Encryption is the act of distorting simple information to protect it from the prying eyes of third parties. In the digital world, we call the distorted data ‘cipher text’.
The moment the data is communicated to the other point, the message transforms into ciphertext which can only be decrypted with a key. The allure of data encryption is that even if your information lands in the hands of a spy, the data would still be secure.
Reasons to Encrypt your Data
1. Hackers Target Data Traffic
Just like highway robbers used to lay in wait for merchants to steal their goods in the past, hackers target data in transit. Unencrypted data falls into the hands of hackers rather easily because of their sophisticated techniques.
One of these is the public Wi-Fi attack method. Cybercriminals can hack public Wi-Fi networks in a bid to steal the data of every device connected to that network. Even Wi-Fi networks with passwords can still get hacked, contrary to the myth that Wi-Fi networks that ask for passwords are more secure.
2. Business Data Protection
Companies need to encrypt their data because they work with a lot of sensitive data related to their customers or business affiliates. An unscrupulous business owner could decide to hire a hacker to compromise your data.
Predictably, the company with the hacked data loses reputation. Firms are reluctant to work with a business that cannot protect its data. Customers are also wary of giving data to an enterprise that has a history of privacy breaches.
This factor can lead to a drop in business activity and thus, the natural death of the business. It is why businesses need to ensure all data is protected.
3. Requirement by Law
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required by law to encrypt your business data. For instance, private clinics and private tertiary institutions have to implement data encryption. This measure reinforces patient-doctor confidentiality in the digital space and protects student information.
The Process of Encrypting Data on your Device
1. Use PC Default Encryption Programs
Some operating systems come with default file encryption programs. Windows, Mac, and Linux are the most widely used operating systems today and they allow users to encrypt disk data.
On Windows, you can use BitLocker for data encryption. This feature is available on systems using versions from Windows 7. To access BitLocker, head over to File Explorer and right-click your hard drive. You should see an option to switch BitLocker on.
For Mac users, you can use FileVault for encrypting your hard disks. Linux users have the option to encrypt disk data during OS installation.
Note that you’ll need to store your recovery key in a very safe place. Without your recovery key, you would be unable to access your data.
2. Encrypt Internet Data
While encrypting your hard disk protects data offline, you need to secure information from hackers attacking you online. You can do this by encrypting your internet with a VPN.
Utilizing a VPN to encrypt your traffic will hide your browsing activity. If you get connected to public Wi-Fi that has been hacked, you’ll remain protected. The hacker would find it difficult to decode your internet data.
Without a VPN, anyone can spy on your activity. This includes but is not limited to your Internet Service Provider, hackers, and even government agencies. ISPs typically sell this data to advertisers and hackers sell your information to anyone with the right price.
3. Encrypt Message Data
Information on your messaging apps can expose practically everything about you. Instinctively, you protect anyone from seeing your chats when someone takes your phone. You need to transfer this level of protection to the digital level.
By using encrypted chat apps, you can prevent your message data from falling into the wrong hands. The best encrypted messaging apps include Signal, Wickr, and iMessage.
The need to encrypt data is becoming more urgent. Hackers are using a wide variety of techniques to steal data from device users. With disk encryption, a VPN, and an encrypted chat app, you will be on the way to achieving full data encryption.
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I am Arjun from Hyderabad (India). I have been working as a software engineer from the last 7+ years, and it is my passion to learn new things and implement them as a practice. Aside from work, I like gardening and spending time with pets.