What is Encryption? Encryption Basics Explained

Encryption can help you safeguard your documents from unauthorized access.

Binary code displayed on the screen of a laptop

Protecting digital documents is a critical aspect of records management, and encryption plays a huge role in this process.

While physical documents can be easily stolen, improperly accessed, or tampered with, digital documents offer robust features to circumvent these issues right out of the box. These features, however, are only effective when they’re properly implemented, and knowing the options available to you is half the battle.

By understanding the basics of the many tools available, like encryption, you can ensure that your documents are secure and protected, helping you maintain the confidentiality and integrity of your records.

In this article, we’ll dive into the basics of encryption, explaining its importance when managing documents that have been converted from physical to digital format through scanning. Understanding encryption is key to ensuring that sensitive information, once digitized, remains confidential and secure.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the process of converting readable data (plaintext), into an unreadable format (ciphertext or encrypted text) using a specific algorithm and key. This “key,” (a randomized string of characters), is later used to decode the encrypted file back into its original, readable form (decrypted text).

How Does Encryption Work?

Understanding how encryption works boils down to two key concepts: encryption algorithms and keys.

An encryption algorithm is a mathematical formula used to transform plaintext into ciphertext. These formulas use the encryption key as a guide to define the transformation of each bit of data.

The key, on the other hand, is the random string of characters that the algorithm uses to code and later decode data.

You can think of the algorithm as a lock, and the key as the only tool that can lock or unlock it. The unique characters of the key are utilized by the algorithm to transform data in both directions. Therefore, if even a single character in the key is incorrect, the file cannot be decoded.

Here are some examples of various types of keys you might encounter. These are not actual keys to anything; they are randomly generated for illustrative purposes. Notice the varying lengths and characters in each type. Generally, the longer the key and the greater the variety of characters it contains, the more difficult it is to crack.

KeyExample
Basic 8fDSzRlrH
Basic 10LJb22fB93h
Basic 16F3V4Qf4AUfra3fFB
Strong Not Ambiguousml@!FbEDbXmZwsn*
Strong1>@3>i=k>^ECZDa
Highp+kosYkKs.sa]9ak>GG4kh<aT,8ci=W#
Encryption key 256lBUnFWEbTYp3kkfRViBTN7Dh2ITfEe0m
64 wep2BA9D
128 wep29AD89948DE4E
256 wep678BBDEAB2786A166A1748A3F8B3D

The encryption process itself involves scrambling the data using the algorithm based on the provided key, turning the original information into a format unreadable to anyone without the key.

To revert this encrypted data back to its original form, the correct key must be applied with the encryption algorithm, which reverses the transformation, making the data readable again.

There are two main types of encryption, symmetric and asymmetric.

Symmetric encryption uses the same key for both encrypting and decrypting. It is known for its speed and efficiency, making it ideal for large volumes of data.

Asymmetric encryption involves two keys, one public for encryption and one private for decryption. This type of encryption commonly used for securing communications over the internet.

Encryption ensures that data intercepted or accessed without authorization is useless to the intruder, protecting them from unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber threats.

Protecting Your Scanned Documents with Encryption

Encryption is a crucial component of digital records management. It’s a significant benefit of scanning projects and should be leveraged to maximize your return on investment. Understanding the basics of encryption is key, as it offers more advantages than you might initially think.

Securing Confidential Information

Documents that are scanned often contain sensitive or protected data types, such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI), including personal details, financial records, and confidential business information. Encrypting these documents is vital for protecting this information from unauthorized access, even if the digital file is compromised.

Maintaining Integrity of Your Data

The usefulness of encryption extends beyond safeguarding confidentiality; it also ensures the content of your records cannot be tampered with post-scanning. This is especially beneficial when scanning legal documents, contracts, and financial records, where accuracy and authenticity are paramount.

Helping You Comply with Regulatory Standards

Many industries are regulated by laws mandating the protection of personal and sensitive data. Encryption ensures that your data is protected and secure, making it easier to comply with these laws. Failure to encrypt sensitive documents can lead to legal complications and damage to your reputation.

Integration with Other Security Measures: Access Controls and End-to-End Encryption

Combining encryption with other digital security measures like access controls enhances document security by ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to view your data. For documents that need to be shared or transmitted, end-to-end encryption can prevent data from falling into the wrong hands.

Safeguard Your Documents With SecureScan

When it comes to document security, encryption is just the beginning. At SecureScan, we specialize in providing top-tier encryption and additional security features like access controls to ensure your digital documents are comprehensively protected.

With over 21 years of experience, our expertise in document security is unparalleled. We offer customized solutions to meet the unique needs of every customer, ensuring that your documents remain secure not only during the scanning process but long after. Our commitment is to provide you with peace of mind, knowing your sensitive information is in safe hands.

Ready to enhance the security of your documents? Contact SecureScan today to explore how we can assist you in implementing robust encryption for your data. Our technicians are on hand to offer a free quote and help you make informed decisions about your document security needs.

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