Over 40% of Firms Globally Now use Encryption ‘Extensively’

Organisations around the world finally seem to be responding proactively to the growing volume of security threats and privacy issues, with 41% now using encryption extensively, according to Thales e-Security.

The French data protection company claimed in its 2016 Encryption Application Trends Study that the leap in the number of firms using encryption was the biggest in the report’s 11-year history – up from just 7% last year.

Those in the Financial Services, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical, and Technology and Software sectors led the way, the report claimed.

The study, which polled over 5000 individuals across 14 industry sector and 11 countries globally, found database encryption increased from 42% to 61% since last year, while Big Data encryption more than doubled, from 15% to 32%, and use of the technology in internet comms soared from 37% to over half (58%).

The figures should be tempered by the fact that Thales e-Security is effectively an encryption company.

The report also revealed several frustrations and rising expectations associated with current encryption technologies.

For example, the biggest pain for nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) was managing SSH keys and key for external services.

Performance and latency was rated as the most important feature of an encryption application, with support for cloud and on-premise deployments in second, as firms look to roll out hybrid clouds.

A potential solution to the pain associated with managing keys could be Hardware Security Modules (HSMs), according to Thales e-Security senior director of security strategy, John Grimm.

He told Infosecurity that the data owner should always keep control of the keys, according to best practice.

“HSMs help organisations enforce policy on the use of the keys, rather than relying solely on people and what are often manual processes,” he added.

“They are often thought of purely as security devices, but have been proven to bring a strong operational benefit on the key management side as well. The best advice? Control your encryption keys as the means to controlling your data.”

Despite their obvious security benefits for organisations and personal users, encryption technologies have proved something of a bête noire for certain governments in recent years.

The authorities in Washington and London in particular see the increasing use of the technology by mobile manufacturers like Apple and messaging firms like Facebook’s WhatsApp as a potential issue as it means law enforcers and security services can’t read vital data on suspects.

The issue is coming to a head in the Snoopers’ Charter currently working its way through parliament in the UK – which may try to enact an unworkable but de facto ban on the technology – and the tussle between the FBI and Apple over access to suspects’ iPhones.

Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a new bill earlier this year which would give sweeping powers to federal judges to demand access to encrypted data from tech companies.

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