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Using a VPN is a terrific way to protect your internet traffic when you're traveling, but it's not a solution for encrypting your local files. .
When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, they asked Apple to get a rear door to get beyond the encryption. But no such back door existed, and Apple refused to create one. The FBI had to employ hackers to get into the phone.
Why wouldn't Apple help Because the moment a rear door or comparable hack exists, it becomes a goal, a prize for the poor guys. It'll leak sooner or later. In a talk at Black Hat last summer, Apple's Ivan Krstic disclosed that the company has done something similar in their cryptographic servers.
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Apple can't update thembut the bad guys can't get in either. .
All of the products in this roundup explicitly say they have no rear door, and that is as it ought to be. It will mean that if you encrypt an essential document and then forget the encryption password, you've lost it for good.
Back in the day, if you wanted to keep a document key you can use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you could lock it up in a safe. The two main methods in encryption utilities parallel with those options.
One type of product simply processes files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of themselves. Another creates a virtual disc drive that, when open, behaves like any other drive on your system. When you lock the digital drive, all of the documents you put into it are entirely inaccessible. .
Similar to the virtual drive solution, a few products store your encrypted information in the cloud. This approach requires extreme caution, obviously. Encrypted information in the cloud has a far bigger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.
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Which is better It actually depends on how you plan on using encryption. If you're not sure, take advantage of the 30-day free trial offered by each one of those products to get a feel for the different options.
Once you copy a document into secure storage, or create an encrypted version of it, you absolutely need to wipe out the unencrypted original. Simply deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you skip the Recycle Bin, since the data still exists on disk, and data retrieval utilities can often get it back. .
Some encryption products avoid this issue by encrypting the file in place, literally overwriting it on disc with an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to offer safe deletion as an option. If you choose a product that lacks this feature, you ought to find a free secure deletion tool to use along with it. .
Overwriting information before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based retrieval tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery works since the magnetic recording of data on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It's more of a waveform. In simple terms, the process involves nulling out the known data and reading around the edges of what is left.
An encryption algorithm is like a black box. Dump a document, picture, or other file into it, and you get back what sounds like gibberish. Run that gibberish back through the box, using the same password, and you get back the original.
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The U.S. government has settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a standard, and every one the merchandise gathered here service AES. Even the ones that support other calculations tend to recommend using AES.
If you are an encryption expert, you might prefer another algorithm, Blowfish, possibly, or even the Soviet government's GOST. For the average consumer, however, AES is just fine.
Passwords are important, and you have to keep them confidential, right Well, not when you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.
With PKI, you get two keys. One is public; you can discuss it with anyone, register it in an integral exchange, tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. Another is private, and needs to be closely guarded. If I want to send you a key more info here document, I simply encrypt it with your public key.
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Using this system in reverse, you can make an electronic signature that proves your document came from you and hasn't been modified. How Just encrypt it with your private key. The simple fact your public key decrypts it is all the evidence you need. PKI service is less common than support for traditional symmetric algorithms. .
If you want to talk about a file with someone and your encryption application doesn't support PKI, there are other options for sharing. Many products enable creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You could also find that the recipient can use a free, decryption-only tool.