In simple terms, encryption aids in securing the data you get, deliver and save on your system. This kind of data ranges from account login credentials to messages. The basic function of modern encryption is to encode material from a sender and decode it once it arrives at the receiver’s device. Every bit of information online can be encrypted.
Every day, a bulk of information flows on the internet. An overwhelming percentage of this data gets intercepted by big corporations, hackers, and the government. To protect your data from all these entities, you’ll need to encrypt the entirety of the information on your system.
The Functioning Process of Encryption
To understand how encryption works, we’ll have to go back to our high school days. Remember when you passed notes in class and warned the person who took the notes to your friend not to check what was inside. You would have wished that there was some way you could write in a language only you and your friend could understand.
That’s the basic function of encryption. It encodes normal text, making it almost impossible for any third party to understand. Immediately the party you’re sending the message to receives the text, the message becomes readable again.
Modern encryption is packaged in such a way that only you, the sender, and the receiver will have the key to decrypt the message.
Why Encryption is a Crucial Topic
1. Protecting a Firm’s Information
Businesses need data encryption to ensure that they never experience information leaks. Without encryption, anyone can break into the company’s office and steal data containing business strategies, plans, and so on.
Data encryption can also protect firms from data leaks by disgruntled employees. A worker who has been fired can get angry and decide to steal and sell company information to its rivals. However, with data encryption in place, even if the information gets copied, it would be unusable.
2. Hackers are Ushering New Threats
Hackers harvest a lot of data to sell on the dark web. While software developers work around the clock to prevent them from stealing user information, exploitable loopholes still exist. Every day, new malicious software by hackers is released into the web.
Without data encryption, your information could land in the hands of these hackers. These cybercriminals can demand a ransom from you or auction your information. Data encryption prevents your information from landing in the hands of just any entity.
3. Brute Force Hacking
It is not difficult for a hacker to obtain data flowing between two communication ports. A wide range of hackers utilize brute force hacking to siphon information. If you can encrypt your data, sensitive information would never fall into their hands.
Methods used to Encrypt Information
1. Device Encryption
This method encrypts all forms of data available on your device. Encrypting your laptop or smartphone is key because there’s the risk of losing the device by theft or forgetfulness. If the device then ends up in the hands of a tech-savvy person, you could get blackmailed or your data sold on internet black markets.
The best way to encrypt your device is to go for full-disk encryption. This method provides full security for your data and only allows access when a password is fixed.
Most operating systems allow full-disk encryption. On a Windows device, you can head over to Settings and select ‘Update and Security’. Click the ‘Device Encryption’ option once you spot it. From there, you’ll be able to encrypt your device.
Mac users can also encrypt data on their devices by clicking on ‘System Preferences’ and selecting ‘Security and Privacy’. Mac’s file encryption tool is known as ‘FileVault’ and it should appear on the upper tab. Performing encryption on Android and iOS can be done when you access their Settings too. Note that encryption can take a long while to complete.
2. Encrypt Online Data Flow
Even if the data on your system is encrypted, hackers can still steal it when it’s passing through a network. The truth is, hackers can sniff on information if you’re connected to public Wi-Fi via man-in-the-middle attacks or by generating a bogus Wi-Fi network. A cybercriminal who successfully breaks into your network router can also steal everything that qualifies as online traffic.
Corporations like your Internet Service Provider are not left out. ISPs record your internet activity and sell it to advertising companies.
If you want to protect your data against these entities, you need to get a VPN. A Virtual Private Network aims to anonymize and encrypt data that qualifies as online traffic. A hacker having a shot at spying on your data when you’re on public Wi-Fi will end up frustrated. This is because a VPN’s level of encryption is high and extremely difficult to break.
Your ISP and the government will also be unable to track your internet activity. You can install a VPN either on your network router or device.
3. Use Messaging Apps with End-to-End Encryption
If you’ve been using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Snapchat for your communications, you need to scrap them. These apps do not secure your messages with end-to-end encryption.
End-to-end encryption is a modern system used in electronic messaging to protect data from third-parties. If the message gets intercepted before getting to its destination, it would be unreadable without a private key. It is the most secure form of encryption in today’s messaging world.
You can use messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption like Signal, iMessage, and Wickr.
4. Encrypt your Electronic Mails
The standard used for email encryption today is Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). This form of encryption combines public and private keys to allow encryption. Data that gets stolen in transit will be indecipherable to the hacker.
PGP’s encryption protocol can be used on most email services.
Your data is part of a huge goldmine that is harvested by hackers, companies, and the government. Data encryption is highly needed because without it, there could be consequences like company closure or financial wreckage.
To encrypt your information online you can take steps like using a VPN, encrypting all your emails, encrypting your device, and using messaging services that utilize end-to-end encryption.