How "hashing" helps your business avoid cyber attacks

Woman working on living room couch with her laptop, protected by cyber security technology like hashing and zero trust security

Every day is a good day to learn more about security-related terminology and how your small or mid-sized business (SMB) or managed service provider (MSP) organization can protect itself against the growing volume and complexity of cyber crime. We know cyber security is critical for you because we asked. An IDG study commissioned by GoTo found that: (1) 68% of IT leaders say their organizations are highly concerned about the possibility of a data breach; and (2) 82% of those leaders consider it “challenging” to avoid cyber threats with current technology (more than half considering it “highly challenging”).

What is hashing?

"Hashing" might sound like cooking food for breakfast, whether hash or hash browns, but according to the Cybersecurity Glossary it actually refers to data processed via an algorithm “to produce a number called a hash. The hash is used to verify that data has not been modified, tampered with, or corrupted.” The French verb "hasher" means "to chop into small pieces," which is (at least somewhat) related to how hashing turns data into numerical values in order to promote security. When two numbers generated via hashing match, you have a lock and key scenario where the data is verified as secure, which is why hashing is used for verifying passwords and messages.

Why should SMBs or MSPs care about hashing?

Hashing, like encryption, is an important tool to help businesses fight cyber attacks by protecting the confidentiality of critical, sensitive information. Cyber security practices and tools become even more important for SMBs and MSPs that are covered by enhanced data privacy regulations, such as HIPAA or PCI, which mandate that specific forms of data (such as health records or credit card information) be given heightened protection.

The best approach to complying with these enhanced data privacy regulations, says an article called How Hashing Works, is for the business not to possess such data in the first place. PCI compliance requirements, for example, can be avoided by partnering with (or outsourcing to) online service providers who perform credit authorizations on your behalf outside of your website.

But in cases where a business must collect and store sensitive data, hashing the data routinely is strongly recommended, as is encrypting data.

What is zero trust security? (And why you need it)

A zero trust security architecture is a strict security protocol that takes a “trust nothing, verify everything” approach to software and IT environments. Zero trust security begins by assuming that all software/IT systems have multiple entry points -- not only through user logins, but also through software backdoors, Application Program Interfaces (APIs), and more. With zero trust, any sensitive actions or information invokes an additional verification point, with the intention of denying entry to malicious actors.

GoTo Resolve is the first IT support/SaaS solution to apply zero trust architecture to remote monitoring and management (RMM) access control. Zero trust secures remote access and remote management across deployed hosts to counter malicious actors. Instead of automatically trusting access and giving a user (or piece of code) the ability to take actions on hosts, zero trust requires that anyone and everything trying to access its systems verify their identity before being granted a sensitive level of access with a signature key.

This is where hashing comes into play for GoTo Resolve. For the signature key aspect, which is vital to keeping your IT infrastructure secure, GoTo Resolve utilizes hashing to encrypt the randomly generated public key that pairs with the agent’s private (signature) key (a password only known to the agent) to unlock remote access permissions.

GoTo Resolve with its zero trust security architecture is built to protect businesses and their managed devices from cyber attacks and malicious actors. When it comes to security for remote support software and remote desktop software, zero trust security is the best-in-class solution, one that helps IT leaders at SMBs and MSPs sleep more peacefully at night.

Beyond hashing: 3 key cyber security recommendations

Other than hashing and encrypting data, what else should your SMB or MSP be doing to protect against cyber attacks?

  1. Develop policies and procedures to ensure good data governance, and educate your employees about them. You obviously need a password policy and a data handling policy, at minimum. Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks, and test employees with fake phishing attacks to check compliance and identify who needs upskilling.
  2. Especially at a time of remote and hybrid work, and the heightened risks these working models create, make sure you’re managing personal devices connected to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections, etc.).
  3. Deploy cybersecurity technology, including two-factor authentication on all critical accounts. Also deploy DNS protection, antivirus, and anti-malware on all your endpoints. Finally, your remote support software should offer zero trust security.

Secure your business

Cyber security takes a multiplicity of tools and practices, including hashing and encryption, but zero trust security should definitely be among the key weapons in your security arsenal. Get GoTo Resolve, free.