Encryption is the process of encoding a message or information so that only authorized parties can read it. In our industry we handle Personal Health Information (PHI) which is protected under the HIPAA-HITECH laws, and also credit card information. We are required to protect the messages we send to be delivered via the internet (texting, e-mailing, etc.) so they can’t be read without the encryption key. In a simplified form this is what happens when a message is encrypted.
We type words into a message template and press “send”. The message is encrypted (encoded, scrambled) and sent out to the receiving computer. A conversation called a “handshake” takes place between the two computers. The sending computer says “I have a message for you that’s been encrypted.” The receiving computer says, “Great, I can decode it so the receiving party can read it – go ahead and send it to me.” Bingo – the message is sent.
However, if the receiving computer does NOT have the ability to read the encryption, the “conversation” changes. When the sending computer reaches out for the handshake, the receiving computer says, “Sorry, I don’t have the ability to read your code.”
Our responsibility is to make sure the message leaves our equipment in a safe, protected, encrypted format. Our customers should be able to safely receive our messages.