Data Security Made Simple – Encryption Understood

Data Security

Are you worried about data security?  In today’s digital information age, the speed in which electronic information or “data” is accessed, exchanged, stored and retrieved, is critical to ensure the success of our immediate and long-term decisions. But when this data is in-transit and at-rest how do we keep it secure and from getting into the wrong hands, such as a cyber terrorist?  Data Security with Encryption is the safe solution.

This is where data security with encryption comes into play. Encryption is very complicated and hard to understand, but thanks to CloudFlare we have an easy to understand definition.

“Encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only authorized parties can understand the information.”

When processing information for government entities like public safety departments, the standards and requirements that define how data is to be “scrambled” comes from several authorities (E.g. NIST, DoD, FBI CJIS, and PCI-DSS).  These requirements depending on what type of data is being exchanged. When transmitting or storing criminal justice information the major standard is the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) defined in Publication 140-2 (of often referred to as: FIPS 140-2), is required. For now, we will hold off from a deep dive into FIPS and discuss that another day.

To ensure that public safety data is protected, it is required that it is encrypted both while in-transit and while at-rest.

Data In-Transit

While accessing a cloud software as a service (SaaS) application, such as the ALEN Computer Aided Dispatch & Records Management, from an internet browser, the data that is being exchanged between the user and the application is considered “In-transit” or “in-motion”.

To ensure that no prying eyes can intercept and steal the information in-transit it must be encrypted. The most common way to do this is by using a “TLS” (sometimes called “SSL”) certificate. You may already be familiar with, and know how to verify that your data is encrypted using this method by going to a website that starts with https://, or seeing a “lock” icon next to the website name.

Transport Layer Security (TLS), is a security protocol that is specifically designed to facilitate data security for communications over the internet. Primarily, it is used for communication between web applications and servers, but it can also be used to encrypt other communication types as well such as email and internet phone calls.

At ALEN we encrypt all in-transit communication using, at minimum, 256-bit/2048-bit RSA encryption, the TLS 1.2 protocol, and FIPS 199/140-2 validated TLS certificates and algorithms.

We apply/ensure this encryption standard at all points where data is in-transit, including:

  • Between a user’s internet browser and the application.
  • Datacenter network communications
  • Database transactions
  • Email
  • & more!

Our law enforcement clients can rest assured that when entering an incident case, writing an eCitation, or uploading body-cam video the information is being transmitted securely.  This is why data security with encryption matters. 

Data At-Rest

When data is being stored and not actively being accessed it is considered “at-rest”. For public safety data at-rest may be cold case database records or digitally stored files such as surveillance video. Even though it is not in-transit, to ensure its security and integrity it must always be encrypted. When data is stolen by cyber criminals it is often due to security complacency, assuming that, because the data is being stored in a secure physical location it cannot be stolen or tampered with.

At ALEN, our cloud SaaS solutions are only operated within secure, government class, datacenters within the United States that meet the most stringent of federal security standards. However, ALEN does not rely on that security alone, double encrypting its data at-rest to ensure our clients information is always protected.

At ALEN we encrypt all in-transit communication using, at minimum, 128-bit/2048-bit RSA encryption and FIPS 199/140-2 validated algorithms. 

We apply/ensure this encryption standard at all points where data is in-rest, including:

  • Data stored in a database
  • Uploaded files in storage
  • Backup Data
  • Physical and Virtual Storage Disks
  • Employee computer hard drives
  • Employee cell phones
  • & more.

Other Security Measures

Encrypting information in-transit and at-rest is not the only method that should be used to protect data. Encryption is just part of a comprehensive security plan. When planning to secure any type of data, multiple security measures such as firewalls, anti-virus, and intrusion monitoring should also be used.

To learn more about ALEN and our secure cloud public safety solutions give us a call at 1 (877) 824-9313 or email us at sales@alen-usa.com .