The importance of data encryption in our everyday cloud

In a 2016 study on global encryption trends published by the Ponemon Institute, encryption being used consistently across businesses grew from 16 percent to 41 percent since 2005.

Encryption converts any data into scrambled, unreadable text in order to mask the information from potential hackers.

WinMagic Data Security Solutions COO Mark Hickman says data encryptors require three key goals to successfully protect their information.

“The first is to make encryption manageable so you can manage files on your network, cloud, and different devices. Second is to enhance the user experience — encrypt the data without the user having to be aware of it. The last part is no compromised security: We can’t compromise data security, even if it improves manageability or user experience,” said Hickman.

UW Tacoma information technology graduate Sameer Hakimi believes it’s important to encrypt. “Nowadays, you never know who has access to your information. If you don’t keep your info private, anyone can know anything about you,” said Hakimi.

Corporate businesses demand a high volume of security, but a lack of protection exists for the average consumer. On March 23, the U.S. Senate voted to decrease regulation, which allowed internet providers like Comcast and AT&T to share consumers’ information with other companies. According to Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour, this includes sharing “browsing data, history, financial, health, communication and location information without your explicit permission.”

Youtuber Philip DeFranco, called the situation “the beginning to the end of privacy online.”

Despite his thoughts on the end of privacy, he has many options to curtail data extraction. DeFranco stressed the importance of data encryption by mentioning different ways for everyday people to encrypt their information — such as the Tor browser and virtual private networks.

“Encryption is your best friend,” said DeFranco.

Tor is a free online browser that, according to the Tor website, “encrypts all of your incoming and outgoing browsing traffic and relays it through a number of volunteer nodes before sending it to its destination.” DeFranco says this prevents internet providers from viewing the web pages the browser selects.

Hakimi says he has used Tor in the past, but feels as though there are better ways to encrypt data.

“Tor is just a slower browser than Chrome,” said Hakimi.

A VPN is another way to stop service providers from knowing your information. A VPN encrypts your entire web traffic, stopping service providers from seeing your information.

ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXX ELDER

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