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As an organization's data flows beyond the confines of its data center and into the public cloud, protecting that data from prying -- and unauthorized -- eyes becomes key. And one of the best ways to do that is through cloud data encryption.
Encryption converts data into another form, called cirphertext, that's unrecognizable to anyone unauthorized to see it. Without encryption, especially in an increasingly mobile and cloud-driven world, a business's data is especially vulnerable if it falls into the wrong hands.
Public cloud users should encrypt both data in transit and at rest, said Garrett Bekker, senior security analyst at 451 Research LLC.
"You need to protect data in transit to make sure it's not intercepted and you're not vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks," Bekker said. "You also need to protect data at rest to make sure somebody at the cloud provider you are using doesn't have inappropriate access."
Despite its benefits, encryption is not a set-it-and-forget-it cloud security approach, warned Erik Heidt, research director at Gartner. "[Organizations] cannot make the assumption that simply because data is encrypted, it is somehow protected with an amulet of security," Heidt said.