Encryption solutions

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Posted on 20 Oct 2011 09:25

A common and widespread fear amongst computer users is the possibility of data and personal information being stolen and used for purposes of fraud or theft. Having IT security breached can constitute a whole host of dangers and, as such, it is of paramount importance for users of laptops, personal computers and other devices which store sensitive information to ensure their systems are immune from those threats.

One of the most widespread ways of attempting to protect personal data is through the use of a method known as encryption. Encryption is a process designed to halt potential thieves or hackers by scrambling files and data stored on a computer so they become unreadable and undecipherable. In order to make encrypted files possible to view and process again a user must have access to a correct password; this password retrieves all the scrambled data and assembles it again in its original form.

One of the problems, however, with encryption comes when this solution is provided and ran by software – the high requirements demanded by the market for an utterly impenetrable solution to IT security have often not been met by encryption software. Reasons for this include the fact that encryption software can cause a noticeable loss of system performance; oftentimes the management system is also overly complex for an average computer use which renders the system next to inoperable and a further problem stems from the fact that encryption software can also prove rather expensive. However, advances in technology have aimed to make these issues obsolete.

To address issues associated with a lack of usability of equipment which utilises encryption software, developers within the IT industry have worked on evolving technology which can function on a level below a computers main operating system. In order for this to work effectively the encryption device is fitted as a piece of hardware, a drive, rather than a piece of software. These drives can either be retrospectively fitted or purchased as part of a new system. These drives function underneath the application level of a computer’s system and, as such, do not interfere with the performance levels in a way a piece of software would. Other issues that are sidestepped by using encryption hardware over software is the fact that there will be no renewable licence agreements to sort over and will also require none of the maintenance or update packages associated with software. Ease of use is also a similar benefit in that, upon being installed, an encrypted hard drive will automatically set about scrambling the data available to it.

Security can also be improved as, unlike software, hardware encryption does not rely entirely on the operating system in regards to password storage. Software also focuses heavily on the operating system it is installed upon for the storage of, and even the generation of, keys. Hardware encryption instead stores the keys directly onto the drive in cases that are completely tamper proof. This helps to remove many of the other complicated procedures associated with key management.

Overall, all though it may seem buying software may be a cheaper option than purchasing a drive, utilising hardware based IT solutions instead of software could end up saving money in the long term. Hardware encryption devices cost a set on off fee when purchase but once this initial outlay is expended there is no additional cost. Software, on the other hand, requires not only the aforementioned updates, upgrades and licence fees but also additional man power associated with training, server infrastructure requirements and tech support fees.

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