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Encryption

Making Your Computer Secure with Encryption

One of the best ways to protect your computer systems, your data, and your communications is using some form of encryption. But the subject of encryption is often not understood well, or misunderstood altogether. So we'll attempt in this article to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about encryption.

What does encryption do for me?

Encryption and cryptographic software has been used in many different ways to make systems more secure. There are some good and some not so good encryption programs, but we'll reccomend here only two of better known encryption programs. This article discusses only a few ways that encryption software can make your compyter system more secure, including:

1) Encrypting your email - This will reduce the chances of someone reading your email.

2) Encrypting your files - To prevent others from accessing your business or personal files (via spyware programs, for example).

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?

Good encryption will protect your data

By using more complex encryption algorithm you can protect your computer and communications from being hacked into

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.

Overall, encrypting your email or your files will not make them 100% secure or hacker-proof. But it will make them much harder to break into and the very act of encryption will dissuade many would-be a snoop. However, also keep I mind that if your computer is too exposed online, than encrypted files and messages can be a magnet for determined hackers. You have to find a fine balance between protection your important files and emails by encrypting them, and overdoing it by encrypting everything.

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.

By encrypting important emails, you will greatly reduce the chance of your messages being read by someone else.

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 and arguably the best encryption program 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.

In addition to encrypting your important files, be also creative in utilizing other clever methods of "hiding" your files, or choosing generic names for them. And perhaps one of the best precautions is to have your important files stored on a separate disk and never directly available on your internet-connected computer.

How do I go about encrypting my files?

Check out 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."

Computer Privacy Articles:

  • Identity Protection - Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. and around the world. Identity thieves employ a variety of methods to get access to your personal info. There are some basic steps to protect your computer and yourself against identity theft. 
  • Fighting Spam - Email spam unfortunately is one of the worst "side effects" of having an email address today. Apart from potentially cluttering your inbox, many unsolicited email messages are potential conduits for viruses. 
  • Encryption - One of the best ways to protect your computer, your data and information is by using encryption. As the subject of encryption is often little understood, we provide you with more details on what encryption is and how to use it to protect your email. 
  • Keylogger Spyware - As one of the most dangerous spyware programs, keylogger can do a serious damage to your person via your computer. It secretly records your keystrokes for later retrieval by the attacker. There are also legal uses of keylogger, usually by the authorities. 
  • Phishing - Yet another way of stealing your personal information and destroying your privacy. Phishing attacks are usually done via emails, tricking you into click on a seemingly genuine link that takes you to a copycat site, designed to extract your banking or other information leading to your money.