhanced protection. While a longer process and still vulnerable to hacking, 3DES is still used in select industries like banking. The most recent and secure form of symmetric encryption is the advanced encryption standard (AES). Compared to other forms, AES features a bigger block size (up to 256-bit) and can be deployed across many different applications and industries.

Rivest Shamir Adelman (RSA) is an early form of asymmetric encryption that creates two separate keys based on the same prime numbers. Other forms of asymmetric encryption include digital signature algorithm (DSA), in which a user’s private key is used to digitally sign data and verify authenticity, and elliptical curve cryptography (ECC), a faster alternative for RSA that uses smaller key sizes and elliptic curves.

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What are the benefits of data encryption?

First and foremost: security. Data encryption is a frontline defense for keeping data safe, whether that’s at rest in the datacenter or while being transmitted. Encryption also works across multiple devices and endpoints, meaning even complex IT environments remain secure, whether that’s within an on-premise datacenter or in cloud and multi-cloud configurations.

A huge advantage to data encryption is inherent identification verification. Public and private keys help ensure only authorized users gain access to data. This is a critical factor in an era of evolving cyberthreats that want access for malicious purposes like theft, profit (e.g., ransomware), or destruction. In more regulated industries, such as those connected to government entities and oversight, data encryption can be a crucial part of maintaining strict compliance with guidelines.

And while data encryption is largely a defensive measure, its versatility makes it an enabler of innovation. The growing adoption of cloud, hybrid cloud, and edge environments means data is being generated at faster rates and becoming more and more decentralized from the datacenter (i.e., compute, storage, analysis, etc.); while the ability to keep that data safe no matter what opens up opportunities for new information technologies and workflows that give authorized users access to the resources they need without compromising security.

What is data encryption technology?

Typically, data encryption technology appears as a software or hardware solution.

From laptops to smartphones, software encryption is perhaps the most commonly used today, with users entering a password—a form of key—to access authorized data and applications. If encrypted, the data is encoded or decoded by an algorithm. Its widespread availability makes it a cost-efficient choice that doesn’t require much, if any, hardware infrastructure. Yet software encryption is still vulnerable to cyberattacks if passwords are broken, and software-based applications may slow down data access since it’s a resource-intensive process.

On the other hand, hardware encryption is a dedicated, separate processor for authentication and encryption. Hardware encryption still requires keys for access, but they are generated by the processor. Compared to software, hardware encryption is much harder to break through and speeds up encoding and decoding speeds—at a higher cost, since it often requires investing in new IT.

HPE and data encryption

HPE is an industry leader in secure hardware and software. HPE Secure Encryption is a software-based server management software that’s available for local and remote deployments and encrypts the data on both the attached bulk storage and cache module of the HPE Smart Array controllers. HPE Secure Encryption scales with your business from a single server to enterprise-wide deployment of over 25,000 servers via the HPE Enterprise Secure Key Manager (ESKM) 3.1. ESKM version 3.1 manages all remote keys centrally and, when deployed in a clustered configuration, maximizes uptime.