Encryption grows globally, but management is a challenge

Feb 14th, 2014 / Category: Managed File Transfer

In response to growing concerns over the impact of data breaches, more organizations worldwide are striving to implement encryption policies. However, their difficulties in tracking the location of their information resources and challenges managing encryption technology are holding them back from data consolidation and confidence in security. The complications of coordinating encryption policies points to the benefits of systems that streamline these processes and keep data in a central location, such as Wide Area File Services (WAFS) or managed file transfer (MFT) solutions.

Encryption use rising, but a challenge
Recent research by the Ponemon Institute identified that organizations around the world are increasingly prioritizing encryption in order to protect their data. The report indicated that companies encrypt data out of a concern for the high-impact of data breaches, keeping in mind the importance of protecting customers' private information. Corporations are focusing their security efforts on backup tapes and databases, networks and laptops, the study found. According to IT Business Edge, which reviewed the full report, these trends were driven by consumers' increasing concerns about data privacy, the rise of bring-your-own-device policies and the consumerization of IT. 

While only 14 percent of the survey respondents had no encryption strategy in place, according to Info Security Magazine, implementing the security measures effectively remained a problem for organizations. Corporations indicated that the biggest threat to their data security was employee mistakes, rather than malicious attacks from outside. Employee mistakes can include errors like failing to encrypt materials appropriately or moving documents to unsecured environments. In fact, the report study also found that the biggest challenges for organizations were knowing where their data was located and coordinating the data management technology.

"Encryption usage continues to be a clear indicator of a strong security posture but there appears to be emerging evidence that concerns over key management are becoming a barrier to its more widespread adoption," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute. "For the first time in this study we drilled down into the issue of key management and found it emerging as a huge operational challenge."

Encryption difficulties stall data consolidation
The difficulty of implementing encryption policies can interfere with organizations' efforts to protect their data, and it also makes it more challenging for them to consolidate their information resources. According to a separate study by SafeNet Inc., 75 percent of IT professionals view data center consolidation as important, but only 50 percent have plans in place to achieve this goal. Security challenges were identified as one of the key reasons for falling behind on moving data to a central repository, particularly because of difficulties addressing encryption needs.

"The adoption of new technologies - such as big data, mobility, and cloud-based services - has pushed data center consolidation to the top of the priority list for many businesses. Yet it is clear that security concerns combined with a lack of resources are hampering the progress of such transformations," stated Prakash Panjwani, senior vice president and general manager at SafeNet.

Keeping data resources in a central location can also help alleviate companies' concerns over tracking the location of their information. To address these challenges, organizations can implement secure file sharing solutions that automate encryption processes - reducing the likelihood of employee error - and store documents in a central location that workers can access without taking resources outside of the secure environment.

Because encryption processes can be complicated and require employees to complete extra steps outside of their normal workflows, it's important to have solutions that streamline these measures as much as possible. These reports make clear the growing centrality of data protection to business operations, but more intuitive programs are necessary to achieve these goals.