Are you sing a strong password?
Encryption by definition is a process of encoding information to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing it. But protecting information is not a trivial task. To truly achieve total protection requires using a multi-faceted approach to encryption.
Information, which can include documents, data or email messages, really has a life all its own. The various stages of this life cycle are where the challenges come into focus. When information is first created and stored, typically on a local drive, network drive, external drive, cloud or repository, it has the potential to be openly accessible to unwanted persons. When information is sent to and shared with others, such as through email, there is a potential for hackers with bad intent to intercept it. And when this information arrives at its destination, it must reside and be retained again in some location, raising the same issue regarding easy accessibility. A breach at any point means the life of this information continues further, sent to unknown locations and used for unintended purposes. Information in the wrong hands can only lead to misery and cost real money, time and opportunity. It is assuring to know that software vendors and service providers continue to make better advances in encryption technologies and approaches; a current example is Google with its’ recent announcement around end-to-end Gmail encryption. While these advances provide us with greater and greater comfort, these advances are not sufficient alone if you consider the various life stages of information.
There is no question that encrypting information in transit will protect against intrusive efforts to access it. But once information reaches the recipient, you’ve lost all control over where that information goes from there. And technologies to encrypt hard drives, storage mediums and repositories provide additional protection against cyber-attacks on data at rest. But once information from those mediums is copied, moved or transmitted elsewhere, that level of protection is essentially negated and no longer relevant in protecting that information. The good news is there is one more approach we can employ to address these security exposures and complement our protection strategies.
Password protecting information, including documents and even emails, is a dimension of encryption at rest that protects against information reaching unintended audiences. Microsoft, Adobe and many other products utilize reasonably good encryption standards to provide the capabilities to password protect their document types. Leveraging these document password protection capabilities provides a number of good benefits, with the three most critical benefits being:
- Only recipients that know the password can open the document and more importantly read its content
- This level of protection goes with the document no matter where it is stored or sent.
- Tampering with a protected document takes time and effort providing another deterrent to efforts to access its content
Even if your email is intercepted or sent to someone unexpected, or your server is hacked and your files are compromised, having the information individually encrypted means another degree of protection, further reducing your overall exposure.
So it is safe to conclude that password protecting your documents, especially before transmitting through email, is a perfect complement to encryption in transit and other encryption at rest approaches. Products like docNCYPT are providing a valuable service by allowing businesses and individuals to effortlessly and routinely leverage these advances in protection. The more we use a multi-faceted approach to protection, the safer the environment for our information.
Saj Patel is the Vice President of Development for Azstec LLC, the creators of docNCRYPT, the incredibly simple email and document security solution for everyone. If you have any comments or questions, email Saj at spatel [at] azstec.com and follow the Azstec Blog or on Twitter or LinkedIn