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What is Data Encryption and Why is it Important in the Cloud

Shortly, data encryption is the transforming of data into a secret code. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or a password that enables you to decrypt it. 

In order to guard against advanced threats in a complex and evolving climate of virtualization, cloud services increasingly take a data-centric approach to safeguarding the sensitive information of their clients.

Encryption and cryptographic key management products enable organizations to secure sensitive data in databases, applications, storage systems, virtualized platforms and cloud environments. However, if access controls are lacking, the efficacy of encryption can be compromised. If cryptographic keys are vulnerable, so is the encrypted data.

Along with a comprehensive set of encryption platforms, cloud storage platforms need to provide robust access controls and key management capabilities that enable organizations to practically, cost effectively, and comprehensively leverage encryption to address their security objectives. With well encrypted cloud storage platforms, organizations can apply data protection where they need it, when they need it.

When encryption is applied upon storing and sharing files in the cloud, the recipient of an encrypted data uses a key which triggers the algorithm mechanism to decrypt it, transforming it to the original version.

There are many different types of data encryption, but not all are reliable. In the beginning, 64-bit encryption was thought to be strong, but it was moved aside with the introduction of 128-bit solutions. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is the new standard and permits a maximum of 256-bits. There are a number of cloud storage platforms which apply exactly this kind of highly robust data encryption.

Data encryption schemes generally fall into two categories: symmetric and asymmetric. AES, DES and Blowfish use symmetric key algorithms. Each system uses a key which is shared among the sender and the recipient. This key has the ability to encrypt and decrypt the data. With asymmetric encryption, a pair of keys is created and assigned: a private key and a public key. The public key can be known by anyone and used to encrypt data that will be sent to the owner. Once the message is encrypted, it can only be decrypted by the owner of the private key. Asymmetric encryption is said to be more secure than symmetric encryption as the private key is not to be shared.

Using data encryption nowadays is critical, because data can be compromised in a number of ways, especially when stored on servers that might change hands over the years.

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