How does encryption protect your data?

How does encryption protect your data?

We all store large amounts of personal data on our phones and computers, or use cloud storage. You probably use passwords to access your data (or your device), and maybe even biometric security. But what happens if your device is stolen or lost? Not to mention compromised data in a security incident.

Of course, encryption isn’t just limited to storing data, but also managing passwords, maintaining privacy when browsing the web, and so on. Companies that guard valuable business data in addition to personal data should not underestimate encryption. What are the encryption options worth knowing and using?

Disk encryption

Many computers still have hard drives that can be removed from the device quite easily. As an alternative, people use external HDDs. Moreover, both of these numbers have increased since last year. However, only a third of users protect external storage media. Yet encryption is essential in case a drive is lost or stolen. Without the key entered at boot-up, the computer is essentially a big paperweight. 

There are several commercial options, open source solutions: even the most widely used operating systems have integrated encryption functions. 

In the case of smartphones and tablets, similar functions are integrated and usually enabled by default directly on the affected device. The specific encryption settings for Android or iOS devices can be easily found online.

Cloud encryption

According to Zippia there are more than 3.6 billion cloud users in the world, and this number is constantly growing. We mostly use the cloud because of its easy online accessibility from anywhere. This naturally brings with it disadvantages. Over the years, cloud storage has faced a number of data leaks, whether due to human error or a targeted attack. We usually put data security in the hands of the provider of a particular cloud.

Therefore, it makes sense to encrypt important files before you upload them. Even in the event of an incident or leak, your specific data would be completely useless. There are a number of commercial and free solutions to choose from. 

Encrypt your web browsing

One of the easiest ways to keep your web browsing private is to use your own VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN creates an encrypted channel through which any data you upload or download can flow. This technology is commonly used by employees who work from home to access data on company servers. There are different types of VPNs. For a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the different types, see this article on welivesecurity.com.

Another way to keep your privacy secure is through your choice of browser. For example, reach for a browser such as Tor. This browser uses multiple layers of encryption. The goal is to protect your identity and online behavior from anyone else, including the big players in the online marketplace.

Last but not least, we recommend monitoring whether the website itself uses HTTPS encrypted protocol to communicate. This is now a fairly common standard around the world. However, this is a particularly important criterion for stores or sites where you enter any personal information.

Message encryption

The most popular chat apps often offer end-to-end encryption, they just don’t all have it turned on by default. In the case of Facebook Messenger, for example, you’ll need to click on the “Go to secret conversation” option. You can find this option in the settings by clicking on the icon of the person you want to communicate with. This will encrypt the communication with that person. You can only set up encrypted communication with friends, but not when chatting with businesses. 

WhatsApp, on the other hand, already has encryption turned on by default. Encryption experts also rate the Signal service highly. However, this is not as popular as the above.

Email communication can also be encrypted. In this case, both the sender and the recipient need a decryption key. The most commonly used options include GP or GPG, and S/MIME. There are also plugins that can be used in popular email applications. For example, Microsoft allows you to use S/MIME in Outlook clients. Alternatively, you might consider using an email platform that provides end-to-end encryption (such as ProtonMail).

Password encryption

A software password manager is a popular solution to keep passwords safe. Passwords are stored in an encrypted database that can be accessed by one application from wherever the application is installed.

Most vcloud services store robustly encrypted passwords on their servers. Another layer of security can be multi-factor login to a specific service. Of course, it is necessary to choose a reliable password manager developer. It’s definitely a better option than having passwords written on paper next to your computer.

Most services cost a few dollars a year. 
Although there are countless options, encryption is not widely used by the public. Not even a quarter of storage media owners use some form of encryption.

Fikret Tozak RfNLa1HL7eY Unsplash Scaled

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