Hardware versus Software Encryption

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With the low prices and convenience of flash drives, USB drives and external hard drives, the chances are greater than ever that your company’s sensitive data could be easily lost or stolen. To combat this, you may have thought about having these types of drives encrypted. Encryption can be done two different ways, using either hardware or software.

According to Wikipedia:

Encryption software executes an algorithm that is designed to encrypt computer data in such a way that it cannot be recovered without access to the key. Software encryption is a fundamental part of all aspects of modern computer communication and file protection and may include features like file shredding.

Hardware-Based Encryption

While not all external drives support hardware-based encryption, it may be worth the effort to find one that does. Typically, a device that supports hardware-based encryption uses a dedicated processor physically located on the drive. That processor generates an encryption key, which your password will unlock. By using the processor on the drive itself, you’ll notice increased performance because the encryption/decryption process won’t utilize any resources on the host computer.

With hardware encryption, encryption is always on since it’s tied to that specific device. On top of that, it doesn’t require any sort of software or driver installation in order to work.

Software-Based Encryption

If you have existing external drives or drives that don’t come with built-in encryption, there are several software encryption solutions available. With software encryption (or “on the fly encryption”), you’ll have to install some sort of software or driver on each computer you’ll use to access the data. While software encryption is very flexible in terms of using it across any device because the encryption happens at the software level, it is only as secure as your password and the computers you use it with.

If you have questions on how to secure your data and keep prying eyes away, Minneapolis-based IT company OAC Technology can help. We’ve been helping small businesses secure their networks for over 10 years. Contact us today for a free security audit of your business.

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