A discreetly tucked away folder that contains your resume, your tax returns and another important file may be convenient for you, but it’s also a gold mine for online crooks that steal and sell digital data on a thriving black market, even though encrypting data unquestionably helps protect it from thieves, many users in the past believed that using encryption tools wasn’t worth the trouble.
In the 2007, thefts laptops, hard drives and computer gear accounted for 57 percent of sensitive data losses report by companies, luckily as data theft has become more common, encryption has gotten easier to use, an array of option to day, both free and paid can keep your information save even if someone walks off with your laptop or break into your PC.
Full disk encryption protects everything on a hard drive even if the drive departs in someone else’s pocket, BitLocker a utility built in to vista enterprise and vista ultimate provide such protection, you’ll find the program in windows security control panel, other windows user and Mac and Linux aficionados have options as well.
TrueCrypt is a free, easy to use, open source encryption product maintained by an active development community, if you feel more comfortable working with commercially supported, full featured software, considered PGP desktop, for encryption USB thumb drives, windows users can nab the free rohos mini drive download.
File encryption protects only the files and folders you specify, of course typically you’ll set up a folder or virtual drive to encrypt any files save inside it automatically as long as you haven’t left the relevant folder or files open, a thief won’t be able to access the protected data, in contrast, if you set up your PC with full disk encryption enabled, you have no protection once you log in and unlock the drive.
File encryption can also protect against, moment such as accidentally sharing more than you mean to with a misconfigured files sharing program, for example the drawback compared with full disk protection is that if you unthinkingly save a sensitive file outside an encrypted folder, it’s fair game, if you want maximum protection you can use both full disk and file encryption on the same drive.
Setting it all up
To set up file or folder encryption with a program such as TrueCrypt or PGP desktop, first open the utility and select to create a virtual disk (which receives it own drive letter in explorer) or an encrypted folder, you’ll have to choose a good password and type of encryption, after creating the virtual drive or folder, you can access it whatever you want, simply double click it, supply the password and save data to it as if it were any other drive folder, Mac OS X user can use the built in FileVault to encrypt the home directory through the security component of system preferences.
In addition, FileVault can create encrypted virtual disk, which you can move to USB thumb drive or another storage device via Mac’s disk utility, BitLocker doesn’t allow file encryption, but a file encrypted with third-party software in one operating system can be decrypted in other convenient if your workplace run multiple OS. Email encryption isn’t widely used outside specific industries, if involves an extra key exchange step with recipients, both PGP and the open source GNU privacy guard project can handle email encryption.
No slowdown, but drawbacks
A fast computer today can handle encryption and decryption processing without suffering a noticeable slowdown, but protecting data with encryption does require you to remember yet another crucial password, and losing the key is like losing the combination to an unbreakable safe, you may never recover the encrypted data. Vulnerability arises if you copy or save unencrypted files to USB thumb drive or another backup media and you don’t encrypt your backup drive.
A lot of us have drive beyond the computer; it doesn’t make much sense to encrypt your main drive if all your important files are sitting on a USB thumb drive sitting in your desk drawer, finally even the best encryption system doesn’t protect against all data theft threats, if an online intruder infects your PC with a keylogger the malware can steal online banking data and password as you type or even capture and transmit screen shots, regardless of how that data is save or sent, though the intruder wouldn’t be able to get into your encrypted files without that password, use a good anti virus program and keep all of your software not just your OS up to date protect against malware threats.