Tips for improving encryption algorithms

According to Joe Moorcones, vice president of SafeNet, “the entire commercial world functions off the idea that encryption is rock-solid and not breakable.” In truth, the advent of quantum computing could make deciphering encrytion codes an easy task in the not-too-distant future. 

It is beneficial to understand the current state of encryption before delving into the potential dangers of quantum computing. Symmetric and asymmetric encryption algorithms are the two types that are utilized in the process of protecting enterprise-level communications. In most cases, the actual information is transmitted using symmetric algorithms, whereas data and the keys are shared using asymmetric methods. 

There are strategies that can help minimize some of the recognized flaws connected with symmetric and asymmetric encryption. The following five tips can help ensure that encryption will keep you safe as quantum computing becomes more sophisticated.  

Eliminate outdated encryption ciphers 

Older encryption methods, such as the outdated Data Encryption Standard (DES) and Triple DES (which is just DES applied three times to each data block) should no longer be used by leading enterprises. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a logical option for symmetric encryption. 

Use the longest possible encryption keys

Businesses should employ the longest encryption key lengths available to make it harder for people to gain access to a back door and crack your encryption. Today, AES 128 is a robust encryption standard, but we recommend moving up to 512 or the maximum key strength you can implement with your current resources.

Encrypt in a layered approach

Put attackers through as many obstacles as possible by using multiple layers of encryption. This means encrypting as many elements as possible. You should encrypt each column in your database, followed by each table, and finally, the entire database. Laying encryption can make it so difficult for an attacker that it’s not worth their time to try.

Hold secret keys to encrypted files

Instead of worrying about whether or not hackers have found a way to break into their encryption algorithms, businesses should focus on the reality that ciphers are only a tiny portion of a much larger encryption solution. Key management systems and other parts of the infrastructure must also be safe. Holding secret keys to encrypted files helps ensure more of the infrastructure is covered.

Make sure your encryption method is used correctly

Encryption systems are notoriously difficult to put into real world practice because they consist of many moving pieces. All it takes is one of those pieces being exploited to take the entire system down. Having a successful encryption solution requires a lot of preparation and planning. You have to check and double check that every piece of encryption is applied appropriately so there are no chinks in your virtual armor. 

Final word on improving encryption algorithms

Security has to be a top priority, especially if you are gathering user information or processing purchase orders. Using proper encryption algorithms is extremely important, but you have to understand that it isn’t foolproof. It’s up to the website owner to ensure the correct encryption algorithms are used and that they’re applied appropriately or it could leave you susceptible to cyber attacks.

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