Encryption - Everyone's talking about it

Kelli Knutsen

In today’s fast-paced, tech-savvy environment, it’s hard to imagine a time when the world existed without technology. Technology has become a major part of our everyday lives and accordingly, more of our data is digitalised than ever before.

As of Tuesday night (05/04/2016), WhatsApp, the online messaging service owned by the tech giant Facebook, revealed its decision to make the application as secure as possible by launching ‘end-to-end encryption’.

With over a billion people using WhatsApp to keep in contact with friends, family and even colleagues, by sharing photographs and videos, sending messages and making phone calls, the company has put privacy and security at the forefront of business and  has positioned itself as ‘a leader in protecting your private communication.’

But what exactly is encryption? It is the process of encoding data in a way in which makes it accessible to authorised parties only. No one else can see ‘inside’ the message.

Today’s digital age raises questions around privacy and security, and whether or not encryption should be allowed.

We are frequently notified about data breaches in the news. In 2015, a group of hackers named ‘The Impact Team’ published approximately 40 MB of sensitive internal data stolen from Avid Life Media, the company that owns dating site Ashley Madison. Couples with the core mission of having an affair had their personal and financial details exposed to the world. Ashley Madison, once thought of as a ‘private, secure and reputable’ website, no longer maintains its reputation.

On the other hand, a lack of encryption when it’s not abused, can be conducive to positive change. A recent case from Silicon Valley, USA, made news headlines all over the world, as the FBI battled with Apple Inc. over a federal order to unlock the iPhone of a mass shooter. Apple’s refusal to do so due to their stringent privacy policy was detrimental to solving the case, however if the information was recovered, the FBI may have found exactly what they were looking for.

Whether or not you agree with the concept of encryption, without it, your business is likely to be at reputational risk.

A data breach can cause reputational damage, often irreparable, for any institution. Businesses need to remember that news no longer breaks, it tweets!Encryption