Data Encryption: Best Practices for Business Owners



Waident’s cybersecurity philosophy is simple: Hackers hack easy targets, so the more layers of security an organization puts in place the harder the effort to penetrate and the less attractive a target it becomes.   Encryption is one of those important layers. It is a widely used and effective method to protect data from cybercrime. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what encryption is and the best practices for using it to minimize the risk of a data breach.

What is Data Encryption

Encryption is essentially a scrambler that converts information into a code using complex algorithms (keys) that require the correct credentials to decipher or unlock the code.  Encryption ensures that data remains protected and can only be deciphered by authorized individuals who have the correct credentials. No key, no data. If a hacker gains access to your system, he will only see in decipherable, useless scribble.

Best Practices for Data Encryption:

Encryption is not a standalone solution but a part of a larger, holistic approach to cybersecurity. Complementary tools, regular audits, employee training, and a well-formulated incident response plan also play vital roles in a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.



Best practices to ensure encryption keeps your sensitive information safe

Develop Encryption Policies: Firstly, the policies should consider the type of data to be protected, the levels of protection required, user authorizations, and how encryption fits into the business’s overall security strategy. I recommend encrypting all data: files sitting on a server or cloud (encryption at rest), laptops and computers, backups, and data being transmitted (think SSL). Secondly, companies should regularly update their encryption policies and algorithms to match the latest security threats and technologies.

Choose Strong Encryption Algorithms: Not all encryption algorithms are created equal. Opt for established, industry-standard algorithms like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for symmetric encryption and RSA or Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for asymmetric encryption. These algorithms have withstood rigorous scrutiny and are recognized for their security.

Securely Manage Keys: The security of encrypted data heavily relies on proper key management. Keys should be kept separate from the data they encrypt and stored in secure, tamper-resistant environments. It is a good idea to have a backup of encryption keys in case of loss or corruption. Regularly update and rotate encryption keys to prevent potential breaches from compromised keys.

Add End-to-End Encryption: Using multiple layers of encryption adds an extra layer of protection to sensitive data. For example, you can encrypt data on a server, and then encrypt it again during transmission. This way, even if one layer of encryption is breached, the data remains protected. End-to-end encryption is particularly crucial for communication platforms and ensures that only the sender and intended recipient can access the content. Not even the service provider can decrypt the messages. This guarantees privacy and security in sensitive conversations.

Use Strong Authentication and Authorization: Combine encryption with strong authentication mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access encrypted data. Use strong passwords. Passwords should be at least 12 characters long and include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Employees should be required to change passwords frequently and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access.

Use Secure Transmission Protocols: When data is transmitted, use secure protocols like HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) for web communication and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) for remote access. These protocols encrypt the data during transit, preventing interception by attackers.

Religiously Apply Regular Updates: Encryption technologies can become vulnerable over time due to new cryptographic discoveries and evolving cyber threats. Keep software and encryption libraries up to date to incorporate security patches and enhancements.

Segment Data Accordingly: Not all data require the same level of encryption. Segment data based on its sensitivity and value, applying strong encryption to high-value assets while using less resource-intensive encryption for less critical data. Work done on Data Classification and Data Access will help here. Encrypting data, particularly if not set up properly, may prevent certain authorized personnel from accessing it.  Encryption may also reduce IT performance. This can be a challenge for companies with large data files or high system loads. Given the costs and performance issues, it is important to evaluate the business trade-offs.

Regularly Training Your People: Ensure that employees and users understand encryption practices and their importance. Even the strongest encryption can be rendered ineffective if not used properly.

Develop Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans: Encryption should not hinder data recovery efforts. Implement robust backup and disaster recovery plans that incorporate encrypted data, ensuring that the decryption process is seamless during restoration.

Validate Third-Party Services: If using third-party encryption services or tools, thoroughly vet their security practices and ensure they align with your organization’s security requirements. Entrusting sensitive data to a third party demands a strong assurance of their competence and commitment to security.



Encryption is a foundational element to safeguard systems from an array of malicious threats. Its role in preserving data confidentiality, strengthening cybersecurity, and preserving user privacy cannot be overstated. By adhering to these encryption best practices, your organization can develop resilience against attacks. Encryption is not a luxury but a necessity in an era where data is the new gold, and its secure storage and transmission are paramount.


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John Ahlberg
CEO, Waident

CIO in the corporate world and now for Waident clients. John injects order and technology into business process to keep employees productive, enterprises running, and data safe.

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