Data, when processed, can be valuable information. With the innovative use of technology, we can easily gather information from around the world even if we are just sitting and using our computers or mobile devices. However, some data, especially personal ones, should be kept private. For example, personal (name, address, phone number), sensitive (age, race, weight, sexual preference) and privileged (bank transactions, payment information, medical records). Republic Act 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012, was implemented in the Philippines. This ensures protection of the individual rights of Filipinos from individuals or organizations who may try to maliciously disclose and misuse such info. For organizations to comply with the Data Privacy Act of 2012, they need to ensure proper handling of the collected personal data from their customers. To protect personal data, one of the solutions we use or implement is data encryption.
Encryption is when plain text translates into ciphertext. A ciphertext is a coded text and appears meaningless and unreadable unless decrypted.
For example, “aSdf78jkLzzxk” is a ciphertext. It’s not literally unreadable since we can read it character by character. It has a deeper meaning and translatable into plain text that is more understandable to humans.
How does encryption work?
There are two types of encryption, namely called Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption, and they function differently.
Symmetric encryption, also called the secret key, uses the same key for encryption and decryption. In symmetric encryption, we need to share the secret key to the other people who are part of the system for them to access or decrypt the data. Thus, people who don’t have the secret key can never open the encrypted data.
Asymmetric encryption, also called the public key, uses two different keys for encryption and decryption. One public key is shareable with anyone, and one private key is secret. Any of the keys can encrypt a message, but only the private key can decrypt a message. Thus, you can only open the encrypted data if you have your private key access.
Why is encryption important?
Data encryption’s initial use was to pass government and military information electronically to avoid data loss and data theft. However, Greeks and people in history used encryption thousands of years ago – by ways of papers and inks – to deliver a private message.
Today, the internet is an E-world where we do most of our transactions like buying and selling online. We do not realize that we are carelessly and sometimes unconsciously giving away our personal information every day on the internet.
Fortunately, Google has already made the move to ensure data security by making every website comply with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. Google will mark any website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate as Not Secure. So it’s easy for the end users to determine which sites are unsafe and which sites are reliable for them to give their personal information. This also ensures that users provide their data to encrypted sites and safe from man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM).
Aside from the Data Privacy Act of 2012 in the Philippines, the European Commission (EU) introduced a new set of regulations. This new set of rules is known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), replaced the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 and aims to control how organizations handle customers’ personal information.
Even if it’s only applicable for EU customers, all business transactions that collect an EU citizen personal information are also affected. As a result, data encryption became a requirement in businesses and organizations to maintain credibility and trust from the customers.
Furthermore, let us elaborate a little bit more on the benefits of encrypting data to businesses and organizations.
When we encrypt our data, it prevents us from losing our data and protects us from data theft. It will also help us get the accurate data that we need. Sometimes the data that we need in business is data that will help us determine our next plan and strategy. These data could be a customer’s buying preference, address, gender, age, etc.
By encrypting data, it moves data securely and maintains integrity; ensuring that the data received is unchanged from its origin. We can also avoid or easily resolve customer complaints.
Data encryption assures customers that their personal information is safe. It also ensures organizations that they are getting the right data. Getting the right data help them improve and maintain a credible relationship with the customers. Therefore, data encryption is not only beneficial for individual customers but is also helpful for businesses and organizations to grow.
Business Applications + Data Encryption = Security
Making data encryption a must have for all types of systems and software. Business organizations assure its customers of its commitment to security, increasing customer trust and confidence in its products and services.
Fortunately, it’s already an active practice in the world of business applications development, even in our locality! For business owners planning to have their own business system built, it would be a good idea to ask if your system includes data encryption.
Have your own thoughts on what makes data encryption so important? Let us know in the comments!