3 reasons every small business needs encryption


December 22, 2016

If you think your business is too small to benefit from encryption technology, think again. For decades, encryption has largely been thought of as an advanced form of data security – more the province of large enterprises than small companies. But security threats are growing among organizations of all sizes, especially small businesses, which are likely to have fewer resources with which to protect themselves than large enterprises. And as the threats grow, encryption is becoming an increasingly appropriate component of any solid data-security strategy. Here are three good reasons why.

Malware attacks are on the rise

Ransomware, crypto malware and other attacks on data security are the stuff of nightmares these days, keeping more and more small business owners awake at night. Protecting against these threats can be like a game of whack-a-mole: just when you think you’ve got things under control, it seems like a new problem pops up. That’s not your imagination; researchers confirm it’s a growing problem, with 120 families of ransomware currently out there, and a 3,500% increase in the use of the network infrastructure on which ransomware typically spreads.

It’s getting harder and harder to stay a step ahead of this constantly changing and growing danger. But encryption can help by serving as a second line of defense that renders data indecipherable to everyone except those who have the key to decode it. With encryption, if someone in your organization accidentally clicks on a malware link in an email, allowing the malware senders to get to your data, they won’t be able to read what they find.

Password protection is just not enough

“But wait,” you’re thinking, “all of our PCs and laptops are password-protected, so the data is safe from attacks.” Not so fast. Sure, it’s important to have strong password protection, especially on laptops, smartphones and other devices that a thief can easily grab. But is it enough? For example, does your small business have the resources to enforce requirements for long, complex passwords and frequent password changes, as security experts recommend?

Even if you’re able to enforce strict security policies, hackers are always coming up with new ways to crack passwords. Or they’re finding ways to go around them – like using a USB stick to boot up a whole new operating system and get access to files that way.

What you need is an encryption solution that will allow you to completely encode all the data on a device. Recent versions of the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems already have some level of encryption built into them, but today there are even more sophisticated corporate-level alternatives available, many of them generally affordable even for smaller businesses.

You’re still at risk in the cloud

What if you’re doing business entirely in the cloud – and you don’t store any sensitive data directly on users’ computers or other devices? That’s probably better than having everything on vulnerable local systems. But your data still isn’t entirely safe from malware threats.

Suppose you use a cloud-based productivity solution like Office 365 or Google’s G Suite for email and other everyday operations. Someone can still intercept your data as it moves to and from the cloud. That may not be likely, especially if you’re working with a reputable cloud provider, but it’s not unheard of, either. Strong encryption adds another important layer of protection.

Your business reputation is on the line

When you have customers or clients entrusting you with data and information, a single data breach can destroy your business by breaking that trust. At a time when people already feel less than confident that companies can keep their data secure (especially companies they do business with online), you want to be the business that proves them wrong – not the one that proves their worst fears are warranted.

Of course, if your business collects personally identifiable information – or PII – such as customer names, birth dates, financial information and so forth, you’re already familiar with the need to secure sensitive information. Encryption enhances your ability to do that. There’s no shortage of options for how to encrypt, from doing it on individual files or folders to applying encryption across entire drives and all their contents, and from using built-in OS encryption to looking to third-party programs. If you’d like some help navigating the encryption landscape, contact MyITpros. We’d be happy to help guide you.

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