Protecting data from cybersecurity risks
Sensitive data can come in many forms, such as ‘data at rest’ within a device or location. We can protect against data at rest being stolen by multifactor authentication methods that authenticate the users who are trying to access it, requesting their username and password. Much like giving access to a hotel room, without the relevant key or password, the number of people an attacker can use the identity of is reduced. Data stored on a hard drive can also be encrypted. If the data is encrypted and our keys are kept securely, administrators can stop attackers from reading the data.
As a complete process, we can use validation, key validation and authentication to make sure that the data we have is generated from a valid source – even if it is in transit, thanks to end-to-end encryption.
This is where asymmetric encryption methods come in, because at no point is the encryption key shared. In symmetric methods, as they’re known, the key must be known for the encryption of one or both devices before communication can happen, which sometimes involves exchanging it over a communication protocol. This means that your two devices have the same encryption key and they know what that is, as opposed to asymmetric encryption, where the key is generated during that connection.
This is how things like SSH (or Secure Shell) work during the exchange of data over the internet. One of the key components of ensuring the security capabilities of data in transit is that encryption keys are kept as unique as possible. It’s good practice to not replicate the same encryption key across all devices or communication links because, if an attacker understands what that encryption key is, they can attack the whole system.
Validating data and authenticating it is another way to help security risk analysis. By using certain certificates and the internet transactions your server will provide, you can confirm that data is from the right source. In order to keep authentication keys secret, it is also useful to update them as regularly as possible.