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Encryption is the Key When it Comes to Security

March 31, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Earlier I wrote about how former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has stopped using email to send sensitive communications for fear of it being intercepted. With this story, I want to continue the topic of secure communications and point out why the ex-president has the right idea but may be going a bit too far.

Carter is right that it is increasingly hard to have assurance that communication is truly private; between the National Security Administration (NSA) and cyber attackers, unmolested electronic communication is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

But just because our electronic communication is being snooped on does not mean we actually need to avoid digital communications to keep privacy. We just need better encryption.

Last September, NSA leaker Edward Snowden noted that encryption is your friend. You can’t keep people from looking at your data stream, but you can make what they find look meaningless—and that’s what encryption does.

Industry experts mirror this sentiment.

“If you scramble your data so that it is useless then it doesn’t matter if someone is listening in,” noted Richard Moulds in a TechZone360 article last month. “Whether that listener is conducting anti-terrorism screening, actually trying to steal your data or comes across your data accidentally because you lost it, you’re safe.”

Moulds said that the Snowden leaks have done more than just cast light on NSA practices; he also has started a conversation we need to have—and it is starting to bear fruit.

“According to our latest Global Encryption Trends Study, more organizations than ever are taking a strategic approach to encryption, with business unit leaders gaining influence over their company’s use of encryption to define enterprise-level data protection strategies,” he noted. “But when it comes to challenges, key management stands out, being rated with the ‘pain level’ of key management being rated at 9 or 10 on a scale 1 to 10 for severity by nearly 30 percent of respondents.”

Encryption is important, but it needs to be simple.

That’s one of the strengths of fax-over-IP (FoIP) technology. The trusty old fax has learned some new tricks as it has moved to digital transmission, with one of them being the type of encryption that Snowden recommends for secure communication. Providers such as FaxSIPit offer HTTPS faxing, which snoops can’t decipher.

But unlike some of the newer technologies, FoIP also is simple for users. It is fax as normal, something that just about everyone knows how to do.

So FoIP brings the security we need, but without the complexity. Fax still has a role in business today after all.

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