Cybersecurity: Cryptography & Risk Management Best Practices
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is Cryptography?
  2. Types of Cryptography
  3. How Cryptography Works in Cybersecurity
  4. Risk Management in Cybersecurity
  5. Steps to Effective Risk Management
  6. Cryptography and Risk Management Together
  7. Best Practices for Cryptography
  8. Best Practices for Risk Management

Welcome to the fascinating world of cybersecurity! When you hear the term "cryptography in cybersecurity risk management," it might sound intimidating. But don't worry, it's not as complex as it sounds. Basically, it's about keeping our data safe from the bad guys. So, let's break it down and see how it works.

What is Cryptography?

Let's start with the basics. Cryptography is like a secret code. Imagine you and your friend want to pass notes in class, but you don't want anyone else to understand them. So, you come up with a special way to write your messages that only you two can understand. This is the essence of cryptography.

In the world of cybersecurity, cryptography helps protect our most precious asset — our data. It turns readable data (also known as plaintext) into a coded form (called ciphertext) that only someone with the right key can decode and understand. This is super important when you're sending sensitive information over the internet, like your credit card number when you're shopping online.

Here's how it works:

  1. You have some data that you want to protect. This could be anything from a text message to a bank transaction.
  2. You use a special algorithm (the "secret code") to turn your data into ciphertext. This process is called encryption.
  3. You send your encrypted data over the internet. Even if someone intercepts it, they won't be able to understand it unless they have the key to decrypt it.
  4. The person (or computer system) you're sending the data to uses the key to decrypt the ciphertext and read the original data. This process is called decryption.

In a nutshell, cryptography is a powerful tool in cybersecurity risk management because it helps keep our data safe. It's not a silver bullet, but it's a key piece of the puzzle. And by understanding how it works, you can take a big step toward protecting yourself and your data on the internet.

Types of Cryptography

Now that we've covered the basics, let's move on to the different types of cryptography. There are three main types, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. They are: Symmetric Key Cryptography, Asymmetric Key Cryptography, and Hash Functions. Let's take a closer look at each one.

Symmetric Key Cryptography is like a simple lock and key. The same key is used to both encrypt and decrypt the data. It's quick and efficient, but it has one big downside: if someone gets hold of your key, they can unlock all your data. That's why it's really important to keep your key super safe.

Asymmetric Key Cryptography, on the other hand, uses two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt the data, and the private key is used to decrypt it. This is a bit like sending a locked box through the mail. You lock the box with a key that everyone can use (the public key), but only you have the key to unlock it (the private key). This is a lot safer than Symmetric Key Cryptography, but it's also a bit slower.

Finally, we have Hash Functions. These are a bit different. Instead of turning data into ciphertext, they turn it into a fixed size string of characters, known as a hash. This is a one-way process: once the data has been hashed, it can't be turned back into its original form. This is really useful for things like storing passwords: even if someone gets hold of the hash, they can't work out what the original password was.

So, there you have it: the three main types of cryptography. Each one plays a vital role in cybersecurity risk management, helping to protect our data in different ways. By understanding how they work, you can make more informed decisions about how to keep your own data safe.

How Cryptography Works in Cybersecurity

Let's talk about how cryptography plays a part in the world of cybersecurity. It's like the secret sauce that makes everything more secure. It's what keeps your passwords safe, your personal data private, and your bank transactions secure.

First off, when you enter your password on a website, it's not actually stored as you type it. Instead, it goes through a hash function—one of our types of cryptography—and turns into a unique set of characters. Even a slight change in the original text gives a completely different hash, making it nearly impossible to guess the password just from the hash.

Next, let's say you're sending a confidential email. To keep the content private, you'd use asymmetric key cryptography. Your email system would use the recipient's public key to encrypt the message. Once encrypted, only the recipient's private key can decrypt and read the message. Even if someone intercepts the email, without the private key, they'd just see a bunch of gibberish.

Lastly, consider when you're making a purchase online. To protect your credit card information, the website uses symmetric key cryptography. The website and your computer share a secret key to encrypt and decrypt your payment information. This ensures that even if someone is watching your internet traffic, they won't be able to steal your credit card number.

So, cryptography isn't just a fancy word in cybersecurity. It's a tool that, when used correctly, can provide robust security measures in the digital world. It's a game-changer in cybersecurity risk management, helping us protect our most sensitive data from prying eyes.

Risk Management in Cybersecurity

Let's shift gears a bit and talk about something just as important in cybersecurity—risk management. It's like the seatbelt to your car, you might not always need it, but when you do, you're glad it's there. It helps you identify potential security risks, assess their impact, and take steps to mitigate them.

Imagine if you were running a business. You'd have all kinds of data: customer information, financial records, trade secrets, and more. Each piece of data represents a potential risk. If it fell into the wrong hands, it could lead to financial loss, reputation damage, or even legal troubles. This is where risk management comes into play.

The first step is risk identification. You'd look at all the potential threats to your data. It could be anything from hackers and viruses to disgruntled employees or even natural disasters.

Next, you'd assess the risks. How likely is it that a risk would occur? What would be the impact if it did? Answering these questions would help you prioritize the risks and decide where to focus your resources.

Finally, you'd move to risk mitigation. This is where you figure out how to reduce the likelihood of a risk occurring, or minimize the damage if it does. It could be anything from installing firewalls and using strong passwords to providing employee training and creating disaster recovery plans.

So, risk management is a critical part of cybersecurity. It's like the big picture view that helps you see and manage potential threats before they become actual problems. Together with cryptography, it forms the backbone of effective cybersecurity risk management.

Steps to Effective Risk Management

Now that we have a basic understanding of what risk management in cybersecurity involves, let's take a closer look at how you can perform it effectively. It's like baking a cake—you need the right ingredients and the right steps to get a tasty result. So, here are the steps:

  1. Asset Identification: Start by identifying your assets. These are the things you need to protect. It could be your databases, your servers, or even your employees' laptops. Know what you have and what it's worth to you.
  2. Risk Assessment: This is where you figure out what could go wrong. Look at every asset and think about all the things that could harm it. This could include everything from natural disasters to cyber-attacks. Then, estimate the likelihood and impact of each risk.
  3. Implement Controls: Now, you take steps to control the risks. This could be technical controls, like encryption and firewalls, or administrative controls, like policies and procedures. Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate all risks—it's to reduce them to an acceptable level.
  4. Monitor and Review: Risk management isn't a one-and-done deal. It's an ongoing process. You need to keep an eye on your risks and controls, and adjust them as needed. This could be due to changes in your business, technology, or the threat landscape.

So, that's the basic recipe for effective risk management. It's not rocket science, but it does require some planning and effort. But when done right, it can protect your valuable assets and keep your cybersecurity risks under control.

Cryptography and Risk Management Together

Alright, let's dive into how cryptography and risk management go hand in hand in the realm of cybersecurity. Think of it as a superhero duo, with each having its own unique abilities, but when they team up, they become an invincible force against cyber threats.

Cryptography is like a secret code that keeps your information safe. It turns your data into something that looks like gibberish to anyone who doesn't have the key. This is a powerful tool for protecting your assets from threats such as data breaches and cyber-attacks.

On the other side, risk management is your strategy planner. It helps you identify your assets, assess the risks to them, and decide how to control those risks. It ensures you're not just randomly throwing security measures at your system, but applying them in a thoughtful and efficient way.

When cryptography and risk management come together in cybersecurity, they provide a robust defense. Cryptography protects your data, while risk management ensures you're using cryptography (and other controls) where they're most needed. It's like having a lock on your front door (cryptography) and a well-thought-out plan for when to lock it, who has the keys, and what to do if someone loses a key (risk management).

This powerful combination of cryptography and risk management is crucial in today's world full of cybersecurity threats. So, remember to always pair your secret codes with a solid plan!

Best Practices for Cryptography

Now that you understand the vital role of cryptography in cybersecurity risk management, let's talk about how to do it right. Here are a few best practices for cryptography:

  1. Choose the right cryptographic algorithms: Not all algorithms are created equal. Some are more secure than others. Aim for industry-standard algorithms such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) or RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman). These guys have been tested and proven over time, so they're your best bet.
  2. Manage your keys effectively: Your cryptographic keys are like the keys to your house. You wouldn't leave them lying around for anyone to find, would you? Make sure they're stored securely, changed regularly, and only given to those who need them.
  3. Implement cryptography at multiple levels: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Use cryptography at various stages in your data flow. This can include encrypting data at rest, in transit, and during processing. It's like having multiple locks on your door – if a burglar gets past one, they still have others to contend with.
  4. Regularly update and patch your cryptography: Cybersecurity is a fast-paced field. What worked yesterday may not work today. Keep your cryptography up-to-date to stay ahead of the hackers.

Remember, cryptography is just one part of a larger cybersecurity risk management process. It's a powerful tool, but it works best when combined with other smart security practices.

Best Practices for Risk Management

Now, let's shift gears and focus on risk management. Just like cryptography, effective cybersecurity risk management requires a strategic approach. Here are a handful of key practices to keep in mind:

  1. Identify your assets: You can't protect what you don't know you have. Catalogue your digital assets – from data to software to hardware – so you know exactly what needs protecting.
  2. Assess your risks: Once you know your assets, figure out what threats they face. This could be anything from malware attacks to insider threats. The better you understand your risks, the better you can manage them.
  3. Implement defenses: Now that you know where your risks lie, it's time to build your defenses. This is where cryptography comes in, along with other cybersecurity controls like firewalls and antivirus software.
  4. Monitor and review: Cybersecurity isn't a one-and-done deal. It requires constant vigilance. Keep an eye on your systems, look out for unusual activity and regularly review your risk management strategies.
  5. Plan for incidents: Despite your best efforts, security incidents can still occur. That's why it's important to have an incident response plan in place. This plan should outline how to detect, respond to, and recover from a security incident.

By combining these risk management practices with effective use of cryptography, you'll be well on your way to building a robust cybersecurity strategy.

If you're looking to further your understanding of cybersecurity and how it relates to the creative industry, we highly recommend the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights into cryptography and its importance in the digital economy, helping you better manage risks and protect your creative assets online.