The defence, defence supply and security sectors are increasingly dependent upon high-speed data networks to enable their core IT and network infrastructures – the cloud, SaaS, data centre and big data applications.

Despite revelations of criminal and state-sponsored eavesdropping on high-speed data networks, security professionals continue to warn that many organisations repeatedly underinvest in encryption solutions and fail to recognise how easily these networks can be breached – whether public or private, fibre or copper. The future holds even greater concerns, as technologies such as quantum computing come closer to reality.

The defence, defence supply and security sectors, with their high-profile status, offer cybercriminals special reasons to target them for eavesdropping and hacking into core IT and network infrastructure – intellectual property, secrets and disruption. Consider the Australian defence supply contractor’s major breach in October 2017 that revealed 30GB of defence programme data.

Data has become the currency of business; the rewards for cybercriminals and cyberterrorists are significant, and the negative impact of a successful breach can be catastrophic, with financial and compliance penalties, loss of IP, harm to citizens, disruption and permanent brand damage. Only when the breached data is protected by high-assurance and crypto-agile encryption can the data be considered safe and also meet the EU General Data Protection Regulations’ (GDPR) requirements.

There are two key components to data security: prevention and protection. Prevention uses technologies designed to stop a breach; if there is one truth in data security, it’s that it is not a matter of if, but when a breach will occur. It’s no longer good enough to rely on prevention measures alone.

Protection is about encrypting data against the inevitable breach. However, not all encryption is the same, as recognised by the GDPR’s authors. To be strong and effective, encryption must use a strong standards-based algorithm, use state-of-the-art key management and provide true end-to-end encryption, ensuring that encrypted data is useless in unauthorised hands – well beyond its possible useful life.