How to Use Data Encryption to Secure Your Computer Files

Data encryption is an important means of protecting your computer files. Essentially, encryption converts data into a form that prevents unauthorized people from accessing it. To decode encrypted data you use decryption technology to turn the encrypted data back into the original form.

History of Data Encryption

While data encryption and computer safety may be relatively new, data encryption on its own is not. Encryption and decryption have been used nearly as long as communication. For instance, in times of war communication transmissions were often written in a cipher to keep the enemy from discovering the orders of the troops.

Ciphers come in many forms, from switching around letters and numbers, to alternating letters with other ones, to even scrambling signals by using other frequencies. Some will even utilize complex algorithms to rearrange the information so that it cannot be deciphered by the enemy.

Once an encrypted signal has been sent out, the recipient has to decrypt it to view the data. A key is required to do this, which can be in the form of an algorithm. If someone who doesn’t have the key is trying to decrypt the information, a computer can be used to look for patterns that will allow them to break the cipher. The more complex the algorithm, the harder it is to decode.

Protecting Yourself with Encryption

If you handle any sensitive information on your computer, encryption is a must for you. You can purchase encryption technology that will do the work for you and this will greatly aid in your efforts of halting others from stealing your data.

It is specifically important to use date encryption if you do most of your work via laptop or other portable device. Besides the risks that are associated with transmitting data wirelessly, it is all too easy to have a laptop or other portable device stolen.

If your information is not encrypted on this device, then you have opened the door for the thief to access all of your stored information. Make sure that you store any algorithms or decryption keys in a secure location. Storing that information with the same computer or device that holds the encryption will also make it too easy for others to access the information.

There are two main types of full disk data encryption that you can use. There is the hardware form that is offered by the same company that creates the computer drive, and there is the software version that is sold as an option for laptops and other devices.

Drive-level encryption can be hard to manage, which is why stand alone data encryption software is gaining in popularity. BitLocker, McAfee Endpoint Encryption, and SafeGuard Easy are examples of such programs.

Keep in mind that if you hard drive fails, you’ll have no way to recover your data. Therefore, it is very important that you have a strict backup policy for any encrypted information. You also have to make sure that someone in your company has the ability to access the information even if an employee quits. Therefore, understanding the regulatory issues behind your software is a must.

Encryption prevents one person or transaction from ruining your business. Remember, all it takes is one small piece of confidential information escaping and you could have a disaster on your hands. Data encryption eliminates this possibility and allows you and your clients to feel more secure in your proceedings.

Wireless Communications and Data Encryption

With the advent of the wireless age, data encryption has become more important. Wireless communication is much easier to tap than other types of communication. So, if you are performing any sensitive transaction online, particularly if wireless is involved, you should look into data encryption to protect your information. Remember, the stronger the encryption the more computer safety you will have, but the more cost you will also incur.

The Controversy about Data Encryption

Strong encryption does come with some controversy, however. Strong encryption is any cipher that cannot be broken without the code. While many people view this as a way to keep their computer safe and minimize fraud, some governments are afraid of strong encryption falling into the wrong hands.

For example, terrorists could use strong encryption codes to plan their devious activities directly under the governments’ noses. For that reason, some governments are for setting up a key-escrow arrangement that would require all persons using ciphers to provide the government with the key. The idea would be that the key would be stored in a safe place and only used under court order; however opponents argue that these databases could be hacked by criminals who could then steal personal information.

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