Learn the basics of authentication and encryption software, their similarities, and their differences. It will help you protect your business data by deploying the right data security system.
Businesses and their service providers must understand the crucial data security features like Authentication and encryption. Such understanding will help you to keep the hackers and ransomware at bay.
Continue reading to learn encryption and authentication software from the ground up.
What Is an Authentication Software?
An authentication system uses various digital authentication protocols to verify the incoming system user or data requestor. Usually, the software has its database of authenticated profiles, devices, hardware, USB sticks, etc. A software programmer can update this database from time to time to include new users.
This process aims to protect the business and customer data from bad actors. Hence, businesses deploy authentication software in mainframe computers, data servers, workstations, Wi-Fi routers, facility doors, etc.
The authentication tool will identify the incoming connection whenever someone tries to access your business data online. It will verify if the incoming user is what they claim and set up a trust. It also logs the activity for audit purposes.
The Features of an Authentication Software
A Database of User IDs and Passwords
An authentication system must access an updated list of user IDs and passwords.
Capability to Read Biometric Data
Advanced authentication software comes with sensors and scanners to read biometric data like human iris prints, thumbprints, voice, etc.
Logging Authentication History
The tool also handles every access, whether accepted or denied. The cybersecurity team can analyze such logs to perform data security risk assessments.
It is something that both the authentication system and connection requestor knows, like a PIN, password, etc.
Authentication modules use this factor to recognize the user. For example, your biometric data confirms if you are who you claim to be.
Authentication software uses such factors to verify the user based on something they possess, like a security badge, one-time password (OTP), RFID badge, security key, etc.
How Does an Authentication Software Work?
An authentication tool will usually offer an interface for users to enter their account credentials. Businesses can integrate all the business apps and facility service apps under one sign-in interface for employee convenience.
Sometimes, highly secured businesses use multiple authentication software to secure different digital and physical assets. In that case, the user needs to remember numerous account credentials.
When you enter the credentials, the software matches that with a local or cloud-hosted authentication server. If the credentials match, you get access.
Online protocols like HTTPS that protect website data follow stringent security practices. You need to reauthenticate every time you want to access a website that is password protected. Some authentication systems may issue an authentication token for each website user.
When the client software at the user’s end sends a connection request appending that token, Authentication happens in the backend, eliminating the need for credential verification.
Pros and Cons of Authentication Software
Authentication tools and their interfaces for data or app access are intuitive.
Such a data security system is highly instrumental in facilitating remote access to resources like virtual machines, web apps, etc.
IT admin can instantly provision account access for new employees. Similarly, they can also revoke access in seconds when an employee resigns.
Authentication software becomes cost-effective in the longer run.
Almost all the employees can use such access interfaces because it is visual and does not need extensive learning.
The initial setup of an authentication system, along with various sensors, cameras, authentication servers, etc., is costly.
A gatekeeper (authentication algorithm) protects the data in such security systems. Bad actors can bypass the gatekeeper and get the data. For example, someone is stealing or hijacking server disks.
An authentication tool transmits user verification data through the internet. Advanced hackers can intercept such transmissions and gain access to the gatekeeper or the protected data.
Multi-factor Authentication asks for many details from the user. New customers can abandon the first-time sign-up process if they do not feel good with multiple credential submissions.
Examples of Authentication Software
Some popular authentication tools for businesses are:
Encryption means converting data into unreadable codes and symbols and producing a deciphering code for the encrypted data. Then both the deciphering code and encrypted data travel through the internet and reach the client’s computer. Here, the deciphering system uses the decrypted code to unencrypt the scrambled data into readable format.
A software that takes care of all the above responsibilities is known as encryption software.
Digital systems have been using encryption for a long time. Unencrypted data is equivalent to plaintext, and anyone can intercept and read the data in transit, provided they have the required tools and expertise. On the other hand, encrypted message or ciphertext is not readily readable since it is essentially gibberish.
Hackers need to acquire the encryption algorithm or ciphers to decrypt the encrypted data in plaintext.
The Features of an Encryption Software
Encryption Algorithm or Cipher Program
An encryption tool comes with a program to transcribe plaintext to encrypted data. Advanced encryption systems use unbreakable algorithms like RSA, Triple DES, Blowfish, AES, and Twofish.
Among these, RSA is the oldest yet most powerful encryption algorithm used for data transmissions. AES is a newer program and popular among B2B SaaS software.
An encryption tool also must allow the secure deletion of data from the database or file storage. The software has the appropriate system to erase data, format the blank space, delete the file encryption key (FEK), and erase the master encryption key (MEK).
Ciphering File Names
Such data security tools also encrypt file names, properties, and related data so that no one can understand the data. If an attacker can not figure out the file names in your file storage, they may become discouraged from pursuing the hijacking further.
File Key Sharing
Good encryption systems should allow file key sharing for collaborative work on a company file. This is easy since the owner does not need to share the account password and user ID. They can share customized read/write/edit accesses.
Two-Factor Authentication (2-FA)
Even the encryption software will have a log-in interface and an authentication tool. That interface uses 2-FA or multi-factor Authentication for maximum security of the encryption algorithm.
How Does an Encryption Software Work?
The main three components of an encryption tool are the data, the key management, and the encryption engine. The user initially decides which encryption algorithm is suitable for the data. The user also needs a variable key to make the encrypted data unique. These days, the encryption system does this all.
Symmetric encryption is encryption with a secret key to decipher the message. The sender and receiver share this key when the sender sends encrypted data. The decrypting module will use the private key to decrypt the ciphertext. AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm and enjoys high popularity.
Alternatively, you can use asymmetric cipher encryption. It uses pairs of keys to protect encrypted data. These keys are widely known as public keys and private keys. Public key owners can only encrypt the data, whereas the private key owner can decrypt the file and read its content. RSA is the leading example of this encryption system.
Pros and Cons of Encryption Software
The owner of encrypted data can transmit the data through unsecured channels without any risks of data interception. Hence, data transfers become faster.
It protects business data by making it unreadable during transit and at rest.
Data owners can use any means of data delivery since the encryption is on the data.
Data encryption ensures that a business complies with global and local data protection regulation laws.
Data encryption is an endorsement of data integrity.
Encrypted data may not be retrieved without its decrypt key. Hence, key management becomes a challenging task.
There is no provision for resetting or reproducing an encryption key once lost.
Encrypting data is a time-consuming process. Also, decrypting the same data at the client’s end is time-taking.
Examples of Encryption Software
Find below the ultimate list of the best encryption tools available in the market:
Similarities Between Authentication and Encryption Software
Both the technologies protect business and customer data. Authentication protocol protects data by restricting access to a database or file storage. Similarly, encryption software prohibits unrelated machines or people from reading transmitted data.
Authentication and encryption work hand in hand to control traffic to business data. These techniques together also grant or revoke permission for business or customer data.
The authentication tool will not grant you access if you do not possess a certain level of credentials for private data. Similarly, you will not have the required private key to decipher an encrypted message unless you hold a specific rank within the company.
Managing Data Policies
The business data quality and policy management team uses encryption and authentication protocols to enforce security protocols, guidelines, and procedures. Data protected through encryption and Authentication means absolute integrity.
An authentication tool helps you to produce a user ID and password. You also need encryption software to store credentials in a scrambled format that no one can read.
Authentication Software Vs. Encryption Software
An authentication tool’s primary task is to confirm that the user is what they claim.
An encryption application transforms the data into meaningless alphabets, symbols, and numbers that no one can read without the secret deciphering key.
Authentication software can not provide data security without encryption because someone can steal unencrypted user credentials from your server and use the data to log in. Again, expert hackers will intercept and use the certificates if you transmit unencrypted data.
Encryption software can secure data on its own.
Use of Passwords
An authentication software perceives a password as something the user and the machine know that the user can read/write/copy/delete the data based on access level.
An encryption tool converts the user’s password into a cryptographic key to decipher an encrypted message or file.
In authentication protocol, unlock means an open state of the identity verifier for granting access. On the contrary, unlock in encryption means gibberish codes have been transcripted to readable data.
An authenticator tool perceives keys as the right secret, like a password for granting access.
An encryption tool uses a single or private key to get the plaintext copy of a ciphertext file.
IT admin can instantly revoke a user account from accessing data. The authenticator app will shut down any ongoing session or will not allow the user to log in again.
In encryption tools, if you send encrypted data and a secret key to a recipient and the recipient reads the data, you can not revoke them. But, you can withdraw the recipient from accessing new data by changing the secret key for encryption.
User Control of Data
Authentication tool-based data distribution ensures that the user can not copy the information to a USB disk or cloud storage if they do not have copy access.
Once the recipient has received the encrypted message and secret key from you, it is up to the recipient to protect the data.
The Final Words
Encryption software and authentication software perform different tasks. But their tasks converge in one place – data security. Customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, business accounting, payment collection, payment processing, and more use encryption and Authentication for seamless functionality.
As a business owner, you must choose a data security software that offers both the security mentioned above protocols.
Tamal is a freelance writer at Geekflare. After completing his MS in Science, he joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of IT technologies and business management. Now, he’s a professional freelance content… read more