What does encryption do for me?

 

Encryption and cryptographic software has been used in many different ways to make systems more secure.  This article discusses only a few ways that such software can make your system more secure, including:

 

1) Encrypting your email

 

2) Encrypting your files

 

To programs are mentioned that will help encrypt information. There are many more programs out there that will help, but these programs are good and a good place to start as any. They have the added benefit of both being free with source code available.

 

Will encryption stop people from accessing my information?

 

Encryption simply makes it harder for people to gain access to important information, like passwords or sensitive information in a file. The first thing you should know about encryption is that the algorithm that is used to encrypt can be simple or more complex and that affects how securely what you have encrypted is protected.  Encryption systems have been broken when the method of encryption is understood by hackers and is easy to break. 

 

Why bother to encrypt my email?

 

It should be noted that email is far less secure than paper mail for two very good reasons:  first, electronic data can be accessed easily over an Internet and secondly, electronic data is really simple to copy. There is a very good chance that someone has snooped around in your email despite your best intentions to stop it.

 

How do I go about encrypting my email?

 

There are many programs out there that can help you encrypt your email.  A very popular one is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) or its Gnu offshoot GPG.  

 

PGP (http://www.pgpi.org/) self-describes itself this way: This "is a program that gives your electronic mail something that it otherwise doesn't have: Privacy. It does this by encrypting your mail so that nobody but the intended person can read it. When encrypted, the message looks like a meaningless jumble of random characters. PGP has proven itself quite capable of resisting even the most sophisticated forms of analysis aimed at reading the encrypted text."

 

Why bother to encrypt my files?

 

The answer to this boils down to what you store on your computer.  If you have financial data with important information like social security numbers, email addresses, account numbers and passwords, then you open yourself up to losing very valuable information.  Most corporate Internet security employees will attest to the widespread theft of very valuable information. As long as you are connected to the Internet you are vulnerable.

 

How do I go about encrypting my files?

 

AxCrypt File Encryption Software  (http://axcrypt.sourceforge.net/) Self-described as "Free Personal Privacy and Security for Windows 98/ME/NT/2K/XP with AES-128 File Encryption, Compression and transparent Decrypt and Open in the original application."

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