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What is End to End Encryption?

In today’s world where the majority of our lives, both business and personal, are conducted over the internet, we have to put a lot of trust in organisations that our data is safe. As business owners, your clients are therefore putting a lot of trust in you. Clients enter into an agreement of trust, in that, when they purchase something through your website or provide you with sensitive data, that it will be safe from data breaches or data loss.

Keeping one step ahead of the cyber criminals is a difficult task, but an essential one, and no business, or individual, can afford to wait until the worst happens – for example, losing their devices that store all their important photos and data, be that private or work-related. This can be as simple as leaving a work laptop on a train, or it could be a train, or your hardware is targeted by hackers, malware or ransomware.

So, what is the answer? There are many layers to protecting your data from cyber criminals, but one key tool is end to end encryption.

What is End to End Encryption?

End to end encryption (E2EE) is a security method which ensures that the only people able to access data are authorised.

Once data has been encrypted only those with the decryption code are able to open it and read it, which means that data cannot be modified other than by the sender or the recipient.

While this all seems incredibly high tech, end to end encryption is a valuable security measure not only for businesses handling sensitive data but for individuals as well. It essentially protects any data you have from being read by someone other than the intended recipient. We all send such data over the internet many times a day – payment details, credit card details, personal information that once is out in the ether could potentially be accessed by anyone. This can lead to data loss, data breaches and identity theft. Unless of course it is encrypted first.

Encryption essentially scrambles the data, so should it be intercepted on its cyber journey it cannot be read. Only when it reaches the intended destination can it be decrypted. A decryption key is required to unscramble it, which is normally a long line of numbers. Mostly this is all done via encryption software so there is no risk of forgetting the key or worse, writing it down.

How Does End to End Encryption Work?

The basics of how end to end encryption works lies in the premise that the sender encrypts the data it is sending, and only the recipient has the decryption key in order to decrypt the data and therefore access it.

Unlike, the simplicity of password protecting a document, where only the recipient has the password, with end to end encryption, this is all done automatically via encryption software. This adds an extra layer of security, as no one can infiltrate the key, it doesn’t have to be written down, and no third party – even if the data is on their server – is able to access the data.

Because it is potentially a simple process, which is all automatic, there is no real reason why it shouldn’t be implemented into your business’ IT services. And there are a number of benefits to having end to end encryption.

  • No third-party can access your data and therefore cannot edit it in any way (for example changing the payee on a bank transaction).
  • Sensitive client data is protected and therefore complies with GDPR guidelines should there be a breach.
  • Improved client trust and confidence that their data is safe with you as a business.
  • On a personal level, knowing if data is lost or stolen it won’t be accessible.

Why is End to End Encryption Important?

If end to end encryption is not a factor in your data security practices, you are opening yourself up to a number of cyber threats. It’s the equivalent of leaving your house unlocked with all your personal documents (driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, bank details) on the coffee table.

Nobody would deliberately do this, so why wouldn’t you encrypt sensitive data?

According to a UK government report issued in March 2020 46% of business reported cyber security breaches in the past year – 68% of them were medium businesses with an average cost of the breach being £5,220.

What is more concerning is that 49% of businesses don’t update their senior management on cyber security every quarter and only 15% of businesses review their suppliers’ security record.

With end to end encryption even if you do suffer a cyber security breach the data will be unreadable and therefore won’t be as damaging to your business.

Many data breaches are caused by certificate expiration (security certificate), which not only means there can be expensive downtime, but cyber criminals can take advantage of this, gaining access to the systems and potentially accessing encrypted data. With no encryption in place (i.e. in a situation like a certificate outage) anyone can access your data and publish it or use it in some other way.

Is End to End Encryption Safe?

Like any form of data security, end to end encryption is only as safe as the infrastructure in place.

Theoretically speaking, e2ee should be 100% safe, as only the person with the decryption code is able to access the data. However, this is also potentially the downfall, as this all depends on who has the decryption key.

If the cryptographic key is held centrally within an organisation, there is always the possibility it could be compromised should hackers infiltrate the company networks – meaning they could have access to the encrypted data.

But if there is a vigorous security policy in place then this threat becomes negligible.

What Next?

If you would like to discuss CIS’s IT security services, and how to ensure your personal and business data is cyber threat proof why not give the team a call today or discover more about our encryption services.


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