Who Is Minding Your Sensitive Data?

Stealing company information used to be the specialty of spies and conspirators. It was something that only happened to the most powerful of corporations and branches of government.

Nowadays, stealing data is commonplace and anyone can become a victim at any time. The person standing in line behind you might be running a profitable side business stealing other peoplesâ?? sensitive data. The reality is, however, that â??insideâ?? jobs are the most common when discussing business data theft.

Instead of looking through the crowds trying to pick out the law breakers, and instead of spending boatloads of money conducting thorough background checks on all those whom you encounter in your business, itâ??s easier to simply protect your data from prying eyes and malicious intentions.

Easier, yes. But protecting company data isnâ??t something that many small business owners do. Into their computer programs they input their products and pricing, their vendors, their EINs and TINs, their checking account numbers, email addresses of family members, their proprietary information, their marketing plans and formulas â?" everything goes into the computer.

Whatâ??s worse is when a business owner stores this type of information on a laptop computer, an item especially vulnerable to theft. Someone stealing laptops probably could care less about the information that is stored on them, but why take that risk. If youâ??re going to protect your sensitive company data, itâ??s all or nothing.

And protecting data is definitely your responsibility if you are an accountant or you specialize in other types of financial businesses. Your clients assume you are protecting their financial documents and their other sensitive records. But are you? Kudos to you, if you are. If you are not, you better take this issue seriously right now, before the damage occurs.

The best way to protect data is by using encryption software. Encryption means making data unreadable to everybody except those who know or understand the key or the code. When data is encrypted, it is far more secure than it is if just protected using a password.

Passwords that are required to login to a program are considered authentication methods, where the identity of the person logging in is simply authenticated, or verified. But passwords are easy to figure out and anyone capable of figuring out passwords will still have access to the data contained within.

So for data to truly be protected, youâ??ve got to go the extra step and encrypt it. There are many encryption programs available today. The most sophisticated of those protect our nationâ??s secrets.

But for the small business owner, who has minimal understanding of encryption methodologies or terminology, and wants it to stay this way, ease of use is whatâ??s important.

Behind the scenes, all encryption software uses an algorithm or some other complex mathematical processes to scramble the data. Keys or strings of binary numbers (bits) are created and are what is used to mix up the data. The binary numbers and the data mix together and the result are data that is unreadable.

When more binary numbers are used, more encryption combinations are possible. Therefore, longer strings (more binary numbers or bits) are preferred when encrypting because this makes the code even more difficult to break. So it makes sense that 128-bit encryption software is more secure than 56-bit encryption software.

Data that is encrypted is safe from prying eyes which means that your business data is safe. To view data that has been encrypted, it must be decrypted.

Whether you need to protect your e-commerce website, your email, your business data or that of your clients, be sure you use encryption software.

Copyright © 2005 Cavyl Stewart. Get more software tips, strategies and recommendations by signing up for my Exclusive 100% free, 100% original content ecourses. Visit: http://www.find-small-business- software.com/free-ecourses.php

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