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Software Security Vs. Hardware Security: Which Is Better?

Imagine this headline plastered all over the news: “Every business in the nation is under cyberattack.” As a business owner, this should give you great pause. You might also shake your head and say, “That’ll never be me.” Or perhaps, “we already do enough!” According to Cybersecurity Ventures, however, global cybercrime is projected to cost the world a walloping $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. If you haven’t invested in a solid cybersecurity strategy yet, then you should choose one before you become the latest victim to an insidious cyberattack. The question remains, however: which is a better solution – software security or hardware security?

Software Security

Software encryption programs are ubiquitous and use software tools to encrypt your data. Tools such as antivirus and anti-spyware software, password managers, and even Microsoft Windows’ built-in firewall are all good examples of software security. They also tend to rely on passwords to decrypt precious data – say (or in this case, type) the secret word and boom – your files are unlocked, free from the vault.

Since software security is more prevalent than hardware solutions, is readily available for several operating systems, and can be used to protect all devices within an organization, they tend to be cheaper and don’t require any additional hardware to protect your data. On the downside, however, software security is only as secure as your endpoint device. As soon as someone finds a single bug, they’re in, whether you authorized them or not. Additionally, software encryption tools share the processing resources on your computer, which can make your machine sluggish (especially for higher levels of encryption). And while updates are usually easy to implement, it takes time, money, specialized personnel, and patience to keep up to date on all required or recommended security patches.

Hardware Security

Conversely, hardware security involves using a specialized device to help protect files through encryption and decryption. A separate circuit within the hardware is responsible for encryption and authentication, and it often favors true random number generator over traditional passwords or PIN numbers to grant access to users. Hardware security (“hardsec”) devices are not “computers”. They can only do limited actions, which makes them very hard to corrupt or pervert.

Excellent examples include the TouchID fingerprint scanner on Apple iPhones (which uses a dedicated piece of hardware called the “Security Enclave”) and Q-Net Security’s Q-Box, which is a fully dedicated hardware device with no general-purpose computing at all.

While hardsec security tends to be more expensive upfront than software security tools, it is a safer option that makes hacking much more difficult. It is also a very hands-off solution as it typically doesn’t require any interaction with the user or the host system’s processes, relieving the burden from your device and streamlining the encryption/decryption process.

Which Security Solution Is Better?

Hardware-based encryption offers greater protection, especially in the face of sophisticated cyberattacks. It is a desirable solution especially for entities that handle sensitive data including those in finance, healthcare, and government. That said, some protection is better than nothing. If you’re getting started or have a team dedicated to cybersecurity, software security could make sense for you.

Q-Net Security Can Help

Our Q-Box is a hardsec solution that can be placed in the field for years to come, even in a post-quantum world. Take action today to protect your business against cyberattacks by calling on the experts at Q-Net Security! Contact us today at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help protect your data and infrastructure.

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