On average, it takes businesses 287 days to find and contain a data breach, giving attackers over nine months to access and steal any records they want from the database. However, encrypting those records renders them useless for attackers and protects businesses from some of the post-breach fallout. Encryption software is one of the best ways an organization can protect its data and prevent cyberattacks from having devastating effects in the long-term.
Encryption Software Overview
- What is Encryption Software
- How Does Data Encryption Software Work?
- Benefits of Encryption Tools
- Best Encryption Software
- Should Your Business Encrypt Its Records?
What is Encryption Software?
Encryption software is a tool that converts normal, readable files into a format that can’t be decoded or read using any known human languages. Instead, computers must use mathematical algorithms to decipher the files and extract the data. Once a file has been encrypted, no one can read the text until it has been decoded. Two examples of common encryption methods are The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA).
Also Read: Data Security: Tokenization vs. Encryption
How Does Data Encryption Software Work?
Data encryption software works by taking a plain text file and encoding it with a cipher that would look like gibberish to someone who tried to open it without the cipher key. There are two types of ciphers that encryption software uses—symmetric-key ciphers and asymmetric encryption.
Symmetric-key ciphers use the same key to both encrypt and decrypt the file, while asymmetric encryption uses a public and private key. The public key can be widely shared and is only used to encrypt the data. The private key, on the other hand, is used to decrypt the data and must be protected.
Benefits of Encryption Tools
The main benefit of using encryption tools is the ability to transfer documents securely. Even if a bad actor intercepts the file, they won’t be able to access the information without the decryption key. Consider how often you share your credit card information. Without encryption, you’d likely deal with many fraudulent purchases as attackers intercepted your transaction details.
Encryption also protects businesses in the event of lost or stolen devices. If employees lose their encrypted work phone or laptop, the business doesn’t have to worry about their data being compromised. If it’s not encrypted though, whoever finds or stole the laptop can access anything the employee could.
Additionally, encryption software protects businesses from ransomware, as attackers can’t leak files that are encrypted. And those files aren’t worth anything on the black market for the same reason.
Best Encryption Software
If you don’t currently use encryption software in your business, these are the top data encryption tools based on user reviews and available features.
AxCrypt offers encryption for both Mac and PC as well as mobile devices. The paid tiers include AES-256 encryption and the ability to encrypt and decrypt files from a smartphone or tablet. Users also get a password manager to protect their credentials, make them easy to access, and generate strong passwords.
AxCrypt offers a free tier that provides limited features for PC and only viewer access for Mac, a premium version for individuals, and a business version that includes priority support and business admin access. The individual version runs between $4 and $6 per month depending on whether you pay monthly or annually, and the business version costs between $10 and $12 per month per user.
- Password management
- Safe file wipe
- Chat and email support
- AES-128 and AES-256 encryption
- Encryption key sharing
- Interface supports multiple languages
- Easy to use
- Competitive pricing
- Free version has limited features
- Must upgrade to paid version for better encryption options
NordLocker provides end-to-end encryption on cloud and on-premises files and backs them up in a private cloud. The drag-and-drop uploader makes it easy to add files to the application and encrypt them in just a few seconds. The platform automatically backs up data, making it accessible even if your device is lost or stolen. Encryption options include AES-256, Argon2, and ECC.
Pricing tiers are divided by the amount of storage they offer and the level of support. The free tier includes 3GB of storage and email support. 500GB of storage and 24/7 priority support starts around $4 per month. For 2TB of storage and 24/7 priority support, plans start at about $10 per month. All three plans offer unlimited end-to-end encryption.
- End-to-end encryption
- Drag-and-drop uploader
- AES-256, Argon2, and ECC
- Ability to access files from anywhere
- Automatic backups
- Easy to use
- Free plan only imposes storage limits
- Secure sharing
- Some users had trouble with the Mac interface
- No multi-factor authentication option
VeraCrypt is a free, open-source encryption software that supports Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Cipher options include AES, Serpent, Twofish, Camellia, and Kuznyechik, and users can opt to combine algorithms for higher security. The platform creates a virtual encrypted disk and can encrypt entire hard drives or external storage devices, like USB drives. Additionally, encryption happens automatically and in real time.
Because the platform is open-source, it’s updated several times each year to patch vulnerabilities and improve functionality. The product is completely free, and there are no product tiers that businesses can pay for to get better features or security.
- AES, Serpent, Twofish, Camellia, and Kuznyechik ciphers
- Ability to encrypt external storage devices
- Automatic, real-time encryption
- Plausible deniability in case users are forced to reveal a password
- Hardware-accelerated encryption
- Always free
- Open-source nature means frequent updates
- Strong encryptions
- No backdoor functionality, meaning if a password is lost, so are the files
- Some technical knowledge is required
Folder Lock is encryption software for Windows, Android, and iPhone that offers AES-256 encryption. Users can back up their encrypted files on a secure cloud server, protecting them in the event of lost or stolen devices. Backups are automatic and happen in real time, so users don’t have to manually backup their files. Folder Lock also allows easy sharing of encrypted files, including the ability to copy them to USB drives. Users can also create digital wallets that allow them to easily and securely store payment information for quicker checkouts.
Folder Lock costs about $40 per license, but that license is only good for one device. Users with multiple devices will have to buy multiple licenses.
- AES-256 encryption
- Secure, automatic cloud backup
- Easy sharing and copying to USB drives
- Encrypted digital wallets
- Securely delete files
- User-friendly interface
- Helpful support
- Strong encryption
- Requires multiple licenses for multiple devices
- Doesn’t support Mac devices
Boxcryptor is a cloud-based encryption software that encrypts files in OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive, and similar platforms. Users can get end-to-end encryption for over 30 cloud providers and cover their local data. Cipher options include AES-256 and RSA-4096, and users can add two-factor authentication for increased security.
There are three pricing tiers available that vary according to the features offered. The free tier is for personal use only and includes encryption for one cloud provider and two devices. The Personal plan is also for non-commercial use and doesn’t place limits on the number of cloud providers or devices, costing approximately $5 per month. Businesses must use the Business plan, which is approximately $10 per month and includes unlimited cloud providers and devices with priority support.
- AES-256 and RSA-4096 encryption
- Cloud file encryption
- Secure collaboration
- Regulatory compliance
- Two-factor authentication
- Works with a wide range of cloud providers
- Easy encryption and decryption
- Automatic backups
- No security audits
- Some users complained about the Android app
CryptoForge is encryption software that offers AES, Blowfish, GOST, or Triple DES encryption with the option to layer encryption types for added security. In addition to the file itself, the platform can also encrypt file names to keep attackers from finding the information they want if they breach your system. There is also a file shredder option, allowing users to securely delete files and prevent anyone from recovering them.
A single user license is available for around $40 and includes lifetime use for up to two devices. Businesses with multiple users can opt for a site license, which costs about $1,500 and covers all devices within a single postal code or within a 50-mile radius of the site. Businesses with multiple locations can choose the enterprise license, which is about $3,250 and allows worldwide installation in multiple regions.
- Large file support
- AES, Blowfish, GOST, and Triple DES encryption
- Layered encryption
- File shredder
- Built-in file compression
- Secure deletion
- File-name encryption
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t offer as many features as top competitors
- Limited customer service
IBM Security Guardium
IBM Security Guardium encrypts files, databases, and applications to keep data secure in a variety of formats. Through tokenization and data masking, the platform meets compliance requirements for GDPR, CCPA, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. Encryption is available for data both on-premises and in the cloud, and the web-based interface makes it easy to configure encryption and policy management. It works with multiple cloud providers and gives businesses a Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) option for more control over the encryption lifecycle.
Pricing is not publicly available, so you’ll have to contact the vendor for more information on tiers and subscription lengths.
- GDPR, CCPA, PCI DSS, and HIPAA compliance
- Automated key rotation
- Centrally-managed encryption
- Encryption for cloud-based files
- Automates data tuning and encryption
- Instant data recovery
- Stable encryption
- Complicated and time-consuming setup
- Not user-friendly
Should Your Business Encrypt Its Records?
Typically, businesses should always encrypt sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII) and financial data. These are high-priority targets for attackers and can cause a lot of damage to your organization if they fall into the wrong hands. By encrypting these records, you’ll protect your customers and your business, even if the records are stolen because the attackers won’t be able to access the information.