Encrypt Your Data
In an increasingly technologically and connected world, we have placed many different types of information in digital format. We trust our computers and phones to hold sensitive data that you may never even want a neighbor to know. From financial and personally identifiable information to trade secrets and the family’s secret restaurant recipe, protecting your information from those you don’t want to provide it to is critical from the moment you decide to digitize it. Encryption is a method that can be used to protect this data from those unwanted viewers.
What is Encryption?
Encryption is a means by which we encode data in order to hinder unwanted persons from accessing it. Algorithms are used to scramble the data we want to encrypt from understandable text into what we would see as a string of random characters that mean nothing. In order to decipher this data, the persons accessing it would unlock the data using a key that is provided using various authentication methods or a secret word.
Why Should We Use Encryption?
Without encryption, data that is either at rest or in transit can be easily accessed and viewed. For example, perhaps you are asked by your boss to send a document containing sensitive information to a partner. If the message is intercepted by individuals with malicious intent, they will be able to see the contents of the document in plain text rather than in encrypted text that would have essentially showed them nothing without a means to decrypt it. Another example is if your computer or other device is lost or stolen, those with even minimal technical skills can easily access all of the information stored within.
How Can We Use Encryption?
There are several mediums by which you would want to encrypt your data. If telecommuting, use of a VPN is an extremely effective way of protecting data in transit. This creates a tunnel that essentially connects you directly to your company’s infrastructure that is encrypted and unobservable from outside parties.
For Windows computers, BitLocker drive encryption is a tool that is built into Pro or higher versions of Windows since Windows 7. BitLocker allows you to encrypt any storage mediums on your device to include the system drive and external devices by way of requiring passwords or several other ways to unlock them. If boot passwords are enabled, in the event that a machine is stolen or lost, the drive would be completely unbootable without the password. Other means of cracking the device will be virtually impossible without the key. For Apple computers, any device with MacOS 10.3 or later is equipped with FileVault. FileVault allows for encryption of system drives and external devices as well.
You may know that Android and Apple mobile devices have a plethora of applications available through their respective app stores. Among those apps are those that offer encryption as a standalone app or within a whole security suite that can provide encryption on top of virus scanning, screening of app background behavior and performance as well as mobile VPNs. Mobile VPNs are useful when connecting to WIFI in public places like coffee shops and airports where perpetrators are commonly found attempting to eavesdrop on traffic.
Encryption doesn’t require you to be apart of a medium or large sized business. Everyone can enable these protections to lower the risk of having their sensitive data exposed.