Collaborating Securely

Data sharing is now part of day-to-day business life.  It enables basic digital collaborative working.  IT software applications, email applications and websites make it easy to upload and download data, without necessarily being safe or secure.

Data should be protected from being read by unauthorised people too.  Only the intended recipients should be able to decode the data and act on the content.  All other users should be prevented from seeing the data.

In business, encryption is widely used to encode data and messages.  It is used in the IT sector, but not as widely as it should be within small businesses.  This article will explain how to better protect your data and documents.

Data can be in two states.  It can be ‘at rest’ – on the computer’s hard drive, and ‘in transit’, i.e. being moved to/from another computer or device.  Data can be encrypted for data in both states.

Data at rest – can be unencrypted.  User access and privileges determine who can see the data.  Even if users can ‘see’ an encrypted file on computer, without the key (password) they will not be able to see the content.

Data in transit – encrypt the data/file with a key (password) before emailing it, FTPing it, or uploading it to a secure portal.  While the data is being transmitted across the network/internet it is effectively in a scrambled state.  If a third-party intercepted the data they would need the key to decode the data.

My recommendation is to install WinZip or 7-Zip.  These applications allow you to create archives (collection of files) and add a password to encrypt the archive.

However you share data, think about the risk and impact if it was accidentally sent to the wrong recipient, or intercepted by a third-party.  Encryption is a great technique to lowering this risk.