Encryption can be useful for safeguarding data, whether in the active management or storage phase. The point of encryption is that no party can access data until it is decrypted, but this becomes an issue for cloud service providers (CSPs). They also can’t process encrypted user data, so they ask for access to the needed decryption keys. Users either must forward the keys to the CSP upon request or allow the CSP to store them on-premises.
This standard model partially defeats the idea behind cloud security, since users must disclose their decryption keys. The data becomes vulnerable upon decryption, which presents security risks as many enterprises move their data into the cloud. Organizations need a new approach that keeps data encrypted at all times.
This is where Encryption as a Service (EaaS) comes in. Here are five important factors for security leaders to keep in mind when deciding whether EaaS can help secure their assets.
1. A degree in cryptography isn’t necessary.
One of the benefits of EaaS is that it makes encryption easy to use. With the right tools, security professionals can manage their organization’s security without needing to be a cryptography expert. A security leader with basic knowledge may be able to run the software and secure the whole infrastructure. Enterprises can work with their data in any kind of cloud environment, database or in conjunction with a third-party SaaS tool and remain compliant while maintaining operational efficiency.
2. Today’s scaling needs outweigh legacy encryption’s ability.
Older encryption approaches, such as deterministic encryption or encryption at rest, require decrypting the data in the cloud or at the database level to allow read, write or search functionality. This creates gaps in security for malicious insiders and hackers to access sensitive information. In addition, some underdeveloped encryption methodologies can slow down network performance. They are cumbersome to deploy and manage, and they cannot scale to meet the growth needs of the modern enterprise.
3. EaaS trumps human psychology.
Cybersecurity professionals are constantly needing to change their tactics as attackers change theirs. It’s an endless game of cat and mouse. The human mind is risk-averse regarding gains and risk-seeking regarding losses, depending too heavily on the perceived unlikelihood of a cyberattack. This is a fundamental error in information security, given that we live in a world in which companies frequently underinvest in protection and detection.
EaaS can bridge the security gap caused by human psychology, becoming preventative instead of reactive and exceeding current security standards. For companies, this builds greater peace of mind, as they can avoid the constant adaptation to threats, as data is always encrypted and therefore useless to intruders.
4. Encryption reduces liabilities and workloads.
On its own, EaaS will not save the world from all bad actors. But it can be a critical element in the fight against cybercrime, as data is never in plaintext again, even in case of a hack, disclosure or ransomware attack. Encrypting enterprise data can reduce the impact of a data breach. However, if EaaS is not incorporated in security plans from day one, it will be costlier (both financially and timewise) along the way and can have significant consequences in terms of loss of revenue, reputational damage and more.
With a solid security framework that includes being encrypted end-to-end, security teams can trust that their data is safe because it is always encrypted — which means, even in the case of a breach, that data is useless to cyberattackers. In a nutshell, this means that security leaders can focus on other operations while simultaneously reducing liabilities and workloads.
The new encryption
Encryption is necessary but can be tricky, especially without a cryptography background. It not only secures important data by making it useless to criminals, but also frees up security staff time for other tasks. EaaS removes the barriers for cloud service users to have a strong encryption program. It eliminates the human psychology gaps in security and makes encryption easier to use without reducing performance. As companies continue to expand into the cloud, this comes as welcome news.
This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.