Data encryption uses mathematical manipulation of information to prevent the original information from being viewed or altered. Data encryption uses an algorithm and a key to transform plaintext data into an unreadable and unrecognizable form; personal or sensitive information can’t be derived from encrypted data. Data decryption uses the same mathematical algorithm and key to reverse the encryption process and return the data to its original form.
Encryption provides a critical control for privacy by ensuring that data stored in the cloud, a file server, in a traditional database, or that’s in the process of being transmitted between the two, can’t be viewed without authorization.
GDPR and several other regulations mention encryption requirements as a way to mitigate risk. Data encryption has two primary applications. First, it provides privacy and security for stored data; virtually all devices and platforms support some level of encryption. From cloud, to database servers, to laptops and mobile phones, data encryption can be utilized to protect data from unauthorized access. Second, data encryption secures data transfers across the internet, on corporate networks, or even in private residential networks. Before sending data, devices will encrypt information so that data can’t be viewed by eavesdroppers or unintended recipients.